Interviewed by Sarah Higgins
Catherine Banks is a renowned, award-winning Canadian playwright. She received the Nova Scotia Established Artist Award in 2008 for her body of work and has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama twice – in 2008 for Bone Cage and in 2012 for It is Solved by Walking. The latter was translated into Catalan by the Tant per Tant theatre company and toured Barcelona in 2012. Her other works include Three Storey, Ocean View and Bitter Rose (which also aired on Bravo! TV’s Singular Series). Her latest work, Miss ‘n Me, will premiere as a Sarasvati Theatre production in Winnipeg in May, 2015.
Banks’ plays reflect the rhythm of life in rural Nova Scotia with humour, pathos and poetry. Through the particularities of specific lives, she expresses universal stories – and through the universal stories, she highlights the particular highs and lows of life in the Maritimes.
I had the pleasure of hearing her read from It is Solved by Walking at an event in Halifax several years ago, and the beauty and breath of her work enthralled me. I was grateful to be able to chat with her, over email, about her craft.
Let’s start at the start – how did you get into playwriting? Or, what was your first experience of theatre, and did that inform your choice of genre?
I grew up around my father’s family of storytellers and wits. I acted in high school and university and even wrote a monologue for my one theatre class ever (acting) but it really wasn’t until I saw Michel Tremblay’s Les belles soeurs that I understood that I had something to write about—up until that point I thought writers lived exotic lives. Tremblay characters were so grounded in real life that I understood that I had lots to write. I have said many times that the first time I sat down and wrote dialogue I felt I had come home. [Read more…]