Authors on Stage No. 2 has two more fabulous writers

October 24, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Guy Gavriel Kay and Michael Christie are coming to Orangeville for the second of the two Authors on Stage this season on Tuesday, October 29, at the Opera House.

Following a year in Oxford, England, at a time when he was a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba, Guy Gavriel Kay assisted Christopher Tolkien to edit his father, J.R.R. Tolkien’s unpublished book, The Silmarillion. Upon his return to Canada, Mr. Kay, in 1975, took a law degree at the University of Toronto and was called to the bar of Ontario in 1981. 

Winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 2008, along with many other awards over the years, including the Order of Canada in 2014 for his “contribution to the field of speculative fiction as an internationally celebrated author,” Guy Gavriel Kay’s books have, as of 2018, been translated into 30 languages.

Mr. Kay’s format for his fantasy books is to set his stories in fictional places – fictional, yes, but based on real places in actual historical times. He has published 14 novels to date. The most recently published, A Brightness of Long Ago, is the one Mr. Kay is bringing to the Authors on Stage in Orangeville, for a reading and discussion.

Now twice long-listed for the Giller Prize, Michael Christie’s second novel, Greenwood, is the subject of very great interest for readings and conversation on the 29th. Greenwood was the subject of this year’s long listing for the Giller, his second novel and his second Giller nomination.

“I’m really excited about these two authors. We’ve hosted 30 authors over the years. I’m so excited about these two books,” said Nancy Frater, owner and co-founder of BookLore. She is the engine behind these events that entice the famous and the well-loved authors to come to Orangeville, with their wonderful conversation and their fascinating books.

She went on, “Guy Gavriel Kay is a legend in story telling. He combines fantasy with history. I’m not a big fantasy fan but I love these books. I can see the history in them. 

“In A Brightness Long Ago, there is a main character, Danio and many other characters coming and going through the story. It’s great story telling but it’s also quite visceral – a lot of feeling and beautiful writing.” 

“Michael Christie,” she continued, “has been long listed for the Giller for both his novels. [If I Fall, If I Die, in 2015 and again in 2019 for Greenwood] This is a multi – generational family saga, centred on nature, trees, for anyone interested in climate change. This is an epic family saga and an environmentalist backdrop of the fir trees in B.C. You just can’t leave the page; the writing is just beautiful. Once again, the book is so visceral – you feel what’s going on inside your body. He uses the metaphor of the family to the rings of a tree.”

“This whole season was with five of the top authors in Canada. All the money goes to the New Play Development at Theatre Orangeville,” Ms. Frater explained.

Ms. Frater always notes this and it is the case but, to really understand what she is talking about, it might well to describe the program more fully.

Since its founding in 1994, Theatre Orangeville has been dedicated to producing plays and musicals by Canadian playwrights, almost exclusively and it has been a point of pride for Theatre Orangeville to have staged several World Premiere productions. Having said that, in order to continue to actually contribute “to the development of theatre in Canada,” Theatre Orangeville has been active in developing new works “from emerging playwrights;” to be the incubator, as it were, for new writing. 

To this end, Theatre Orangeville has established its New Play Development Fund (NPD Fund). This process starts with commissioning new works. These are then read by professionals, hired for the purpose of providing feedback on new scripts. 

Following this, week-long intensive workshops are held and usually end with a read-through performance by professional actors.

Thus, Ms. Frater quite rightly mentions the tie between the appearance of famous, award winning authors with the development and promotion of new Canadian writing, in this case, for the stage.

“We are the only events that are geared for this fund,” she mentioned.

With these two extraordinary books, very different from each other and each almost in a category of its own, so intricate and full-bodied as they are, all the telling here can never match the experience of reading them. Neither of these books are tales told simply. They are wild, “visceral,” as Nancy Frater called them, and quite gripping. 

Authors on Stage, moderated by Bernadette Hardaker, is on at the Opera House, on October 29 at 7 p.m.for readings, conversations and Q &A, plus, as Ms. Frater is very keen to point out, a “wonderful reception downstairs to meet the authors and where there is wine and nice food.

For tickets, go to the Box Office at 87 Broadway or the Information Centre on Buena Vista Drive at Highway 10.Telephone 519-942-3423 or BookLore, 121 First Street. Call them at 519-942-3830.

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