This One Goes to Eleven: Darien Edgeler

Out in the wild, far reaches of Deep Cove (an epic 8 minute drive from downtown, an invisible accessibility discussed previously on TOGtE) there thrives a burgeoning theatre community grinding away tirelessly throughout the year. It was there that we first met Darien, preparing to be seen in his own work Seasons, directed by Wendy Van Riesen.

Darien is an award-winning producer, playwright, actor, MC, voiceover artist, and stage combat choreographer. He is the Writer-in-Residence for The Half-Stratford Players, and now a The Next Stage Interviewee…

EDGELERHS

1. In one word, describe your present condition.

Blessed.

2. In several more words, describe the present condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.

I would argue that, compared to most cities, Vancouver is a theatrical Shangri-La.  All the important ingredients for successful stagings are, in my opinion, available.  Suppose you want to put on a show.  There are virtually no restrictions on the content; no limitations, in other words, resulting from ethnic or religious or political considerations.  There are also a variety of venues that you can rent, and an abundance of talented technicians and performers, many of whom will participate in your project for the love of it.  If you market your mounting effectively, there will be decent audiences, and, if your show is good, the response will be enthusiastic.  What more can anyone ask for?

3. Describe for us the Deep Cove theatre scene, and its relationship to the downtown theatre scene.

There are four clubs that do shows in Deep Cove:  Deep Cove Stage, First Impressions Theatre, Seycove Drama, and – my own company – The Half-Stratford Players.  All four troupes do good work.  I don’t know that the Deep Cove theatre scene has any connection to the downtown theatre scene except in the sense that the former is a microcosm of the latter:  the relative conservatism evident in the programming choices of the Deep Cove companies, for instance, is evident on a larger scale in a city-wide reluctance to embrace new and locally-written work.

4. Does contemporary theatre have a responsibility to leave us with a sense of hope?

Well, David Mamet would suggest that theatre’s only obligation is to delight and I, to a certain extent, would agree.  Playwrights are members of society that have, because they have a talent for entertaining others, been temporarily excused from fetching wood and carrying water.  That said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with theatre being uplifting.  Marsha Norman once remarked that she had reached a point in her career where all she wanted to do, really, was write about acts of courage and, most of the time, that’s what interests me also.

5. Who are you main influences, and why?

Shakespeare, of course; his dramatic legacy is ubiquitous.  But really, it varies from play to play.  I mean, I once borrowed a device from Journey’s End, but that was because it was the perfect tool for the job, not because I seek to follow in the creative footsteps of R. C. Sherriff.  I think it’s true that you learn to write all over again each time you pen a new play and so I think it’s fair to say that you’re going to draw on different sources and traditions each time you undertake a new project.  I mainly just try to adhere to what I have come to think of as The Golden Rule of Playwrighting:  write the sorts of plays that you yourself would most love to watch.

6. What are your long-term theatrical career goals?

I used to be a real theatre slut:  I’d do any show that came along.  As an actor, I mean.  Then one day a director called me and said:  “Darien, I’ve got the perfect part for you – you’ll be playing a slow-witted, socially-awkward veterinarian!”  I was about to say yes, when I realized that a slow-witted, socially-awkward veterinarian really wasn’t the perfect part for me.  And that was something of an epiphany; I realized that, if I wanted to tackle roles that I found intriguing and personally meaningful, I was going to have to create them myself.  All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I started writing plays for entirely selfish reasons.  And, as it happens, I continue to write plays for entirely selfish reasons.  My primary goal is have fun.  Writing plays is a lark, in other words, and all I really set out to do is offer audiences something they’ve never seen before and to make sure that each theatrical experience is better than the last.

7. What is our biggest enemy in our fight to wrangle new audiences?

Outmoded thinking.  Not many people under thirty are going to be excited about going to see Agatha Christie.  If theatre is going to survive as a medium, then production companies need to commit to helping playwrights create exciting new works relevant to contemporary Canadian audiences.

8. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths as a playwright? Your weaknesses?

I like to think that all the arrows in my quiver – structure, character, plot, dialogue – are getting incrementally sharper through use.  My Achilles heel {from a commercial standpoint, anyway} is probably that, once a show has opened, I immediately lose interest in it and start thinking about the next one.

9. What was your last truly inspiring experience in a piece of theatre?

Blackbird at The Cultch a few months back and, before that, Robert Lepage’s Far Side of The Moon.

10. What are your top three theatre reads?

The volumes I continue to revisit are David Mamet’s True And False, Stuart Spencer’s The Playwright’s Guidebook, and Jeffrey Hatcher’s The Art & Craft of Playwriting.

11. What’s next?

I’m doing As You Like It with Neil Freeman this summer {acting and fight choreography} and then I’ll probably start work on a script to be produced next April.  I can’t tell you about it, unfortunately, because I’ve found that talking about a work in progress diminishes the impetus to actually write it.  And it’s important to protect that impetus because I, like Dorothy Parker, hate writing, but love having written.

One thought on “This One Goes to Eleven: Darien Edgeler

  1. Hi there! I work on the ferry, the Queen of Oak Bay. Tonight, I found all sorts of transcripts and certificates of yours, in the recycle bin. I can return them to you, if you’de like. Tonight is my last night on the boat til after the May 14 election as I am the NDP candidate and am taking the time off.

    Contact me.

    Terry Platt

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