Three notable literary efforts of note coming up in the next week, courtesy of some of our mighty fine Fine Arts writers, plus one snazzy event near the end of the month.

TheValley First up is The Valley, the latest play by Department of Writing professor and Siminovitch Prize-winning playwright Joan MacLeod. Previously known as What To Expect, MacLeod’s latest play kicks off the 27th annual Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays at Alberta Theatre Projects. The Valley is a fictional story about a troubled teenager who has a confrontation with a police officer on the SkyTrain in Vancouver, which reverberates throughout the community, sweeping both families up into a storm of emotion, opinion and conflict.

The idea for The Valley came from the case of Robert Dziekanski, who died after being hit by RCMP with a Taser at Vancouver Airport in 2007. “One of Joan’s great specialties is responding to something in the headlines”, says Vicki Stroich, interim artistic director for Alberta Theatre Projects. (CBC Calgary chose it as one of their top three picks of the week here—the part about MacLeod begins around 2:32.) As humane, thought-provoking and relevant as her other plays like Another Home Invasion and The Shape of A Girl, MacLeod continues to earn the Toronto Star‘s description of her as “one of the most important playwrights working in Canada today.”

The Valley runs March 6 – April 7 at Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects. Alas, there is no local date as of this posting.
Jan Wood

Jan Wood

 Next up on March 11 is a new play reading by Department of Theatre prof Jan Wood, who will be presenting a staged reading of her new work Sacrifices as part of the Belfry’s SPARK Festival. Here’s the official description of Sacrifices: “Each person makes allowances and negotiates compromises in order to exist…but at what cost? Sacrifices examines the choices that an ordinary woman makes to balance career, family and self-fulfillment. In revealing her story, Medina exposes the tiny sacrifices that have led her to commit her ultimate sacrifice, an act universally condemned and abhorred. Part myth, part mystery, Sacrifices tells of a struggle for personal fulfillment in a world where a thin veneer can separate sanity and madness.”

Sacrifices will be read by Wood and noted director and playwright James Fagan Tait (The Life Inside) at 7pm Monday, March 11 at the Belfry—for free!

Jessica Kluthe

Jessica Kluthe

 After that comes a UVic double-bill on March 12, with Lorna Crozier and Department of Writing alum Jessica Kluthe will be discussing the importance of place in stories as part of the popular reading series At The Mic. Crozier will likely be reading from her latest, The Book of Marvels, but Kluthe is launching her first book, Rosina the Midwife. Described as a “lyrical memoir,” Kluthe is writing about her great-great-grandmother Rosina, a Calabrian midwife who was the only member of the Russo family to remain in Italy while her kin left in search of work. Between 1870 and 1970, twenty-six million Italians left their homeland; many of them never returned.

Rosina MidwifeKluthe’s writing has appeared in The Malahat Review, among other magazines, her 2012 essay “Scattered” won the Other Voices creative non-fiction contest, and she is currently working on a novel. She teaches advanced business writing at Grant MacEwan and is on the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Extension. Also on the bill for the evening is award-winning author and mystery writer George Szanto.

At The Mike runs 7pm Tuesday, March 12, at Chronicles of Crime, 1048 Fort Street.

 The Department of Writing is also well-represented at the upcoming all-day Malahat Review event WordsThaw 2013. Their first annual spring symposium, WordsThaw features three daytime panels and a literary reading in the evening. Panels include “Zoom In, Zoom Out: Focus on Fiction” moderated by Amy Reiswig with Writing instructor John Gould and busy alum Yasuko Thanh, plus Daniel Griffin; “A Sustainable Feast: The New Food Writing” moderated by Don Genova, with Rhona McAdam and Kimberley Veness; and “In our Names: Writers on Poverty,” with panelists including retired Writing prof Patrick Lane, current instructor and 2012 City of Victoria Book Prize winner Madeline Sonik, plus Sylvia Olsen.

wordsthawad_focusThe evening reading, “Words on Ice,” features the Malahat Review‘s UVic 50th Anniversary Prize winners Pamela Porter, Laura Kraemer, and Katherin Edwards, as well as Writing chair Bill Gaston, soon-to-retire professor Lorna Crozier, new(ish) professor Lee Henderson, plus local writers Marilyn Bowering and C. P. Boyko.

Earlybird rates for a full pass includes all panels and literary reading are $30/$40 (until March 13) and can be purchased from their website. All full passes include a one-year subscription to The Malahat Review or an extension of your current subscription.

WordsThaw runs 10am-10pm Saturday, March 23, in room A240 of UVic’s Human and Social Development building.