In Between the Acts, The Globe and Mail takes a look at how artists manage their time before and after a creative endeavour.
Would it surprise you to learn that the young Toronto playwright Kat Sandler's favourite director is Kat Sandler? On Sunday, a remount of Sandler's whimsical Dora-winning Mustard – which she did not direct – closes at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre. One day earlier, her topical new play, Bang Bang – which she does direct – begins previews blocks away at Factory Mainspace Theatre. During a rehearsal break for Bang Bang (which concerns a news story about a black police officer who shoots an unarmed black youth), Sandler recently spoke to The Globe and Mail about the advantages of wearing two creative hats rather than one.
I've been very, very lucky with Bang Bang, a Factory Theatre commission. We've had six days of workshops spread over the last year. It's a big deal, because I'm so inspired by actors and voices. Having the opportunity to hear the script read is important. I never know what the play is about until I hear it and talk about it.
I don't love to sit by myself and write. I'm not very good at it. My dialogue is overlapping, and it's written to sound as realistic and conversational as possible. You sound like a total crazy person sitting alone in a coffee shop trying to read 10 parts that overlap with each other.
There's something as a playwright I really relish about directing: to be able to move punctuation in real time, and to be able to ask, "How does that line feel in your mouth? Are you stumbling over it because it's a difficult line, or because it's not right?" It's really amazing. Actors are such an incredible resource, because they read more scripts than anybody.
So, directing a play of mine is preferable to me. I don't separate the two. I think of the whole process of making a play as one thing. I direct while I'm writing and I write while I direct.
I think very visually when I'm writing. I know that at a certain point I'll think, "I need to write in some business here, because Kat the director is going to need some help from the script in two months when we're staging it." I know I can fix things later when I'm wearing my director's hat.
That being said, working on Mustard was amazing – to have that opportunity on a professional production to just be concerned with the text. But I was in all the rehearsals, and the director, Ashlie Corcoran, was very generous with the input I was allowed to give on that show. That really was a dream, because she's just so brilliant.
Mustard runs to Jan. 28 at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre; Bang Bang runs Feb. 1 to 18 (previews begin Jan. 27) at Toronto's Factory Mainspace Theatre.