by TJ Dawe
TJ Dawe is a Vancouver based writer/performer/director/dramaturge. He's participated in more than 100 theatre festivals. He's been involved, in one way or another, in the creation of 30 or so plays. One of them has been made into a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe. Another one has been touring the world for 10 years. Seven have been published.
So day after day, Ryan and I have been rehearsing, with a paid, professional stage manager and a design team.
Never Shoot a Stampede Queen was published as a memoir in 2009. I read it and loved it - particularly the Union story, which is one of several threads in the book. It went on to win the Leacock Medal for Humour. Mark and I have been working on turning it into a one person show for a few years now. So I’ve been dramaturging as well as directing. Is that what a dramaturg does? I offer feedback. Ask for a new draft. And another one. And how about these changes? Maybe this aspect of the story would be clearer if you added these things and removed these and switched these around and set this up earlier.
In one sequence, the protagonist reporter character gets stopped on his way into the Williams Lake Stampede - one of the biggest rodeos in the world - for not wearing Western Style Dress, as his press pass mandates. He’s stopped by what’s described as a “Monster Cowboy,” who later takes down a big drunken bruiser who’s picking fights and laying people out at a barn dance. Ryan played Monster Cowboy with a deep, menacing voice. That totally works, but what if he had an unexpectedly high voice, I wondered in one run through, like Mike Tyson? Ryan ran with that direction, and now his rendition of the giant cowboy with a whiny Mickey Mouse voice is one of my favourite elements of the show. That scene got pinned that much higher that day.
Mark added a few lines when he was here last, lines that aren’t in the book. He said they’re now his two favourite lines in the show. Pin. Pin.
Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops, B.C.
April 18-May 4
Also at The Arts Club, Vancouver
May 9-May 25