Editor’s Note

To look up from my own work as a playwright and professor and edit this issue of Understory Magazine, with its focus on diverse stories of womxn on stage, was in some ways the pause that refreshes. It is inspiring to have this opportunity to engage with the unique and rich work being done by artists across the country. How invigorating to edit this issue at a time when equity, diversity, and inclusion are finally coming to the forefront of theatre and the performing arts! Pow.

Many thanks to Katherine Barrett for helping to shape and refine the idea for this issue. There were many ideas in the air when she asked me to edit an issue. Some might have easier but this, we felt, was the most needful and challenging. To have a glimpses into the lives, work, and artistic practices of the writers you see featured here, and to deliver their work to you, is a distinct honour. You will find excerpts from plays or performance texts, creative nonfiction about the inner lives of performers, and poems that capture the particular frisson of “liveness” and what it means to be on stage.

At the same time, editing this issue was also heartbreaking in some ways. As The Status of Women in Canadian Theatre, Equity in Theatre, and other similar initiatives reveal, there is a still a huge disparity between the challenging and rich work being done by womxn and what actually makes it onto Canadian stages. There are so many calls for “opportunities” for playwrights … that don’t offer much opportunity at all. There are so few opportunities for real play development and production. So much more work to be done.

It was a key and joyful part of this process to co-edit with writer and Mount Royal University student Audrey Jamieson. A colleague and I were recently discussing the fact that if you don’t have a mentee under thirty years old, you’re kinda doing it wrong. This is as true of editing a magazine as it is in the classroom or in the rehearsal hall. As I enter the middle (ahem, prime) of life as an artist, it is just as important to be a mentee as it is to be mentor. We must all strive to attune our ears to fellow artists in all stages of their lives.

We are really proud to offer you this issue, Diverse Stories of Women on Stage. It is in no way exhaustive, but it is certainly rich and diverse.

Natalie Meisner

About Natalie Meisner

Natalie Meisner is a widely produced author of stage plays and an award-winning multi-genre author. Her play BOOM BABY (about the lives of Maritimers working in the oil patch) won both the Canadian National Playwriting Award and the Alberta Playwriting Award and will debut at Eastern Front Theatre in 2020. Double Pregnant: Two Lesbians Make a Family topped nonfiction lists and was a finalist in the Atlantic Book Awards. SPEED DATING FOR SPERM DONORS (Playwright’s Canada Press, forthcoming) was a hit at Lunchbox and Neptune Theatres. Her first children’s book My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother & Me is available from Nimbus Publishing. Baddie One Shoe, a new book of poems, is an ode to the renegades of the past and present who fight the powers that be with laughter. Legislating Love: The Everett Klippert Story looks at the life of the last person to be jailed for homosexuality in Canada. Meisner is a wife and mom to two great boys and a Professor in the Department of English at Mount Royal University where she works in the areas of creative writing, drama and gender/sexuality studies. www.nataliemeisner.com

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