Deep Bay a literary haven

West End artists push forward on writing projects


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/07/2016 (2260 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When it comes to writing, the biggest challenge can be all of the distractions. This summer, West End artists Grant Guy and Charlene Van Buekenhout are getting the chance to leave it all behind and head to Clear Lake to take part in the Deep Bay Artists’ Residency, which is organized through the Manitoba Arts Council.

Guy spent two weeks at Clear Lake in June, during which time he worked on what he hopes will be a monologue about the life and lies of Calamity Jane.

“I’ll let it dictate itself,” Guy said of the format. “Mostly I was organizing my previous thoughts and going over my research and doing further research, which included watching movies and reading novels and nonfiction on her and the times that she lived in.

Supplied photo Charlene Van Buekenhout during a reading of her piece, Dr. Kellogg’s System. She will be heading to Clear Lake for an artists’ residency in August to work on a new play.

“There are a number of reasons that I have fascination for it, one being that everything we know about the characters and the myths of the old west is pretty much based on lies.”

A quick online search turns up that Calamity Jane, born Martha Jane Canary, was an American frontierswoman and scout and was an romantically involved with Wild Bill Hickok. Her dictated autobiography claims that she was mothered his child — all of which, Guy says, is false.

“It’s all based on exaggerations and a lot of the lies she started herself,” Guy said. “It’s not just her, it’s almost all of them, all the great legends of the old west… I want to confront the lies and create new ones.”

Van Buekenhout will be working on a dynamic performance piece that she refers to as a theatre scavenger hunt. She says she was inspired by theatre company Punchdrunk, which put on a performance in a five-storey warehouse in New York. Audience members had to follow performers to piece together the story.

“My piece is called The Hunt at this point, and I’d like to see the audience and performers start in one area and then the split off,” Van Buekenhout said. “They would follow the performers that they’re supposed to be with but at some point… in doing that, they come across other performers and follow them. You can leave the story and follow another that is intriguing to you.” Grant Guy will be writing a monologue on the life and lies of Calamity Jane.

Van Buekenhout is picturing the performance taking place in the Exchange District, where she will be able to move the performers and audience throughout the neighbourhood and incorporate the area’s diverse history and architecture. She says she hopes to include elements of drama, comedy and dance to create a cohesive narrative. Her residency begins on Aug. 8.

“It’s hard to work on something when you’re inside of your own life,” she said. “I’m in my house and I want to vacuum or something stead of work on what I’m doing. Going to Deep Bay would mean there’s no distractions, just beautiful water and wildlife and fresh air… you have to let go of whatever you brought with you from the city.”

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