Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Michael Rubenfeld

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Michael

March 28, 2009 -

OBT:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

MR:

My first publication was my play, Spain, published in an anthology of plays called 5 Hot Plays by Playwrights’ Canada Press in Toronto.

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

MR:

The play I am staging in May, The of Book of Judith, is based on the work I did with a quadriplegic woman named Judith Snow. She is brilliant woman who helped me expose my own ignorance to myself. She is a magician. The play is about that experience.

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

MR:

Because I am so heavily based in theatre, I will talk about plays. The first would be Crackwalker by Judith Thomson, because it really began a new wave in Canadian Theatre. The second is Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad. Wajdi emigrated from Lebanon, and he has brought a voice to the country that is both “ours” and “theirs.” The third is East of Berlin by Hannah Moscovitch. It is Hannah’s greatest success so far, but is only the beginning of what is going to be a new voice in the future of our culture.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

MR:

Either a very busy coffee shop, with a double-Americano flowing through me, or a cottage in the woods, with nothing but my thoughts and fears.

OBT:

William Faulkner was once asked what book he wished he had written; he chose Moby Dick (with Winnie the Pooh as a close second). Is there a book that you wish you had written?

MR:

Love in the Time of Cholera or anything by Phillip Roth.

OBT:

Is there a book that you think you should have read by now but haven’t?

MR:

Anna Karenina or The Brothers Karamazov.

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

MR:

Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen, The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein and about 200 scripts submitted to the SummerWorks Festival.

OBT:

Do you have a specific readership in mind when you write?

MR:

Not specific, but I think my work appeals to downtown audiences. My work is does not let audiences off easy (or so I like to think). More and more, I am thinking about ways to implicate an audience in a performance. Theatre is unique in that it does not exist without an audience. Everything is happening in real time. Conceptually, I don’t think we take as much advantage of the sort of power theatre has. You have a group of people in a room who have paid to be there to co-exist. It's an incredible opportunity, that I think is often wasted.

OBT:

What are you working on right now?

MR:

The Book of Judith. It’s a play I wrote (with Sarah Stanley) that I’m going to be performing myself with a 16 person choir in a tent at CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) at the end of May 2009. I’m also writing a musical called The Ugly Princess with Hannah Moscovitch.

OBT:

Do you have any advice for writers who are trying to get published?

MR:

I’m not sure how it works with fiction/non-fiction. With My Fellow Creatures, I just made sure to invite the publisher to the performance. They came. They liked the play. They offered to publish it.

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