It was such a treat and honour to chat with this week’s guest, award winning playwright, Clem Martini!
Clem tells us all about his deeply personal play, ‘Cantata, a dramatization and fictionalization of Martini’s experience as a caregiver for a brother with schizophrenia and a mother developing dementia, which is currently playing at Sage Theatre in Calgary.
Clem also talks about his intentionally diverse works in the writing world and how he advises his students to write what's on their plate.
AWARD-WINNING CALGARIAN PLAY DEBUTS AT SAGE THEATRE
Marimba and Martinis. Who could ask for more? The world premiere of Clem Martini’s new play Cantata (Rumours Of My Crazy, Useless Life) hits the stage with Sage Theatre on April 28th, and runs until May 7th at cSpace King Edward. Artistic Director Jason Mehmel helms this local, powerhouse team (Duval Lang, Brian Jensen, Valerie Campbell, and Precious Akpoguma) to share this thoughtful and moving story that won the 2021 Theatre BC National Playwrighting Competition.
Cantata (Rumours Of My Crazy, Useless Life) is a dramatization and fictionalization of Martini’s experience as a caregiver for a brother with
schizophrenia and a mother developing dementia. The family
undergoes much stress as the delicate balance of caregiving unravels. “While this is by no means a
COVID-focussed play,” says Mehmel “the ideals of caregiving and family have been in the forefront of
people’s minds for the last two years. I think we have all been reflecting on how difficult it can be to look
after our loved ones when something big changes.”
Family has played a large part in the formation and creation of Cantata. Not only is the show semi-
autobiographical and based on Martini’s life, but it’s actually an adaptation of the book that the two
brothers wrote, The Unravelling: How our caregiving safety net came unstrung and we were left
grasping at threads, struggling to plait a new one. The book is a memoir, told through illustrations and
text, exploring similar themes that the show touts. The Unravelling won the Alberta Trade Fiction Book of
the Year Award in 2018 and was shortlisted for the W.O. Mitchell Book Prize in the same year.
“Obviously, Cantata shares deep ties with Clem and his family,” says Mehmel “but the fictionalization is
especially important. It allows us to both acknowledge the real lives behind the story, and to make creative
choices that make for an engaging production.”
Clem Martini is no stranger to the Calgarian theatre scene and is a pillar of the Canadian artistic community. Audiences have seen many of his works over the past few years, including Afterlife (Lunchbox Theatre), The Secret Life of the Octopus (Quest Theatre), Illegal Entry (Alberta Theatre Projects), and Selling Mr. Rushdie (Workshop West). He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2020, he was awarded the ATB Financial Healing Through the Arts Award in 2016, and he’s a three-time recipient of the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Playwrighting. He is currently the Chair of the Division of Drama in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.
Joining Martini and Mehmel in Sage Theatre’s production is fellow U of C Professor and professional musician Rod Squance. Squance composed music for the piece, helped to musically develop the show in its workshop stages, and will be performing live marimba with the actors on stage.
For more information on Cantata, you can go to https://sagetheatre.com/cantata/ - to buy tickets, you can head to https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?show=133228 (Tickets range from $5-$60 in a Pay- What-You-Will model). For all press inquires, please contact Artistic Associate Griffin Cork at email@example.com or 587-889-7111.
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