Volume 91, Issue 93

Wednesday, March 25, 1998



Playing with genre

By Christina Vardanis
Gazette Staff

As a playwright, journalist, TV and film scriptwriter, short story writer and director of both stage and screen, Canadian aboriginal Drew Hayden Taylor could be referred to as the 'Jedi Master' of creative expression using the written word. So what does such a master choose to see when he goes out to be entertained?

"Anything with nudity," jokes Taylor. This charming and charismatic writer spent his early days composing for television shows with native representation, such as Street Legal and North of Sixty. Slowly, Taylor grew frustrated with the politics of the industry and left his lucrative position to pursue writing for the stage.

"I have this weird writer thing where I like to have control over my words," he says of his TV resignation. "With television, production companies own your words and rewrite them to suit their needs."

Bound for the stage, he wrote of his "own experiences as an Ojibway, to act as a window into the Native community and society as a whole." The past eight years has seen the professional production of 31 of his plays, as well as prestigious award nods for his dramatic efforts. It seems Taylor has found his niche.

"I consider myself first and foremost a playwright," says Taylor, adding philosophically of his other journalistic dabblings "I like fresh raspberries too, but one can not live on fresh raspberries alone."

As for the rewards of stage-writing versus script-writing, Taylor relishes in the immediate benefit of witnessing an emotional reaction his words have created. "I like being able to see an instant human response. I like to see people laugh and sometimes sadistically get off by seeing them cry."

Taylor takes advantage of his talent for sarcasm and comedy to create scripts for the stage that are witty, intelligent and above all entertaining, while drawing attention to the voice of a Canadian minority.

"I prefer human stories and comedies," he states. "But I've also been touched very deeply by some dramas. I try to bring a little bit of everything to my shows." His plays transcend all nationalities, as he portrays human stories in a Native setting – not socially-bound issues that are native-specific. Taylor says his goal is "to give a story that people will recognize from existence – and of course, show nudity."

Currently on Taylor's plate is an urban native horror film. And when this project is done? "The only things I haven't played with yet are novels and poetry," he muses. "So I guess I'll write a poetic novel."

Taylor will pay a visit to Western today, entertaining and educating students with various plays and short stories about native minorities. He will be working the crowd in Rm. 3024 of the Social Science Centre at 4 p.m. and continues at the Forest City Gallery tonight at 8 p.m. – clothing is optional.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998