Featured Member — Christine Quintana
Each month we interview member playwrights to share their work, stories and inspiration with the community. We recently spoke with Christine Quintana, an actor, playwright, and co-Artistic Producer of Delinquent Theatre. In these various capacities, she has worked with Tarragon Theatre, the Arts Club Theatre Company, Bard on the Beach, The Cultch, Neworld Theatre, Electric Company Theatre, Rumble Theatre, Boca Del Lupo, Zee Zee Theatre, Caravan Farm Theatre, Ruby Slippers Theatre, Playwrights Theatre Centre, Pi Theatre, Gateway Theatre, Nightswimming Theatre, Belfry Theatre, Stratford Festival, and Young People’s Theatre. Her writing has been translated and performed in Spanish, French, ASL, and German.
Creation/performing highlights include Clean (translated and adapted by Paula Zelaya Cervantes), premiering with Neworld Theatre and South Coast Repertory; Never The Last (co-created with Molly MacKinnon), produced by Delinquent Theatre, recipient of 5 Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nominations including Outstanding Production and Outstanding New Script and winner of Significant Artistic Achievement; Selfie (commissioned by Théâtre la Seizième in French, and Young People’s Theatre in English, Governor General’s Award nominee, winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding TYA Play, the Sydney Risk Prize for Outstanding Script by an Emerging Playwright, and the Tom Hendry award for TYA); Good Things To Do (rEvolver Festival and FoldA). Selected by Marcus Youssef for the 2017 Siminovitch Protege Prize for Playwriting, and is a proud co-founding member of the Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition. She holds a BFA in Acting from the University of British Columbia.
Tell us about how you got your start writing plays.
I have wanted to be an actor since I was about 8 years old — my school choir was chosen to be the ensemble in an original opera that went up at The Cultch. The Cultch has an amazing youth festival that I became involved in, which features a theatre festival where young writers can submit their plays and the winning 3 get produced the following year at the festival. At the time, the first prize was $600, which I wanted to win to spend on dance lessons to feed my musical theatre dreams. So I started writing plays every year as a get-rich-quick scheme (oh the irony)! Over the years I came to deeply love playwriting as much as I love acting. My very first plays were produced at the Cultch, and it means a lot that Clean/Espejos is there now.
Your play Clean is having its world premiere this month. Can you tell us about the development of this piece?
A few years ago, my dad won a door prize at a staff party at the resort he and my aunt worked at in Cancun. The prize was a trip for two to their resort — he invited me, and I went. I entered the resort through the staff entrance, but stayed as a guest. The experience was so completely disorienting — we were in Mexico, but the version of Mexico constructed by American-owned companies on Mexican land. I was a guest, but continually dipped into the real(er) world of my father and aunt’s lives outside the resort. It was a bizarre and beautiful trip, and when I came home to Canada I wrote the play 6 weeks later. The feeling of disembodiment there felt so resonant with the experience of disassociation that comes out of trauma — the splitting of the self.
What was it like working with a translator (Paula Zelaya Cervante) for Clean?
Paula is an incredible theatre artist who I first met at the University of British Columbia, where we both studied. She’s now based in Mexico City, where she is a celebrated director and playwright, as well as a sought-after translator. I knew I wanted to collaborate with Paula somehow after seeing her beautiful play The Orbweaver in Vancouver. Paula’s voice as a theatre maker is feminist, contemporary, and heartfelt, and she’s been an invaluable collaborator in crafting Adriana’s voice and situating her within all of the complex racial, class, and gender strata of Mexican society. Translation is an art form — Paula has done an incredible job riffing off the rhythms, images, and humour of the English text and adapting it to make it truly Mexican and let it live in an authentic way. It was a huge task that Paula did with grace and integrity. I’m so so grateful for our collaboration. It has brought me such joy to encounter delightful linguistic treats, such as how Paula’s translation of “fresh as a fucking daisy” translates back into English to “fresh as fucking lettuce.”
What did it mean to you to have your play Selfie nominated for a Governor General’s Award for Drama?
I feel like one of the most special things about the GG nomination was getting to share it with my partner, Jiv Parasram, who was nominated as well! We woke up to a barrage of texts and phone calls (West Coast time means always being a little bit behind). Being honoured alongside other playwrights that I admire so much was so meaningful — as was being recognized for a TYA piece, which are sometimes not taken as seriously as ‘regular’ theatre. I only regret that we didn’t get a chance to celebrate in person. I’ve always dreamed of going to a black tie event!
What are you working on next?
After Clean/Espejos, I’ll continue work on three commissions — Someone Like You for the Arts Club Theatre Company, Jo for the Belfry Theatre, and El Terremoto for Tarragon. I’m really interested in making the plays I started before the pandemic really meet the moment we’re going to find ourselves in in the years to come. I think art will have a huge role to play in processing and grieving what has happened, and reinvisioning and building a new future. I hope I can be part of that.
Do you have any favourite Canadian plays?
SO MANY. Some of my faves of the last few years — Take D Milk, Nah? by Jiv Parasram, Anywhere But Here by Carmen Aguirre, Marine Life by Rosa Laborde, and Controlled Damage by Andrea Scott. I also think of Cul De Sac by Daniel McIvor, which ended up being a huge stylistic inspiration for Clean/Espejos. I first saw that over 15 years ago at The Cultch ❤
Check out the world premiere of Clean/Espejos at the Cultch: https://thecultch.com/event/clean-espejos/
Find out more about Christine’s work on her website, or follow her on Twitter @christinequinty.
You can purchase scripts written by Christine at the Canadian Play Outlet.
Disclaimer: Playwrights Guild of Canada (“PGC”) is a national arts service mandated to engage and grow an active Canadian writing community. We promote Canadian plays around the world to advance the creative rights and interests of professional Canadian playwrights for the stage. The views of our members are their own. The opinions of PGC as an association remain neutral.