Featured Member — Frances Koncan
**Each month we interview member playwrights to share their work, stories and inspiration with the community. We recently spoke with Frances Koncan, a Taurus and a writer of mixed Anishinaabe and Slovene descent from Couchiching First Nation. She is currently based in Winnipeg, Manitoba where she lives with her dog, Tucker, and works as a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
What was your journey to playwriting like?
My journey to playwriting was very indirect and convoluted! I liked writing as a kid, but struggled in English class. I mostly focused on music in high school. I played the piano and the French Horn in a bunch of school and national bands, and went to music school for a year before realizing that I didn’t find joy in recreating the work someone else had composed. I started writing my own songs, and, while working at a theatre in the box office, I started reading scripts, which lead to writing my own. Those plays got in me in to grad school at Brooklyn College’s MFA program, and I’ve been writing as a career since then, and I hope all my English teachers regret giving me so many failing grades!!!
What excites you the most about writing?
I guess I like writing as a method of communicating ideas… it’s the most instinctual method to me after sitting at piano and smashing some keys. I really love language, and how it evolves, which has been expedited by social media. I love all the contemporary slang that pops out of cyberland these days! It all changes so quickly and it’s all so fantastic.
How was your experience transitioning from emerging to established playwright?
I don’t think this happened yet! I definitely still consider myself an emerging playwright. I think most grants say you need 3 professionally produced or published plays to be considered establish, and I’m only at 1 produced and 0 published! I’ll probably feel slightly more emerged next year, after my first big play premiere with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. But even then, I don’t know if I can get rid of my imposter syndrome. It’s a big part of my whole vibe!
Can you tell us a bit about your next upcoming project?
My most immediate next project is a play at the Winnipeg Fringe called Trendsettlers: Episode IV, which is about the Oregon Trail (the actual trail and the video game). After that, Women of the Fur Trade at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. And then I don’t know! I actually just did a little career pivot from theatre to journalism, so I’m excited to explore that style of writing for a little while. Maybe a new play will come out of it?
What’s your favourite thing about being a PGC member?
I think my favourite thing about being a PGC member is feeling supported and being a part of a community! Writing in general can be so isolating and I often feel like a ghost, and we don’t always get to connect with each other the way actors connect at rehearsals every day. PGC helps facilitate that and keeps me from feeling lost at sea!
Outside of theatre, what are some of your interests?
I love sports! I love how sports engage an audience. I really want to write plays that people enjoy going to, and feel passionate about, like the way people feel about their fav teams. I love hockey and the NY Rangers, but when I’m in Winnipeg I’ll wear my Jets jersey proudly! For baseball, I love the NY Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. I don’t know much about football, but I love movies about football, like The Replacements starring Keanu Reeves. Keanu Reeves is inexplicably a big hobby for me. I’ve seen all his movies at least twice. I was almost his personal assistant on a film once but I think the casting people googled me and found my old blog posts where I would photoshop my head on Sandra Bullock’s body in photos of them. I did not get the job. I love music and wish I played more. I love watching dance and wish I knew how. When I’m stressed, which is often, I do origami. I’ve been making a concentrated effort to develop hobbies, interests, and friendship outside of theatre, because I realized recently that I have absolutely none. It’s a work-in-progress!
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.