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June 26, 2019

A Word With… Playwright Stephen Massicotte

On the return of the Jedi Handbook, his shiny new work and which of his idols he thinks would make good breakfast buddies.

 

Like many of his artistically inclined brethren, playwright Stephen Massicotte‘s career has led him to the evergreener pastures of New York City. That said, Massicotte, who is best known for the award-winning work Mary’s Wedding, still thinks of Calgary as “home” on account of the formative years between 1992 and 2008 he spent in the city, a period that began with his enrollment in the U of C’s drama program. In that sense, Ground Zero Theatre could be considered Massicotte’s home company – a relationship that extends back to University days, and continues to bring his works to the stage with the upcoming production of the Massicotte-penned coming-of-age comedy The Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook (co-presented by Hit & Myth Productions) which runs Feb. 11 to 21 at Vertigo Theatre.

We caught up with Massicotte for a word about old times, new work and why he’d prefer to do breakfast than dinner with his literary and film idols.

What are your feelings on having Jedi Handbook back on stage?

It makes me both excited and nostalgic. GZT and I have history that goes back to our University days; we all came up together. Up until my play Mary’s Wedding premiered at Alberta Theatre Projects, pretty much all of my previous plays – Looking After EdenThe Boy’s Own Jedi Handbooks, Pervert – were produced by GZT, so this reminds me of those good old days. But also, we’ve all grown up a lot, so I’m excited for this continued collaboration, and I trust them to do a great job with this show.

Has the play evolved from when you first put it out there?

Yeah, it definitely has. It was initially just the one, the original Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook, and then the two next parts, or sequels, got written over the next few years. Nowadays, they’re all just called The Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook. Lots of jokes or bits in the later part of the play weren’t inspired by my childhood memories the way the earlier part was. They came from performing the show. In a number of the earliest productions, I played the supporting role of James, and even more recently in some readings. So when I wrote the later parts, I let our performances grow into the writing. Also, every time the play gets produced again there’s more Star Wars to riff on with each new movie that comes out, so I’m always punching up the jokes and adding new bits here and there.

What new stuff are you currently working on?

I’ve recently finished writing a YA adventure novel called SILVER. I’m hoping that gets picked up soon so I can share it with everyone, I’m pretty stoked about it. And I have several new play ideas on the burner. I’m not quite sure what I’ll be writing next, honestly. It might be a play, or a screenplay, or a SILVER sequel, who knows?

If you could host a dinner party with any five people, living or dead, whom would you invite and why?

That’s a tough one, because it’s not like just catching a coffee or having breakfast, one-on-one style. You’ve got to think about the group dynamics and who would play off of whom. I guess I’d invite Ernest Hemingway, Christopher Hitchens, Albert Camus, Richard Burton and Dorothy Parker, maybe. That would be a really nice heady one, really thrilling. There’d be a lot of philosophy, literature and wit thrown about, and after all the drinking there might be a recitation contest.

I’m gonna go ahead and cheat and throw out another option: Marlon Brando, Edgar Allan Poe, Van Gogh, Orson Welles and Katherine Hepburn. Is that too many actors for one evening? And I’d have to sneak my girlfriend in there, so that she’d make sure I didn’t nervously talk too much. A big social occasion like a dinner party would probably be too much for me. I’d opt to be breakfast buds anytime with any or all of those folks. Also, just to be extra greedy, I’d like to be movie-going chums with Tom Hardy, Francis Coppola and Cate Blanchett.

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