The latest show from Jessie Award winning Solo Collective Theatre is Green Lake, the story of three weeks at summer camp and starting life as a adult, coming to Performance Works November 17-27. We spoke to playwright Katey Hoffman—who you may recognize as one half of The After After Party, which won the Public Market Pick of the Fringe, the Georgia Straight Critics Choice Award, and the Cultchivating the Fringe Award at the 2016 Vancouver Fringe—about her script and why coming of age stories are so alluring.
Tell us about your script. What’s the gist of the story?
Green Lake is the story of Jane NoName, a neglected misfit at summer camp, whose life changes completely when she falls in love for the first time and starts seeing the truth of the world around her: her mom is only human, being happy isn’t something she can aspire to, she might just be “sick in the head,” but maybe, just maybe, there are people and places worth living for. Flashing-forward to being 25 and confronting her father for the first time on his dilapidated front porch, Green Lake is Jane’s beautifully messy and triumphantly hard-won coming-of-age.
It’s not based on any true events. That said, it is a very personal story. My experience at these ages was the fuel for the piece.
What inspired you to write this show?
I was inspired to write this show when Aaron Bushkowsky asked me to write a show. But really, that was the fire under my arse to tell a story that was inside me for so long. I’ve always been fascinated by bildungsroman literature and film. To be simultaneously full of childlike wonder and also have the shape of the world come crashing into focus. Hormones galore mixed with realizing the world is not as you thought it was, popularity politics mixed with questioning who you are and how you fit into it all—it’s a very powerful and fucked up time. It’s our first time really finding out who we are and how we fit into the world.
Did you conduct any research in order to write this play? Tell us about what you researched.
I am a voracious reader so I am constantly finding inspiration in the stories people tell. Green Lake references Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which is one of my favourite books. I also stumbled upon a graphic novel by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki called This One Summer which is a beautifully heartbreaking story about two childhood friends. The artwork is especially good. Some movies that I found helpful in my exploration of the precarious time between childhood and teenage years were Sleeping Giant, The Way Way Back, Moonrise Kingdom, All This Panic, and The Squid and the Whale.
How difficult is it to hand over your script to directors and actors?
It is a difficult thing to hand over a script. I feel like I could keep working on it—tweaking things here and there—until the day I die. But at some point I just have to let go and trust that what I have is what I have, and that’s okay. And I have to trust other people! I’m so lucky to have people like Aaron Bushkowsky and Rachel Peake—two treasured mentors—on board with a project that is very close to my heart.
Get your tickets to Green Lake, on November 17-27 today!