Theatre Passe Muraille’s Intern Dramaturge Merlin Simard is among award winners in the 2020 Buddies Queer Emerging Art Awards and is a recipient of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the America’s ECD Residency grant.
Merlin Simard (iel/elle/they/she) joined the TPM team in August 2020 as our Intern Dramaturge. Recently, Merlin was awarded Buddies in Bad Times’ Buddies Queer Emerging Art Awards – an award that recognizes and encourages the achievements of queer artists who are founding careers in the arts while engaging with the community.
Merlin is also one of the artists in this season’s TPM BUZZ, a Development Series focuses on creating an artistic process that places the art and artist at the centre.
Ever wanted to learn about the role of a Dramaturge? We asked Merlin some questions about their work!
Can you describe the role of Intern Dramaturge? What do you love about the role?
Dramaturge act as an important advisor, researcher and editor to theatrical projects and artists during the work-in-development.
As Intern Dramaturge, I’ve gotten the chance to work with Marjorie on some really exciting projects that have gone through TPM’s doors in the last months. Through this internship, I was able to assist on Katie Ready Walters’ Wall With A Door, open up my brain to what the future of accessibility will look like, and get to familiarize myself with so many exciting projects through TPM’s RGTC grants.
As a disabled artist, it is so disheartening to see arts organizations time and time (& time) again disregard even the most basic of requests from our community. One of the most exciting parts of my internship was to get the rare opportunity to work with an institution that really puts accessibility front and centre. This is so precious and should by no means be an exception. Overall, It has been so exciting to get to work with such a broad scope of artistic practices that were led by such brilliant artists.
Plus, the TPM team is amazing and made me feel so welcomed!
How did you first get to know TPM? How did you get involved?
The first winter I arrived in Toronto, I went to see Bilal Baig’s, Acha Bacha at TPM. Not to be that *dramatic* theatre kid, but seeing this play changed my life. It was the first time that I saw an ESL, transfeminine character on stage. I remember sitting next to this older man in the mainspace on that Saturday matinee being like “ok but WHAT”. When the world seemed so intent to stifle my dream of femininity, TPM allowed my imagination to run free.
I first met Marjorie through the Paprika Festival, where she taught a dramaturgy workshop on one of our training days. As she guided us through a PowerPoint filled with cats, I just knew that this was what I wanted to do and that I wanted to learn how to do it from her. When everyone was packing up, I went up to her and struck up a conversation & here we are now!
Can you talk a little bit about your BUZZ workshop of FEAR OF MEN?
Yabsolutely! FEAR OF MEN is a monologue-based, multi-lingual play that unpacks the ways sexism manifests itself in trans* and gender diverse communities. Following a full week of writing guided by Bilal Baig (the coolest director a gal could ask for), we have invited a collective of 5 brilliant performers based across Turtle Island to spend some time with us reading and chatting about where the piece is at.
What is something that was really memorable to you while working at TPM?
Getting to create theatre in the VR world, removing the headset, and having to get accustomed to “reality” all over again.
TPM’s season hashtag this year is #TPMNavigatingTheNow. What does “Navigating the Now” mean for you?
Surrendering to things we have no control over and fighting for the things we do.
What is a thought that you are chewing on these days?
That having the discourse around identity so rooted in the English language allows my French-speaking community to blame societal issues as an import of the english speaking one, instead of addressing the harm that it creates in its respective linguistic setting. Language has always been politicized!
Why do you make theatre?
Because it makes me feel good. but ALSO to make sure that the moving experience of seeing someone like you on stage doesn’t remain a privilege for too long.
Merlin Simard (they/she/iel/elle) is a disabled, Franco-Ontarian, Queer, trans-feminine performer, playwright, dramaturge, and filmmaker originally from Tiohtiá:ke (Montréal) now based in Tkarón:to (Toronto).
Select theatre performance credits: E-TRANSFERS (Buddies In Bad Times/BCurrent/NTS), Curious Voyage (Talk Is Free Theatre/DLT), The Flick (Crow’s Theatre/Outside The March), Tape Escape (Outside The March), FEAR OF MEN ((Staged Reading) Assembly Theatre) and Gruesome Playground Injuries (Playground Productions)
TV/Film: Grand Army (Netflix), This Life (CBC)
Playwriting: FEAR OF MEN (in development at Theatre Passe Muraille), ZADDY ISSUES (In development at Ergo Arts Theatre) and E-TRANSFERS (Buddies In Bad Times/BCurrent/NTS (co-written with Gabe Maharjan)). Merlin currently holds the position of Dramturgy Intern at Theatre Passe Muraille.