Stitch (Solo) Kylie Grandview, one of the nameless faces that blip through the world of internet pornography, is suffering a first episode psychosis. Her bff Itchia, a yeast infection, talks her into a series of self-sabotaging decisions that lead to her own disfigurement and the loss of her child. ‘Stitch’ is Kylie Grandview’s last desperate attempt to be heard.
I started writing Stitch when I was twenty-two. I was living in a roach-infested basement. There was no natural light—I wrote under fluorescence. I shared the apartment with a prostitute who paid me ten dollars a trick to rent the bedroom. I’d be writing late at night or early in the morning, get a knock at the door, and have to walk around outside for fifteen minutes and write in a notebook. Imagine following a mascaraed stranger into a dank basement and seeing cheerful little me making myself scarce, skittering out like one of the roaches: “Have a nice time.”
Then I’d come back and write until I had to go to work for a special event company. I carried furniture by day, barely ate, just smoked.
The central image in Stitch came from a dream my mom had. The form was influenced by VideoCabaret, Linda Griffiths’s Baby Finger, and Daniel Brooks and Daniel MacIvor’s Monster. I was reading a lot of Hubert Selby Jr., Chuck Palahniuk, and Irvine Welsh.
Looking back, I know why I’m a writer. No writer enjoys writing- don’t tell me it’s fun. Acting is fun; writing is very, very difficult work. It happens because you’re compelled. I know why I’m compelled.
It’s mommy issues. My mom is an actor. She traveled around a lot. And she was consistently underused and misrepresented in the work she was doing. She fought hard for years for incremental changes in the way we tell stories. Her work is still felt. But still, she was stressed out a lot. She traveled and worked so hard for so little- a lot of the time doing stuff that didn’t deserve her. But the one thing that made her happiest, the one thing that made her walk on air: was when she’d been working on good writing.
I wrote the draft. It was messy and heartbroken. I loved it. I was just beginning to write me. What scared and turned me on. I was beginning to write what embarrassed me.
I sent it to Leanna Brodie. I met her the summer before at the Blythe festival. She introduced me to a few dramaturges. I started working with her husband, Jovanni Sy.
Jovanni is one of my favourite collaborators and human beings. His eye for detail and specificity is razor-sharp. I think he was an engineer before, you can tell by the clarity of his perspective; but he’s also a big, warm soul. The kind of guy you’d love to make a porno with.
Andy Moro has been a hero of mine since I was fifteen. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a total VideoCab groupie. Also the play Monster completely detached my head from my body. He gave a really generous read.
We did some workshops at cahoots and videocab. We worked with Cara Gee and were blown away- not just by her talent; but also by her empathy and understanding of the rhythms of Kylie Grandview. We won two awards at SummerWorks. Cara’s a movie star now.
Then we met Heather Haynes. Heather has been doing controversial work for a long time. I think she saw Stitch as a piece of art on its own, outside theatre. We formed an ad hoc collective and Heather raised the money for a re-mount. We approached Native Earth about presenting in their theatre and they said they’d do it.
Since then we’re really stoked that Jen Stobart came on to Stage Manage; and to have Luca Moro as composer. Andy and Luca were eventually nominated for a dora for their sound design.
Okay, casting the re-mount. Let me tell you the end of this story first:
Georgina Beatty. Exclamation point. Georgina absolutely destroyed us- and with a taped audition. Again not just with her talent, we saw a lot of talented performances, but with the way she embodied the character. I was at once excited and intimidated. I ached for her to play Kylie Grandview.
The only downside is that she’s white. Okay, okay, I shouldn’t say that, but there you go: I’m a racist. I’m about putting First Nations artists, particularly women, on the stage. Even though Kylie Grandview isn’t First Nations I was really hoping that we’d cast a First Nations performer. But we didn’t. Not this time.
Here’s three reasons why it was good that we didn’t: One, The art. Georgina is very well suited to the role. Both her style and aesthetic and also her experience on stage as an actor, a creator, and as a director of other projects make her an extremely potent collaborator. The production was truly blessed to work with her. Two, Stitch is not about a First Nations woman, or First Nations women; it’s about why Kylie Grandview tells her story. I’m a First Nations artist; but culturally specific stories aren’t the only ones that compel me. I think our community’s theatre should be up for our artists’ explorations even if they’re not culturally specific. Three, Murdered and missing women. The conversation has gained velocity since 2011. It was happening before but now the scope is being exposed and people are really fucking pissed off- and we should be. I think that casting a First Nations performer in the role of Kylie Grandview would reference a conversation that we’re just not prepared to have with this play.
The run at Native Earth was really great. Georgina is an amazing performer. She broke people’s hearts. For sure not everyone liked it. It’s really dark and excruciating- it’s not for everyone. But some people are weird and get into this kind of shit. Like me.