From page to stage: My play as an award-winning Fringe show

Guest post by Ellery Lamm

Artwork by Julie McLaughlin

If you picture what a writer looks like, you might conjure an image of someone hunched over a keyboard, maybe sitting at an antique desk in an aesthetically darkened attic, typing by gaslight. Or, I don’t know, a person at a cafe typing on, strangely, a typewriter? In any case, you’re probably picturing them alone.

While I’ve never personally written by gaslight or annoyed cafe patrons with the rhythmic pounds of a typewriter, it’s true that, generally, the solitary nature of writing is essential to the craft.

As an introvert, I love that period of quiet incubation. It’s like holding onto a secret, a good one, one you’re excited to share. What I love specifically about being a playwright and producing my own plays, is that aloneness is only 20%-ish of the playwriting gig.

It’s at that beginning, selfish stage, where a play exists in your mind only. And then, with many deep breaths, you hand over this thing of your own creation and you watch it walk away and take its own shape. The rest of the time, that 80%, it’s all about community: a group of dedicated individuals coming together to pull off the seemingly impossible.

My latest play, Summer Bucket List, is a project I began during the first semester of my MFA program at UVic. It’s a play about growing up as a girl and the often painful transition from girlhood to womanhood. It looks at the mental health of teenagers, and the damaging normalization of sexual violence.

Lili Martin, Willa Hladun (UVic student), and Maggie Martin

I produced the first draft of my play with my creative partner, Anna Marie Anderson (director of Summer Bucket List and Phoenix Theatre alum) during Victoria’s Fringe Festival this August. It’s a surreal experience to witness the transformation from page to stage.

This one play sits at the centre of a web of people. Springing from an idea originated in my mind, it was passed to director and then actors, stage manager and designers. All these wonderful people I didn’t know when I sat down to start writing.

Willa Hladun

When it’s finally opening night and the house is full and the lights go down, this story that all these people have brought to life begins to ripple out across the audience. Unlike publishing your novel or poetry collection, sitting in the audience watching your own play is witnessing in real-time the impact your words can have on people. It’s terrifying. And exhilarating. It’s an experience that isn’t possible without the commitment of many.

Most of our cast and crew were at the Fringe awards on September 1st. We sat together, taking up a section of three rows. When we won Best Drama and Best Original New Work, what I remember most is looking at all these excited faces around me, a shared joy at something we had accomplished together.

Maggie Martin, Arielle Parsons (UVic Theatre student) and Lili Martin

During the run of the play we also made friendship bracelets and sold them by donation after the show. The proceeds raised by our audiences ended up being over $500, and were donated to the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. This, by far, was the most meaningful.

Looking back and dissecting this process makes it all seem a bit like magic— that all these moments came from a single idea, that originated from the effort to put your fingers to a keyboard and keep typing until “Black out.” It always astounds me to witness the creative process of my story coming alive through the dedication of a whole, to witness my story become our story.


  • Anna Marie Anderson (director) UVic Theatre alum
  • Devon Vecchio (stage manager) Current UVic Theatre student
  • Aaron Smail (sound designer) Current UVic Theatre student
  • Hina Nishioka (lighting designer) Current UVic Theatre student

All photos by Ellery Lamm

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