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Posted August 6, 2021

The Interview – Rosamund Small

Rosamund Small

Rosamund Small is Artistic Associate at Outside the March Theatre. Her plays include Vitals, Sisters, Maven, and TomorrowLoveTM, an immersive theatrical experience about love, technology and the future. Vitals was honoured with Dora Mavor Moore awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding New Play, as well as the Nora Epstein National Literary Award and the JP Bickell Award for Drama. Rosamund now writes for television shows including CBC’s Strays, Kim’s Convenience, and Tall Boyz. Rosamund studied Theatre and Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. She is a graduate of the Soulpepper Academy.

You’ve done several classroom visits recently. Can you tell us a little bit about them?

I had the pleasure of visiting groups of students at the University of Toronto, Waterloo University, and the University of New Brunswick this year, and in previous years I have spoken to students at the University of Guelph, Humber, Sheridan, Brock, George Brown and Windsor.  Many of these classes were studying my plays, but through very different lenses. One class read my play Vitals through the lens of studying public health; another sci-fi English class read TomorrowLove, my series of short plays. Other classes focused on the craft of playwriting, and other classes were theatre acting or producing classes, mounting one of my plays. I’ve also had the pleasure of speaking to continuing ed classes that study plays out of sheer joy, or as part of a creative writing class.

Why is it important for students to engage with working writers?

Visiting classrooms is always an incredible gift, a way to show students that the document they hold—one of my scripts—is meant to be a living template for a gathering of people experiencing and creating live drama (or over Zoom, as the case may be).  I remember university as a fairly “dusty” time—the works we studied felt not alive, and I have a great desire for live connection. I hope my visits with students help them feel that liveness.

I find exchanging ideas with students incredibly valuable. They often have deep political insights into my work, and how they want to engage with it. They also have curiosities about behind-the-scenes stories, how a first draft gets written, and how a play gets produced and rehearsed. It’s always a joy to lift the curtain on these backstage stories of joy and struggle. I find it satisfying to bring relief to students who want to write but find it intimidating—I do too! And sharing process and the challenges I have faced, I hope, makes them feel better and more curious about their own creation processes. 

When you were a student, did you ever have professional theatre people come in to speak to your classes? If so, how does that affect what you do with students?

I have many memories of writers visiting my university and even once my high school classroom. For me, these were life-changing interactions that broadened my horizons, helped me learn what opportunities existed in Toronto and elsewhere for a young artist, and fed my creative curiosity. They also turned into professional relationships later in life.

What are students most interested in hearing about? What kinds of questions do they ask?

I find students usually ask a version of How did you do that? when I visit. How did I mount a play? How did I research my subject? How did I get started? I think they are instinctually looking for paths forward to emulate, and they desire honesty about creative work, life in the arts, and the nature of the creative process. I find they also want to engage with their political questions around identity, sexuality, and more. I love all of these questions, as to me, they indicate a feeling of curiosity and safety.