MARJORIECHAN-writer

Marjorie is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist working as playwright, librettist, director and dramaturge. A six-time nominee, Marjorie is the recipient of four Toronto Dora Awards, one for Outstanding Performance and three for Outstanding New Opera. In 2005, she was named the K.M. Hunter Theatre Artist, an Ontario-wide award for mid-career artists. Marjorie was previously Artist-in-Residence at Banff Playwrights’ Lab, Cahoots Theatre, Factory Theatre, Theatre Direct Canada, Tapestry New Opera, SUNY (Geneseo, New York), and Theatre du Pif (Hong Kong).

As a playwright and librettist, Marjorie’s works have been performed in the USA, Scotland, Hong Kong, and Russia as well as having their premieres in Canada.  Marjorie is most well-known for her dramas focusing on Chinese history.  Her first play, China Doll explored the seeds of feminism in China, with the metaphor of the bound foot. China Doll was nominated for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Production as well as the Governor General’s Literary Award.  China Doll was also performed overseas as a part of Festival Canada Hong Kong as well as receiving its Cantonese language debut in spring 2017 in Hong Kong. Her second full-length play, a nanking winter focused on the 1937 invasion of Nanjing, delving into contemporary and historical ramifications. It received its American premiere in December 2009. Her play, The Madness of the Square, set during the heady days leading up to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989  premiered in Toronto in April 2009, and was excerpted for the 20th Anniversary Memorial in Nathan Philips Square.  For Common Boots Theatre, Marjorie wrote Tails From the City, a site-specific winter promenade show set in and around the Evergreen Brickworks in December 2015.  Current play projects in progress include Lady Sunrise, a reinvention of Cao Yu’s modern classic, as well as Chinoiserie.  Other multi-disciplinary projects in development include The Year of the Cello, with composer Njo Kong Kie and Dim Sum, Lose Some.  Some of her work is available from Playwrights Canada Press and Scirocco Drama.

As a librettist working with composer Abigail Richardson, Marjorie wrote Mother Everest (Opera To Go, Tapestry), about an ambitious mountain climber, as well as Sanctuary Song (Tapestry/Theatre Direct/Luminato), a new opera for families centered around a captive elephant named Sydney. Marjorie and Abigail were awarded a Dora for Outstanding New Opera in 2009 for Sanctuary Song. It was remounted by Theatre Direct with performances in Toronto and at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Marjorie collaborated with composer Alice Ping Yee Ho on The Lesson of Da Ji, (Toronto Masque Theatre) the first opera in a series based on the notorious historical concubine Da Ji from the Shang Dynasty.  It was awarded the 2013 Dora for Outstanding New Opera.  In May 2015, Marjorie’s opera with Edinburgh-based composer John Harris, M’dea Undone, a new contemporary adaptation of Medea, premiered in the stunning rustic setting of the clay ovens at the Evergreen Brickworks. Her other operatic collaborations have been with composers Ivan Barbotin, Wende Bartley, Stephen Andrew Taylor, and Gareth Williams.  She is currently once again collaborating with Alice Ping Yee Ho on The Monkiest King, to premiere in May 2018, for the Canadian Children’s Opera Company’s 50th anniversary.

Open to diverse and interesting forms, Marjorie’s writing has also supported dance pieces, interactives, sound theatre, radio drama, concerts, cabarets and ‘cell phone’ plays.  Invitations to festivals and retreats include:  Playwrights’ Lab (Banff Centre), Cahoots Playwriting Retreat (Cahoots/Shaw Festival), CrossCurrents Festival (Factory), Groundswell Festival (Nightwood Theatre), International Festival of Authors (Harbourfront), Dim Sum Festival (fu-Gen Theatre/Harbourfront), Rhubarb Festival (Buddies in Bad Times), Seedling Festival (Theatre Direct Canada), Hysteria Festival (Buddies in Bad Times), RED Festival, Lab Cab Festival, and the inaugural Stratford Festival Writers’ Retreat.

Trained at George Brown Theatre School as a performer, Marjorie was awarded the John Bannerman Bursary for outstanding performance upon graduation. In her first production outside of school, Marjorie garnered a nomination for the Dora Mavor Prize (Outstanding Performance in a Professional Debut.) She then proceeded to perform across the country from New Brunswick to British Columbia with numerous award-winning companies, including Nightwood Theatre, Cahoots Theatre Company, Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, Persephone Theatre, Carousel Players, Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, Shakespeare-in-the Rough, Canadian Stage, Factory Theatre, Grand Theatre, Actors’ Repertory Company and da da kamera.  As well, Marjorie has had an active career in film, television and voice.

As a director for Theatre du Pif in Hong Kong, Marjorie has directed bilingual versions (English/Cantonese) of Knives and Hens and A Doll’s House. For opera, Marjorie has assisted Ross Manson for the unique promenade piece, A Synonym For Love, and Maria Lamont for Maria Stuarda at Pacific Opera Victoria. For Cahoots Theatre, she has directed John & Waleed, a concert about a cross-cultural bromance told through music, Ultrasound, a play performed primarily in American Sign Language, and The Enchanted Loom, the story of one Tamil family’s recovery from the trauma of the Sri Lankan civil war.  She was nominated for the OAC John Hirsch Prize for directors in 2017.

In addition to her writing, Marjorie is currently the Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre since 2013. She is a passionate and outspoken advocate for arts access and education. For Cahoots, Marjorie created Crossing Gibraltar, a theatre-training and performance program for refugees and newcomers, with over a dozen comprehensive programs bringing arts outreach to over 100 newcomers primarily in under-serviced neighbourhoods. For this work, Marjorie was nominated for the Canadian Citizen Award in 2010.  The program continues with both adult and youth activities from margninalized communities with a focus on newcomers and new Canadians. Marjorie also teaches playwriting workshops in community and school settings from the elementary to the university level. She was recently awarded the George Luscombe Award for Mentorship in Professional Theatre for her dedication to supporting new career artists as playwrights and artistic administrators.

Marjorie lives in the East End of Toronto.