Guillermo Verdecchia, our next writer-in-residence

"Inspired lunacy"

(April 22, 1999, Gazette)

By James O'Brien

Kevin Major. Jane Urquhart. Wayne Johnston. Marilyn Bowering.

These are but a few of the distinguished writers that the Department of English has hosted at Memorial under the auspices of the author-in-residence program. Jointly supported by the Faculty of Arts and the Canada Council, this program supports established writers whose work is deemed to be of great merit. Authors-in-residence continue their own work while making time available to students and writers within the university as well as in the broader community.

In the Fall Semester of 1999 Memorial will host Guillermo Verdecchia, the first playwright and screenwriter to occupy the position. Winner of the Governor-General's award for drama, he describes himself as a writer of drama, fiction, and film and a professional actor and director who is "passionate about fiction."

Mr. Verdecchia reluctantly characterized his work as "highly theatrical and political and possessed of an aggressive sense of humor." He added: "I like to speak directly to the audience."

While the residency will be his first visit to the province, he is very much looking forward to the experience.

"The spirit of pride, of resistance, of inspired lunacy which seems to inform much of the work that comes from Newfoundland is of great interest to me."

Mr. Verdecchia sees this province as a Canadian example of resistance to a serious deficiency of globalization: the evening out of differences.

"I'm curious about the connections between the sense of identity I'm looking at, which is a besieged identity, and pockets of intensely regional identification which are resisting homogenization."

Mr. Verdecchia proposes to conduct workshops in both play writing and play development during his tenure as writer-in-residence, in addition to continuing his own work and contributing to the local theatre community.