New writer-in-residence announced
By Janet Harron
Don’t be surprised if Memorial’s writer-in-residence program has a slight theatrical bent this fall. Andy Jones, star of stage and screen and one of Canada’s finest storytellers, has been named to the position and he couldn’t be more pleased.
“I’m looking forward to promoting the role of playwright as writer,” said Mr. Jones, who was awarded an honorary degree in 2000. He laments the fact that since the work of playwrights tends to be produced rather than published, the public often doesn’t think of playwrights as writers.
“The work is fulfilling its real purpose in a sense by being produced,” he explained but acknowledges that since his work hasn’t been published extensively and he doesn’t work as a novelist, people don’t tend to recognize him as a writer.
As a founding member of CODCO and co-founder of the Resource Centre for the Arts at the LSPU Hall, Mr. Jones has been a professional writer and actor for over 30 years. He has written five critically acclaimed one-man comedy shows: Out of the Bin, Still Alive, King O’ Fun, To the Wall, and An Evening with Uncle Val. With the CODCO collective he wrote five full-length theatre pieces: Cod On a Stick, Sickness Death and Beyond the Grave, Das Capital, Pocketcrumbs, and The Tale Ends.
Mr. Jones has also had major roles in several films, including Rare Birds and Young Triffie. His numerous awards include two Gemini awards, Emmy and Genie nominations, election to the Newfoundland Arts Council Hall of Honour, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Award of Excellence, and the ACTRA Award of Excellence for Lifetime Achievement.
According to Mary Dalton, poet and professor of English, Mr. Jones is “without a doubt one of our most brilliant and accomplished writers. His theatre pieces are major contributions to Newfoundland literature, informed by a sense of the traditional culture and of the contemporary questions that preoccupy us. His recent work in adapting traditional folk tales is also an important achievement. We are very fortunate to have him as our writer-in-residence this year.”
Although Mr. Jones didn’t attend Memorial himself, he is full of praise for the university and its facilities. In the fall of 2007 he even taught students in the Diploma in Performance and Communications Media the ins and outs of mounting a play.
He singles out the opus Folktales of Newfoundland, the work of the late Dr. Herbert Halpert and Dr. John Widdowson, as a seminal work for those interested in Newfoundland stories. “They transcribed all of the stories, just the way they were told, including all the ums and ers. All the tapes are available in MUNFLA and this is a fabulous resource for all of us.”
Mr. Jones’ latest book, The Queen of Paradise’s Garden, is a traditional folktale taken from Folktales of Newfoundland. He is currently performing the story as a puppet show for all ages every Sunday in September at the Signal Hill Visitors Centre.
Mr. Jones loves the effect that storytelling has on people and the effect it has on himself. The solitary act of writing is another matter: “I much prefer writing with a team. I’ve done a lot of writing alone since 2002 and seven years of that is enough!”
Mr. Jones will be getting lots of team-writing time this fall. He will be available for one-on-one manuscript consultations throughout his term as writer-in-residence and is interested in looking at all genres of writing but is particularly interested in plays and scripts. To make an appointment for a consultation, please contact him directly at email@example.com or leave a message on his office phone 737-6942.
Mr. Jones will give his first performance as writer-in-residence on Oct. 1 at Petro Canada Hall at 8 p.m. Admission and parking is free. On Nov. 23, he will give an afternoon workshop at the Holyrood Library, followed by an evening performance there; both events are free and open to the general public.
The Canada Council for the Arts, the Faculty of Arts and the Department of English are sponsoring Mr. Jones’ four-month stint as Memorial’s writer-in-residence for the fall 2009 term. The writer-in-residence serves as a resource for the entire community, meeting with writers at any stage of development, working in any genre. This service is provided free, and is available to everyone, not just those with ties to the university.