Writer Nick Green’s play Body Politic has already been in development over two years. His dramatic reimagining of the history behind the occasionally controversial publication that birthed Xtra, has had two workshops though it’s yet to receive a full production. But Green just got a boost from the Ontario Arts Council, which awarded him a grant to become Writer in Residence with lemonTree Creations (the company producing the show).
Xtra: How did this play come about?
Nick Green: I’d just finished working on a play based on the Edmonton spa raids and I had the lemonTree boys over for a read through. Jonathan Seinen was working on The Normal Heart at that time and I think the inspiration to do something about the history of the Body Politic came to him first. When the other company members heard about it, my name came up as a writer. Indrit Kasapi asked me to do it on the patio of O’Gradys and I almost knocked over our Bear platter with enthusiasm. That says a lot since I really like deep fried pickles.
What does getting this grant mean for your ability to be able to create this work?
The most important part about this grant is that it will give me time to work. This city is crawling with amazingly talented people and if there “full time freelance playwright” was an actual job, I think we would have the best theatre in the world coming out of here. I’m so excited to be able to take time to work slowly and with greater detail, as opposed to cramming in writing time on weekends and after work.
Why was it important to you to collect and recount this history?
The story of the Body Politic is like a series of cans of worms. There are so many discussions that can come out of the different challenges and milestones the paper encountered. I’ve really enjoyed connecting with the past, which I know a lot of us queers-of-a-certain-age are being drawn to lately, as well as looking at today through the lens of the Body Politic’s history. It’s been simultaneously eye opening and aggravating.
Do you have any official word on when the piece is going to premiere?
I can’t comment on dates or anything just yet, but I can add something on of the company member’s pointed out. Three years ago a certain article about the New Gays hit the stands, on the cover of the first issue of The Grid. The sentiments in there were difficult, controversial, and to some, including me, offensive. The discussions that arose after this article have greatly influenced this play and the need to do it. Now, The Grid is shutting down and our play lives on. It’s not that I’m celebrating that. It was a good publication. But the fact that something that seemed so disappointing and foreboding at the time has lead to something constructive gives me great satisfaction.