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PARC Playwright Profile: April 2018

March 30, 2018

Sara Tilley is a multidisciplinary artist living on traditional Beothuk territory in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. A graduate of the BFA Acting Program at York University, Sara has performed for RCA Theatre, Rising Tide, Artistic Fraud, Stephenville Theatre Festival, White Rooster Theatre, newfoundlandartistx, and feminist theatre company She Said Yes!, which she ran as Artistic Director from 2002-2016.

Sara’s wide spectrum of work includes time spent as an actor, writer, director, designer (of puppets, masks, props, and sometimes sets and costumes), puppeteer, dramaturg and Pochinko clown teacher/performer. She is fascinated by the ways in which all of these creative practices overlap and feed each other. She has written, co-written or co-created eleven plays, often using multiple practices such as clown, mask, improvisation, Viewpoints, videography, automatic writing, text collage and collective decision making to arrive at the final ‘script’. Sara won both the Rhonda Payne Award (acknowledging women working in theatre in Newfoundland and Labrador) and the Lawrence Jackson Writers Award from ArtsNL. Her play The In(complete) Herstory of Women In Newfoundland (and Labrador!) was voted Best Theatre Production in St. John’s, 2009 (The Scope). Other works for the stage include the solo shows Signifying Nothing, The Jailer’s Daughter and Other Mad Fools Cracking Their Livers to Pieces for Love (a text collage developed with Danielle Irvine), Nosebleed (a clown show) and Fruithead (co-created with Mark White), as well as the clown collective Mr. Invisible, created with Robert Chafe and Pat Dempsey.

Sara has published two novels: Skin Room (Pedlar Press, 2008), and DUKE, (Pedlar Press, 2015), winner of the 2015 BMO Winterset Award and the NL Heritage and History Book Award for Fiction, and long listed for the Dublin International Literary Award (IMPAC). In 2017, Skin Room was translated into French with publisher Marchand des feuilles. She trained in Pochinko Clown through Mask with both Ian Wallace and Sue Morrison, mentoring with Wallace to become a teacher of this specialized Canadian clown method in 2008. She offers Clown through Mask and Neutral Mask training both in St. John's and elsewhere, on demand. Her interest in puppetry has led her to pursue training with the Old Trout Puppet Workshop in Alberta, as well as a mentorship with puppet designer Darka Erdelji in Slovenia, leading to the creation of her first solo puppet show, Hungry Little Shadow, which is scheduled to premiere in the fall of 2018.

Sara identifies as bi+, queer, chronically ill, cisgender, Settler and intersectional feminist.  She is currently the Newfoundland and Labrador representative on the PARC Board of Directors. More information about her work can be found at saratilley.ca.