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Library: Read Mark Hopkins’ Purple Play Picks – Theatre Alberta

Brave Girl – Lunchbox Theatre
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Library: Read Mark Hopkins’ Purple Play Picks – Theatre Alberta


Doug Mertz has received his September book bag curated by Mark Hopkins! As this is the 12th and final Purple Play Club book bag, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the curators who participated in this event. We wouldn’t have been able to compile these amazing book bags without you and we’re sure Doug and everyone else have enjoyed the great books you’ve highlighted. Thank you!

Check out our new subject guide for a complete list of all the curators and the great reads Doug received in the mail this past year!

Purple Play PicksThis is Mark’s message to Doug:

Hey Doug,

Curating this list of books was… difficult. As I dug in, I realized that most of the theatrical experiences that have most profoundly impacted me in the past several years either don’t exist in published form – like Yaël Farber’s NirbhayaKidd Pivot & Electric Company Theatre’s BetroffenheitPunchdrunk’s Sleep No More, AKHE Engineering Theatre’s White Cabin – or aren’t (yet) part of Theatre Alberta’s library – like Gob Squad and the Impossible Attempt to Make Sense of It AllRimini Protokoll: Experts of the EverydayOn Freedom: Powerful polemics by supporters of Belarus Free TheatreThe Theater of War by Bryan Doerries or We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 by Jackie Sibblies Drury.

I highly recommend that you track down any of those, in performance or publication! But in the meantime, here are the contents of your book bag:

Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee: To be honest, I’ve never seen or read this play… but Young Jean Lee is badass, and her Untitled Feminist Show is one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. In an interview with American Theatre, she said “What I am going for with every show is to get in the way of the audience’s self-complacency, or to put a little piece of gravel into their brains that irritates them.” Hell yes!

The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition by Anne Bogart & Tina Landau: I’ve never studied directly with SITI Company, but their Viewpoints method – to which I was exposed via Rita Bozi – has become instrumental to Swallow-a-Bicycle’s creation processes, and this book is a mainstay in our rehearsal halls. It’s an incredibly productive method of physical improvisation and ensemble-building to generate bold, theatrical work.

BIOBOXES by Theatre Replacement (in Modern Canadian Plays Volume II – Fifth Edition): This multilingual series of one-on-one performances came to the Calgary Folk Music Festival in 2011, prompting me to forego the music stages for an afternoon spent enthralled by the profound stories of immigrants to Canada, told in miniature with the performer’s face centimetres from mine.

Social Acupuncture: A guide to suicide, performance and utopia by Darren O’Donnell: Mammalian Diving Reflex describes itself as “ideal entertainment for the end of the world”, and this 2006 book captured a snapshot of its founder’s philosophies and work as Mammalian developed into the international force for provocation, generosity and performativity that it is today. Darren has a new book out this year – Haircuts by Children and Other Evidence for a New Social Contract – and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The Pochsy Plays by Karen Hines: Karen is one of my most cherished mentors, whose neo-Bouffon approach encourages a comedically-oriented dissection of societal maladies and afflictions. This collection includes Pochsy’s Lips, Oh Baby and Citizen Pochsy, three dips into the world of Pochsy, employee at a mercury packing plant who desperately grabs at meaning through garbled ad slogans and self-help mantras.

As a bonus, I’ve tossed in Canadian Theatre Review, Vol. 165, Winter 2016: Equity in Theatre. The whole issue is absolutely terrific and full of insights, but in particular I find myself returning to “Indigenizing the Role of Ally” by Cole Alvis and “The Danger of a Single Story” by Valerie Sing Turner.


Mark Hopkins  Mark Hopkins  Mark Hopkins Mark HopkinsMark Hopkins is a Calgary-based theatre artist and community-builder. He is the Co-Artistic Director of Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre, Calgary‘s leading purveyor of fearless site-specific theatre. He’s also thrilled to be associated with the Calgary Foundation, the Centre for Newcomers and Human Venture Leadership, and is the founder of We Should Know Each Other (

Some of Mark’s honours and awards include the Creative Placemaking Award (2016 Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions), the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 and the Calgary Herald’s 20 Compelling Calgarians.

~ Solveig, Librarian

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