Ryan Griffith started acting with Theatre St. Thomas in 1999. That’s also when he wrote his first play, Tug, that had 20 of his closest friends in it.
“It was a crazy play with ghosts, and knights of the round table, road accidents, a person hit a moose in it, and quicksand, and everything. It was wild,” said Griffith.
Now, the St. Thomas University graduate is a successful playwright who writes mythological stories that take place in fictional parts of New Brunswick – something that was also represented in his work in 1999.
When he started writing plays, Griffith said he wanted to see more New Brunswick content on the stage.
“I’ve always just kind of gravitated towards New Brunswick content. I just like it.”
Griffith’s new one-person play, A Brief History of the Maritimes and Everywhere Else, tells the story of a New Brunswicker named Terry, who goes cross-country skiing with his daughter and gets caught in a snowstorm. They take shelter in a cabin where Terry decides to tell his daughter everything he knows in the universe and about the Maritimes while waiting for the storm to pass.
Griffith was commissioned by Theatre New Brunswick to write this one person play, something he’s never done before. He looked at other solo shows to figure out what he liked and didn’t like. He came up with the idea to have someone stuck in a cabin who tells his daughter everything because they can’t go anywhere.
Terry will be played by Kevin Curran, an East Coast actor who’s spent 25 years in the industry, and will be performing for the first time with TNB.
Curran will be communicating with the audience as if they’re his daughter.
“He has to be talking to someone right, he can’t be talking to just nobody,” Griffith said.
Griffith said the play is a suspenseful but contains comedic and slice of life elements.
This is the fourth play from a series Griffith has written about New Brunswick.
“They concern places that kind of could exist out there I guess, or people that could exist in these places but don’t.”
Griffith started writing this series in 2005 with the first play, Lutz, which was published by Playwrights Press Canada in 2011. It tells the story of two brothers, one who’s unemployed and one who’s an Olympic figure skater, who reconnect and decide to go bear hunting to catch the bear that killed their younger sister.
A Brief History of the Maritimes and Everywhere Else continues to explore characters and places that exist within Lutz.
Griffith got the idea to write about New Brunswick from his anthropology background at STU. He used his ethnography skills, a way to study and record culture, and listened to people around him to create something of his own.
“I think that it’s really important for people in New Brunswick to understand that their stories are just as valid or as cool [or] as important as stories coming out of Hollywood or anywhere else.”
A Brief History of the Maritimes and Everywhere Else is directed by Natasha MacLellan, the new artistic director at TNB, and will run in Fredericton from March 13 to 17 at the Open Space Theatre before touring the province from March 19 to 24.