Campus Life

Drama professor Braem up for Governor General's Award

Meg Braem, a Calgary-based playwright who teaches in the Department of Theatre and Dramatic Arts at the University of Lethbridge, has been shortlisted for the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama.

While busy preparing a new play for its premiere on the U of L stage, Braem will find out on Nov. 13 if she is selected for her play Blood: A Scientific Romance.

Theatre and Dramatic Arts professor Meg Braem is ready to premiere her newest work, Exia, Nov. 19-23.

Braem’s nomination serves as an inspiration to current drama students and aspiring playwrights at the U of L.

“Having Meg as a teacher is a great opportunity for our students to work with an active playwright who is willing to share her knowledge and passion for new Canadian plays,” says Faculty of Fine Arts Dean,
Dr. Ed Jurkowski. “This nomination further reinforces Meg’s ability to produce high-calibre work that is nationally recognized. We congratulate Meg on her nomination, and look forward to seeing her newest play, Exia, on our stage beginning Nov. 19.”

Braem says being notified of the nomination, a first for the U of L and for a Faculty of Fine Arts (drama) faculty member, was a nice surprise.

“This is so validating for my work and remarkable to have my play among the amazing plays nominated," she says.

Blood is about twin sisters who are bonded in both biology and shared tragedy after a car accident leaves them orphaned. After their remarkable recovery, they are brought home only to be subjected to endless experiments to study their undeniable bond.

“In this play, I’m really exploring human connection,” says Braem, a twin herself.  “During the writing process I did extensive research about emotional intelligence and the experiments on twins by
Dr. Josef Mengele, as well as the Dionne Quintuplets.”

This is not the first honour for Blood, which also won the 2009 Alberta Playwriting Competition, 2009 Playwrights Guild of Canada Post-Secondary Playwriting Competition, and 2011 Alberta Literary Prize. Her other plays, The Josephine Knot, Potentilla and The Year of Falling Downhave also garnered awards.

Braem completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting at the University of Victoria , where a desire to have more control led her to start writing and acting in her own plays at Fringe Festivals.

“I always wanted to write,” she says. “It just feels right.”

She then completed her master's degree in playwriting at the University of Calgary.

“Blood was my master’s thesis project. My supervisor Clem Martini was great, and a wonderful support as I figured out this story and how to write it.”

Braem’s newest work, Exia, will be premiered at the University of Lethbridge, Nov. 19-23.

“While Blood was written in a more traditional way, with lots of drafts and then working with a dramaturge, Exia was a more collaborative process with U of L students that I taught in the New Plays Development course,” she says. “The process was amazing and the students’ creative input really added to the final product.”

Active on the professional theatre scene, Braem has had productions/readings at Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP), Theatre Calgary, Sage Theatre, The Gateway Theatre, Urban Curvz, Atomic Vaudeville and the Belfry. She participated in the 2013 Banff Playwrights Colony and is a current member of the Citadel Theatre’s Playwriting Forum.

In addition to Braem, the Governor General Award nominees include: Fault Lines: Three Plays by Nicolas Billon (Toronto); The Swearing Jar by Kate Hewlett (Stratford, Ont.); Frenchtown by Lawrence Jeffery (Niagara-on-the-lake, Ont.); and Shakespeare’s Nigga by Joseph Jomo (Toronto).

The winner will be announced on Nov. 13. An award presentation will take place in Ottawa at Rideau Hall on Nov. 28.