|"Norm Foster is Canada's most-produced dramatist, and no wonder. His snappy dialogue, everyday situations and gently balanced characters dare to represent that great, under-represented middle of North American society." - Halifax Daily News|
Norm Foster has been the most produced playwright in Canada every year for the past twenty years. His plays receive an average of one hundred and fifty productions annually making him, by far, the most produced playwright in the history of his country.
Born in Newmarket, Ontario on St. Valentine's Day and raised in Toronto, Norm attended West Hill Collegiate Institute and then went on to study Radio & Television Arts at Centennial College in Toronto and then Confederation College in Thunder Bay. Upon completion of his studies, he began a radio career that would span 25 years and which would take him from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg to Kingston and finally to Fredericton, New Brunswick. It was in Fredericton in 1980 that Norm was introduced to the world of theatre.
"A friend of mine was going to audition for a community theatre production of 'Harvey' and he asked me to go along. I went, just to see what this theatre thing was all about, and I ended up getting the part of Elwood P. Dowd. I had never even seen a play in my life before this."
Foster fell in love with the theatre right then and there, and two years later he penned his first professionally produced play, Sinners. It was produced by Theatre New Brunswick and directed by Malcolm Black, who would also direct Foster's next effort, the highly successful, The Melville Boys. The Melville Boys would go on to be produced across Canada and in the United States, including a well-received run off-Broadway in New York. It would become Foster's signature play, and the one which would bring his name to the forefront of Canadian theatre. Since then, Norm Foster has produced an astonishing output of work. Over fifty plays in all, including The Affections of May, the most produced play in Canada in 1991.
Says Foster, "I write for about three or four hours each day. If you can turn out even one page per day, it doesn't take long before you've got a ninety page script. Another important thing is, you have to know when to stop writing. Know when your play is finished. One of the curses of being a playwright is that you're never ever completely satisfied with your finished product. There is always that one line which you think you could improve. And when you improve that line, you find another. You must know when to stop."
Foster's plays are known mainly for their comedic qualities, but they are not without their serious moments as well. "I find it far more satisfying if I can make an audience laugh and feel a little heartache within the same story. The farces (Sinners, Self-Help) are a lot of fun to write but it's the stories that touch an audience's heart as well as it's funnybone that are the most rewarding."
Foster has had several plays published by Playwright's Union Press. They are; Sinners, The Melville Boys, The Affections of May, The Motor Trade, Wrong For Each Other, Office Hours, Opening Night, The Long Weekend, Old Love, Skin Flick, Mending Fences, The Foursome and Ethan Claymore. He has also had his work published in various compilation volumes such as 'Vintage Foster', 'One Act-manship', 'Triple Play', and 'The Foster Season'. Looking and The Love List are published by Samuel French.
Norm Foster does not limit his efforts to writing though. Lately, he has returned to what brought him to the theatre in the first place; acting.
"Acting is great fun, but writing is my first love. A lot of people out there like the 'idea' of being a writer. The romance of it. The notion that we all sit around in cafes and talk about our writing with other writers. Personally, I would rather do it than talk about it. The actual process of writing is what excites me. Creating a world from the ground up and populating it with characters I've pulled out of my head. This is why I rarely set my plays in real cities with place names we recognize. I want the audience to imagine these locations right along with me."
When asked to try and pin down a common theme that runs through his plays, Foster says, "I think for the most part, they're about ordinary people just trying to get by in life. I never set out with a monumental purpose in mind. I'm not trying to teach an audience a lesson or pass along some profound message, because I don't think I'm qualified. What I am trying to do is make them feel a little better about this world, and that's not easy these days."
|"I've never written a play that I was completely satisfied with, and anyone who has, is too easily satisfied." -- Norm Foster|
Chronology of plays and their first productions
A Snow White Christmas (With David Warrack)........Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, ON, 2013
The Great Kushog Lake Hollis McCauley Fishing Derby........A Missing Link Theatre Company, London, ON, 2013
Hilda's Yard ........Theatre New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, 2012
On A First Name Basis........BMDS, Hamilton, Bermuda, 2012
Mrs. Parliament's Night Out........Neptune Theatre, Halifax, NS, 2012
Ned Durango....(with Leslie Arden).....Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, Ontario, 2011
Under The Bright Sun....(one act).....Lunchbox Theatre, Calgary, Alberta, 2009
Skin Flick....................Neptune Theatre, Halifax, NS, 2009
The Christmas Tree....(one act).....Lunchbox Theatre, Calgary, Alberta, 2008
Bob's Your Elf....................Upper Canada Playhouse, Morrisburg, Ontario, 2008
Old Love....................Lighthouse Festival Theatre, Port Dover, Ontario, 2008
One Moment (with Steve Thomas)..........Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, Ontario, 2007
The Death Of Me.......(one act).....Lunchbox Theatre, Calgary, Alberta, 2007
Mending Fences..........Theatre In Port, Port Dalhousie, Ontario, 2006
My Narrator..........(one act)......Lunchbox Theatre, Calgary, Alberta, 2006
Jenny's House Of Joy..........Lighthouse Festival Theatre, Port Dover, Ontario, 2006
Bedtime Stories.........Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, Ontario, 2006
Looking.........Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia, Ontario, 2005
Sitting Pretty (with Steve Thomas)......Lighthouse Festival Theatre, Port Dover, Ontario, 2005
Outlaw......Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, Ontario, 2004
The Love List.......Thousand Islands Playhouse, Gananoque, Ontario, 2003
Storm Warning......Bluewater Summer Playhouse, Kincardine, Ontario, 2003
Dear Santa......Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, Ontario, 2002
Race Day (with Steve Thomas).....Theatre On The Grand, Fergus, Ontario, 2002
Self-Help......Theatre Aquarius, Hamilton, Ontario, 2002
Kiss The Moon, Kiss The Sun......Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, Ontario, 2001
Jasper Station (with Steve Thomas)......Theatre-On-The-Grand, Fergus, Ontario, 2001
Small Time......Theatre-On-The-Grand, Fergus, Ontario, 2000
Maggie's Getting Married......Theatre-On-The-Grand, Fergus, Ontario, 2000
Sadie Flynn Comes To Big Oak......Festival Antigonish, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, 2000
Ethan Claymore......Grand Theatre, London, Ontario, 1998
Drinking Alone......Festival Antigonish, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, 1998
The Foursome......Theatre-on-the-Grand, Fergus, Ontario, 1998
A Foggy Day (with John Mueller)......The Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1998
The Last Resort (with Leslie Arden)...... Thousand Islands Playhouse, Gananoque, and Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, Ont. 1997
Here On The Flight Path......Piggery Theatre, North Hatley, Quebec, 1997
Jupiter In July......Theatre Aquarius, Hamilton, 1997
Office Hours......Theatre New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1997
The Long Weekend......Festival Antigonish, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, 1994
Ned Durango Comes To Big Oak......Grand Theatre, London, Ontario, 1994
The Sitter.......(one act).......Lunchbox Theatre, Calgary, Alberta, 1994
Wrong For Each Other......Theatre New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1993
The Motor Trade......Theatre New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1991
The Affections of May......Theatre New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1990
Opening Night......Piggery Theatre, North Hatley, Quebec, 1989
Bravado......Magnus Theatre, Thunder Bay, Ontario, 1988
My Darling Judith......Theatre New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1987
Windfall......Theatre Plus, Toronto, 1986
The Melville Boys......Theatre New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick,1984.
New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1983.