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Rhubarb Profile: Lifelike Lüv

Lifelike L端v (aka Book of Beauty) shows the last week of the Rhubarb Fest this week - impressive auteur Natalie Meisner breaks it down.

Can you introduce yourself and your piece?

LIFELIKE LUV, or THE BOOK OF BEAUTY was inspired by the love triangle between Greta Garbo, Cecil Beaton, and Mercedes D'Acosta revealed by the recent release of Garbo's letters to D'Acosta into the public domain.

The play, however, is set in the present day. Its principal characters are three celebrity look-a-likes who meet on the North American Professional Impersonator circuit... playing these fascinating characters


I am a Playwright/ Poet, originally from Nova Scotia. My plays have been produced across Canada by The Playwright's Theatre Centre, Theatre@UBC, Lunchbox Theatre, On The Verge Festival (GCTC & The NAC), Mulgrave Road, Nightwood/ Buddies in Bad Times (Hysteria Festival).

Publications include my book, Growing Up Salty & Other Plays, Oral Fixations, Lady Driven: More Writing By the Seven Sisters, Grain Magazine, the Nashwaak Review, Pottersfield Portfolio, and Love Poems for the Media Age, The Antigonish Review.

I am also Assistant Professor of English at the University of Regina where I teach playwriting, Canadian Theatre, and 20th Century Drama, and gender studies.
Who would you say is your ideal audience?

Evil Geniuses, Gender Fcukers of all stripes, The Funny, The Funny/Looking, The Wild, The Bold, The Drop Dead Gorgeous, The Smart Asses and the Smarty Pantses... The Smarty-no-pantses are of course always welcome.

What inspired/motivated you to create the play?

Garbo's Hot kiss of her chambermaid and seduction of the femmy John Gilbert in QUEEN CHRISTINA... an unwholesome fixation with the 30's... The intellectual, erotic and historical "charge" of impersonation... and finally the bizarre experience I had when I went to see the "real" Garbo letters at a museum in the U.S.

How long have you been working on it?

In it's current form, for about five months. I have been researching the topic and writing about it for far longer.

Tell me about the process of writing/performing about the piece?

I am fortunate to be working with an incredibly accomplished and talented team headed by Director Moynan King, featuring noted actors Virginia Baeta, Chapelle Jaffe, and Ryan Kelly.

I have been in steady communication with Moynan as we closed in on a "festival script," she has given me feedback from rehearsals and suggestions for cuts. I have given her rewrites... it could only have been more perfect if I could have been on-site, rather than working from a distance.

On the other hand, I am REALLY excited to see their realization of my piece when I get there for the last few rehearsals before opening. I do envision this piece expanding to full length afterward, so I expect the festival to be a springboard for the next stage.

What makes Rhubarb a good venue choice for you?

The tradition of aesthetic experimentation and their continual embrace of challenging content that Buddies, and the Rhubarb! Fest in particular have provided over the past two decades. Not to mention all the gorgeous smarty-pantses that comprise the audience ; )

What's next?

Well, I envision the expansion of this piece to full length. I have a new full length play that I am very excited about right now called BURNING IN.

It is about a Canadian Foreign Correspondent who is photographed with a young man during Lebanon's civil war-- it is about the relationship that we have, as spectators to the pain of others.

It will be featured in the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre's Spring Festival (2006) and subsequently produced by Saskatchewan Stage.

I will also be giving a paper at the Performance Studies International Conference in London, UK this coming June.


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