Ellery Lamm [She/Her] has an MFA in Creative Writing from UVIC, and often writes plays about young adults including: The Fitting Room (Overall Best Show, Bravest Show at Victoria Fringe), Summer Bucket List (Best Original New Work, Best Drama at Victoria Fringe), and Backliners (SKAM Young Company, 2020). She also writes fiction and is in the process of adapting Backliners into a TV pilot. Ellery tries to write stories about young people that she wouldn’t have rolled her eyes at as a teen.

Theatre SKAM is ecstatic to welcome Ellery back this year after working with her play Backliners in 2020. This year, Ellery workshopped a play through some collaboration from the SKAM Young Company. After conversing with the SYC team for some ideas Ellery created a brand new play: The Fates! The play follows three girls (Inez, Lottie, and Nell) before the start of a new school year. They each arrive separately to a party at a lake cabin, with their own desires for a fresh start. When the girls are drawn to a dock on the lake and all witness something slightly mystical, eerie, and unexplainable, they begin to wonder if they have a real opportunity to each change one aspect of their pasts, and in turn alter their futures.

In anticipation of this play beginning to come to life with rehearsals this week, we asked Ellery some questions to gain some insight into her writing process:

Do you have any favourite playwrights or plays?

Kim Senklip Harvey is a playwright/storyteller/human I admire so much. A play that’s really stuck with me is The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe. Also, always, Angels in America by Tony Kushner. Harper’s final monologue. Oof.

 

What inspired you to write The Fates?

Many of the themes and inspirations behind The Fates started with a brainstorming session with the cast, director Anna Marie, assistant director Scott Mitchell, and SKAM pop-up team member Yasmin Pena. I sat for a while with the notes I took during that brainstorm, and highlighted the themes that stuck with me the most: female anger, queer femme love, nuanced queer identity, and complex characters — to name a few. Then, the setting began to emerge. I was intrigued by the slightly mysterious environment of a dock on a lake, with a party in the distance. What kind of people might choose to congregate away from a party? What can happen in such a contained and isolating setting? From there the characters and deeper themes began to form: three girls yearning for fresh starts, stuck in between their regrets and hopes, deceptions and truths, magic and reality.

 

Would you say your writing draws from personal experiences? Could you give an example of when a personal experience was used in your writing?
I really believe that writing which resonates deeply in a universal way, always comes from something personal. It’s incredibly powerful to articulate ideas that feel like a singular struggle only relevant to me, but then witness an audience resonating right alongside me. In that way, everything I write feels personal, even if the actual plot or character differs from my own experiences. 
In The Fates, the theme of dealing with pressure to be significant and “the best” is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. Particularly in the creative field, there can be this overwhelming pressure to excel, produce “good” work, be prolific, be exceptional. When, truly, all that’s most vital is the way we live our lives, the small moments, the connections we make with others.

I always try to incorporate as many nuanced queer characters as I can in my work. Characters who are discovering the fluidity of their sexuality are always personal to me and my life. It would’ve been a complete game-changer to witness more queer characters in media when I was growing up, so I’m always trying to write characters that my younger self would appreciate.

 

What are some of your favourite parts of The Fates that you are most excited to see come alive on the stage?

I’m really excited by the potential for theatricality within the setting. Our set designer, Olivia Wheeler, is creating something really magical. I love to see how theatre can suspend disbelief. We aren’t really floating on water, so how can that come alive through sound and light? I’m also looking forward to seeing how Anna Marie and Scott stage the chorus-esque moments between the three characters. That’s a new writing technique for me, so I’m excited to witness the musicality within those scenes.

 

We are very excited to see The Fates come to life at the SKAM Satelite Studio this month! You can definitely expect to see quite the show when you check out a performance of The Fates between the end of August to the beginning of September.