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.
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.
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.
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.