Though Doug Gibson offers proof this publisher can spin quite a yarn on the page in Stories About Storytellers, he’s going one step further, taking his stories to the stage for all to enjoy. The stage show, based on the book, offers a veritable smorgasbord of material and presentation options, from a 21-course extravaganza to a tantalizing nibble. And so below we present the menu of options, available a la carte for theatres, bookstores, clubs and literary festivals. (See the ever-growing list of scheduled performances here.)
For a preview of the stage show, watch Doug Gibson talking about Pierre Trudeau:
THE FULL 90-MINUTE STAGE PLAY, IN A THEATRE, LISTED THUS:
STORIES ABOUT STORYTELLERS: An Evening with Doug Gibson, and Many Famous Canadian Authors
(Prepare to Meet Alice Munro, Pierre Trudeau, Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, John Diefenbaker, Mavis Gallant, Hugh MacLennan, Peter C. Newman, Brian Mulroney, Morley Callaghan, Paul Martin, James Houston, Peter Gzowski, W.O. Mitchell, and many more).
This one-man show consists of Doug Gibson, in traditional Publisher’s uniform of navy blazer and grey flannels, strolling about the stage — from a podium, to a chair at a desk/table, to an armchair — telling stories about the authors he got to know well in the course of his career as an Editor and Publisher.
Each of the 21 authors he discusses at length appears on a central screen behind him, in a lively caricature specially created by the mischievous Tony Jenkins. Bursts of music also enliven the show, which can be adapted from the full version, which runs almost two hours (including a 15-minute Intermission) all the way down to a tantalizingly all-too-quick 20-minute tour.
In short, the show can be tailored to fit the venue, and the occasion, and the time available — although Writers’ Festivals in Ottawa and Edmonton, for example, seem to be opting for the 60-minute show in a 200-250 seat theatre. Every Writers’ Festival approached so far has snapped up the show, and more are being approached.
At the end of the show, an autographing session in the foyer is an important part of the proceedings, as Doug Gibson signs his new book, which by a strange coincidence is named Stories About Storytellers.
The staging requirements are very simple. A travelling body mike, a projector and a prominent screen (to show the caricatures stored in his PowerPoint laptop, which he operates via his own long-range slide changer), and the podium, desk and two chairs noted above. For the musical “stings,” he can supply his own small desktop speakers.
The evening has been described as “unique,” and “hilarious,” and “full of great stories,” the kind of show that could only come from someone with such a long and fascinating career working behind the scenes with some of the most memorable men and women of our time.
A SHORTER VERSION OF THIS STAGE PLAY, ADAPTED TO SUIT TIME & VENUE REQUIREMENTS
This is also based around the PowerPoint presentation of the Tony Jenkins portraits of the authors, although it can also be performed without any electronic enhancements.
It can run as short as a (too-rushed ) 20-minute summary, with little time for good stories about each author, to a 40-minute or 60-minute version. Times are variable, and can be adapted to suit. Question and Answer session available at the end.
IN-STORE “HIGH-WIRE” SESSION
Time length to be decided. This very risky idea is based on Hal Wake’s plans for the Vancouver Writers’ Festival event. The attending crowd would be issued copies of the book’s Table of Contents. Then, in the Vancouver version, Doug Gibson will stroll around the cabaret-style tables, not playing violin selections but telling stories about specifically requested authors. Miked-up, he would, of course, be telling the requested stories not only to the requesting table, but to everyone in the audience.
This risky system can be adapted for in-store use, with the bookstore owner/MC introducing D.G. as a man with amazing stories — funny, sad, or thought-provoking — about all of the authors listed in the Table of Contents. Then, the session can close with a formal autographing session.
TWENTY-, THIRTY- OR FORTY-MINUTE TALKS, WITH Q&A FOLLOWING
Suitable for any venue, including lunch. Potential topics include:
- “Great Canadian Fiction Writers Up Close: Working with Hugh MacLennan, Morley Callaghan, W. O. Mitchell, Mavis Gallant, Jack Hodgins, Alistair MacLeod and Alice Munro — and Others.”
- “Canadians Who Changed Our Country: Working with Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Bob “Greenpeace” Hunter, Peter C. Newman, James “Igloo-Dweller” Houston, Paul Martin, Peter Gzowski — and Others.”
- “How Stephen Leacock Has Ruled My Life” (Given at the Leacock Summer Festival in July 2011, this talk shows how Leacock brought D. G. to Canada, and even helped to find him a wife!)
- “What Happens After My Book Is Published?” A rueful look at the horrors of Murphy’s Law in the book trade (To be given at Toronto’s Word on the Street, September 2011)
- “Harder Than I Thought: A Publisher Tries To Write A Book.” Rueful is the operative word here.
Shows can be sponsored by bookstores, by literary festivals, by clubs (as in Toronto’s April 2011 show at the Arts and Letters Club) or by professional associations, such as the Editors’ Association of Canada (also in April).
For event bookings and information please email Douglas Gibson.