Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
November 28, 2001
U of G Prof's play turned into film
Two years after coming to life on the stage, University of Guelph professor Judith Thompson's play Perfect Pie is in gestation for its rebirth on the screen.
Toronto-based production company Rhombus Media commissioned Thompson to write the screenplay for the full-length feature film, set to debut next year on the film festival circuit. Rhombus is known for acclaimed films such as The Red Violin and Thirty-two Short Films About Glenn Gould and the television series Yo-Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach. The $3-million movie of Perfect Pie, directed by Barbara Willis Sweete and starring Barbara Williams and Wendy Crewson, was filmed at a location north of Georgetown this fall.
"It's crazy to walk into the production office and see 200 people working on my play," said Thompson, a professor in the School of Literatures and Performance Studies in English since 1992. "The same kind of thing happens with theatre, but on a much smaller scale." And writing a screenplay is completely different from writing for the theatre, she noted. In the filmmaking hierarchy, a writer asserting herself is "the equivalent of the drywaller saying: 'I'm the architect,'" she said. "In the theatre, I am the architect and the only one."
Perfect Pie is Thompson's sixth play. It's a story about the reunion of two long-estranged women who shared a deep friendship and deep wounding in their youth. It's also about how people grow and change when they choose to stay close to their roots or leave to experience the wider world. "It's a story that women - especially middle-aged women - can connect with, whether they've walked a distance from the past or stayed," said Thompson, a two-time Governor General's Literary Award winner. "It's when you meet with a person you've grown up with and bonded with in a sense, yet you are completely different people. Francesca comes back, and they travel back together to their suicide bid on the train tracks." The play, which premiered at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto in early 2000, germinated from a story Thompson heard about two 14-year-olds who committed suicide. They were holding hands when struck by a train.
Perfect Pie is not Thompson's first foray into writing for film. Her first feature film screenplay was Lost and Delirious, a movie loosely based on the Susan Swan novel The Wives of Bath. Lost and Delirious has now been sold to almost every country in the world. Her latest play, Habitat, premiered in Toronto this fall and is being prepared for publication.
Prof. Judith Thompson
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