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Playwright Pike not afraid to “break the rules”

Marie Pike, a writer from Mount Pearl, NL, has dabbled in many forms of wriring, from short stories that have been published in literary reviews to plays and performance arts pieces that have been performed at festivals and theatres across the province. — © Ritchie Perez via The Shoreline News 9/13/23

By Alexandra Brothers Local Journalism Initiative Reporter via The Shoreline News, 9/13/23 Whether on the page or on the stage, Marie Pike’s writing takes on a unique life of its own. Pike, 39, was born and raised in Mount Pearl. Though she left the province for some time after completing her Bachelor of English Literature degree at MUN, she has returned to her childhood neighbourhood, just a few houses down from the house where she grew up. “I am very much still a Pearlian,” she said. Pike said writing professionally was a thought that she didn’t entertain until a few years ago. “It wasn’t until 2016, I was living in Fort McMurray and the wildfires happened, and I had so much stress from that that I just started writing and I couldn’t stop writing,” she said. After that, she took several creative writing courses at MUN under local authors Lisa Moore and Robert Chafe that helped launch her writing career. She began by writing short stories, some of which were published in the Humber Literary Review just months after deciding to pursue creative writing. Pike said that writing fiction offers a complete freedom that she had never experienced before. She has since branched out from short stories, writing everything from novels to screenplays and scripts. “I would say that writing short stories and playwrighting is probably my favourite,” she said. Playwrighting especially has been a perfect fit for her as a writer. “Right away from the very first short play that I wrote, I was hooked. I knew I was obsessed,” she said. “I love dialogue so much, when writing. The first thing that I hear when I’m writing a story is the voice and so I just write down all of the dialogue that’s coming up and kind of write a story around it.” The topics Pike likes to write about are often a little out of the ordinary. “There’s always an element of absurdity,” said Pike, who sometimes makes inanimate objects come to life or manifests a character out of thin air. “There’s always comedy,” she added. “As much as I try, I can’t get away from that.” Pike’s plays have diverse and captivating concepts. Before Greta Gerwig’s Barbie set box office records, Pike took inspiration from the iconic doll in her short play Garden by Mattel. The play, in which a Barbie doll comes to life, was entered in the St. John’s Short Play Festival in 2019. This year, Pike ventured even farther into the absurd with a production entitled The Heart Play, which was performed from July 27 to July 29 at the LSPU Hall. In this play, the main character Venus’s heart comes out of her body to confront her about her life choices. For Pike, the community aspect of theatre makes producing plays an especially rewarding experience. She said she loves the people that she surrounds herself with when she works in theatre. She collaborated with a company called White Rooster Theatre for The Heart Play, which she said was “an awesome experience and opportunity.” Pike’s theatre community is particularly close to her heart. Her mother and sister have both worked on her theatrical productions as costume and set designers, respectively. Pike’s artistic pursuits don’t end with theatre, however. She also works alongside fellow artists Andrya Duff and Megan Allison in an artist collective called Grand Trine that approaches storytelling through an astrological lens. Together, these artists embark on numerous creative endeavours including a weekly CHMR show called Horo Stories, a dance production with Neighbourhood Dance Works, and an art installation piece at the CB Nuit festival. What is clear from Pike’s extensive repertoire is that no creative idea is off limits. She said that reading different kinds of literature allowed her to see how certain literary conventions could be played with and even done away with at times. She advises aspiring writers to break free from any expectations or limitations that they might have imposed on themselves. “Have fun and do things differently,” she said. “Just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. And break the rules — but also, know the rules before you break them.” Reading as much as possible helps with that last bit, she said. Although making a career as a writer can be challenging from a financial perspective, it is well worth it for Pike. Giving up the stability of a regular paycheck to give herself ample time to write can be “terrifying at times,” she admitted, but it as a necessary decision for her. “I definitely have faith that this is my calling, and I can’t not write, so I have to go after it no matter what,” she said. The payoff for Pike is in the tranquility that writing brings her. “My favourite part of being a writer is connecting to the void,” she said. She explained this concept as a “space of complete quietness and peace” that she can reach through writing. On top of this, her writing allows her to express herself freely and truthfully. “When my pen connects to the page… an honesty comes out,” said Pike. “I can truly express myself in a way that’s unfiltered, that’s loud. I guess that’s part of my absurdity, my inner voice is kind of loud and it really comes out on the page unfiltered.”

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