As far as realizations go, the one that led Vivek Shraya to turn her theatrical show How to Fail as a Popstar into a book seems like a bit of a downer.
The one-person show was meant to have a much longer life on stage. Shraya workshopped it in Calgary as part of the High Performance Rodeo in mid-January 2020. It then moved onto a successful 12-night run in Toronto in February, ending not long before COVID-19 shut all theatre productions down. But it was also supposed to travel to Germany in the spring of 2020 and then Vancouver in 2021. The idea of publishing it as a book initially held little appeal for Shraya but became more enticing as the pandemic wore on.
“It’s weird to think that in April of last year, I was like ‘I can still go to Germany in May, it will be gone by then,’ ” says Shraya. “But as it began to look more and more like I may never perform this play again, I think a book felt even more important.”
There were other reasons. Publishing the work will allow it to officially become part of an archival record of Canadian theatre, which the Edmonton-raised, Calgary-based artist felt was an important step for a play written by a trans woman of colour. But on a personal level, Shraya also sees How to Fail as a Popstar as a career highlight.