Amy Lee Lavoie
Amy Lee Lavoie

During this time of social distancing and dark theatres, Vancouver Presents continues to check in with members of our arts community to find out how they are staying creative and managing during the pandemic.

Today we check in with award-winning Vancouver-based writer Amy Lee Lavoie.

1. How are you staying creative during the pandemic?

I’m fortunate to be working on some play commissions, as well as developing a screenplay with fellow writer (and husband!) Omari Newton. These projects have helped to keep me accountable and on a creative schedule, but that certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t had ups and downs on the productivity front.

2. What’s the one thing getting you through?

Earl Grey tea.

3. How are you staying in contact with family and friends who are not in your bubble?

Whatsapp, FaceTime and text/calls. I avoid Zoom whenever I can.

4. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far during the pandemic?

The way we were living pre-pandemic isn’t sustainable — on a socio-economic, cultural, emotional and environmental level.

5. What do you feel the most grateful for right now?

The health of my family and friends.

6. What is something you are doing now that you don’t normally?

Watching Robert Redford films.

7. What skill have you developed since the pandemic started?

No new skills on my end, but my dog is killing the “drop it” command lately.

8. What have you missed the most?

Spontaneity. Everything now, from getting groceries to walking my dog, involves a strategy/plan.

9. Your #1 pandemic survival tip.

Do your part (mask up, wash up) and leave room for mindless escapism/entertainment to offset the amount of intense information you’re absorbing every day.

10. Your biggest indulgence since the pandemic started.

Look. My husband and I are vegetarian  — with goals of being 100% vegan again — but I refuse to deny myself food that makes me happy (within the veg/vegan sphere) right now. Shit is hard enough. Pass the bagels.

11. What have you stockpiled?

Headbands, pinot grigio and raw dog food.

12. What have you been reading?

I just finished Wifey (Judy Blume), and now I have the following on the go: Heavy: An American Memoir (Kiese Laymon), Hood Feminism (Mikki Kendall) and Through the Mill (Gail Cuthbert Brandt), which is research for a play project.

13. What have you been watching?

Everything I can. My TV picks: High Fidelity, I May Destroy You, Outcry, The Great, Defending Jacob, Normal People, My Brilliant Friend (season 2). Films I watched recently that stuck with me: The Assistant and Disclosure.

14. What have you been listening to?

These days, I’ve gone back to listening to Cecilia Bartoli. And I don’t really ever stop listening to Run the Jewels.

15. What are you doing for exercise?

Last year, I invested in a Peloton bike (good timing). There’s a significant up-front cost for the bike itself (+ accessories) and then a very manageable monthly membership. It has been very worth it for me. The classes/instructors are fantastic, there’s a ton of challenges and incentives to keep competitive folks happy, and you can make each workout as difficult as you want, so the sky’s kind of the limit. And, bonus, it’s fun! Thanks to my pal Henry for introducing me to it.

16. The one thing you haven’t been able to live without?

My fellas: Omari and my dalmatian/pointer mix Lionel. I consider them a unit (they’re always together), so they qualify as “one.”

17. Do-it-yourself haircut or the natural look?

The natural look, which feels like a bit of a cheat when you have long hair. I am looking forward to a cut. I have had a picture of Nicole Kidman from Practical Magic saved in my phone to give to my hairdresser Sabrina for a while.

18. Night owl or early riser?

I used to be exclusively an early riser, but there’s something about this new reality that has me staying up later than usual. I’ve found both have benefits re: writing, but it’s one or the other. I need 7-8 hours of sleep minimum. I’m very good at sleeping.

19. Will you be the first out as restrictions are gradually lifted or taking a wait-and-see attitude?

Nope. I’m a wait-and-see type of person. I’m cautious by nature, and I just don’t see the upside in rushing.

20. What’s the first thing you will do when this is all over?

Get back to my hometown in Northern Ontario to visit my family/friends.

Meet Amy Lee Lavoie

Amy Lee Lavoie is an award-winning playwright and a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada’s Playwriting Program.

Her first play, Rabbit Rabbit, received its premiere production with Infinitheatre, earning Amy Lee two MECCA’s for Best Text and the Revelation Award. Rabbit Rabbit has since been produced across Canada and in the US.

Other plays include Me Happy (co-written with Matthew Mackenzie/Summerworks Festival), Stopheart (Factory Theatre), Genetic Drift (Pi Theatre/Boca del Lupo), My Tom (Railtown Lab Series), and C’mon, Angie! (Touchstone Theatre/Leroy Street Theatre) which was hailed as “visceral, important, life-changing theatre.”

Amy Lee was also the Head Digital Writer for the CBC drama Strange Empire, which won a Gracie Award (Women’s Alliance Media) for Best Website in recognition of its interactive storytelling.

Amy Lee is currently co-writing three projects with her husband/fellow writer Omari Newton. They include Redbone Coonhound, generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and in development with The Arts Club Theatre, an adaptation of Titus Andronicus, commissioned by Repercussion Theatre, as well as an original screenplay, Kevin vs. Nicole, with Our Lady Productions in LA.

You can follow Amy Lee on Twitter