Novelist and playwright Roy. C. Booth is from Hibbing and still has family there, and he’s the special guest at the 21st annual Diversicon (held in St Paul, MN). Roy will share the stage with Jack McDevitt, Catherine Lundoff, and posthumous guests Cordwainer Smith and Peter Cushing.
Roy was born in 1965; his parents were from Bemidji and Hibbing. Roy and his wife Cynthia are deeply involved in regional theater, where they have worked in the roles of actor, director, designer, choreographer, and stage manager. Roy is also a recently celebrated novelist.
For Roy (and Cynthia), writing is a craft. Sometimes, it’s an invisible craft. Roy has made contributions to theater and to motion pictures as a silent partner, revising scripts drafted by others. But as Minnesota’s most visible figure in contemporary drama, it is harder and harder for Booth to work behind the scenes. Booth places emphasis on the title playwright, a term that should not be mistaken for playwrite or playwriter.” To Booth, a playwright is like a wheelwright (someone who made wheels for carriages and carts). Just like a wheelwright, a playwright works carefully to produce something in three dimensions. A play and its staging is not just a collection of words (like a poem) or the recounting of events (like a short story); it must be manifest in a three-dimensional space. Booth reminds us that playwrights have as much in common with sculptors as they do with novelists.
One of the most important reasons for Booth’s success as a playwright is the immense opportunity his work provides for community theater. His works are typically set in single locations with minimal direction to the set designer. As a result, his plays can be staged nearly anywhere, with only the resources available to a small budget. Superior Community Theater produced the zombie comedy Marriage … After Death (Heuer Publications) by Abbey Bakker and Roy C. Booth, at their One-Act Festival, a performance that was a real hoot. Roy was also here to give a lecture at the Underground in Spring.
Booth is most famous as a children’s playwright. In the series of plays about Beanie and his various bamboozling machines, Booth and his collaborators [Bob May and Christopher Tibbetts] pull in classic, public domain characters from children’s literature. The Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy, Hansel, Gretel, and Snow White appear in a single adventure. “Beanie and the Bamboozling Book Machine” has been an international favorite, being performed in Canada, Indonesia, Australia, Switzerland and the UK.
To be recognized at Diversicon is to be recognized not just by fans, but by peers, and there should be just a little pride from the Iron Range this weekend.
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