In our "Meet The Writers" series, we're learning more about the participants of the CMTWC Writer's Workshop. The Writer's Workshop meets every two weeks in Toronto where, under the guidance of head teacher Leslie Arden, participants learn and practice the craft of composition and lyric-writing. Check back every Monday to meet a new writer!
What was your introduction to the theatre?
My parents would always take my brothers and I to the theatre when we were really young. I was too young to remember, but my parents tell me that when I saw Beauty and The Beast onstage for the first time, I was so enthralled that I tried to climb up onstage. My love for Theatre just kind of grew from there.
When was the moment you decided to write for the theatre?
I had never even thought about writing until my third year at Sheridan College for Music Theatre. We had a Theatre writing class and were given an assignment to write a ten minute musical, and I found that it was all I could think about. I was thrilled to be writing and I found I absolutely loved it.
Who is someone's work you admire, and why do you admire it?
Well this is a hard question to answer. This answer changes the more and more I listen to new works, and new writers. I have gone from a love and admiration for Stephen Sondheim to Stephen Swartz to Jason Robert Brown and so on. I find every writer has something different to teach you. So I love to learn and study from all of the greats, so that one day I might be able to write something half as good as them.
How do you like to write? What is your process? Where do you find inspiration?
I go for a drive. I get in my car, I put on whatever music I am listening to at the time, right now it is Kpop, and I drive. I drive for 30 min to an hour, and clear my mind. Then I get home, sit at my computer and put myself in exactly the circumstances of the character, and then the writing just kind of happens.
What do you want to see more of on stage?
I want to see more Canadian works. I think Canada has a beautiful voice and background and I would love to see that onstage.
If you had to pick one musical cast recording to be your "desert island record" which would it be?
“Into the Woods it’s time to go...”
Complete this sentence: "I write because..."
I write because it allows me to express a part of me that I can’t keep inside any longer.
Why did you join the Writers Workshop?
I just felt like I still had a lot more to learn about writing.
What is your favourite thing about the Writers Workshop?
It really teaches you the basics, and how to start and follow through on something. It also forces you to write. It keeps you writing, and on some weeks when you really don’t have inspiration or the feeling to write, you still have to write. Which is a very important lesson. To still write, no matter what.
What's a tip you have about collaboration?
Collaboration is like finding the perfect partner. It’s hard. Sometimes it’s amazing and you click and it’s perfection...and sometimes it’s just not. Collaboration can be a beautiful thing, to have someone else see something you don’t can add so much to a piece. It’s nice to have another person’s input and experience something with someone else, but just know it is very hard to find that perfect person for you. But when you do find them, there is no turning back.
Allison Wither is a performer and writer working in Toronto, Ontario. She graduated from Sheridan College’s Musical Theatre Degree Program. She is currently working on two shows "Every Silver Lining" about a girl whose brother passes away from cancer and how that affects her family, and "Depression Hotline" a show about a company that pays people depending on how many calls they take per day, instead of actually spending time on their clients. Allison also performed in musicals such as Mary Poppins as Mrs.Banks (The Lower Ossington Theatre), Legally Blonde as Enid Hoopes (The Lower Ossington Theatre), In The Heights as Abuela (Theatre Sheridan), Make Your Mark as Ali/Writer of the show (Smile Theatre), Theory of Relativity as Dana (Stage, Song and Screen) and Godspell as Joanna (Theatre Sheridan). She was also apart of the amazing sight-specific musical Brantwood as Pips/Lipstick Lois. Brantwood won an Audience Choice Dora last year. Allison is an emerging artist working on musical theatre as well as a pop album. Her music can be found on YouTube under Allison Wither.