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Meet The Writers: Dustin George

In our "Meet The Writers" series, we're learning more about the participants of the CMTWC Writers Workshop. The Writers Workshop meets every two weeks where, under the guidance of Leslie Arden, writers learn and practice the craft of composition and lyric-writing.

What was your introduction to the theatre?

I grew up watching Grease, The Sound of Music, and Singing in the Rain on VHS, but for a long time I never even knew that was something that also happened on stage. It wasn’t until I was 12ish that I saw my first live show. It was a local high school production of Footloose. I’m sure if I saw it now it wouldn’t be my favourite theatre experience, but at the time I sat in awe of the fact that they were singing, dancing, moving set pieces; it was truly magical.

When was the moment you decided to write for the theatre?

I went to university for musical theatre performance, and once I moved to Toronto I was doing a lot of comedy writing and performing. I started noticing a trend of me enjoy the “high” of being on stage less and enjoy the process of creating a lot more. So it was sort of a gradual decision.

Whose work do you admire and why?

I am really such a Sondheim geek. His lyrics are rich and truthful, the themes of his shows will always be relevant and timeless, and he puts in humour in his work as a reflection of how life is, not just to create a joke.

How do you like to write? What is your process? Where do you find inspiration?

I am such an observer of life. If someone is staring at you having a conversation with a friend on the bus, it’s probably me. I love taking from what’s around me. I think anyone’s life, if done properly, could be turned into a moving and beautiful musical.

When I am writing, and if I am passionate about the piece, it will change 100 times before anyone sees it, and then it will probably change 100 more times once they do. I try to have as little ego about my work when creating (though sometimes hard to do!), and I will put out a thousand different ideas out before I choose one.

What do you want to see more of on stage?

Honesty and heart, but more tangible things would be diversity, stories of anxiety, and stories of everyday people.

If you had to pick one musical cast recording to be your "desert island record" which would it be?

Sunday in the Park with George.

Complete this sentence: "I write because...”

There are endless stories to tell.

What's a tip you have about collaboration?

Find someone that will be excited about your first idea but also aren’t afraid to tell you that it’s not very good.

Why did you join the Writers Workshop?

I wanted to learn to work with composers better and explore an art form that I love.

What is your favourite thing about the Writers Workshop?

It’s the first time that I’ve had to write a song based on someone else’s work and I found it extremely challenging, but rewarding at the same time.

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