Doolittle did a lot
March 01st, 2017
Raised on Gabriola Island, playwright Sasha Colby is Director of SFU’s Graduate Liberal Studies Program. In her second book, Staging Modernist Lives H.D., Mina Loy, Nancy Cunard, Three Plays and Criticism (McGill-Queens 2017), Sasha Colby records the process by which she has creatively transformed overlooked female literary history onto the stage for her one-woman plays interpreting and publicizing the lives of those three unconventional writers.
The separate plays on H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961), Mina Loy (1882-1966), and Nancy Cunard (1896-1965) sympathetically portray frequently audacious, interwar, avant-garde lives, evoking Parisian literary circles and the Spanish Civil War. Among the “mentors, detractors, lovers, and friends” who surface in her biographical plays are Richard Aldington, Bryher Ellerman, Ezra Pound, Sigmund Freud, Gertrude Stein, Arthur Cravan, D.H. Lawrence, and Pablo Neruda.
Inspired chiefly by H.D.’s aubiographical writing, Colby initially performed her twenty-four-character, one-woman play H.D.: A Life at the Vancouver Fringe Festival and at a Modernist Studies Association Conference in Japan in 2010. The fact that H.D. sought psychoanalytic treatment from Sigmund Freud and wrote a book about it is part of the presentation that was later remounted for a single performance in Paris in 2017.
As an assistant professor in World Literature and Explorations in Arts and Social Sciences at SFU, Colby published her first book, Stratified Modernism: The Poetics of Excavation from Gautier to Olson (Verlag Peter Lang, 2009). According to publicity materials, it “spans from Théophile Gautier’s mid-nineteenth-century passion for Egyptology to Charles Olson’s literal excavations on the Yucatan peninsula in the 1950s.”
BA (University of Victoria), MA (University of Victoria), PhD (University of Sussex)
Stratified Modernism: The Poetics of Excavation from Gautier to Olson (Verlag Peter Lang, 2009). 9783039119325
Staging Modernist Lives: H.D., Mina Loy, Nancy Cunard, Three Plays and Criticism (McGill-Queens 2017) 9780773548947
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