Bright Lights, Scrappy City

How Edmonton’s arts community has inspired playwright Louise Casemore’s career

Louise Casemore was six years old when she declared she wanted to be a writer. Stephen King, specifically. Today, she is an active playwright and the founder of her theatre company, Defiance Theatre, which began in 2005 as a platform for her work and that of her peers. Familiar with the temptation to leave Edmonton for different markets, she wanted to provide her fellow artists a reason to stay in town.

“Edmonton is an extraordinary theater town – one of the defining characteristics to me is Edmonton’s scrappy DIY spirit,” she says. “I think scrappy is the word that you’ll hear most often associated with Edmonton artists. And that speaks to the spirit of creation – the community’s ability to collaborate and work together to just make work, to just make art.”

She credits some of the city’s affinity for theatre to the beloved Edmonton International Fringe Festival. The longest running, and first, Fringe theatre festival in North America, with a legacy that has spanned more than forty years. Having such a platform in our backyard is something she believes has helped to foster the arts community.

“Edmonton is the personification of that maker spirit that tells people, if you have an idea, just get it up there and try it. We learn by doing in Edmonton,” she says.

Playwright Louise Casemore. Photos by Jody Christopherson.

As Casemore completes her master’s in fine arts, she has two poignant pieces in development, Blow Your House Down and Put Your Lips Together. She calls them her “sassy little companion pieces” and explains that while they exist in the same world, they aren’t necessarily connected in their execution. Both, however, have led her to expand her skillset and explore writing for larger casts.

The pieces explore the lateral impact of harm against women, the latter taking inspiration from the murder of U.K university student, Molly McLaren.

As both pieces add to such an important conversation, Casemore is in no rush to stage them. “I’m taking my time and building resources and letting the writing sort of happen in its own way,” she says, something she believes she can do thanks to the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund (EATF).

The EATF was established in 1997 with the objective of investing in artists living and working in the greater Edmonton area. A joint venture between the Edmonton Arts Council and the Edmonton Community Foundation, recipients are nominated for their work in areas including literature, music, theatre, visual arts, dance, and filmmaking. The $15,000 trust award is intended to support artists with both their living and working expenses.

Casemore plans to use the funds to support herself as she organizes her projects and ideas while continuing to develop her ongoing works. “That is truly like a once in a lifetime luxury to be able to, to take stock of things and not just be surviving my artistic life, but actually thriving inside of it.”

To celebrate the 25th year of the EATF awards, in 2023 there will be 25 awards of $15,000 each.

Please note the change in deadline to August 1, 2023. Get your nominations in ASAP!

Make your nomination


Louise also appeared on episode 146 of our Well Endowed Podcast to talk more about her work, the EATF and the magic of Edmonton’s theatre scene.