Stratton, Allan 1951-
STRATTON, Allan 1951-
PERSONAL: Born 1951, in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1973, Graduate Centre for the Study of Drama, M.A.; studied at New York Actor's Studio.
ADDRESSES: Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Agent—Denise Bukowski, The Bukowski Agency, 14 Prince Arthur Ave., #202, Toronto, Ontario M5R 1A9, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Playwright. Etobicoke School of the Arts, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, former head of drama department.
AWARDS, HONORS: Chalmers Award, and Dora Mavor Moore Award, both 1981, both for Rexy!; Chalmers Award, 1966, for Papers; Stephen Leacock Award of Merit, for The Phoenix Lottery; three American Library Association awards, including Michael L. Printz Honor Book award, 2005, and honors from New York Public Library, Booklist, and International Readers Association, all for Chanda's Secrets.
72 under the O: A Farce (produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1977), Playwrights Co-op (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1978, revised and published as Bingo!: A Comedy (produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1987), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1987.
Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1980), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981.
Rexy! (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1981), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981, published in Canada Split: Two Plays, 1991.
Joggers (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1982), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983, published in Words in Play, 1988.
Friends of a Feather (adaptation of Célimare, by Eugene Labiche and A. Delacour; produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1984), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1984.
Papers (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1985), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1986, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1990.
The 101 Miracles of Hope Chance (produced in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1987), published in Words in Play, 1991.
Words in Play: Three Comedies by Allan Stratton (includes The 101 Miracles of Hope Chance and Joggers), edited by Robert Wallace, Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988.
Bag Babies: A Comedy of (Bad) Manners (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1990), Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1991.
A Flush of Tories (produced in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1991), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1991, published in Canada Split, 1991.
Canada Split: Two Plays (contains A Flush of Tories and Rexy!), edited by Odette Dubé Nuage (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1991.
Dracula: Nightmare of the Dead (adaptation of the novel by Bram Stoker), produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1995.
The Phoenix Lottery (based on Stratton's novel; also see below), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Leslie's Journal (young-adult novel), Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
The Phoenix Lottery (novel), Riverbank Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Chanda's Secrets (young-adult novel), Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.
Author of radio play When Father Passed Away.
ADAPTATIONS: A Flush of Tories and Friends of a Feather were adapted for television by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); The Rusting Heart, first published in the magazine Alphabet, was adapted for CBC Radio in 1970.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Resurrection of Mary Mabel McTavish (adult novel); a young-adult novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Allan Stratton is a Canadian playwright and author who has been involved with the arts from a young age. His mother, a teacher, began taking Stratton to see a play by William Shakespeare when he was five years old. He acted while in high school, and his play The Rusting Heart, was produced for radio by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when Stratton was in twelfth grade. Stratton studied and continued writing, and his first stage play was produced in 1977. With the success of Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii, a comedy about a writer of Harlequin romances, Stratton was able to write full-time. Rexy!, a satire about former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, premiered in 1981 and was also hugely successful. Stratton spent several years in New York, beginning in 1982, and joined Lee Strasberg's Actor's Studio, but his plays have all premiered in Canada.
Joggers is a dark comedy about family and sexual repression, while Friends of a Feather is an adaptation of a French farce. The predicament of two lonely lovers who are unable to communicate is the focus of the romantic comedy Papers, and The 101 Miracles of Hope Chance is a satire about the exploitation of a believer by televangelists.
Stratton returned to Canada in the late 1980s and resettled in Montreal. His first production after returning was Bag Babies: A Comedy of (Bad) Manners, a comedy with a message about poverty and homelessness. Like so many of Stratton's plays, it received a number of award nominations and has since been performed in England, Scotland, and the United States. A Flush of Tories is a satire that examines the administration of Canadian Prime Minister John A. MacDonald and MacDonald's four Tory successors. Dracula: Nightmare of the Dead is an adaptation of the novel by Bram Stoker, featuring a female van Helsing, it is an examination of Victorian mores and the relationship between sex and death.
Stratton's novel The Phoenix Lottery, which the author also adapted as a stage play, focuses on Junior Beamish, who launches a lottery to raise money and plans to torch a painting by Vincent van Gogh live on the Internet in order to sell the story. His dead father fights his scheming son from beyond the grave, and the Vatican sends a cardinal to oppose Junior on behalf of human civilization. The novel version of The Phoenix Lottery is an epic that takes place over fifty years, while the play version deals with the period immediately surrounding the actual lottery.
Stratton briefly headed the drama department of the Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto, where he also taught playwriting, acting, and directing. His students benefited from his talent, earning several awards for their plays. He returned to writing full-time and several years later published his first young-adult novel, Leslie's Journal, which School Library Journal reviewer Marilyn Payne Phillips felt "could be the Go Ask Alice … of this millennium." In the novel Leslie is not doing well in school. Her parents are divorced, her father has a live-in girlfriend, and Leslie cannot communicate with her mother. Her only friend is Katie, who sticks by Leslie and helps her out of the situation that is at the center of the story.
Leslie's English teacher has asked her students to write journals, which she keeps locked in a closet and promises to never read. When a substitute teacher who does not know about the agreement takes over, however, the startling revelations in Leslie's journal are exposed. Leslie is, in fact, having a relationship with wealthy, popular Jason, who raped her and took pictures of her after getting her drunk. As the teen confides in the pages of her journal, she attempted to break up with him, but he beat her and threatened to kill her. The substitute teacher takes the journal to the principal, but she believes Jason rather than Leslie. Jason stalks Leslie, who runs away, and it takes bravery and Katie's support before the resolution is reached. Phillips noted that "this cautionary tale is not easy to read; few of the characters are likable."
On his Home Page, Stratton explained that his second young-adult novel, Chanda's Secrets, grew "out of my experiences in Botswana, as well as the times I've spent as a caregiver for friends in the final stages of AIDS." Kathleen Isaacs commented in School Library Journal that Stratton's description of life in sub-Saharan Africa is "convincing and smoothly woven into this moving story of poverty and courage, but the real insight for readers will be the appalling treatment of the AIDS victims."
Chanda is a sixteen-year-old girl who, as Chanda's Secrets opens, is preparing the funeral of her younger sister. Chanda lost her father in a diamond-mining accident, and her first stepfather abused her. The second died of a stroke, and the current stepfather is now dying. The cause of his death and that of little Sara is the secret that can't be discussed. Chanda's mother is also sick, as is her best friend, who has turned to prostitution; Chanda, who has been raped, now fears that she might also be infected. When her mother is rejected by the family, Chanda cares for her until her death and overcomes her obsession with keeping the secret in favor of advocating for the truth as she takes on the responsibility of her siblings. Resource Links contributor Anne Hatcher wrote that in Chanda's Secrets "Stratton brings the despair, overwhelming poverty and the impact of AIDS/HIV to life while at the same time depicting the strength of human character when faced with adversity." The proceeds from the sale of Stratton's novel are being used to fight AIDS.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 1843.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 498.
Kliatt, July, 2004, KaaVonia Hinton, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 24.
Resource Links, December, 2000, review of Leslie's Journal, p. 30; June, 2004, Anne Hatcher, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 27.
School Library Journal, April, 2001, Marilyn Payne Phillips, review of Leslie's Journal, p. 150; July, 2004, Kathleen Isaacs, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 112.
Allan Stratton Home Page, http://www.allanstratton.com (March 11, 2005).