Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

Kingston WritersFest Interview Series: Barbara Bell

Share |

Barbara Bell is an actress, theatrical producer, television host, editor and writer. She is also the Kingston WritersFest Producer. Today Barbara Bell talks with Open Book for our Kingston WritersFest interview series.

Kingston WritersFest is one of Ontario's most popular literary events, drawing guest authors from around the world as well as from the dynamic and well-established Kingston literary community.

This is the concluding interview for the Kingston WritersFest interview series. The festival itself is currently ongoing through September, 25th. More information on the events at the festival can be found here.

Open Book:

How did the KWF come to be and how did you become involved?

Barbara Bell:

Kingston WritersFest actually began in 2006, under the auspices of Kingston Frontenac Public Library and Kingston Literacy. It operated on a very small scale with a founding group of four, who did everything themselves, right down to baking cookies for the break! By 2009 the group was worn out and thinking of abandoning the festival, when writer Merilyn Simonds and Jan Walter (MacFarlane, Walter & Ross) stepped in. They agreed to revive, expand and revamp the festival and gathered a group of thirteen volunteers and we hit the ground running. That was in March, and by September we had mounted a 29-event festival that succeeded beyond our most optimistic projections! I was hired on to oversee the event production aspect of the festival.


What is the most rewarding thing about working on the festival? The most challenging?


I love my job; I love working in the arts, and offering writers and readers a place to come together to celebrate literature. I’m a detail person, so I enjoy the complexities of putting everything together in a way that appears as seamless as possible to the writers and the public who attend. I have a theatre background, so the role of producer is a great match for me. Naturally, the biggest reward is in doing something with all your heart and soul, and having people show up and appreciate it.


What are some of your favourite spots in Kingston?


I live downtown and love it. I love the beautiful shaded corner of City Park near the County Courthouse, where huge trees surround a circular fountain with benches and plantings. This summer, my two favourite places to meet up with people are Sipps on Brock Street opposite Market Square and Geneva Crêpe Café at Princess and Clergy. Crêpes, coffee and a patio, doesn’t that say it all? And at this time of year, I love all the outdoor patios downtown. Chez Piggy is a particular favourite.

And in good weather I walk the waterfront; I’ve been all the way from Portsmouth village to Fort Henry and Barriefield. Gorgeous! I also love to ride the ferry to Wolfe Island; you get a great view of the city skyline from the water.


How do you handle your role as both organizer and author?


I actually am more active as an actor/playwright/producer than as an author per se. Naturally, there is a juggling act to be done when my festival responsibilities heat up, and acting and writing have to take a back seat. Festival is primary for me from July to the end of October.


Tell us about your current writing project.


I am hovering over the keyboard to begin a second play, that will be a companion piece to my first play Dreams and Desires, which I wrote, produced and toured in 2008.


What are you most looking forward to about this year’s Kingston Writers’ Festival?


Oh boy! Tough question! I am so excited about our whole line up! Definitely, the International Marquee with Coetzee and Auster on September 22 will be a highlight. I am a big fan of our Saturday night SpeakEasy, too. So much fun! But, really, it’s the small moments: elevator conversations, enjoying a chat and a joke with our wonderful volunteers, listening in awe to brilliant conversations amongst intelligent and talented writers, watching the rapt faces of the audiences as they take in what’s happening onstage, and hearing the animated buzz as they emerge from another exciting event.

Barbara Bell is an award winning actress and producer of plays, including Dreams and Desires,which was staged at the Rankin Gallery, the Domino One–Act Play Festival in Kingston, fringe festivals in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver, and on Gabriola Island in 2008. This summer, her production company, Shiny Object Creative, will present Charles Robertson’s one–act play Pretty Pieces at the Victoria Fringe Festival. As co–producer and host of TVCogeco’s Pageturners: Kingston’s Book Club Barbara regularly interviewed local authors; among her many talents is a decided flair for sparking lively conversation about books. The mother of two grown children, Barbara lives in Kingston.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Advanced Search