25th Trillium Award

The Proust Questionnaire, with Leslie Arden

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Credit: Leslie Arden

Leslie Arden, Ontario-based composer, lyricist and librettist, has recently had Ned Durango released as an ebook by Playwrights Canada Press. Leslie wrote the music and lyrics for Ned Durango and it is her second collaboration with script-writer Norm Foster. In her answers to Proust Questionnaire, Leslie tells us her faults, the people and traits she admires, a few of her favourite things and much more!

The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.


What is your dream of happiness?
Being productive and useful.

What is your idea of misery?
Feeling ashamed.

Where would you like to live?
France, to practice speaking my dreadful French.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Patience, tenderness, honesty, loyalty, self discipline, a sense of humour.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Patience, tenderness, honesty, loyalty, self discipline, a sense of humour.

What is your chief characteristic?
I?m awash in self-doubt.

What is your principal fault?
I?m too judgmental.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Food, wine and dogs.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Along with being too judgmental, I am also generally intolerant.

What do you value most about your friends?
Their ability to forgive and forget.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

What is your favourite virtue?

What is your favourite occupation?
Music composition.

What would you like to be?

What is your favourite colour?
Butter yellow.

What is your favourite flower?

What is your favourite bird?

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Martin Luther King.

What character in history do you most dislike?
If it?s not Hitler, it?s probably someone who figures prominently in organized religion.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Charles Dickens, Tennesse Williams, John Irving.

Who are your favourite poets?
Emily Dickenson, Joni Mitchell, Shakespeare.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Atticus Finch, T.S. Garp, Old Yeller.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Audra McDonald, Mary Ellicott Arnold, Stephen Sondheim.

Who is your favourite painter?
Tom Thomson, because he painted scenes in Northern Ontario, where I have spent so much time.

Who is your favourite musician?
Boko Suzuki.

What is your favourite food?
Today, thin crust pizza with black olives, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and prosciutto. Tomorrow, it?ll be some sort of seafood.

What is your favourite drink?

What are your favourite names?
Juice, Crush, Frisson (all names of sports dogs).

What is it you most dislike?
Feeling ashamed.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Physical coordination.

How do you want to die?

What is your current state of mind?
Irritated, impatient (with this questionnaire).

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My marriage.

What is your motto?
?I am a firm believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.? — Stephen Leacock.


Leslie Arden is an Ontario-based composer, lyricist and librettist who has written over a dozen musicals, including the critically acclaimed and multi-award winning The House of Martin Guerre and the Chalmers Award winning The Happy Prince. Throughout her career, she has written scores for several productions, and composed music for Canadian Stage Company?s production of The Beard of Avon and It?s a Wonderful Life, as well as for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival?s production of Cyrano De Bergerac. Leslie has also collaborated with Norm Foster on the oft-produced The Last Resort and Ned Durango. In 2012, Leslie?s choral piece for soprano and choir, Feathers on the Page, was premiered by the King Edward Choir. She is currently at work on a contemporary musical adaptation of Defoe?s Moll Flanders.

For more information about Ned Durango please visit the Playwrights Canada Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check back for more Proust Questionnaireswith Canada's literati in this latest series of interviews on Open Book.

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