Acclaimed British playwright Alan Ayckbourn admits to occasionally getting writer's block, but with more than 60 plays published it’s clear his bouts don’t last very long. “Like any writer, it’s my greatest fear,” says the 61-yearold native of Scarborough, England, who usually needs about three weeks to write a play. “Once I’ve finished a show or a script, I feel like I’ve emptied the vat and that there’s nothing left. Then some sort of culture sticks to the wall.” Last week, Ayckbourn was in Toronto to direct the CBC production of his 1996 stage musical By Jeeves, which stars Canadian Heath Lamberts and features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The play is scheduled to air during the 2001-2002 TV season. This is a rare North American visit for Ayckbourn. “Broadway and I haven’t talked for years,” he laughs. “We have a similar language, but the perception of comedy is very different here.” Broadway and writer’s block be damned, this 42-year theatre vet knows his shows will always go on.
End of innocence
Elisha Cuthbert has put in her time as a good role model. For three years, she was a thirsty-for-knowledge co-host of Popular Mechanics for Kids. Right up until she left the show last fall, Cuthbert was investigating things like sewer systems, monster trucks and roller-coasters. She has also been a series regular on Are You Afraid of the Dark? and has played the daughter of a president in the Disney movie Mail to the Chief. Now, she has shed her good-girl image. This Sunday, Cuthbert plays a teenage gambler in the CTV movie Lucky Girl. Her character, Katlin, is a composite of real-life teenage gambling addicts in Canada. Seventeen-year-old Katlin starts ofF with poker games at sleepovers and quickly moves to casinos and bookies. “I think it is the darkest thing I have ever done,” says Cuthbert, 18. “But it’s still educational.” The Calgary-born actress recently completed high school in Montreal and is now living on her own in Los Angeles. Last week, she started working on a TV pilot,
24, in which she plays Kiefer Sutherland’s rebellious teenage daughter. Cuthbert finds being away from home for the first time a bit rough. “The first month,
I was feeling like a tourist,” she says. “Now, I feel a lot better. But I still talk to my mother every day.” The habits of a good role model are hard to break.
She’s from Nullarbor, not Nashville
TVThen young country-music sensaW non Kasey Chambers sings lovingly about the “southern kind of life,” it’s not the southern United States she means. Despite her convincing Texaslike twang, the 24year-old rising star is referring to South Australia—specifically a remote and desolate stretch of the Outback known as the Nullarbor Plain, where she grew up. Life in the bush was not exacdy as seen on Survivor:
The Australian Outback, but it did have its weird aspects. “On the one hand, we’d hunt and eat rabbits, but I also had pet rabbits that I’d dress up in doll’s clothes,” she recalls. “Sometimes that got a little confusing.” Evenings were
spent around a campfire singing gospel and country songs. By the time Kasey was 10, the Chamberses were touring Australia as the Dead Ringer Band. Now, Kasey is winning acclaim in Canada for her assured solo debut, The Captain, on which she’s joined by her father, Bill, and m brother, Nash, 26— I her mother, Diane, 1 handles the business I end. How, then, does I she explain her Amer¡ ican-accented vocals? “There was no television or radio on the Nullarbor,” she explains. “The only thing I ever heard growing up was the music my dad loved by Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.” Seems southern roots run deep no matter the continent.
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