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Peter Carl Anderson fonds
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1961-2020, 1978-2018 predominant (Creation)
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1.07m of textual records and other material
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Name of creator
Peter Anderson was born in 1950 in Detroit, Michigan, to architect Donald Carl Anderson and schoolteacher Phyllis Anderson (Beet).
He attended the Residential College at the University of Michigan from 1968-1972, where he studied creative writing under the mentorship of Warren Jay Hecht and received three Hopwood awards for fiction and poetry. He was one of the first graduates of the Residential College’s Creative Writing program, receiving a B.A. in English with honors.
After graduating, Peter remained in Ann Arbor, Michigan, working as managing editor at Street Fiction Press, and co-founding the satirical political comedy troupe Peachy Cream Productions. In 1973 his first play, The Banana from Outer Space, was produced by the RC Players. His second play, The Janitors (co-written with Warren Jay Hecht), was produced two years later.
1n 1975 Peter left Ann Arbor to study clown and mime under Carlo Mazzone Clementi at the Dell’Arte School of Mime and Comedy (now the Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre) in Blue Lake, California. After completing his studies in 1977, he hitch-hiked to British Columbia to audition for the Caravan Stage Company, a horse-drawn theatre company founded by Paul and Nans Kirby, and was cast in the summer touring production of Hands Up! to play the lead role of the legendary train robber Bill Miner. After contributing several scenes to the collectively-created script, Peter was commissioned by artistic director Nick Hutchinson to write a play for the following season. The play, The Coyotes, toured the North Okanagan and Alberta and was documented in the 1978 NFB film Horse Drawn Magic. It was during rehearsals that year that Peter met the love of his life, artist/maskmaker/playwright Melody Anderson. Their life-long partnership and ongoing artistic collaboration has spanned decades and numerous productions. The Coyotes also marked the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration between Peter and Nick that continued when the Caravan Stage Company (later the Caravan Farm Theatre) settled in Armstrong, B.C. on an eighty-acre farm. After Nick’s retirement as artistic director, Peter found a new and exciting collaborator in artistic director Estelle Shook and continued his close association with the Caravan Farm Theatre.
Over the years, Peter has authored over a dozen plays for the Caravan, including The Coyotes, Law of the Land, The Ballad of Weedy Peetstraw, Head Over Heels, The Blue Horse, Coyotes’ Christmas, Sleigh-Ride Christmas Carol, The Second Shepherds’ Play, Horseplay (co-written with Phil Savath), Bull by the Horns, Animal Farm, and the Mystery Cycle trilogy: Creation, Nativity & Passion. In 2017, the Caravan programmed three years of Peter’s early plays, all with new revisions.
Throughout his many years with the Caravan, Peter has maintained a parallel career in Vancouver theatre as both a playwright and performer (including a one-year stint doing stand-up comedy). His playwriting credits include the internationally-produced Rattle in the Dash; adaptations of Don Quixote (with Colin Heath), Lysistrata and Eurydice; the libretto for a micro-opera Aftermath and a song cycle 4 Horses with composer Jennifer Butler; and The Emperor’s New Threads (a theatre-for-young audiences play co-written with Melody Anderson). Peter was also a co-creator and original performer in Axis Theatre’s The Number 14, a comedy set on a city bus featuring Melody Anderson’s masks, that toured nationally and internationally for twenty years.
As a performer, Peter is perhaps most well-known for his lead role in The Overcoat (Morris Panych & Wendy Gorling’s movement-theatre production) which drew heavily on his clowning and physical theatre skills. He received both Gemini and Leo best actor nominations for the filmed version of the play. Other acting credits include Slobberjaw in the 2019 revival of his 1978 play The Coyotes, Coyote in the 2018 revival of his 1982 play Law of the Land (Caravan Farm Theatre), Titus in The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius (Rumble Theatre), three productions of Waiting For Godot (in which he’s played Vladimir twice and Lucky once), numerous shows for Vancouver’s Leaky Heaven Circus, various roles in The Tosca Project (American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco); the lead role in his and Colin Heath’s adaptation of Don Quixote (Arts Club/Centaur/Axis); and the lead role in the premiere production of Morris Panych’s 7 Stories.
He’s the recipient of eight Jessie Richardson Awards for playwriting and acting, a Bay Area Critics’ Circle Award for ensemble performance (The Tosca Project), a Victoria Theatre Critic’s Award for Best Actor (Waiting for Godot), a NY Drama Desk nomination (The Number 14), and Gemini, Leo, Dora Mavor Moore and Betty Mitchell nominations for Best Actor (The Overcoat). He continues to live in Vancouver, B.C., with his wife Melody Anderson. All of his plays are available online at the Canadian Play Outlet.
Donated by the creator, Peter Carl Anderson, to UBC Okanagan Special Collections, in June of 2021. The fonds had been previously unprocessed in the custody of Thompson Rivers University Library until it was returned to the creator and subsequently transferred to UBCO. A digital accrual was received at UBCO in January of 2022.
Scope and content
Fonds consists of the compiled works and supporting documents of Peter Carl Anderson with reference to his career as playwright, actor, writer, and artist. The fonds is arranged into nine series: Acting; Art; Awards; Correspondence; Photographs; Personal Publicity; Writing; Produced Plays; and Caravan Farm Theatre files.
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Uploaded finding aid
Biographical sketch supplied by the creator, Peter Carl Anderson.
The materials in the fonds are under the copyright predominantly of Peter Carl Anderson and/or Caravan Farm Theatre. All rights are reserved. Reproduction or duplication can take place only with appropriate written permissions.
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Compiled by Paige Hohmann and Alisa Sohi (2022).