The Missy Elliott Factor

Some of you may be wondering, why Missy Elliott? Why would two-time Governor General Award winning playwright Catherine Banks write a play so heavily influenced by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott? Well, there’s no need for us to answer for her! Below is a letter that Catherine sent to Missy Elliott to express her gratitude and how the play Miss N Me came about:

There is a poem I love by Yosano Akiko that begins “The day the mountains move has come” and ends “All the sleeping women are now awake and moving.” The first time I heard your lyrics you lit a fire that ignited my frozen core. Instant lava spilled out of me;—-awe, joy, surprise—I was so amazed that you were straight-up saying these wildly wonderful things.

“Real big butts make ya man wanna look (OH!)

Back it up, flip it up, skinny girls – eugh!” gave me my first real belly laugh in too many years. Honest to God, ridiculous, BUT TRUE!—–Oh, those words hit me in the sternum—– that a man would want to look at me if I had a great big butt—cause everyone all 48 years before had told me to keep my butt shrink-wrapped.

Missy-Elliott-This-Is-Not-a-TestI bought all of your cds but This is Not A Test was the one I played over and over. I have bought at least 10 copies since 2005—-I wear them all out.

Your lyrics lit up a path in NEON that I didn’t know I would be walking less than six month after I heard your music for the first time.

One day my life fell apart in one uttered sentence. I honestly don’t know if I could have made the journey from hearing that sentence to saying “No!” had I not been listening to your wisdom in the months before he said what he said.

My play is the seconds, hours, days, perhaps years that it takes a woman to go from the ending sentence she hears to learning she must save her own life.

The first time I read a scene from Miss N Me a theatre colleague said “What is it about 50 year old women and Missy Elliott.” I thought, “You mean it isn’t just me?” At that moment I realized that for all those months it had felt like you were talking just to me.

Catherine Banks

Catherine Banks

Your attitude so playful, honest, fearless and joyful—your lyrics about butts, relationships, knowing your worth and sex toys—-How all that made me feel is what I am trying to do with Miss N Me.

Because Dawna, the heroine, drives to NYC to ambush Missy I also drove to NYC. I listened to all your cds all the way—and it was fucking amazing! When I got to downtown Manhattan I felt like the king of the world—You are beyond amazing. Of course I didn’t get to meet you but what a gift to know you through your words. You are a true inspiration to me in every way. Thank you thank you thank you.

Now that you know all about how Miss N Me came to Catherine, check out the links below to learn about her writing process and how Miss N Me developed.

The first is a fun interview she gave way back in 2009, when she had just finished completing a draft of Miss N Me (called Missy and Me back then!): Umbrella Talk with playwright Catherine Banks

The second is a blog about a road trip she took to New York to help her add more realism to the play: Six Minutes Driving in Downtown Manhattan

The third article is an interview she gave after winning her second General Governor Award about her writing process: Catherine Banks – Governor General’s Literary Awards interview series

Tickets for the world premiere of Miss N Me are on sale now! You can either by tickets on line by clicking here or by phoning 204-586-2236.

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