A Nelson playwright took third place in a dramatic monologue writing contest to mark University of Victoria’s 50th anniversary.
Jeff Forst, a graduate of UVic’s English literature program and current second year writing student at Selkirk College, wrote Cop Shop Grow Op specifically for the contest.
Set in a lakeside cabin near Nelson’s big orange bridge, the 10 minute monologue is about an amateur horticulturalist who’s been busted (and kissed) by a “hot cop” from the police station next door.
Forst said he remembered reading a newspaper article about someone growing pot next door to a police station in Northern BC and thought it would make a great premise for a play.
“I was struck by the fact someone would had the audacity to do that right beside a police department,” Forst said. “It’s a powerful symbol having the two diametrically opposed situations right beside each other.”
Forst gave the piece a local setting and a wove in some romantic conflict — and the judges loved it.
The contest’s final judge Michael MacLennan (an executive producer and writer for the Global television series Bomb Girls) called Forst’s monologue a “virtuosic piece of writing built on a high-stakes dramatic scenario to keep this hefty monologue aloft.”
“Through humour and propulsive writing, [Forst] succeeds in touching on the character’s darker corners without sinking the piece in a maudlin languor,” he continued.
Forst said he rarely enters writing in contests, though he did once have a poem shortlisted in the Kootenay Literary Contest.
He’s been part of more than 40 drama projects as a director, actor or producer, and Forst said he’s been much more focused on writing since enrolling at Selkirk.
He’s currently focused on writing a fantasy novel and has plans to write more plays in the future.
Forst is also the founder of Nelson Youth Theatre and producer of Nelson’s Bard in the Bush Shakespeare festival.
A copy of Cop Shop Grow Op is on the website of UVic’s literary journal, The Malahat Review, at malahatreview.ca/excerpts/forst.html.
Forst is also planning to bring the script to life on the local stage sometime in the New Year. He’s recruited his wife, actor Lisel Forst, to play the horticulturalist, and will be working out the details of where and when to show it in the coming months.