Coupland on campus
2010 Massey Lecture takes place at the University of Regina
People flocked to the university theatre last Thursday evening to hear acclaimed Canadian author and visual artist Douglas Coupland deliver the second in this year’s CBC’s Massey lecture series.
For the first time in the history of one of Canada’s most anticipated lectures of the year, the Massey lecture is a work of fiction in the form of a novel, Player One: What is to Become of Us.
Player One is a real-time five-hour story about five desperate people trapped inside an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster.
Having already presented hour one of the novel in Vancouver, Coupland treated his Regina audience to hour two of Player One.
During the second hour, “The best of the rest of your life,” the audience got a little more insight into the character’s lives and the events that lead up this moment – being trapped together.
Karen, a divorced single mom of an odd teenage girl has flown 2,500 kilometres to meet Warren, a younger man whom he met in “a Peak Oil Apocalypse chat room.” But, the online version of Warren seems more charming than the man himself. According to Karen, he gives off a repeat sex offender vibe.
Rachel is on a quest for an alpha male to impregnate her so that she can prove to her father that she is indeed a human being and not a monster.
Luke is a runaway pastor is hoping to hook up with Rachel when a minor TV celebrity named Leslie Freemont, suntan and all, swoops his “Kentucky Fried Chicken Colonel” self, assistant in tow, into the lounge and seemingly poses a veritable threat to whatever chances Luke had.
Leslie Freemont has come to meet Rick, a recently divorced bartender, about something called the “Leslie Freemont Power Dynamics Program.” Rick pays $8,500 for the program and Leslie is off.
Suddenly, the news on TV shows oil prices going through the roof. It’s the beginning of an apocalypse.
Thick ash is falling from the sky and, as if from nowhere, a sniper shoots and kills one of the men. The rest run back to the lounge and barricade themselves in there. Sealed in there, they realize that this is the end of their world as they knew it.
The lecture was followed by a question and answer session co-hosted by CBC’s Sheila Coles and Paul Kennedy. The discussions tackled the human condition with a “what is to become of us” perspective.
When asked why he decided to present his lecture in story form, Coupland said the reasons were ‘“laziness and fear, and that sickening sensation of ‘Oh my God, it has to be done.’”
Coupland is the author of eleven other novels which were on sale along with Player One outside the theatre at the end of the evening. There was a book signing afterwards.
Coupland continues the Massey lecture series in Charlottetown, Ottawa and finally Toronto.