Mitchell, Ken

Ken Mitchell, playwright, novelist, short story writer, poet, actor, teacher, scriptwriter (b at Moose Jaw, Sask 13 Dec 1940). Mitchell grew up on a farm near Moose Jaw, and attended the University of Saskatchewan, Regina; while a student, he began to write stories and radio plays for the CBC. After receiving his MA in 1967, he joined that university's English department, where he continues to teach. An ardent supporter of prairie culture, Mitchell helped found the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild in 1969; edited the anthology Horizon: Writings of the Canadian Prairie (1977); wrote the screenplay for The Hounds of Notre Dame (1980); and produced a critical study of his literary antecedent, Sinclair ROSS (Sinclair Ross: A Reader's Guide, 1981).

A prolific, humorous storyteller, Mitchell succeeds particularly well in his story collection Everybody Gets Something Here (1977), in his entertaining novels Wandering Rafferty, (1972), The Meadowlark Connection: A Saskatchewan Thriller (1975), The Con Man (1979) and in his anthology of selected works, Ken Mitchell Country (1985). Believing that Canadians need to know more about their heroes, and possessing a keen ear for dialogue, Mitchell has turned naturally to play writing. Several of his plays, including The Medicine Line (1976), The Shipbuilder (1979) and Tommy, (1986), as well as Davin: The Politician (1979) and the much-acclaimed country western Cruel Tears (1977), retain a strong prairie flavour. Mitchell has subsequently extended his range to China in The Great Cultural Revolution (1980) and Gone the Burning Sun (1985), a one-man show based on the life of Dr Norman BETHUNE, which toured China in 1987. Through the NanDa Gate (1986) is a poetic/photographic account of Mitchell's teaching experiences in mainland China. Other works include Witches and Idiots (1990), The Shipbuilders (1990), Rebels in Time: Three Plays (1991), and Stones of the Dalai Lama (1993).