i. I work as a:
Theatre Director, in this project, and an actor in others. The medium demands a lot of adaptation to different roles to keep a project moving. “The Fairies are Thirsty” was a theatre piece streamed live through Zoom, so I then had to adapt how I even thought I could create for “theatre”. (Or if this was theatre at all)
ii. I do this creative work because:
I had loved to act as a kid. Either acting out in class, or performing skits for the campfire at boy scouts or summer camps. After finishing High School, I was encouraged by friends and family to continue acting. I attended Vancouver Island University between 2008 – 2013 and finished my Theatre Minor in the program there. I learned there not only how to act, but how to build, produce, design – I have used this experience to act in various festivals and fringe theatre festivals in B.C.
“The Fairies are Thirsty” is a Quebecois Feminist piece written in blank prose that explores entrapment by society. I found this play when I attended University and had directed it at the end of my fourth year at the University of Fraser Valley hosted Directors Festival. Now in Montreal, we had the pleasure to adapt “The Fairies are Thirsty” to an online platform. Through COVID-19 myself and the cast all agreed that the importance of having art, and an active project to work on, had helped them through some of the continued COVID restrictions.
iii. A ‘typical’ day for me under Covid lockdown involves:
I work as an essential worker at a bakery in my neighbourhood. I do not use public transit to reach it, but helping a small business continue has been rewarding in its own sense. After work I would shower, eat a dinner (prepared by my wonderful roommates for me) and then prepare for a Zoom rehearsal. Our rehearsals were at 7:30 as one of the actors had to put her daughter to bed (unsuccessfully, sometimes!) During our rehearsals we looked at connection through Zoom, technological limits, and the act of “what are we doing”? Afterwards I would talk to my mother and father back home in British Columbia.
iv. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
An openness to what will come. Creating any kind of art, or forming any project, you can never truly know what the end goal will look like. Theatre is a collaborative art of performers, producers, technicians, directors and an audience. It is through all of these people with their own creative vision that we achieve anything at all. Being able to work with people you can trust to invest their creative ambitions into your project has always been a priority for myself. And now, with the shift towards online performance we ask ourselves again – “what’s next?”
v. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
Connection. The goal of any piece of work is to communicate an impression on to a viewer or audience. With the Zoom format we switched to, the characters struggled to connect to the text, one another, and their own performance. The platform Zoom allows the actor to view themselves as they act – a habit I hope one can avoid, but to the actor may seem impossible to avoid.
The performers said that a challenge in this project was the act of performance without an audience they can see, the act of bowing to no applause other than what they give one another. If an audience feels unconnected and unaffected by the performance due to the technology or any other reason, the art isn’t making an impression. As the director, communicating with the cast became difficult, especially when discussing abstract feelings or emotions. That we were able to connect and make something together at all was the greatest difficulty in our situation here, though it may be more universal to theatre than just this instance.
vi. Creative childhood hobbies:
I was imaginative in my little games and worlds. I made a small cardboard town with a friend for our beanie babies. At summer camp I was encouraged to perform at the campfire, or in church plays. My school and local community did not encourage the arts to me, I found. Much of the performance programs were cut by the time I was of age, and it was a far drive to reach the next town over.
vii. Other creators who inspire you:
Many to count. In university I was affected by my professor, Ross Desprez, who is still active in writing and creating pieces specifically about Vancouver Island. Hanna Moscovitch is my favourite current Canadian playwright, and I hope to perform and direct more of her work in the future. Performing in the Fringe, I have met many performers keeping the true spirit of independent art alive – of local support, billets, world travel, personal art reaching wider audiences. There are thousands of people who work to provide these festivals and keep this dream alive, and they inspire me as well.
viii. Training that has helped me in this career:
My university program helped me realise the importance of not putting my ambitions on “landing some role”. Do the work yourself, or with other artists looking to create, and make a project. If you want to be seen, gain an audience, fail and succeed, you have to do so on your own merit. I’ve learned a lot of about work ethic from other theatre professors, of keeping commitment to projects. In Montreal, Snowglobe Theatre and Peter Giser have trained me a lot on how to produce within a company. Art History has helped me, my continued ambitions of learning always help myself.
ix. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
As I said, putting the weight on being picked up by a project. Always be planning your next project, always be willing to do the dirty work to make your work come to the stage. Also feeling limits, or limited in what you can achieve in an industry such as theatre, one always seen to be on the fringes of relevancy. Live performance has been with us through the centuries, and the importance of the audience/performer relationship is something very human and beyond introspection. We cannot allow ourselves to be limited by what Theatre is seen as, but work to show what it can be.
x. Some proud career moments:
“The Fairies are Thirsty” has been a personal goal and ambition that has fueled my life choices in some ways. To put this piece on, even on an online format, in Montreal with actors to whom it speaks to, that is a great moment for me. Performing in the Vancouver Fringe “Living On the Grid” (The Only Animal Productions) with my friend and fellow creative Jonathan Greenway, that was a proud moment.
xi. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
Find the training. It depends on “what you want”, but reaching out is always the first step. You need to network to succeed in any industry, and many of the people you meet in an acting program/class/project could be the link towards any further success. Learning the skills to be competent, learning the work ethic and what your rights are within it. If you are competent and reliable, its surprising how willing others are to work with you again. Anyone entering the arts, performance, or theatre in particular has to learn to abandon ideals of grandeur and accept that working within this field is a lot of hard dirty work. You have to be someone who sees the importance of the spectacle at the end of all this hard work.
xii. A professional goal I have for the future:
There are a number of shows I would love to act in and direct. As an actor, Equus is a goal in terms of vulnerability and theatrical triumph. For directing, Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler always had my eye. As a professional, if I could tour the U.K. and Canada with a fringe show, and have some money left over – that’s a goal I need as well. With COVID-19, some of these goals are put on standby and others take new precedent. As I’ve said, you have to be able to adapt.
xiii. If you want to see my work, go to:
www.snowglobetheatre.org has the recording of our May 24th/2020 production of “The Fairies are Thirsty”. The live performance has passed, and though it may lead to a conversation on “is it Theatre?” the video is available nonetheless. We are anticipating the ability to perform “The Fairies are Thirsty” in November at the MainLine Theatre in Montreal as part of Snow Globe’s “Triple Take” festival the play was originally slated to be apart of. Snow Globe is anticipating an August show through Zoom again that I would love to be a part of. Beyond that, keep your eyes open for new projects and I hope to see you out there real soon.
Header Photo: Steven Wright
Other Photos: Snowglobe Theatre