It’s weird to say that it took me a while to find my calling, while at the same time, it’s all I have ever known. Even before graduating high school seven years ago, I always knew that my career path would be more on the theatrical side. In regards to the early years of finding an outlet to develop in a social environment, many kids my age seemed to find their way through sports (mostly basketball). Most of the time, I would wind up looking like Bambi on ice during seventh grade games. So I ended up stepping off the court and onto the stage.
It is safe to say that theatre, as well as visits from the early child educator, have made a major impact and molded me into the person that I am today. Such a cliché, I know, but that can’t be closer to the truth. This also includes my involvement in the University of Regina choir as well as Cadets and their music camps, which I would play bass/clarinet in.
A thing I have continued to overcome is to shut up the voice of the inner critic and promoting it to a co-pilot instead. Throughout my performance career, I also keep in mind to never underestimate the importance of ensemble/chorus roles. For a long time, I internally struggled with the fact that “my character doesn’t have a name” or “I only appear in one scene” etc. Regardless of the given role, I’ve learned to own it and give it my all. No matter what, each member on stage and backstage are one big cake, and I am always happy to be one “ingredient” to that mix. Speaking of ensemble, I performed as such in musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Footloose, The Producers, and Once Upon a Mattress (getting to play the Nightingale of Samarkand was quite fun as well)
Each casting call, each audition, the callbacks, as well as those realizations of “…yeah, they’re not calling back” (we all know how that bit goes). Those are all stepping stones of any artist’s path. I can sure attest to that, anyhow. Each show I get to participate in, whether it would be on stage or backstage, paid or volunteer, it always proves to be a terrific experience, just like other matters in life.
One of my favourite words to use in the art of theatre is “ephemeral”, which is definitely a good word to describe the art form. Live performances and everything “in the moment”. The only thing you can do when something ‘unscripted’ occurs is to handle it with grace as you move on to the next task at hand. Even in times when I notice that someone may have skipped a line, I’ve learned to let that go and continue on with the scene (even though it may irk me as it passes by, because more often than not, I end up memorizing the entire script).
I had been granted the opportunity to be a teacher assistant at the Globe Theatre School for three summers. Globe Theatre School prides itself on providing great theatre camp experiences to all age groups. I would assist with the (pre)teen groups throughout my years of work. Since watching my first Globe Theatre production in 2011 (Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story), it became a dream of mine to do a show with them one day. Had their stage been wheelchair accessible, I would have been able to check that off my bucket list (twice). Instead, we put on our shows through Globe at the University of Regina and at the Artesian on 13th. These spaces provided more accessibility for our performers and audience members who use wheelchairs. Globe Theatre plans to make their stage accessible through their ongoing plans to renovate the building.
I have been involved with Listen to Dis’ Community Arts Organization for the past 5 years. It is known as Saskatchewan’s first disability-led disability arts organization with Canada’s only emerging professional touring criptheatre company, which we call The Other Ordinary. The opportunities to ‘edu-tain’ in this group have been quite sublime.
The first show our company had performed with the help of Globe Theatre was a devised production we call Neither Heroes Nor Ordinary People, which had been well-received to packed audiences for the duration. We have since toured the show to Saskatoon, North Battleford, Moose Jaw, and Swift Current.
The second show we got to devise and perform through the Globe Sandbox series was called Mine to Have: Sensuality and Circumstance. This took place in 2018 and it was the finale of my theatre degree. We had plans to take this show to Saskatoon and tour it to other parts of Saskatchewan last year. The new plan for the future is to film our production and show it to audiences digitally.
And alongside a few members of Listen to Dis, I got cast in a show back in 2019 called Seatbelt. For a good friend of mine, this served as the final part of her MFA. In this, I played a nurse and a blood tech.
Being an artist to me feels like multiple opportunities to give back to the universe. Every time I perform just feels like a God given blessing. Of course, there is no shortage of the times of being a little nervous. Especially those jitters/bouts of adrenaline before setting foot on the stage. Those few things are just the microsystem amongst the macrosystem of all the art waiting to be created. “There’s just no standing between her and an empty stage”, my mom would often tell people who would come to attend shows I was part of at the time. And… I would have to agree with her on that. I often joke with friends and family that ASD not only stands for autism spectrum disorder, but actor/singer/dancer as well. And I am quite happy those are major components of my own character development.
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Photo Credit Daniel Paquet