Naturally I, like many thespians, grew up acting in school plays. But my formative experiences on stage were as a dancer. The investment and expectation of dance always far outweighed that of the public school pageant. Oh I had a blast playing the Wicked Witch of the West in The Road to OZ in grade seven. I had a lack of inhibition on the stage that was not characteristic of my daily life and it was a real pleasure to play evil so young. I still have a knack for the grotesque and the disturbing, the asymmetrical.
I consider myself more a character actor than your classic romantic lead. There is certainly no need to pigeonhole myself, but I like characters that sink their teeth into me, who live undeniable and complex lives. I found this character in my last semester of high school in a play that had been written by teachers and students. It was an incredibly controversial entry in the Sears Drama Festival that year. The subject matter touched intimately on my life and spoke to issues that I felt were impossible to talk about in my daily life. It was an exploration of violence, depression, and suicide. It looked at the dark side of being human, how we cope with our pain, and the ways in which we manage to survive.
By this time classical ballet had already begun to fall out of my life because I didn’t relate to the stories and the vocabulary of ballet couldn’t articulate my experiences in the world. In fact, it wasn’t until this pivotal play in my final months of high school that I began to understand that art was an expression of living, that it had meaning beyond technique. It was the first time that I felt awakened to the power of communication, and in some way perhaps the power of communion, in art. It was powerful. So powerful that I ran from the theatre. I dropped out of school mid semester after the play ended and very shortly thereafter jumped on a plane for a five year hiatus from the creative life.
Many years later, when I decided to attempt to improve the circumstances of my life with a higher education at SFU, I auditioned and found myself cast in a play. I had the very distinct feeling that I had come home when I stepped into rehearsal, and especially when I stepped back onto the stage. I grew up in theatres, I grew up on stages. It felt natural. Comforting and always a little terrifying too. And now I am an art school graduate with a university degree in acting. Have my circumstances improved? I have, as a result, queried the human experience from many different points of view, I have learned empathy, and I have perhaps even learned to love people I once judged. I believe that embracing the skin and organs and emotional life of another character has taught me about my own humanity. Sharing the stage with scene partners, and sharing the theatre with with audience, has taught me about relationship and being present. I continue to seek performance environments that study and embody a range of human experience.