Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Course of True ________ Never Did Run Smooth (but it might)

by Corben Kushneryk (BFA (Acting) – University of Alberta Class of 2016)

The 2016 Next Generation Showcase marked the University of Alberta’s second anniversary participating in the event. After nearly three years of fundraising and careful scheduling negotiations with our faculty, we were able to organize a tour that would allow us to introduce ourselves to the greater theatre community in Ontario. Some of us were experiencing Toronto for the first time, while others were excited to be returning to their home city for this exciting opportunity. 

As emerging artists, we are ready and hungry to learn about the reality of our business and how it sits in the greater cultural and economic landscape. We are constantly looking to equip ourselves with the tools to help us succeed in a career that can often be difficult to negotiate. We want to know what forces we will encounter on the job. Since we come from different schools offering different pre-professional resources, it is heartening to see that Theatre Ontario has so many professional development opportunities.

"Inside the Actor's Career Panel"
Cole Alvis, Rebecca Perry, Grace Lynn Kung,
Kevin Hanchard, Ted Dykstra
After the audition portion, a panel unfolded in the Aki Studio Theatre, slyly entitled “Inside the Actor’s Career.” Moderated by Cole Alvis, the panelists (Ted Dykstra, Kevin Hanchard, Grace Lynn Kung, and Rebecca Perry) offered a number of different voices from the existing professional community. This panel was a rich sampling of gender identity, age, race, business experience, genre expertise and artistic focus, yet common themes popped up throughout the evening.

At the risk of oversimplifying their wisdom, I would bundle the panel’s collective opinions into three basic ideas:

1) Keep your blinders on and stay in your lane

As an emerging artist, it is easy to be distracted by peers gaining career momentum before you. It is possible to think that you should be playing certain roles; that you should have achieved a certain level of success at a specific time; and that you should be doing a number of things better than you do.  These ‘shoulds’ can creep into your mind and can prescribe a false sense of what success really means to you. Staying open and focused will keep you moving toward a path that will actually fulfill you. Following your own passions and joy in the work will lead you to surprising places.

2) Nourish yourself as an artist

Taking classes, travelling, and learning more about what makes you tick can only expand your horizons. As you grow, it is important to know that your non-negotiables (i.e. the ideas that help you maintain your artistic integrity) will continue to change, evolve and deepen.

3) Be a (#@&%)ing delight

In the world of theatre, generosity and respect will get you farther than any trick or talent. If you’re aiming for longevity in the world of acting, be kind.

The energy of our student colleagues in Toronto and the warmth of the industry professionals made for a very welcoming atmosphere. In some ways, the mythical divide between Eastern and Western artistic sensibilities were demystified for us. Theatre is theatre, no matter where you choose to make it.

The relationship between the University of Alberta and Theatre Ontario is still establishing its roots, and we hope that this exchange between provinces can continue to grow.

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