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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Question, December 10, 2012

Arm them with a strong work ethic, stubbornness, and dreams of producing their own work
by Estelle Rosen

Crystle Reid is a theatre artist and educator working in the Montreal English Theatre scene.  She is one of the founders of ArtHere!, a series of interactive theatre adventures in and around Montreal.  Selected directing credits include: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chamber Music, Slaughterhouse Sisters with Astra theatre, and Fool for Love and The Rocky Horror Show with Redshift Productions in Vancouver.

CHARPO: Last year, you presented the highly creative ArtHere! series where most presentations took place in a hotel with a different performance in each room. Any plans to continue ArtHere! this season?

REID: ArtHere! is currently on hiatus.  A combination of things happened that led to that decision: a few key people moved onto other projects, money became too tight and a lot of us–myself included–were feeling just a little burnt out. The constant struggle of making your own work is figuring out how to also make a little money; or at the very least how to break even so that you’re not losing money.  This was something we have never been able to figure out with ArtHere! At a certain point the project is no longer viable because it’s too costly.  My various part time jobs simply weren’t bringing in enough to support my theatre habit. We decided to take some time to reflect and consider what our next steps with Astra would be. 

I remember the excitement and joy I felt at the first ArtHotel! It was an excitement that kept growing as we moved into other spaces, such as the Crypt in old Montreal, and the Camp in Magog.   We all wanted to feel that again before we moved forward.  We’re taking this time to rest and feel that spark again.  Sometimes working on something else and putting things on the back burner to simmer is excellent medicine.  Our plans for our next project will be smaller, as we want to be able to put more focus and time onto a single event.  Our hope is that by doing so we will be able to at least break even and avoid feeling burnt out in the future.  I don’t know what Astra’s next baby will be because right now it’s just a sparkle in our eye.

On my front burner these days is my other passion: education. I’ve been animating at an after school drama program at a high school in LaSalle, and working with a CEGEP theatre club in Longueuil.  It’s work that is re-igniting my love of theatre in a way I never expected! Theatre has so much to teach: an understanding of yourself, confidence, determinedness and appreciation for the human condition.  In regards to audience development I suspect there is no better place to begin than youth.  Many of the students I work with will not go on to work in theatre, but most of them will go on to watch theatre. They’re learning that there are as many different kinds of theatre as there are people, and that something is sure to appeal to them. For those students who are going to pursue theatre I try to arm them with a strong work ethic, stubbornness, and dreams of producing their own work.  Let’s be honest, colleges and universities put out way more theatre graduates than the industry can support.   For most emerging theatre artists the only way to make it in this competitive space is to create your own work.  It’s not an easy path, but it is one full of immeasurable rewards.

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