Spotlight On: Eda Holmes

Artistic and Executive Director of Centaur Theatre
Questions by Caleigh Crow

What are some reflections on your first directorial effort, The 39 Steps, in your new position at Centaur Theatre?

I think that my first realization is that the business of the rest of Centaur doesn’t stop once I go into rehearsal. I knew that in theory of course but in practice it was a bit overwhelming. I had amazing support from everyone in the office at Centaur so it worked out but it requires a totally different kind of stamina.  The business/art balance is an important aspect of the job – and it’s the swing of things that definitely keeps things fresh!

My second revelation is just how much I love being in the rehearsal hall surrounded by talented people with boundless imaginations. It reminded me that that is at the core of everything we do. It was totally inspiring and it puts all the other work of running the theatre into perspective.

photo by David Cooper

Amelia Sargisson, of The 39 Steps, alluded in her interview with QDF to your “innate musicality and physicality.” What does it mean for you to work on such a physical show?

I have always felt that my brain is actually in my body – I have to move to think and so a show like The 39 Steps was an absolute gift because everyone had to do that. I think that with comedy that is particularly true – you need innate musicality and physicality to find the essence of what makes something funny. I also like extreme things – dancers always try to see how far they can go physically and that is also true of clown work. Everyone in the cast had that wonderful kind fearlessness that allowed us to really play which gave us a fantastic amount of material to work with.

What are you most looking forward to this winter season at Centaur?

I’m looking forward to the whole winter season – each play has a story about Montreal that is new to me and Ronnie Burkett’s puppets are so magical and surprising – but the thing I can’t wait to discover is The Wildside Festival. I have never been to it before and I am really excited by the line-up. Every single show sounds so original and engaging. I am also psyched to see the gallery space brought to life by the Offside events. This year it is all music and stand-up generated primarily by women with Iggy Pop thrown in just to keep everyone guessing! It all sounds like my kind of party.

Why is it important for Centaur to engage in initiatives like talkbacks and the salon series? What do you enjoy most about those activities?

I think that one of the most important things for me to do as the new Artistic and Executive Director is to really get to know the audience. Years ago when I was an Intern Director at the Shaw Festival I had to give pre-show chats several times a week for the audience in the Festival theatre. I discovered how much more engaged and curious they were than I had expected. Since then I have become obsessively curious about the audience for theatre. I have to learn who the Centaur’s audience is so that I can learn how to really engage them in a theatrical conversation. I want to continue to make Centaur a theatre where everyone feels welcome and valued for having left their house to come and experience a story with a group of people.

We’re coming up on your first full season of programming as Artistic and Executive Director. What can audiences expect or look forward to next year?

Next year will be our 50th Anniversary here at Centaur and I am planning a season that stands on the shoulders of the work that has made this theatre vibrant and vital for 50 years and yet looks forward to the plays and artists who will make the theatre essential for Montreal and for the future. I am really thinking a lot about what makes theatre relevant and what it means to create something that brings a group of strangers together night after night to experience a story. It is such an incredible opportunity and responsibility to create theatre that reaches beyond our fundamental differences and unites us in our fundamental humanity. So you can expect a wide variety of offerings that will hopefully make you feel like you absolutely need to come and see what we are up to. We will launch the season in March – that’s when the real fun begins.

Check out what’s coming up at Centaur Theatre here!