Our cover stars Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Tim Rodrigues, and Ryan Bommarito were tapped by QDF to share their personal journey and career thus far in Quebec English theatre. With varying experiences and paths, Montreal is the home base and creative heartbeat to these 3 artists. Check out their love letters to Quebec theatre, as they reflect on their own Best Laid Plans.
I came to Quebec on a whim. In 2015. In December.
I thought I would stay for 3 months.
It turned into 4 years.
Life has a funny way of skewing plans.
I came here because I heard Montreal was a cool city to live in.
I stayed because I grew to agree with the sentiment.
Likewise, the English theatre scene intrigues me greatly. I am continually inspired and motivated by its constant consideration towards theatre’s function within a society. What do stories do to people, how are they told, and by whom? There is a responsibility to the greater impact that underlies a lot of work here, that I love.
I’ve also experienced an incredible amount of support here: be it developing TOMORROW, founding Hooks and Crooks, initiating Freefalling Monthly, or planning The Creation Lab – there have always been people eager help make it happen.
Because of these things, I feel that my future here, in this city, and in this province, calls for much work. Due to this community’s focus on addressing socio-economic inequality, and its tendency to challenge the status-quo, I’ve been swept up into a greater concern regarding our future on this planet. Projections call for some harrowing new normals regarding extreme weather, and its impacts. Human caused C02 emissions are fast-tracking global warming to the point that socio-economic collapse is expected as early as 2050. This, I cannot stress enough, is real, and approaching rapidly. My future here, as an artist, is definitely one of working to inform, inspire and motivate action. Radical action is required if we hope to ensure a vibrant future for Quebec theatre, radical action is required to ensure a vibrant future for ourselves.
Life has a funny way of skewing plans.
The plan was to move to Montréal to study Contemporary Dance, earn my BFA and move back to Toronto for Teachers College. Clearly, there was a change in plans. After completing my BFA & studying Lighting Design briefly, I decided to stay in Québec, and start my career here in Montréal. I stayed because I felt being in Québec would give me an opportunity to continue learning alongside skilled technicians, brilliant lighting designers and talented performers in multiple disciplines, instead of going into a situation where I felt I would not have a chance to see as much up close, right away. In my opinion, the variety of opportunities to work on festivals and with independent companies or touring companies in Québec, is unparalleled.
Over the course of my career, I’ve never stopped learning, I am always challenged and feel as though I am constantly growing & shifting inside of my creative process. I do believe that this is largely due to the diverse & rich nature of performing arts that we have access to in this province. It’s as though creative energy never stops coursing through the veins of the artistic communities here and they all seemingly influence each other at some point. The opportunities to observe, participate in, learn from or connect with moments/movements are so tangible here.
Having had the opportunity to tour inside Québec and abroad, I have seen affect our work can have as it ripples outwards, as much as we feel the effects of tides that flow in and out of our immediate community. I want to stay involved in the creation of these ripples that start in our community and move across our country, whether that’s contributing through my work as a Lighting Designer or through my duties as Vice-President of the Board of Directors for Mainline Theatre/Montréal Fringe, or one day acting as a mentor to creatives & designers.
A visible & vocal community that fosters growth & respect, evolves with our times to reflect the community’s diversity and champions one another, is what I hope for, for the future of Québec Theatre.
Oh Montreal, city of my heart, you are an ephemeral thing.
Born and raised in you, odd, bohemian, Québécois hamlet, I’ve absorbed so many of your different facets. I learned how to understand the violent histories that run through you, and through so many cultural stories in terrible and beautiful ways. I learned how to make pain into art that might mean something to someone in you. I took in your music and literature; I saw your choreographies and paintings; I danced in laughing back alleys and listened to people drinking, smoking and riffing. Watched several solitudes divide and merge and divide over and over again and, being made up of some solitudes myself, learned how to navigate the catharsis in making my own weird magic. I absorbed the Fringe Festival into my blood, my theatre birthplace, and we made joyful madness together. But the moments that now mean the most to me seem to be when I can share what I know with new generations of wild-eyed conspirators, ones with more energy or fire than I might have, ones with innovative ways to bring theatre into the spotlight for reasons other than ignorance or lack of funding or mediocrity or fear. I see them, the dangerous dreamers, the ones who keep loving and creating and performing on knife-edges, in quirky apartments, with dear soul-friends, with companies that struggle to stay afloat, with companies that may or may not understand or want or need us but who hire us anyway or not, with audiences that we always love and sometimes must goad into changing so that we can evolve and become even more ourselves, together. Montreal. Québec. You’re still a place for visionaries and dreamers; let us keep weaving new worlds from you, and let us ultimately hear the stories of voices who were here before the beginning you think you know. They can show us how to dream, united. Thank you for always letting me boldly share my heart with you.