MCT welcomes Heather Majaury, our new Outreach Coordinator

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Heather, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in Kitchener and am doing the commute to Toronto because I believe in Mixed Company Theatre’s work. I have spent most of my career and life to date, in one way or another, connected to theatre production that focuses on cultural intervention and social change.

I recently graduated with my Masters in Theatre from the University of Guelph where I focused my thesis on Legislative Theatre. During my Masters Program I reconnected with MCT’s AD Simon Malbogat, and interviewed him about the organization for my thesis.

Most recently I worked with Sheatre as a co-facilitator (Joker) on their Forum Theatre touring production of Be Our Ally. I am also currently an Artistic Associate of MT Space in Waterloo, where I focus my efforts on audience engagement and Indigenous programming. I have also worked as an actor in their Theatre for Social Change productions.  In 2015 I created a one woman show called This is My Drum which was produced by Kaleidoscope Collective, a company I founded with several other women in Waterloo, producing theatre by and for women of diverse backgrounds and experiences.

 

What first sparked an interest in working in the not-for-profit sector, specifically in Education & Outreach?

I strongly believe in the power of T.O (Theatre of the Oppressed) engaging communities in thoughtful discussion. I have personally experienced the intellectual and visceral power of experiential T.O techniques in my own transformations.  These are powerful tools for life-learning and within the wider spectrum of conscious and critical pedagogy. Schools, workplaces, and communities that engage with this kind of active learning I believe benefit immensely.

 

What has been the highlight of your career thus far, the thing you can’t help but think and smile about?

I have been lucky to have several highlights. It’s hard to narrow it down. I think actually creating and performing a one woman show; watching the audience get bigger each night was the coolest.

 

What about Mixed Company interests or excites you the most?

I am hoping we can become booked so solid that I will have to turn down schools and other organizations because we simply can’t fit anyone else in. I am looking forward to waiting lists – seriously. I am also looking forward to learning from the collective wisdom that exists in this company because of its long standing reputation as a Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed, not just in Canada but internationally as well.

 

Do you have any artistic hobbies? If not, what do you like to do in your spare time?

One of my favourite things to do is sing. I am part of a native women’s hand drumming group. I started writing songs when I was at home working on land claim negotiations. It was such a trying time in my life, I started writing songs to express my feelings about so many things. Having the gift of song and being able to express myself in this way is very joyful. It is also healing.

 

What was your favourite piece of theatre that you ever saw, and why.

That’s not an easy question. There are so many facets that make a piece of theatre great. I have to say that I was deeply impressed by MT Space’s Last 15 Seconds. I like issue based work that is collectively devised and well produced for intimate spaces that doesn’t tell us what to think but asks us to think for ourselves.

Some of my most powerful moments in the theatre have come from watching and being a part of Cops in the Head and Rainbow of Desires events as well. I have gained so much insight from these plays that emerged and unfolded in real time, inspired by the immediate issues of the people in the room. These insights have come precisely because they are so rooted in the collective experience, while at the same time being more than therapy. They are, at their heart, rooted in holistic/relational/political curiosity, which for a deeply curious person (such as myself) keeps my lifelong love affair with T.O going.

MCT’s Suzanna Derewicz Reflects on Lambert’s Workshop

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Last Wednesday and Thursday, MCT’s International Facilitation Intern Lambert Pounel hosted a workshop in our space. The class explored devising a piece collaboratively using personal talismans, and the narratives associated with them. The group was relatively experienced in theatre making so it was an opportunity to delve into our stories quickly – there were six of us taking the workshop so it didn’t take long to get acquainted. We discovered ways to foster confidence and a collective energy on the first day, then moved towards creation on the second.


What I found quite refreshing was that after sharing our source material with the group, it didn’t take too long for us to get on our feet and begin working. It is easy in a devising process to be bogged down by talking, to discuss the possibilities and philosophies behind what our talisman’s could represent without actually taking the time to interact with them, live in the space with them. It is easy to imprint our ideas onto them instead of letting them fuel us – instead of allowing ourselves to be the vessels for the stories.


I am happy that we took the route of improvisation – after a quick discussion of common themes and questions, we allowed ourselves to explore, play with the objects, songs, and texts that were brought in. Fairly soon, different characters arose that were inspired by the source material. Eventually we allowed these characters to foster relationships with one another, talk to each other, and respond without filtering their responses.


After the improvisation we discussed our findings, what we liked, and what we wanted to continue exploring. I did feel however that we moved too quickly into the actual concrete creation as so much more time could have been spent discovering and testing these characters on our feet. Unfortunately, the time constraint put pressure on the act of creating (we had about ½ hour to 45 minutes to make something in a group of six).


This lead us as a group to trick ourselves into entering a “finished product” mentality, arbitrarily situating the characters and their talismans in a time and place. While this is not a terrible opportunity to “see” how these characters would react – what resulted was a more complicated and convoluted improvisation that would have yielded better results if it in and of itself had more constraints to help with the short amount of time we had to make it in. For example, we could have been told that we weren’t allowed to speak – focussing our energy on communicating with our bodies. Alternatively, my personal favourite constraint includes gestural language, where you can only communicate through a paired down number of motions, words, or actions. I also would have liked a de-emphasis on narrative when at the early stages, narrative and story structure can afford to take a step back and be something we could plan to return to later.


My suggestion for Lambert should he decide to do the workshop again is to focus more on the 2nd day creation process and expand it. I think the workshop could be a week long, and actually include an invited presentation of the work should the group be comfortable with that. What’s great is the premise of bringing a diverse group of people together to explore deeply personal source material in a theatrical way. The next step would be to really delve deeply into the possibility of what our imaginations could make out of it.


Lambert is on his way back to France now to start another year of school. Best to him and we hope to see him teaching and training on our side of the pond again soon!

De-construction of Individual Myths

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This week, we had the opportunity to sit with Lambert Pounel, our international facilitation intern, to talk a little bit more about the workshop he is offering through Mixed Company Theatre on August 18th and 19th.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in theatre?

My name is Lambert Pounel. I come from France with eight years of work in theatre as an actor and director. After being engaged in physical theatre and a founding member of various theatre companies like Théâtre du Balèti, the company 4éléments and the company Paupières Mobiles, I am now completing a professional certificate program at La Sorbonne University in Paris to become a facilitator in dramatic arts. I have always been interested in working with both professional and amateur actors to explore personal stories, and the process of transforming them into universal messages. In particular, I’m curious about the dark side of our human experience and how we can use this as a creative tool for positive change.


What will be explored in the workshop you will be facilitating on August 18-19th?

Participants will learn to devise theatre; transforming their personal experiences into creative theatrical materials, build a collective and under the umbrella of collective creation, share their personal narratives. We will learn to change our perspectives, using our past experiences and our histories to tap into ourselves.


What will participants gain from the workshop?

We will learn to build community. This workshop will allow participants to assume their individuality in the group while learning how to be part of a collective. They will also develop their presence on stage. They will build confidence in using their voices to speak directly in order to be authentic.


What are some of your theatrical obsessions?

Truth is a big one. Coming to the stage with what you are and using your own truth, what you’re feeling that day, to inform your performance as opposed to shying away from that truth, or faking your way through a character. I’m interested in authentic work, how can we use our own experiences to fuel our characters? Reacting in the moment not only as your character, but as yourself, to what is being presented in a scene.


Discomfort is another one. The theatre for me is a place where instability and discomfort is palpable. Actors give a part of themselves when they’re onstage, and the public being provoked by that is asking them to be active in the participation of what they’re watching. Theatre for me is an opportunity to put the performers and the public in a place of vulnerability with one another and seeing what comes out of that. It is not however in opposition with pleasure or the joy they might experience, but allowing for discomfort allows for the audiences to go even deeper into the sweeter moments.


 

Lambert’s workshop will take place Thursday August 18th-Friday August 19th 6-9pm.
157 Carlton Street, Toronto. Call us at 416-515-8080 or e-mail us at info@mixedcompanytheatre.com to book your spot!

Our volunteer Isabela gives her thoughts on MCT

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1. Tell us about yourself.

 

I am a 24 year old that loves theatre in any shape or form. I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and moved to Canada about four years ago to pursue my career in the Arts. I am a graduate of St Clair College’s Music Theatre Performance Program and would not be able to choose between singing, acting and dancing for my life. I love sunsets, coasters and most of all, puppies.

 

2. How has your experience with MCT been so far?

 

MCT has been so incredibly welcoming to me. They were my first contact with the Toronto Arts “world” after I moved here and I couldn’t have chosen a better place to start. Everyone is so helpful and receptive. They made sure I was getting the best experience I possibly could and getting exacly what I wanted out of the internship – which in some places doesn’t happen.

 

3. What do you intend to gain from being an intern at MCT?

 

I have focused so much of my time focused on my craft on stage that I forgot how important the producing and creative parts of it are. I wanted to learn more about how a theatre company works and MCT was kind enough to let me learn from them.

 

4. What exactly drew you to MCT?

 

There is something so special about theatre made by people who actually want to make a difference with the Arts. Everything MCT does has an intention, a purpose. I realized theatre had to be my career when I understood how important it is to the communities around it. I always looked for a purpose in life, a way to help the world, and that is what theatre is – it makes people reflect or even just crack a smile. When I found out what kind of work MCT focused on, it only made sense to me to connect with them.

 

5. Where do you see yourself in the next 2-3 years?

 

Working with what I love and making a difference to others – hopefully.

 

6. Finally, what do you like about theatre?

 

Life is hard as it is. There is so much to worry about and so many awful things that happen in the world every day. However, you can be having the worst day of your life – like, you lost your job, ended a relationship and spilled coffee on your favorite dress on your way home – and theatre will get your mind off of it. There is something magical about seating down in a theatre that makes you forget about everything else, even if it is just for 60 minutes. I love that.

 

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