Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I've wanted to obtain an MFA since I first learned of the possibility in undergrad. I've always been a hands on learner and an MFA seemed the ideal opportunity to hone my craft in a practical way under the mentorship of experts in the fields of drama and creative writing.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
My extensive involvement in theatre through acting and directing led organically to a drive to write plays. When I discovered the UBC joint creative writing and theatre program it seemed a program designed for me. The fact that one of my mentors from the University of Manitoba received the same degree here many years ago and highly recommended the program didn't hurt either.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The main attraction was the availability of the support of experts in both the creative writing and theatre departments in my pursuit of knowledge and growth in my field. Additionally, the creative writing department offers the opportunity for MFA students to work as producers of the Brave New Play Rites Festival, which is a festival of new plays that has been around for over 30 years now.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I wouldn't say this is a surprise, but coming from Winnipeg (a city that is known for cold winters and has been on the record as colder than Mars) the rainy winter and lack of snow was a pleasant experience, though the bone-chilling cold of the rain was something that took awhile to get used to. In Winnipeg your skin just goes numb but in Vancouver my bones get cold.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
My advisors have allowed me to produce my thesis as a live performance, so I am looking forward to workshopping the play over the next year with actors and eventually directing the work to see how it plays to a live audience.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
Staying the course in the face of rejection. Theatre is a competitive field and in order to succeed one needs perseverance and a thick skin.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
My program is helping me develop and strengthen my abilities and give me a well rounded understanding of my field. This will help me navigate the theatre landscape in the future.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I have been lucky enough to have many mentors who have encouraged and inspired me to continue in my theatre career. Winnipeg has a lively independant theatre community but limited professional opportunities. I have learned (from sheer necessity) how to work in many different aspects of theatre both offstage and onstage, which, along with the support of my various mentors, has served to make me the well rounded and confident theatre practitioner and collaborator that I am today.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I love singing, playing guitar, and writing songs, especially outside if it's warm. Really enjoy Karaoke. I am an avid movie and theatre goer.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Try to connect with people you meet, even if they aren't in your program. Don't let the rain keep you inside. Know that homesickness is something that happens, and it is not just you. Know that fear of the unknown is common, and don't beat yourself up for feeling that way. Take deep breaths, and take advantage of enjoying the beautiful scenery. Treat your mental health as seriously as you would treat your physical health.