Saturday, March 9, 2013

On Creating

These days, people always shoot their eyebrows up in surprise when I tell them that I majored in Theatre in university. I suppose being an introverted individual, living in a somewhat isolated + isolating community of 800, doesn't automatically lend itself to being a natural match for a life in the Dramatic Arts.


From the age of 15 (when I was part of my first play, Audience) to the age of 25 (when I moved away to London), I was on stage. A lot.

I have been a green oompa loompa. A student revolutionary in China. The greek goddess of wisdom, Athena. I've dropped trou and displayed granny panties on stage; been cast as the "sassy lesbian"; played the awkward and disillusioning aftermath of a sex scene in Vienna, in 1900. I directed and created and starred in an ensemble-based show, called The Secret Keeper, inspired by the Postsecret website--which was simultaneously the single most rewarding and shit-my-pants inducing time of my life.

I (almost) fell in real love once, on stage. With a boy.

I fell in bonding love many times with my fellow cast, crew, directors. How do you not when you've huddled over microwaved dinners together in the Green Room, or seen everyone's privates backstage, or experienced the shows on evenings where the energy is unreal, or stale, or the best fucking kinesthetic otherwordly lighting that particular run has ever seen?

All this to say... that theatre was my lifeblood.

And I don't think it is anymore.


I remember the moment that I realized I might never ever have Theatre as a starring member in my life, ever again. It was our first year living in Haines Junction, it was -30 degrees outside, and One Man Hamlet was coming to town. 

I was stoked. It had played the night before in Whitehorse, where we had spent the night, but we eschewed going in order to see friends and figured it would be travelling to the Junction the next night anyway. We loaded up our truck with groceries-- three weeks worth of produce, grains; enough sustenance to last until the next time we'd be 160 km east on the highway-- and drove the two hours home.

It was bitterly cold outside. 

I absentmindedly pressed play on our answering machine as I unloaded the tupperware bins full of pantry items, and heard our friend Laura's voice inform us that One Man Hamlet was cancelled for tonight: it was too cold, and therefore too dangerous/ unpredictable for the production to drive out + risk the roads, driving back into Whitehorse the very same night.

Bryan watched as I slowly sank (with bags of brown rice pasta in my hands) to the floor. Lay down in the middle of the kitchen. Started sobbing, quietly. He must have thought, "I knew she was looking forward to the show, but I didn't..."

A creative emptiness had been weighing and twisting and grating in me. And inadvertently, I thought by going to Hamlet I could resurrect or rectify or recapture what it is to be in the dark room of a theatre, telling truths on stage.

That night, I stayed on that kitchen floor a long while.


It's now been four years since I've been on a stage of any kind. Four years. I can't remember the monologues I used to use for auditions in full anymore-- only strange snippets float through my memory. 

It's a weird word hymen; like hyena and amen all rolled into one.

I have given suck, and know how tender 'tis to love the babe who milks me. I would, while it was laughing in my face, have plucked my nippled from its boneless gums and dashed its brains out...

And the big kicker: Bryan has never seen me on stage. Sometimes it genuinely befuddles me that handfuls of strangers have attended my shows, but the person who matters most in my life has never been. And loves me anyways.


I'm sorry if this sounds like a most depressing tale. That I am deeply unhappy. This subject has been lurking amongst my heartstrings for a long time, and it has taken me a certain time and space to process it. Set it free. 

Because who knows if it's true that I'll never be on stage again? (my fear)

I could. One day. Somewhere. 

For now, I write when I need to. I take photographs that I'm proud of. I teach Drama at school. I joined the Highschool lunch band as a singer. (!!!!!!!) (They need a female chaperone for their band trip) (IT IS SO MUCH FUN)

Also. We have our cooking club nights, where sometimes, Bryan and I get really invested in costuming and go in character. What follows are pictures of January's theme, a masquerade  with surprise movie genres, where we were chosen to come with a dish and outfit that was "Romantic".

We chose to interpret that as Stan and Mildred, a married couple of over 50 years. Because commitment is fucking romantic.

It was also very romantic to get to make masks with my Love and hold hands and pretend that this could be us in five decades.

See. Life ain't so bad.


  1. Joann, this is beautiful. The thing about the theatre is that we serve it when it calls, so Sit back and relax. If it needs you, it'll be in touch!

    Stephen H.

  2. at least you're singing in public! my most recent theater antic was dressing up last week as a dirty old granny with smeared makeup and a fanny pack who sold cigarettes and condoms, called everyone 'honey' and squeezed numerous biceps and bums at a 'las vegas casino' aka a murder mystery party...

    actually it was a lot of fun. and i was damn good. see, you don't need a real stage to put on a show!

  3. ...and we're damn lucky to have you in the band. "It's, it's a ballroom blitz...." And you're right - it is fun!