Artistic Approach

In rehearsal for L’Envol with Mélissa Merlo © Nicola-Frank Vachon

Theatre is, for me, a liminal space full of potential where we can seek out better ways to live and to live together. Existing somewhere between the real world and the dream world, the theatre gives us permission to attempt the impossible.

As an immigrant to Canada and native English-speaker based in French-speaking Quebec City, I live and create from a place of confluence. My projects tackle themes that are socially engaged and sometimes difficult (for example, the grief process or issues related to immigration). I choose to approach these complex subjects in a personal, disarming, delicate, and often humorous way. I prioritize stories related to the female experience, and resilience is the through line in my projects. 

For the last several years, I have been integrating dance into my artistic process as a way of bypassing the limitations of words alone. With my projects, I aspire to create bridges—between one person and an “Other,” between theatre and dance, between classical texts and documentary techniques, and between women and professional opportunities in theatre.

Often my shows eliminate the fourth wall, and the performers address the audience directly. The act of breaking this barrier can create strong connections between the audience and the performers, allowing for more reflection about the subject explored. Audience members become partners in the creation of this new world.

Socially Engaged Theatre

My past directorial work has addressed the themes of immigration, language debates in Quebec, reasonable accommodations, the relationship between French speakers and English speakers, and the relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada. I have also explored cultural belonging, the concept of home, genocide, refugees and migration, the process of grief, and self-esteem among women. I believe that theatre can be a powerful tool for improving our society.

Transcultural Connection

In a society that is continually becoming more and more diverse, the possibility of dividing ourselves according to our differences exponentially increases. We can see this attitude of “us” and “them” in all spheres of our society. The political environment of my country of origin, the United States, is an example of these divisions, and I believe that we need to find what we have in common and build bridges between different groups that tend to isolate themselves. Through my choice of projects, I try to create an environment where we can meet, share, and discover with “the Other” and so develop more openness.

Opportunities for Women

Women have always been underrepresented in theatre. An article in the Devoir on April 9, 2019,1 mentioned that in the 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 seasons of Francophone theatres in Montreal and Quebec City, only 26% of the shows were directed by women (61% were directed by men, and the remaining were created by collectives). In these two seasons, just 28% of the texts were written by women. My projects highlight women and their stories and offer opportunities to women who work in theatre.

In rehearsal for L’Envol with Mélissa Merlo © Nicola-Frank Vachon