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Pericles stories

UFV Theatre's production team share stories about their roles and working on an online production.

Interview with the director

We caught up with UFV assistant professor Anna Griffith who is currently directing UFV Theatre’s next production, Pericles by William Shakespeare.

Anna shares with us what it’s like directing the first live, in-person production since the start of the pandemic, what drew her to the world of theatre, and why you should try out a production class at UFV.

 

Q. Tell me about your role as the director in the upcoming production of Pericles.

Anna - "Having the opportunity to direct is such a privilege. I get to work with an amazing team of people to bring the world of the show to life. The actors bring in their passion and energy, and I get to help them mould and craft that into their characters. Working on a production is the ultimate collaboration and we are all excited to be here".

Q. Can you share with us why Pericles was chosen as this year’s production at UFV, and why Shakespeare continues to be so vital today?

A - "We chose Pericles because it is a story about people being torn apart and then reunited. It is a story about perseverance and overcoming extremely challenging situations and those things resonate with the times we are currently living in. It has singing and dancing and pirates so it is also, simply, a really fun piece to choose from. One reason Shakespeare continues to be performed is that the writers who adapt it have a lot of freedom to reshape and retell the stories he wrote".

Q. How does this version of Pericles bring something new and exciting to the story, and how do the themes of this story touch on contemporary issues in society today?

A - "Heather Robertson and I adapted the script – we cut sections out, rearranged parts, and re-wrote certain characters and scenes. We gave the women of the play more agency and we tried to develop them into more complete characters. A theme we play with in the production is how relationships propel us. One thing that was heightened by the pandemic was how fundamental our need for connection and relationships is. The characters each exist within different relationship dynamics and they struggle with many of the same things we do today".

Q. Discuss how UFV Theatre is meeting the challenges of putting together a production this semester during the fourth wave of the pandemic, and how the department has evolved to adapt to these new circumstances?

A - "As a department, Theatre has a long history of being agile and adaptable. We continue this legacy in the fourth wave by holding blended meetings (some people meeting in person and some zooming in), and by operating with the understanding that people will be absent and we will all need to change course as a result. Being flexible while maintaining quality work is what we are striving for".

Q. What do you want the audience to take away from this production?

A - "That coming out to see live theatre again is fun and exciting! This is a lighthearted, exciting, and very theatrical show with singing and dancing and a graphic novel. It is totally worth your time!"

Q. Can you describe the types of opportunities students have working in a production, (such as the digital media team, stage manager, costume/hair makeup), and the learning opportunities for students just as valuable as in class?

A - "On this production we students working in stage management, props and set, lighting and projection, sound, hair and makeup, as well as graphic novel artists and a video compositor. Working on a production students delve into practice. It is experiential learning at its fullest and most exciting and everyone gets to develop their individual skill while work as part of a team".

Q. UFV SoCA encourages dynamic interdisciplinary and collaborative learning, what would you tell a student with no Theatre course experience, but may be interested in future Theatre opportunities?

A - "Join us! We have a number of production classes where you get introduced to all of the different production roles, and on every production, there are opportunities for students to learn the techniques and skills of theatre production. We encourage interdisciplinary collaboration so think about the ways your interests might be used in theatrical ways. For example, on Pericles we have two visual artists who are drawing graphic novel pages to tell parts of the story. These will be projected at moments in the show. We also have a video compositor working to create the goddess Diana who makes a special appearance. Collaborating with students from different disciplines is exciting for all of us".

Q. Can you share your story about what was it about Theatre and Performance that got you interested to join?

A - "There were two big, theatrical moments in my life that solidified my love of performance. When I was very young I went to a Caravan Theatre production that was touring the Sunshine Coast by horse and wagon. It was held in a big tent and I got to sit on a pile of canvas as my seat. I don’t remember anything else about the production but I distinctly remember feeling awe struck by the magical atmosphere. The second experience that made me want to make theatre happened in elementary school. Green Thumb Theatre toured a show to our school and the set was basically a humungous pile of garbage and rubble and everyone sat around it. All you could see was garbage. The actors would move around and at times you could see them and at other times they were hidden and you could only hear them. It was my first experience of eco-theatre and the impact was profound—as an adult I am a theatre educator and climate activist!"


An Interview with Kai Pollock

We interviewed UFV Theatre student Kai Pollock, who is the assistant lighting designer & sound/projections operator in the upcoming production, Pericles by William Shakespeare, directed by Anna Griffith. Kai shares with us what it’s like working on the UFV Theatre production team this semester.

Q. Describe your role in this production.

Kai - "My role in Pericles revolves around the tech world of theatre as the assistant lighting designer and the sound/projections operator. I assist in the technical elements to build and bring the show to a state of pure wonder. My goal is to bring you on a journey with us on the sea, to  Antioch, Tyre, Tarshish, and more!"

Q. Why are you interested in this role?

K - "Working on my fourth production with UFV, I continue to find all of the different roles so intriguing, and they all have a common ground that builds and connects. With the lighting and sound, you can create the tone and the environment that the actors are in. With the actors, you can create a completely different tone, atmosphere, and world in front of an audience using the lighting and sound. But you need the lights to shine to help lead the audience member’s eyes to key points. You need them to hear the crashing waves, the sounds of the city breathing into this unknown world. All of the cool things people do not notice if it is done right!"

Q. What is something new you learned in your production role?

K - "My instructors and I have taken on this production with more of an in-depth view of how a lighting designer operates. Different steps need to be in place before you begin a project, such as how to bring your ideas to a concept meeting with the director. Then, taking those ideas and turning them into a show, fixing issues when they arise, and learning how to feel more comfortable with the skills that UFV theatre technician Mark Sutherland has taught me".

Q. What skills have you learned that can be applied to your career aspirations?

K - "I’ve been learning how to interact and work in a professional theatre role, and I’ve gained skills in sewing, lighting and sound operating. I’ve also learned how to run new equipment and programs, which I later brought into other classes and work opportunities. With these roles, I’ve gained insight into the different fields of theatre, how I fit in, and where I succeed!"

Q. How has the pandemic affected your role?

K - "In the past, these roles were not always an option as the actors used lighting in their own homes. Since we now have the chance to work on this project in person, it has opened many more doors, roles, and opportunities. However, I have learned a lot through the online theatre experience as well and became very familiar and comfortable running zoom and Qlab. Covid has made the work environment different, but there are similar standards to follow. Even though how we approach and plan the project might change, the goals and outcomes do not, so it's all about learning how to adjust to strange and irregular situations, which is a great skill to possess!"

Q. Is there anything you would like to add?

K - "Thank you to Mark Sutherland, (UFV theatre technician), for all your help and teaching opportunities during the last couple of years! I’ve learned a lot about myself in both the theatre setting and outside thanks to you! Thank you to Heather Robertson (UFV Theatre interim production coordinator), for all your help in getting set up and organized on most production days! I am so grateful for the extra help, learning how to work in the costume shop, how to sew, and so much more! I would not be here if it was not for the theatre staff and professors!"


An Interview with Maeggan Palliyaguru

Want to know what it’s like being an actor in a UFV Theatre production? We asked UFV student Maeggan Palliyaguru to share some insights with us about being a cast member in UFV Theatre’s upcoming production Pericles by William Shakespeare, directed by Anna Griffith.

Q. Describe your role in this production.

Maeggan - "In this production of Pericles, I was given the chance to take on a few different roles that allowed me to experience working on this show through various lenses. I am part of the cast and will be playing the 1st Fishermen, Thaisa and Marina. I also have gotten the opportunity to design the costumes as well as be a co-choreographer".

Q. Why are you interested in this role?

M - "I am really interested in acting and consider it one of my greatest passions! I have been acting since I was young and it has been a real joy for me over the years. The aspect of acting that I find most interesting is being able to leap into other lives and experience, with so many different emotions that are not my own.

Last semester I did an independent study class with Anna Griffith on costume design, and I was so lucky to have been given the chance to design for a real show! Sewing is a hobby that I love, and that is what got me interested in learning the process of costume designing. I truly had a wonderful experience where I was able to learn the ins and outs of what it was like to work with a director’s vision and translate it through costumes.

Dancing is also something that I am passionate about as well. I have been dancing in some way or another since I could walk so I was extremely delighted when asked to help choreograph the duet between Pericles and Thaisa. It was such a great experience, especially since I was got to learn a new style of dance!"

Q. What is something new you learned in your production role?

M - "This year I have learned so much!

In my acting, I have learned how to become sharper with my movements and gestures. Since physical movement is a big piece in our production, every step has a lot of meaning which made me more aware of my movements. I noticed how I tend to move without a reason behind it, which then encouraged me to move more with purpose.

I learned a lot from costume designing but I would say the biggest thing that I learned was how to paint my designs using watercolours. I never realized how incredibly hard it is to translate a design onto paper and how different brush strokes could define a wool coat from a cotton shirt. This was a tedious task, but it was so interesting to learn!

Getting to choreograph the duet between Pericles and Thaisa was a huge challenge because I had never danced the Tango before. We watched many videos and familiarized ourselves with the style and just did the best we could! I am always very game for learning new styles of dance, so it was a blast fumbling through the difficult formations and positions."

Q. What skills have you learned that can be applied to your career aspirations?

M - "I am not yet sure want I want to do after I graduate but this production has taught me that I am heading in the right direction. I enjoy theatre and all the aspects and roles it has to offer and know that, in some way or another, I will have it in my life after I am done with school. My experience with acting, dancing and designing for this production showed me that I can pick up new skills and enjoy learning them as well. Theatre is such a wonderful place to try new things and an outlet to be as expressive as you want".

Q. How has the pandemic affected your role?

M -"Since acting in previous productions at UFV I was able to notice just how the pandemic has affected us. There are many changes, but to me, I see the main thing to take away is that we have found a way to still do theatre in a way that is safe and fun! Something that I can thank our situation for is my new ability to project my voice. At the start of rehearsals, it was difficult and tiring to speak through a mask in a way that the audience could hear so now I can only imagine how nice and easy it is going to feel when the masks can come off!"

Q. Is there anything you would like to add?

M -"I am so thankful to be given the opportunity to be in this production and to work with such wonderful people. I have learned so much and will remember this experience always".

 

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