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Pariah Stories

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

Parjad Sharifi

We caught up with UFV Associate Professor Parjad Sharifi who is currently directing the UFV School of Creative Arts and UFV Theatre’s next production, Pariah (The Outcast) by August Strindberg. Parjad shares with us what it’s like directing an online production, and the types of theatre opportunities students can still engage in during the pandemic.‌

Q. Tell us about your role in the upcoming production of Pariah (The Outcast)

“In my role as the director, I lead the cast and crew in how to virtually stage

playwriter August Strindberg’s concepts in Pariah (The Outcast). I also ask dramaturgical questions about the play, such as, what is the purpose of doing this play during this period of time, who is our target audience, what are the main themes and performance styles that the creative team is going to explore, and what is the best virtual platform to perform on during Covid.”

Q. Discuss how UFV Theatre is meeting the challenges of putting together an online production?

“Our UFV Theatre production team is very passionate about keeping theatre alive during the pandemic, and the faculty and staff are working extremely hard to deliver the best possible student learning outcomes. Since the work is interdisciplinary, we strive to include digital performance literature, and film techniques to develop innovative ideas about online digital storytelling.”

Q. What are your thoughts on online performances, verses a staged performance?

“People assume that online performance is a new form of performance that has appeared during the pandemic. However, online performance is a type of performance that has been around for decades. Online and stage performance are both live, but online performance is mediated. We also don’t record our UFV performances to keep the liveness; as we believe that theatre is live, and shouldn’t be entirely recorded and played back.”

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

“I hope that audience can enjoy the mystery and the neo-noir style of this show. I hope that we can create enough suspense to engage audiences, and keep them on the edge of their seats.”

Q. Can you describe the types of opportunities student have while working in an online production, and are the learning opportunities for students just as valuable as in class?

“Although this is an online performance, the learning opportunities for students are still the same, based off of their job description. And there are still opportunities in stage management, and hair and makeup, it just happens virtually. The newly formed digital media team also creates aspects of the visual design and operation for our online productions during this season. Students can participate by registering for courses 295, 299, 399 and 499 learn about different aspects production for live performance.”

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 a future Theatre opportunity?

“Contemporary theatre and performance is an interdisciplinary practice, and we like to collaborate and mentor new students from other disciplines who are interested in theatre and performance. Theatre skills can be applied to everyday life, such as how acting can improve our public speaking skills, or how the design and production process can teach us how to collaborate and work on a team.”

Q. Finally, can you share with us what makes you passionate about Theatre and Performance?

“Theatre to me is a perfect form of art. It has everything in it from literature, music and philosophy, to psychology and design. I enjoy thinking about these disciplines while I am making a play. In addition, theatre provides me with the opportunity to imagine anything I want, and recreate it, either virtually or on stage, and is a very powerful and moving experience.”


This interview was edited for length. 

Emylee Letourneau

Q. Describe your role in this production.

Technically, I’m the Assistant Stage Manager. We use the term “Assistant” pretty loosely though - Usually it feels more like a modified-stage-manger role. Whatever title you give it, it’s definitely been enjoyable! 

Q. Why are you interested in this role?

Being in an Assistant Stage Manager role in a University production has given me an opportunity to expand my skills & learn from others in a low-pressure environment. Professors have been excellent at helping me grow in my role. 

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

Theatre has always been a passion of mine - I started Stage Managing shows in High School & worked my way into Community Theatre. I never considered it as a potential career until I changed my major from English to Theatre this semester, though I think it’s always been a secret goal of mine. 

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

Theatre relies on interaction & collaboration between many people  - and as our ways of interaction have changed due to COVID-19, so have the ways we view and engage in theatre. So, while many of my responsibilities are similar to what they would be in a traditional setting, the way I carry out those responsibilities has changed. Most importantly, the pandemic has changed how I form relationships with actors & members of the production team.

Q. How has the pandemic affected your role?

Despite the challenges, I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to pursue something I’m passionate about during this bizarre time. I’d like to extend a quick thank you to everyone working on the show for making it possible. Team Pariah! 


This interview was edited for length.  

Makayla Pollock

Q. Describe your role in this production.

My role in this production is the hair, makeup, and costume assistant. My goal is to help Heather Robertson, UFV Theatre’s Wardrobe Manager create and bring in pieces from Theatre’s wardrobe, and from the actor's homes to create the

characters and bring them to life. I assist with note-taking, pulling costumes and building costume ideas. I try to learn as much as possible from Heather, and I bring in my knowledge to each design related decision we make. 

Q. Why are you interested in this role? 

I am intrigued in further exploring costume design as a career, seeing the magical world behind the fabric, patterns, pieces, and why they were chosen. I am eager to learn the different roles, areas, and design elements under the umbrella of costume design, and the wonderful world surrounding it. This is about the building blocks to my future and learning all I can to prepare my skills and education.  

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

Most of everything I am learning is new, which is very exciting, and I am so eager to be involved in such a new area to explore. Also the exciting opportunity to further learn about the roles, jobs, duties, experiences, and skills that are needed to build, design, create research, work with directors and cast, which all build off one another in the wonderful crazy world of theatre. 

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

This is only my second production and first real year in the Theatre program, but I am excited to work in this area and field as it's the best way to explore this career track further, learn the different skills needed, and expand on my knowledge and skill level in a safe, friendly environment. For me, the most exciting part of the practicum is that I am not alone, and if I have questions, concerns, need help or advice I have Heather to rely on, a person I feel safe and comfortable reaching out to. This is also a great production team and if I have questions or concerns, they make me feel welcome to ask them, which makes me feel so glad I get to be part of this team.  

Q. How has the pandemic affected your role?

The staff and instructors at UFV have all done a fantastic job at making me feel understood, heard, and giving me the skills I need to work on my job, that I can bring into the theatre world when it gets back in person. A significant bonus for me is that I get a lot of one-on-one attention in a smaller group setting, even though it's on zoom with the other instructors and staff.

For me, I am quite happy with my decision to work on the practicum of each production during the pandemic mainly because I get to be on the ground level, exploring how to create a play over Zoom, which is a new in the theatre world. 

Q. Is there anything you would like to add? 

I want to thank everyone who is working on Pariah and everyone who worked on Antigone. For me, this is such an exciting time to be here and exploring the crazy fantastic work of theatre. For me, everything is new and exciting, and it's incredible to be here working with a bunch of extraordinary people. Thank you, everyone!


These interviews were edited for length.


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