Here We Are
Chelsea: I am becoming Neworld Theatre’s Artistic Director.
Marcus: And I am becoming Neworld’s Senior Artist. Or as we have taken to calling it around here, “Emerging Elder”.
Chelsea: This process began, I would say, three years ago. When I finished my second year as Resident Producer, we went for coffee and you implied that you may not always want to be Artistic Director.
Marcus: This process has actually reminded me a bit of what happened in the early days of my time with the company, when Artistic Producer Adrienne Wong and I spent a ton of time working on our relationship, figuring out how we would work together. I’ve loved how you and I have spent the last several years talking about our relationship and what this transition will be and how it could possibly work.
Chelsea: One of the things I’ve thought about a lot in this transition is the fact that I am white and what that means within an organization that tells stories of difference and identity.
Chelsea: Some of the things I’m most excited about are related to identity. I’m excited to work with more women and across generations. In a big way, I am also interested in interrogating whiteness and interrogating ways of collaborating across difference as a white person.
Marcus: Right now that feels to me like a critical question. I’m also really excited about your own investigations of whiteness in relationship to indigeneity which is something I’ve never really put much energy or thought into, other than what’s happened broadly in the sector over the last couple of years. I think it’s a critical question right now and it feels to me like Neworld is going to tackle that in a big way, in a way that I never would.
Chelsea: I think for white people, the work of really interrogating our identity is a hard one because it’s not something we grew up being asked to do.
Chelsea: On Straight White Men and The Pipeline Project, I’ve begun to get a sense of how difficult it is to do that work rigorously and well. I want to do that difficult work.
Marcus: One of the things I’ve loved about working with you for six years, is that you have a fucking relentless appetite for difficult work. I think that’s a characteristic of people who work well at Neworld. A relentless appetite for difficult work.
Chelsea: Thanks for saying that.
Marcus: I’ve also thought a lot about what it means now for the Artistic Director of the company to be a female millennial. As an artist, I believe passionately in the value of following what occurs. This is what has occurred.
Chelsea: I think a really big part of the last three years has been figuring out a way that we can work together as artists, me as director and you as writer and actor. We have developed a lot of projects together as a way of figuring that out.
Marcus: Right, this transition has really happened already. Even though it’s being officially announced now, it’s been going on for a while. And I have moments of panic where I wonder, what’s all this stuff that’s going on that I don’t even know about? But already, fundamentally, I feel so much happier than I have over the last couple of years when I was feeling burnt out.
Chelsea: I’m so glad to hear that. I feel so ready to do this. With the team. That’s important. That this is something that we are doing as a very strong team.
Marcus: Yeah. And you’re really in charge. And I’m really not leaving. Both those things are true.
Chlesea: That’s the investigation.
How we got here, together
Chelsea (C): Graduating with my degree in applied theatre in 2008 and coming to Vancouver. Looking for a company that produced plays I loved and also did genuine, meaningful community engagement. Discovering that Neworld was that company.
Marcus (M): In 2008, on a jury, reading a grant that you wrote for your company ITSAZOO’s site-specific production of Robin Hood. Thinking: these people care about politics, and class. Which isn’t super common in the local theatre scene.
C: You coming to see it. You agreeing to go for coffee to talk about it.
M: Telling you what I didn’t like about the show. And you not only hearing it, but wanting to know more.
C: Applying for Neworld’s Resident Producer position and not getting it.
M: You got it the next time.
M: Your second day at Neworld, when you did become the Resident Producer. You watching rehearsal for This Butoh is Not Political. I was training with a bunch of real butoh dancers, and I was dying. You coming up to me and whispering, “You know, I don’t think anybody else is actually jumping off the ground. Everyone else is just going up on their toes.” Thinking, “Now that’s a useful directing note.”
C: Seeing Winners and Losers. I loved it. Its vulnerability, the feeling I had that I had never seen anything like it.
M: In the early days, your total willingness to do grunt work and not complain about it. How necessary that was for the company at the time. You were someone I could trust to just do it.
C: An early conversation we had about identity and power. I said something to you about my feelings. You signalled to me that that wasn’t enough. That I needed to do more, read more and be more engaged. That was super hard to hear but it was important.
M: Going to see every show you directed and thinking: holy shit, she’s a good director. Actors love her, you can tell from their performances. I want her to direct the plays that I write.
C: Sending you feedback after a workshop performance of King Arthur’s Night and finding out that you shared them with Jamie [Long, the director], and talked through every word I sent. Realizing that being part of this company meant that I was a collaborator.
M: And here we are.