1. Could you give a brief background of yourself – where you are from, your interests and passions, and your past experience in the performing arts?
I come from Switzerland. (I was born in the Swiss German part but have done most of my education in the Swiss French part). I have a lot of interests and passions and I sometimes find it a bit difficult to match all of them together! I really love outdoor activities, like hiking and climbing. Of course I have always been interested in the Arts too. I started with music: I played the piano and sang in a choir as a kid and a teenager. I started theatre quite late, when I was 20. At the time, I was doing an internship in an institution for people with disabilities and helping out in the creation of a play with the beneficiaries of the centre. At the same time, I was also taking theatre classes in Lausanne. A couple of months later, I decided to join a pre-professional theatre course. Right at the same time I started University in Social Work and chose to specialize in Community Work and Arts.
2. What initially attracted you to working with Mixed Company Theatre? Where/how did you hear of it?
I am in the last year of my University program, which includes a 6 month internship. I had to choose where I was going to realize this second practical period. As I love travelling, I decided I would do it abroad. I did my first practice in Cambodia, in an artistic school, working on “theatre for awareness”. This technique would generate discussions but it was set in a very formal way, with a “questions and answers” at the end of the play. I wasn’t fully convinced by this method of trying to engage the audience and wanted something more active. That is why I decided to look for a Forum Theatre Company for my practice. I read about Mixed Company Theatre online, when I was looking at the International Theatre of the Oppressed Organisation website. I wanted to experience what it means to work with Theatre and Communities in a diverse city like Toronto.
3. Have you done any other community theatre work in the past in other countries? How do these experiences compare with what you have experienced here with MCT?
As mentioned in the above, I worked in Battambang, with Phare Ponleu Selpak, which means the Brightness of the Art in Cambodian. It was a very interesting experience, where I was able to explore the reality of trying to implement Theatre for Development in a difficult environment. Before coming to Toronto, I thought that my experience over here would be very different, especially taking obstacles into account. However, I have realized that the constraints, such as limited time and resources, are very common to a lot of companies engaged in social and political theatre throughout the world. Also, another similarity is the experience of working with a translator, which I have had the chance to reiterate again here, working with the Chinese Community at Scadding Court Community Centre.
4. What has been the most memorable experience with MCT so far?
Mmm, that’s a very difficult question! I think that one thing I will keep in memory for sure is the experience I have been able to share with seniors, both with the Intergenerational project and Scadding Court Community Centre. I loved listening to their stories and learning from their knowledge and wisdom.
5. What has been the biggest challenge for you at MCT so far?
Organizing MCT’s fundraiser event! It was my first time having to plan, coordinate and supervise an event from A to Z!
I had worked for bigger events in the past, like music festivals, etc., but I was always assigned to a specific department and never had to oversee every little detail.
6. How has it been for you living in Toronto? What have been the challenges and highlights about living and interning in Toronto? How has Toronto compared to other cities you have lived in?
When I first arrived in Toronto, it really took me a while to be able to settle. I struggled to find proper accommodation and had a hard time feeling “at home”. I have to say that the weather was pretty unfriendly when I arrived (in February) and that it didn’t help me socialize, discover and explore! I also missed being surrounded by nature and realized how lucky I was back in Switzerland, in a country where the public transport is very efficient and the entire country bike friendly. I have to admit I am really not a big fan of the North American Car Passion! One of the highlights of Toronto is definitely its diversity. I have been able to exchange with so many cultures, with MCT, but also at home, since I have been living with roommates from 6 different cultures!
Thank you Amelie!