Defining Paprika After my 2 Great Years...

There’s something I’ve learned to expect when I tell somebody I’m part of the Paprika Festival, and it’s not a gasp of recognition or a bow of respect, it’s that person asking me what exactly the Paprika Festival is.  It’s funny, because for a while I wasn’t sure what to tell them.  It’s a lot easier to do now that I’ve got a good chunk of experience, but at first, this question left me almost as stumped as them.

This is my second year in the Paprika Festival. I started last year when I acted in a production with a group of my friends from school. We hadn’t had any real rehearsals before the first training day, and I remember showing up to it still not quite sure what it was I’d signed up for.  I’m not sure if I fully understood what I was a part of when I left, either, but I will say that I was starting to get the picture.

The problem with defining Paprika is that it’s a different experience for almost everyone. For me, being a part of Paprika meant spending Sundays in my classmate’s basement and acting out a one act play whilst battling distractions like the newest video game or the latest viral video. For others it means meeting with a group of people you hardly know and collectively creating a play from scratch, and for others still Paprika is a place focused solely on writing, stage managing, or directing.

Now, there’s more to it than that, of course. Paprika, for me, was also a chance to learn so much more about the city’s theatre scene than I ever could have otherwise.  It was a chance to hear from some very well-known and accomplished mentors, and make some valuable connections with other participates in the festival.  But really, it was the little things from that first year that I feel like I’ll take away, because they were the things I saw most of the time.

Four training days and a theatre festival later, my first year was done. By then, I’d finally figured out what I was doing, and so was eager to volunteer when that same classmate wrote another play and asked me to act in it all over again. This time around was different though, especially that first training day. I walked in there excited, not nervous and certainly not confused.  I felt like I was one of the grown-ups in the room, one of the ones who knew the ropes. One of the ones who knew, exactly, what it was Paprika was all about.

I can say that Paprika is a lot bigger than any one of its participants may realize at first. It’s not just about an actor in a production or the lighting designer for the resident company; it’s all of those people coming together because they’ve been given the amazing opportunity that Paprika provides, the opportunity to get real experience early on in your career.  This is only a perspective I’ve picked up from going through the works of the festival more than once.
It’s something that I’m happy to say I’ve learned along the long way.