Hello Internet! Let me introduce myself. I’m Paige, and I’m a student in my first year at the University of Toronto, where I am studying drama. This is my second year as a participant in the Paprika Festival. Last year, during the festival’s 10th anniversary, I was in the Creator’s Unit. This year, however, I am an actor in the Resident Company. You may have also seen my face at a UC Follies sketch comedy show or in the ensemble of the recent St. Michael’s College production of Hairspray!
Coming back to the festival this year seemed like a no-brainer to me, because I had SO MUCH fun last year. But this season I wanted my festival experience to be different, I wanted to make a conscious effort to grow myself as an artist. The problem was, I didn’t know myself as an artist; I knew I wanted to be an actor, but I didn’t know who I was as an actor, I couldn’t find my niche. My goal became one of self-identity.
So far, working on the Resident Company’s production Always Wear a Rubber by the brilliant Evan Vipond has challenged me and terrified me in ways I could not imagine, and could not be more grateful for.
First of all, the subject matter is entirely new to me. AWAR follows four teens that are sent to an ex-gay camp. When I first read Evan’s early draft of the script, I thought that the ex-gay movement wasn’t real! I couldn’t believe that parents would send their children to camps and programs that would encourage them to hide who they are, to deny every instinct in their body. I couldn’t believe that some LQBTQ people believed that their feelings were wrong and went willingly to these camps and conferences! Learning more about this movement has really blown me away. My research for this production has made me aware of a human rights issue happening in my own backyard.
Secondly, my character, Michelle is very different from me. She’s shy, she’s insecure and most importantly, she’s a lesbian. The idea of playing a lesbian terrified me. Would I be authentic? Could I keep my heterosexuality from overpowering the performance? I don’t know if I have it down yet, but playing Michelle is allowing me to flex my muscles as an actor, to extend myself and to bring life to an amazing young woman with her whole life in front of her.
So far, working with the Resident Company has been the most rewarding artistic experience of my life (and we’re not even done yet!!!). My cast, my director and my crew are like my family. I look forward to Tuesday nights because we all get to be together and work on a piece we love so much. I can’t wait to bring you guys more news about my experiences and about rehearsals!
I hope you guys are as excited for the festival as I am!!!