Photo by Rob Laughter on Unsplash
This year Brock University hosted the first-ever Rise and Shine festival at the Marilyn I. Walker campus. Two DART majors, Sydney Alexander and Grace Labelle- Scott collaborated to create their original play, titled Personal Genius. Take a look at a behind-the-scenes interview.
When the co-directors were asked how they came up with the story, they said once they decided to work together, they were tossing around ideas. That’s when Labelle-Scott remembered a video she was shown in class. It was a film that would spark the creative genius in both of them. Alexander discusses the creative process;
“I was influenced by a Ted talk video by Elizabeth Gilbert where she talked about an “elusive creative genius”.
She talked about the ideas of the rising artist and the pressures they are under to continue amounting to greatness. She also talked about how artists (in all areas) tend to be expected to turn into alcoholics or be depressed. Which is horrible.”. Gilbert talked about a myth told and believed by ancient civilizations, about a real creature who was responsible for giving artists their ideas. What made this extremely interesting is that with this mentality if an artist’s idea didn’t go well with the audience, the artist wasn’t to blame. However, when things did go right, the artist wasn’t able to take all the praise and glory. This part of the myth played a very important role in Personal Genius.
When asked where they found actors to perform in their piece, this is what the team said that The Rise and Shine Creative Team greatly helped when it came to finding actors. Alexander brings up how some artists knew what they wanted to submit to the festival, while others knew they wanted to be a part of it but weren’t sure about what they wanted to do. Alexander discusses that The Creative Team allowed artists to directly message their Instagram accounts to get into contact with the Artistic Director, Ms. King. Ms. King then helped any director, writer, or actor find who they were looking for there.
Directing a piece was a very exciting experience, Alexander discusses how big of a commitment it is, especially because Labelle-Scott took on many additional roles such as scriptwriters, choreographers, actors, and directors. Alexander said one of the most interesting parts of the process was;
“Having seniority over what I wanted to happen on stage/ how I wanted the characters to move and interact with the space and including how I wanted my own character to interact in the space as well, playing the lead role.”
Labelle-Scott said that it was quite different because usually, she would have someone else’s perspective in mind or directions in mind about where her character would need to go. Alexander mentions she appreciated Labelle-Scott’s perspective and how she always had Labelle-Scott’s opinion in mind as both artists equally took on co-director roles. Alexander said having seniority was very exciting and even a little daunting at times. Labelle-Scott’s thoughts on directing were similar;
“It was challenging. I’d never directed before, not sure about Sydney (Alexander). But we took on a lot of roles in this one. As much as I enjoyed it, if I do something as big as this again I’d probably decide to take on the role of director and act in it less so I could focus more on directing. It’s a big job to take on, even on its own. It was a joy watching the piece come together.”
This performance was a work of passion. Gathering ideas from accident tales and taking on multiple roles, after everything was said and done I asked the team what their favorite scene from the play was. Alexander said her favorite scene was;
“The third and final scene of the play is a scene that I have a special place in my heart for because of all the choreography that Grace (Labelle-Scott) and I came up with for that scene and it is the one and the only scene where all five of us actually get to step out on stage and work together and interact with one another.”
Labelle-Scott mentioned a particular scene from the performance will always have a special place in her heart;
“when all the movement actors (Inspiration, Motivation, and Passion) all came out for the first time. The absolute joy that erupted inside the first time I watched it all with music and the joy I felt every single time that scene was performed is something I’ll never forget.”
The directors/scriptwriters/choreographers/actors wanted to give advice to readers. Labelle-Scott wanted to share her advice for all aspiring artists;
“Take the leap. Write the play, audition for the show, and apply to direct. It pays off, and you will be so proud you did it.”
Aspiring artists don’t be afraid to take go for your dreams. Alexander wanted to share some wisdom that she received through this experience;
“I know at times it can daunting presenting your own work in front of other people and seeing the different reactions and opinions that you will receive from the people that will observe what you’re doing but like I mentioned before, there is something so fulfilling about seeing something that you have put your whole heart and soul into, that you created.”
The entire festival was created by passion, every play, monologue, dance, etc was fueled by absolute dedication and passion from artists who just want to do what they love.