Reflections on Electric Innovations

By Bri Wood, 2022 Electric Innovations Participant 

When I first found out about and applied to Electric Innovations, Suitcase in Point’s annual theatre intensive for youth, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I come from a place in theatre where I have only worked with young kids which means I don’t exactly know how theatre works in a professional world. Electric Innovations was a perfect glimpse into not only what it’s like to make theatre your career, but into the communities and bonds you can make with others in the industry. I cannot be happier with how the week went and how it impacted me as an actor and individual.

We started the week off simple with introductory stuff, spending Monday getting to know each other and creating our first tiny creation out of the poem “As I Grew Older” by Langston Hughes. Tuesday was spent with Miriam Fernandes working on play. It was incredibly fun to be able to run around playing games as I would when I was a child, or to inspect and grow curious about the studio surroundings. In the afternoon everyone focused on fairy tales. Miriam’s workshop was a great way to kick off the week!

On Wednesday we got to spend the day with Cole Alvis, who had us talking about our roots and who we are. It was a very calm day of discussions and creation, a wonderful way to wind down after the excitement of Tuesday. In the morning she taught us about smudging in Indigenous culture, then we went to plant (safe) tobacco beneath trees we felt drawn to, and In the afternoon we did activities like drawing a constellation of where we have come from on maps, creating poetry out of The Royal Proclamation of 1763 as it pertains to Indigenous peoples, and doing creative writing based on randomly selected prompts from books written by Indigenous authors. Altogether it was an amazing day and really made me think, which I see as a good thing.

On Thursday we welcomed Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster whose workshop contained many of the basics of acting. We talked about the question “So tell me about yourself” and answered it many times. We also talked about and experimented with a character’s intention and how it can alter an interaction. After that we had a long discussion about the reality of acting as a career, financial business, compound interest, and the general lifestyle of an actor. Personally, that was my favourite part of the week itself. It was a very enlightening conversation and really inspired me to chase my dream of taking on theatre professionally now that I have an idea of what it is like for an Ontario actor. The last thing we did that day were mock auditions to practice being nervous and how to go about it, which I believe will be very helpful in the near future.

The last visiting instructor we had on Friday was Joanna Yu. It was a day filled with talk of design and creativity. Joanna talked to us about what being a designer in theatre means, as well as what exactly she does. It was very interesting hearing about her work in design and the projects she has worked on in the past. In the afternoon we read the prologue and first scene of “She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen and plucked out what a director, or designer would look at. We then spent the rest of the day creating storyboards, 3D models and collages for the play in general. There were many amazing creations that gave me a good idea of what I think the play would look like!

Finally, on Saturday we had a very busy, yet very fun day. We spent the morning looking around Nest Fest, part of Suitcase in Point’s In the Soil Arts Festival, listening to a live reading of the play “Tellurian” written by Nathen Rossi, looking at the “Love Letters To My Found Family” photo book by Shendel Rogers, reading “The Queen’s Diary” poetry by Nyasha and exploring the multi-art experiences “Playground: A Joyful Happening” by Skye Rogers. Unfortunately we were not able to see the last two showcases, but I am certain that they were just as wonderful as the ones we did experience.

After exploring the Nest Fest, we went to eat Linner (Or Dunch, it was a mini debate between our group what to call the meal between the times for Lunch and Dinner.) with more friends from Suitcase In Point, and after that we were off to Niagara-on-the-Lake! We got to see “Everybody” by Brendon Jacobs-Jenkins perform at the Shaw, with the opportunity to talk to the wonderfully talented cast afterwards. Many questions were asked about the show and how the actors go about performing it, although I myself didn’t ask many questions, it was amazing to hear the few insider details that we did! Soon after that the day had come to its end, and with that, the week.

All in all, Electric Innovations was an amazing experience and I will definitely be returning next year. Thank you Michelle, Marcel, and all those who took part for making it such a great week!