Some time in late November last year, I had an opportunity to audition for a fourth year directing project that was to be rehearsed throughout the December school break and would go up at the end of January. Monique Fillon, a talented and wonderful fourth year director, was interested in casting three females for a short play called “Body Talk” by Tanya Palmer. The play includes three monologues, each by a different female, in which they explore everything from relationships to body image in today’s world. The text is poetic, realistic, and emotional all at the same time.
I had never interacted much with my soon-to-be director, but straight away I felt her positive energy at the audition. I found out I was cast, then later found out that my very good friend and fellow acting class member Reese Nielsen was cast, and a lovely first year named Haley Garnett, who I didn’t know well either but who soon became a great friend.
As December rolled around, we dove right into the project. It has thus far been one of my favourite experiences at the Phoenix. At first, our rehearsals were bookended by socialization between cast and director. We talked about all kinds of things, the script, our characters, our personal lives. It felt like we were rehearsing a play and coming together as an ensemble, as well as becoming really good friends in real life.
One of the biggest challenges that this project has presented to me is the idea of coming to terms with my character’s body image, and how it resembles my own body image when I was a less confident teenager. My character is the most negative out of all three, and hates her body. I know I could relate to those feelings in the past, when in high school I was a good 25 pounds heavier than I am now. I took the summer between Grade 12 and first year at Uvic to exercise every day and eat healthy, to prepare myself for acting school.
Now I’m confident with who I am and how I look, so to let those thoughts and feelings come creeping back through this play has been tough to deal with. I need to connect to it on stage, but once I’m off I need to remind myself that these feelings can’t come back into my life. Drawing on personal experience when it comes to acting can be dangerous. And being this vulnerable in front of other people can be a real challenge, especially when you’ve been building those confident, protective walls around you all your life.
But so far, I’ve managed to stay on the right track. This project has been a great challenge as an actor, and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know and work with the lovely ladies (and one gentleman!) that make up the cast and crew. This will forever remain one of the highlights of my Phoenix experience. And to the lovely ladies involved (you know who you are!) thank you so much for everything. You are wonderful, talented, beautiful people, and I’m so happy I had this opportunity to work with you!
Body Talk by Tanya Palmer
Directed by Monique Fillon
Bodies: Amy Culliford, Haley Garnett, Reese Nielsen
Stage Manager: Kasia Brytan
Lighting Designer: Carl Eggert
Board Op: Katelyn Clark
Sound Op: Colette Habel
January 23rd and 24th at 4:45pm, January 25th at 5:15pm
McIntyre Studio – Free Admission