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Adam Brazier

Moving Forward

Confederation Center, PEI

Joe Szekeres

Adam Brazier’s name is another one I’ve recognized over the years especially from the late 80s and early 90s when live theatre was thriving in Toronto.

In learning where life has taken him since that time, Adam has certainly reaped bounteous rewards of his professional career.

He is a multi award-winning actor/director and the artistic director of Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Serving as the inaugural artistic director of Theatre 20, Adam led the development of several new works, including the world premiere of ‘Bloodless: The Trial of Burke and Hare’, which was nominated for nine Dora nominations.

Adam’s accomplished acting career includes originating the male lead in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Woman in White’ on Broadway, and also the male lead, Gabriel, in the 2013 Charlottetown Festival musical, ‘Evangeline’. The Toronto native has held starring roles with most major Canadian theatre companies, including at Stratford, Shaw, The Canadian Stage, Mirvish Productions, as well as in London’s West End and with the Chicago Shakespeare. Adam has been nominated for Dora awards as an actor, director and producer.

Adam is a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School (’96) and has a diploma in acting. …his parents are very proud.

We conducted our conversation via email. Thank you for the conversation, Adam:

It has been an exceptional and nearly seven long months since we’ve all been in isolation, and now it appears the numbers are edging upward again. How are you feeling about this? Will we ever emerge to some new way of living in your opinion?

One of the many blessing to living on Prince Edward Island is the natural isolation that the Island offers. There are only three ways on the Island and due to its small population and exceptional guidance from CPHO, COVID-19 cases have been few and well controlled. We have had zero community spread and most Islanders are respectful and wear masks and practice social distancing.

How have you been faring? How has your immediate family been doing during these last six months?

This year has been brutal for everyone. I myself, lost my father five months ago. We have been unable to have a celebration of life and I am lacking any sense of closure. My mother is in Ontario and does not feel safe travelling on an airplane or quarantining alone during this stage in her life. So yea… 2020 has been shit.

The good news is my wife (actress Melissa Kramer) and our two boys are doing very well. The boys wear a mask to school but other than that, life is pretty normal for them. Again, a blessing of the Island.

As an artist within the performing arts community, what has been the most difficult and challenging for you professionally and personally?

Being an artistic director means you wear all the decisions you make personally and professionally. Every choice is public and is always personal to other artists/peers. Cancelling the 2020 Charlottetown Festival season broke my heart. Not for myself, but for the amazing company of artists we had assembled. It pains me to watch peers whom I respect and admire, continue to face the anxiety of unemployment and their many lost opportunities. I mourn for the young artists who finally had the opportunity to play large roles on significant stages, only to have their hopes and dreams dashed by this virus.

Were you in preparation, rehearsals, or any planning stages of productions before everything was shut down? What has become of those projects? Will they see the light of day anytime soon?

We were two months away from rehearsal for the Festival when we were forced to cancel the season.

Only one of the 2020 productions are now slated to move forward in 2021 season. We are working on various models for next summer and patrons will have to stay tuned until we know more. We hope to make a programming announcement early in the new year.

What have you been doing to keep yourself busy during this time?

Raising two boys with my amazing partner and trying to re-imagine what a 300 seat Charlottetown Festival will look like for 2021 (we normally host 1100 in our main theatre, plus three other smaller spaces). Fortunately, because of the Atlantic Bubble we have been able to continue working and developing new content for our stages—another Island blessing.

I’ve also had a crash course in video production, creating and producing 12 episodes of “Postcards from the Island” and a 40-minute digital celebration of Anne Shirley called “Feelin’ Might Proud!” Having spent very little time behind the camera, this was an exhilarating time of learning and creativity.

Any words of wisdom or advice you might /could give to fellow performers and colleagues? What message would you deliver to recent theatre school graduates who have now been set free into this unknown and uncertainty given the fact live theaters and studios might be closed for 1 ½ - 2 years?

You are not your career. Your value as an artist has nothing to do with your employment or your peers’ vision of success. Stay disciplined and joyful in your art and make every obstacle an opportunity for creativity.

Art and science have got us through every pandemic in history. Lean on your art to get you through this one. Remember to “Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the arts.” Wise words from some Russian guy.

Do you see anything positive stemming from Covid 19?

I have seen countless blessings from COVID-19. It has presented The Charlottetown Festival with an opportunity to redefine its purpose and its structure. This is both terrifying and thrilling. Change is difficult at the best of times, but this change was out of our control, so we can either deny it or roll with it and grow. I have always believed that if there is an elephant in the room, put a spotlight on it, give it some tap shoes, and start selling tickets. Sing out, Louise!

Do you think Covid 19 will have some lasting impact on the Toronto/Canadian/North American performing arts scene?

Sadly yes. I worry that North American audiences are not in the cultural habit of attending theatre regularly enough to bring every theatre production company back, post COVID. That being said, I’m sure this time of isolation will inspire great art and innovation, and digital advances that will serve us in the next chapter.

Some artists have turned to You Tube and online streaming to showcase their work. What are your comments and thoughts about streaming? Is this something that the actor/theatre may have to utilize going forward into the unknown?

With the exception of watching the George Hearn and Angela Lansbury filmed stage version of ‘Sweeney Todd’, I struggle to watch any theatre on a screen. I need the collective experience of sharing with an audience. However, I think the move to digital content was inevitable and is necessary to staying relevant. I’m just a bit old fashioned that way.

Confederation Centre of the Arts has made a sizable commitment to streaming live content but I am trying to focus on concerts and off performance in an effort to avoid anything too story-driven, as I think the form suffers on screen…unless it’s starring Angela Lansbury, she can do no wrong.

Despite all this fraught tension and confusion, what is it about performing that Covid will never destroy for you?

For me, the performing arts is about the human spirit. It’s about sharing our individual truths and finding commonality. As an artist on stage or as an audience member, witnessing artists share themselves with open vulnerability and craftsmanship will never cease to inspire me.

You can follow Adam on his Twitter handle: @adambrazier01.

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