I really I wish I had the chance to speak with Allegra Fulton either in person or on Zoom.
You’ll see from her responses below that her energy and enthusiasm for the performing arts community and all its components were contagious to me. I liked how she said a couple of things that might be considered grandiose, but that’s okay because we all have to think big and look ahead as we emerge from this pandemic.
Last year I had the opportunity to see Allegra perform in ‘Between Riverside and Crazy’ at Toronto’s Coal Mine Theatre and in ‘Sweat’ at Canadian Stage. Two opposing different characterizations but terrific work, nevertheless.
Make sure you check out her personal website. I’ve included its link at the end of Allegra’s profile. Here is a lady to keep an eye on as I want to see more of her work onstage when it’s safe to return to indoor theatre.
Thank you for adding your voice to the conversation, Allegra:
It’s a harsh reality that the worldwide pandemic of Covid 19 has changed all of us. Describe how your understanding of the world you know and how your perception and experience have changed on a personal level.
For me, it’s been like a grand Buddhist exercise in surrender, acceptance and radical kindness. Meeting oneself in such global difficulty, amidst abounding fears and frustrations, and deep sadness everywhere, I’ve found my best way was to turn in and sit with all my own terrors and attempt to stay curious to my own inner landscape reflecting on what is…and not too much on what was or what will be. No big future tripping, if possible. So, if anything, I’ve used the time to really pause and to get to know my inner world better. The life of an actor, of course, is a long deep dive into the human psyche, and this experience is proving a profound one.
With live indoor theatre shut for one year plus, with it appearing it may not re-open any time soon, how has your understanding and perception as a professional artist of the live theatre industry been altered and changed?
More than ever, I’m glad that to be a working actor, at least in Canada, one must develop one’s talents in many areas, and learn many mediums. I’ve come from the theatre and my delight and curiosity continues to lead me back to the theatre. But I’m grateful to have cultivated skills in all kinds of arenas where an actor is needed. I also really enjoy moving between disciplines for each informs the other. I know that working in TV and film has made me a better actor on stage and visa versa. Working with a microphone, in animation, or commercial voice over, even audiobooks, each have specific demands, and continue to sharpen one’s brain, one’s elasticity, one’s instrument and which is hugely important to continue to do. I think everyone has been wonderfully impressed with themselves learning new platforms like ZOOM and being able to continue storytelling, in such wonderful new ways. I find the hybridized forms of theatre and music, and even dance, to be very exciting and exhilarating. Storytelling is storytelling, and I think we are so lucky at this moment to have so many platforms available to us to keep doing that very thing.
But of course, what makes live theatre so special, and what we possibly understand now more than ever, is that wonderful energy and kinetic connection in a room, a small room, a huge room, even a stadium…The communal experiencing of story, and that’s incredibly special. The energy one plays with onstage, with one’s fellows, and with the audience, is almost a metaphysical ceremony of sorts. That sounds a bit grandiose, I know, but I believe it works in the same realm. And precisely for that reason, theatre will never die. It will continue to morph as it must each generation and century, as it has since it began many thousands of years ago. For the theatre needs only one actor and one audience to begin a ‘play’. I look forward to that exchange again.
As a professional artist, what are you missing the most about the live theatre industry?
The people. The energy. The thrill. The LIVE-ness of the moment, the NOW-ness of it. That no one can stop, rewind, pause, go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen and get chips, come back…it’s all happening right now, and the intense focus of both actors and audience is a very sacred and healing communal experience. I look forward to that again.
As a professional artist, what is the one thing you will never take for granted again in the live theatre industry when you return to it?
That I have a job. But I feel that way on each project, frankly.
Describe one element you hope has changed concerning the live theatre industry.
The outmoded and long entrenched systems that no longer serve or help us make good art. There are many revolutions going on globally right now, and I hope it all seeps into every facet of life, and that change happens quickly and invites everyone to the table. Our world is in for a really large treat as massive amounts of new stories and perspectives are suddenly being given voice. It’s gonna be way more colourful and way more fun! Just watch.
Explain what specifically you believe you must still accomplish within the industry.
Oh my! I have so many roles I may never get to play, but I have them in me, and I study them and crave them. I have so much to learn, to hone, to explore. I’d also like to keep directing and working with scripts and writers and …’accomplish’ is a tricky word. I had wanted to do every Shakespeare in the canon, but I’m only just a over a third of the way, on that count. Tennessee Williams, more Chekhov, Ibsen, Pinter, Euripides, Kroetz, Churchill, Birch, Drury, Nottage, Parkes, Guirgis, and so many wonderful brand-new writers. Again, the searingly complex human psyche, yes, even by the aforementioned dead male playwrights, is hard to resist wanting to tackle as an artist at the top of my game.
But to your question…Is it kinda boring to say that I don’t care to ‘accomplish’ anything but continue to create, simplify and learn better how to plumb the depths of the human condition? Sounds a bit grand, but it’s true. (My note back to Allegra: that doesn’t sound boring; to me, that sounds like the truth of the actor’s voice.)
And then there is the question of passing the torch and mentoring, which I am divinely lucky to do quite a bit of. Somehow, quite by accident, I’ve collected all these beautiful young actors, playwrights, creators who come to me for coaching, advice, a good cry, a good laugh, and they teach me too, and fill me with grace, excitement and energy. I’m not shy to say that I do have a lot of ideas and opinions about things, and I am a good acting teacher for may. It’s all very quiet and unofficial, but it feels like my best way to pass along how much I’ve learned from so many great teachers along the way.
Some artists are saying that audiences must be prepared for a tsunami of Covid themed stories in the return to live theatre. Would you elaborate on this statement both as an artist in the theatre, and as an audience member observing the theatre.
I don’t think ANYONE will relish dwelling on this time. As I discovered early on in the pandemic, there is rathe little written about the plague of the 13th, 14th, 15th century, or the flu pandemic of 1918. I should think we’ll all have had quite enough of it by then, thank you very much. But we will better appreciate and understand familiar lines like, “A pox on both your houses!” (Romeo and Juliet)
As an artist, what specifically is it about your work that you want future audiences to remember about you?
Depth, truth, risk, and glee.
My dear colleague and friend Alexander Thomas, with whom I was lucky enough to act with in ‘Between Riverside and Crazy’ at Toronto’s Coal Mine Theatre turned to me one day and said:
“Allegra Fulton: Classy but goofy.”
I think that summed me up perfectly.
Visit Allegra’s personal website page www.allegrafulton.com. You can also follow her on Insta: Cinesylph Twitter: Allegra_Fulton