From his personal website, Canadian Brad Fraser is “a writer, director, producer, host and generally creative guy.” (www.bradfraser.net).
I’ve read many articles, reviews and reports about Brad’s work in the theatre over the years and have seen that some of his stories have been deemed controversial, but isn’t that what makes for good theatrical drama when we can discuss calmly something we have seen that has moved us to the point where we need to examine and talk about it? Brad studied Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto according to his personal Facebook page.
We conducted our conversation via email. Thank you so much for your time, Brad:
It has been an exceptionally long seven 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?
I suspect we might. Certainly, the idea of work and workplace are changing, as are certain jobs. I suspect we’ll discover we don’t need all the space we insist on occupying, as well as most of the stuff we feel we have to buy.
How have you been faring? How has your immediate family been doing during these last six months?
My immediate family is in Alberta and seems to be fine. My chosen family is in Toronto and it’s a mixed bag. I care for a senior neighbour with dementia, who also has asthma, and has to be monitored almost constantly. Oddly, I suspect she’d doing better than other members of that family, since we’re in the same city and still can’t see one another. At least my neighbour starts each day with no real memory of how long we’ve been in lock down.
As an artist within the performing arts community, what has been the most difficult and challenging for you professionally and personally?
Not being able to interface with my other artist friends and share ideas and opinions over a meal and a few drinks. Not being able to attend the theatre, or any of the other live venues we generally work and party in.
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?
The only live gig I lost was an amateur production of “5@50” in Edmonton. Luckily, I had just found work in publishing and film just before all of this broke so I’ve actually been quite busy.
What have you been doing to keep yourself busy during this time?
Working, talking to friends, painting, watching movies, generally staying as creative as I can.
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?
Everything changes. This will pass. Be patient. Find a way to parlay your skills into another profession for the time being.
Do you see anything positive stemming from Covid 19?
If we’re lucky it will force people to re-evaluate our current political system which got us into this spot and seems mostly uninterested in getting us out of it.
Do you think Covid 19 will have some lasting impact on the Canadian/North American performing arts scene?
Yes. Many people will be insecure about attending for a very long time. For concerts etc. I think the bounce back will be quicker. Theatre is a marginal industry during the best of these situations, and I suspect people will use this as an excuse not to return. We’ll need to be wildly imaginative to lure them back and I think the entire structure as it exists across the country now will be changed.
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?
Perhaps. I’m skeptical. Theatre needs to be live to work. YouTube is not live, it is merely a platform that is open to amateurs. It is not theatre.
Despite all this fraught tension and confusion, what is it about performing that Covid will never destroy for you?
The power of the medium and its ability to change the way people see the world.