Kristen Peace

Theatre Conversation in a Covid World

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Joe Szekeres

You will see from Kristen’s profile that she has had a great deal on her plate this last year. I’m gratefully appreciative she was able to take a few moments to ‘Check in From Away’ for her profile.

When she responded with her answers via email, I smiled as she began that every actor finds it sometimes a little strange and dreads writing one’s own semi autobiography because it is tough to do it. I agree with her wholeheartedly as it is tough to decide what to write about yourself.

Just from the tone of her answers, Kristen feels both thankful and blessed for her career and where it has taken her. She started very young in this industry and feels extremely lucky that she was able to learn from great performers by working with them.

Kristen prides herself on being a bit of a sponge and it has served her well as she has worked for some incredible companies: Charlottetown, Drayton, and Mirvish, as well as some always entertaining work on voiceovers for cartoons and video games.

Fingers crossed to see you all again soon in Newfoundland at the Royal Alex, Kristen, when it’s safe. Thank you so much for participating in this conversation:

Many professional theatre artists I’ve profiled and interviewed have shared so much of themselves and how the pandemic has affected them from social implications from the Black Lives Matter and BIPOC movements to the staggering numbers of illnesses and deaths. Could you share with us and describe one element, either positive or negative, from this time that you believe will remain with you forever?

I’ve actually had multiple conversations about this topic with my friends. This pandemic has been terrible for so many of us. However, that’s not to say that there are not many things for which to be thankful. How do you convey the mix of chaos, debilitating stillness, and potential progress into a singular moment to remember? For me, it will forever be a mish mash of tears, stress, gratitude, and growth

Have you learned anything about human nature from this time?

I think we have all been watching the news and seen some really disappointing things over the past year. I’ve learned human nature can be beautiful and frightening at the same time.

In my most challenging times, I’ve witnessed great kindness and generosity and I am proud of how Canadians evolve and grow, especially those involved in the arts community. They create for the sole purpose of others’ comfort and happiness. I remain in awe of the resilience of Canadians.

How has your immediate family been faring during this time? As a family, can you share with us how your lives have been changed and impacted by this time?

My family has certainly struggled over the past year, like so many others. We have had our fair share of stress and sadness.

Our greatest loss was that of my darling dad, Glen.

My father passed at the beginning of the new year, at home, with family by his side. Although his absence now creates a crater-sized hole in my heart, I am thankful that I was able to be at home and take care of him. This simply would not have been possible on a regular show schedule.

Pre-COVID, my days were filled to the brim with an 8-show week, rehearsals and voice overs. The incredible silver lining of the pandemic was that I was allowed the time to spend with my dad in his last few months.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

I know none of us can even begin to guess when professional theatre artists will be back to work. I’ve spoken with some who have said it might not be until 2022. Would you agree on this account? Have you ever though that you might have had to pivot and switch careers during this time?

I hold faith that we will be back in some capacity later this year.

Truthfully, I have experienced a lot over the course of 2020 and have little desire to pivot. I’m taking the necessary room to recharge and enjoy valuable time with those I love. I’ve sacrificed so much over the course of my career for a job I truly love, and I have no intentions of putting my energy elsewhere until someone tells me I am done.

How do you think your chosen career path and vocational calling will look once all of you return safely to the theatre? Do you feel confident that you can and will return safely?

I’m someone who thinks that the “what if” game can be damaging to the soul.

I’ve given myself permission to release control and ride this wave with as much kindness and positivity I can possibly muster. I have faith that we will return to work when it is safe to do so and that people will be itching to experience life again.

This time of the worldwide pandemic has shaken all of us to our very core and being. According to author Margaret Atwood, she believes that Canadians are survivors no matter what is thrown in their path. Could you share what has helped you survive this time of uncertainty?

My friends!

Friendship has helped me through this mess. Whether it’s a FaceTime call at 3:00 am or a socially distanced garage movie night, these little moments have meant the world to me.

One of my best friends and I made a commitment to remain in one another’s bubble. We decided to open an Etsy shop featuring upcycled embellished theme park apparel. It’s amazing what a little wine, glitter and love can conjure

Imagine in a perfect world that the professional theatre artist has been called back as it has been deemed safe for actors and audience members to return. The first show is complete and now you’re waiting backstage for your curtain call:

a) Describe how you believe you’re probably going to react at that curtain call.

b) There is a crowd of people waiting to see you and your castmates at the stage door to greet all of you. Tell me what’s the first thing you will probably say to the first audience member:

When we are lucky enough to return to the stage, I will hug and squish the life out of my co-stars. My brand of love is aggressive and I’m sure they already know they will just have to deal with it.

I know I’m going to cry like a big, fat baby… a lot. I will feel zero shame.

I also know that I will be so grateful to the audience for coming home to us.

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