Who’s ready for another blog! I know I am, so let’s get down to it!
I had the extreme pleasure of chatting with the multi-talented Nicole Lemieux, who is not only acting in the first One-Act Problem Child, but she is also co-producer for the whole production. Nicole is no stranger to the task of producer, having been on the Producers Committee last season, but this is her KWLT stage debut.
(Meet Nicole Lemieux - Helen in Problem Child)
How has it been going in your first KWLT play?
“It has been a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I had no idea there was so much involved! But other than that it has been really, really good, and I’ve had a really good experience”.
Do you have any previous acting experiences outside of KWLT?
“20 years ago in high school I did the high school musical, and I played a very small role of ‘the pregnant wife’, I don't even remember what my name was in the play... I had to memorize six lines, and I thought that meant I was ready to do this!"
What gave you the motivation to come out for auditions and whatnot?
“I loved being in the musical and I loved taking drama in high school… Every time I go to Stratford, I’m like, ‘Oh, it's so close! Why can’t I be on the stage?’... I really wanted to pursue the arts, but it wasn’t encouraged in my household… It kinda was just like a dream I never was able to fulfill or pursue, and it’s something I always thought about. I just hit a point in my life where I kinda took stock and reevaluated, and I decided… you know, it’s a dream that’s never gone away so I might as well just… [go for it]. I got introduced to KWLT from my friend Sarah*, and I’ve been auditioning for multiple shows, and getting feedback from directors on what I can do, and finally I found the right show and the right director, and I’m living out my fantasies, so it’s really good!”
(*Sarah Rodrigues - star of last year’s production of Blood Relations)
How does it differ from being on the Producers Committee, part of the crew, to being a member of the cast? How has that transitioned?
“It’s really weird… I was on the Producers Committee because when I was auditioning and continuously not getting cast, I was like I need some way to still have that creative outlet, and I still really wanted to be involved in this community, so I started on the Producers Committee. And when we dissolved the Producers Committee, and Leonard didn’t have a producer, I had a conversation with him and I just thought Chris* and I can do it.”
Being a part of the crew there are a lot of meetings; a lot of behind the scene; a lot of late night e-mail [and] texting; urgent options needed. So many little details and logistics that as an actor you don’t have to deal with. I think that, I really appreciate both roles and the difficulty of acting and the difficulty of being on the crew. They're both challenging in different ways, but definitely the producing is more labour intensive.
(*Chris Lolas - co-producer of production and Executive Producer of KWLT)
Do you prefer one over the other?
“I think I prefer the acting because as hard as it is, it’s more fun! Not the producing isn’t fun… There’s a different atmosphere and relaxation in rehearsals, and even if I’m not getting something right, Leonard* is really supportive, and he makes it a safe environment. And then when rehearsal is done , you get to go home and work on it on your own. But with producing... you’re not done… it’s like 24/7; someone wants your feedback, someone wants something done. You can’t just leave it in the rehearsal space.”
(*Leonard Mario Zgrablic - director of Problem Child/Criminal Genius)
Have you developed any methods or tactics when tackling your character?
“[Helen] is interesting! I went to church for four weeks. She’s a very spiritual character and I wanted to surround myself with people that have that frame of mind and kind of remember their perspective and where they come from. In the nicest, most respectful way I wanted to gain the perspective of someone that went to church. So I did that!”
That’s dedication right there!
“Well Leonard agreed it might be a good idea.”
(Nicole as Helen and Karly Snoddon and Denise)
Right, especially if don’t know that aspect of the character, it’s good to get the backstory. And with all that being said, without giving too much away, tell us more about Helen.
“Helen is………………. Interesting. Let me tell you about Helen… She has been described as self-righteous. She is very proud of her education, she is very judging, she's very skeptical…. I think in some ways she’s bitter… The backstory that we made up for her is that she doesn’t have kids or someone in her life, or maybe she can’t have kids. And dealing with people that are constantly mistreating their kids, or that she feels aren’t fit… it gets under her skin… She takes pride in her work and she wants to do a good job. I feel that seeing other people's perspective is a challenge for her. I think there is more going on inside her head behind the scenes that is the root of her motivation... I think she wants to do the right thing, I just think she doesn’t have the capabilities of understanding everyone's perspective”.
We touched a little bit on what it’s like to be a producer, but how has it been for you to wear two hats, as it were, for this production?
“It was something that I had to do with Chris [Lolas]; we set out a plan in advance. It was hard to be in rehearsal and thinking about producer things, especially when you have people there that can answer questions, and it’s not exactly the right place or time to ask [producer] questions. Chris and I wanted to make sure the production was being supported and that they were getting everything they needed from a producer, but Chris was very concerned about me being over committed and leaving enough time to develop my character and acting. We planned the tasks out, we planned out a timeline. Chris was very clear that acting comes first, so if there was anything that I’m getting overwhelmed with, he’s going to take [it on], and he has taken some of the big stuff off my plate too. So it’s just communication, planning, and trying to keep rehearsal separate from the production”.
What kind of things does it take to be a producer and what advice would you give anyone that is thinking of doing it? (*Cough cough* The Last Resort, i.e. my show, still needs a producer *cough cough*)
“A good producer needs to have strong organizational skills, and needs to be a taskmaster… It’s just a matter of having a list of things you need to do: assist with audition sign ups, getting the scripts for people to use during auditions; plan the posters, social media post, programs; set deadlines for actors to hand in their bios, set up headshots, [etc]. It’s a lot of easy tasks, it’s just a matter of making sure you’re on pace, and that if you set a deadline… Having the support of the director and stage manager to enforce that deadline [so you’re not screwed]."
The great thing about the Producers Committee, is that [the people] still exist. I know that KWLT loves developing skills, developing volunteers, finding ways that everyone can contribute to productions, so if there was someone that wanted to producer, but was unsure they could handle it, there are a lot of great resources that can [help]... it’s not a matter of being able to do everything, it’s a matter of being able to keep track of who’s doing what, and ensuring that things are getting down within the deadlines… And KWLT has those resources, and people who are willing to support. If anyone is interested in trying to produce, I suggest reaching out to Chris.
(Nicole as Helen)
If given the chance to, is there any character in those two shows that you would also want to play?
“‘I love being Helen! She’s got some really great lines, that I really enjoy saying. It was well cast and was a good fit. But I originally wanted to be Shirley [though]... Shirley is so much fun!... She seems like she would be a lot of fun to play”.
What are your aspirations you wish to pursue with this company? (ie acting again or trying a different role in the crew, etc.)
“Well, like every good actor, the next step is directing.
If you did direct, what would it be?
“I have no idea!”
So you’re like ‘I want to direct…………. But I don’t know what!’
“Yeah, well, Ryan* and I have actually been talking about setting up a stage management workshop…to encourage more volunteers, to develop the skill. Stage management is very intimidating… So it is something I’d also like to try, and I’m really interested in attending the workshop, because I think the skills [from producer to SM] are transferable. I do want to act more if there’s a role or a production I feel would be a good fit for me. Eventually I do want to direct, but that’s like years down the road. I have to really get more experience with more productions. I’d like to see things from [different angles] and then I have to figure out what play I would direct. It’s kind of like a long-term dream. Short term, I’d like to learn how to stage manage and act in a couple more plays”.
(*Ryan Bassett - Artistic Director of KWLT)
What advice would you give someone who might want to get involved with live theatre in any capacity?
“For me, being a part of this community has been rewarding on multiple levels. Getting to interact with people I wouldn’t necessarily, normally interact with, being in the corporate world. Getting to know a lot more artistic people. People that have been allowed to have their creative outlets, and have been allowed to live a different type of lifestyle. And I feel like I am growing as a person. If you can’t commit to… anything big, or you’re too scared to act; even coming out and doing what little thing you can, and just getting involved in the community, I think would be beneficial to anybody that’s looking to grow as a person… It’s a really rewarding experience”.
(Nicole as Helen)
Wasn't that awesome! I know I throughly enjoyed it! I had so much fun interview Nicole! There were several times I wished I could put in a laugh track or something, just to show you guys how funny and great this woman is! If you want to see Nicole as Helen, you got six more chances! Tickets are on sale at eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/kwlt-presents-problem-child-and-criminal-genius-tickets-69261177045) or at the door! For more information, please check out our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/KWLTheatre/) or continue searching this website. You can also find my other blogs at https://www.kwlt.org/blog and be sure to check out more blogs to come in the future!
Any any suggestions on what I should write about? You can email me at , follow me on facebook @LegitElizabethMunz or twitter @theatrenerd_e . DM me your ideas or even just to say hi!
Coming soon: I chat with Brian Fox who plays Phillie in both One-Acts!
And now I leave you with one final remark from the lovely Nicole:
“If someone tells you ‘you can't’ they're showing you their limits. Not yours!”
P.S Photo Credit Shout Out to the the amazing Ange Clayfield!