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Two new Artists in Residence at Theatre NorthWest

Theatre NorthWest has two new artists in residence who will soon showcase their creativity for the Prince George community.

Theatre NorthWest has two new Artists in Residence who will soon showcase their creativity to the Prince George community.

Michelle Cyr and Julian Legere have each recently moved to Prince George from the Lower Mainland.

“Our artists in residence are provided time and space to develop work and creatively explore new ideas and we really want to support them with resources, space, offering admin support and helping them get funding for these really exciting projects,” Melissa Glover, a newly-hired artistic associate at Theatre NorthWest, said.

Cyr has been a professional actor in Vancouver for the last six years, lived there for about a dozen years and before that lived all over the country, including Williams Lake. She is also a post-secondary acting teacher.

Cyr enjoys the experiences offered in the smaller-city atmosphere of Prince George and will soon be crafting multi media stories to present as a unique theatre experience, she said.

“Currently we’re working on professional development for performers so we’ll be offering different methodologies and different ways to include what already exists as far as our (local) talent pool, which is amazing - they’re superstars,” Cyr said. “We’re also doing a stage reading series that has been ongoing.”

Cyr will next be presenting a show called Influence, which is a comedy-drama by Janet Munsil.

“It’s about poet John Keats and the day he went to the British Museum and Athena showed up,” Cyr explained about the Oct. 15 and 16 production.

“So it’s a pretty wild ride, which is good.”

She is considering some options on how to present the show including video and music either independently or congruently, she added.

Legere grew up in Vancouver and discovered his love of theatre in Grade 5 when he was involved in a Shakespearean play.

“That’s when I fell absolutely in love with the stage,” Legere said, who went to school to get his acting diploma. Legere has spent the last five years getting his career off the ground having been an actor, producer, director and writer.

Legere identifies as bisexual and is in the process of centering that in his work.

“Opportunities to engage with my queerness have been rare and I want to create more such opportunities for myself and other queer theatre artists,” Legere said.

Last October Legere moved to Prince George with his archeologist wife.

“Much to my embarrassed surprise the move to Prince George turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” Legere said.

He is now focusing on being a playwright even though he still loves all aspects of the theatre.

“In the last six months or so in particular I’ve really wanted to see if I can make it as a writer and let that be the centre of my practice, which is related to a lot of the work I’ve been doing for the theatre.”

Legere has been working on a play that will be considered a prequel to Pride & Prejudice, he added.

“I’ve been bouncing the idea around for many years and thanks to Theatre NorthWest I have had the opportunity to do some development, some writing and some reading of it - get some actors and audiences to start developing it into something that might eventually be on this stage or another stage somewhere.”

Legere is also working on a future production called Manifesto that is a pride dance party where the audience is part of the it.

“Periodically throughout the event the dance party will come to a pause and performances will emerge,” Legere said. “I will be doing text from the Bisexual Manifesto and I am looking for a collaborator who might do contemporary dance that will be a similar response to that text so during the event people can come and be social and be engaged with pride and with community and then also experience some really great professional performance. That’s something I also find really exciting is taking theatre into contexts other than just the traditional.”

Theatre where the stage hosts the actors and the seats are where the audience is situated is part of what Legere loves, he added, but other times there needs to be room to explore different approaches that Prince George theatre goers might like to experience with his help.

For more information about these and other productions, including all current Covid safety protocols, visit the Theatre NorthWest website.