Interview with an artist

William Cumming: How long have you been involved in theatre?

Samuel Crowell: I probably got interested in it when I saw my brother do Little Grease in his middle school. I remember seeing him and being like ‘That’s cool, I want to do that!’ So probably from Grade Six on I have been doing theatre. Yeah, it’s just something I feel passionately about, I’m like, ‘Hey, let’s make a career out of it, let’s do it.’

WC: Why do you feel so passionate about theatre?

SC: When I was first starting to study for it, and when I was at St. Thomas, I remember getting a little scared that, ‘Oh no, is making something that was always my pastime my job, will that make me hate it?’ And I got really, really scared. But as I’ve kind of realized as I am going into the world that theatre is something that works not only as a job, but as a way to keep myself sane. It’s something where am able to feel like I am in control. It’s a good way to meet people and make connections. Overall it is a really good networking thing as far as being a human being and for business.

WC: Is there anything you don’t like about theatre?

I find sometimes in theatre things can be clique-y. That is something I am very much trying to avoid. Of course, there are actors and people I like using over and over again. I love the idea of trying to open up and encouraging other theatre groups to see other theatre groups just to see what they’re good at. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? Especially in Fredericton, where there are a lot of theatre groups, I think people are afraid of leaving one because there will be a backlash against them.

WC: What roles do you tend to fill in your productions?

SC: I started in the acting thing, as you do in school. I wrote my first show in Grade 10. I’ve always thought of myself as a performer, but the more I get into it the more I very much love the writing aspect of it and if I am able to direct my writing that is also something great.

WC: How do you handle criticism of your work?

SC: If you can’t handle criticism, you can’t do theatre. If you are creating a show you’re going to go through so much material you’re going to have enough material for a show that is six hours. No one wants to see that, you have to cut it down.  You have to be able to take criticism, especially as a director. As long as you’re receptive to everyone else, they’ll feel respected and they’ll work better for you.

WC: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

SC: Organization. Anyone who has done theatre probably realizes a lot of theatre people aren’t good at organization. Something I have had to learn trying to be a professional is trying to be as prepared as you can be for the people that you are working with. Nothing is worse than going into a rehearsal, which is probably going to be a long rehearsal and the person who is leading it is not prepared at all. That again is about the respect level in the room.

WC: What made you want to pursue this as a career?

SC: I try to make money with theatre where I can, but I understand it is a little tricky. But it is the job I know I love doing because every time I am doing it, it never feels like work. I can be in a rehearsal from [1 p.m. to 10 p.m.], and as long as it’s a good crew of people I love every second of it. It’s completely different from having an eight-hour shift at the place I work, Smoke’s Poutinerie, slinging poutines all day. Knowing I can have a day like that and then do another 10 hours on top of that of theatre just shows, I really feel at this point I just love theatre.

WC: Any last thoughts for our readers?

SC: I just feel very thankful to have something like theatre. It has so much more to offer than just a career. I find it’s my way to stay connected to the world at this point. I’m just very thankful for something like theatre to help me stay alive.

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