"Making a new normal": Interview with Director Jacq Ainsworth
On May 28, we will be debuting the world premiere of A New Normal, a show written by local playwright Shelley Picard.
We're so excited for the world to see this phenomenal new play, so to get a sense of what to expect we asked some questions of the director, Jacq Ainsworth.
Tell us a little bit about A New Normal. What's the show about?
This last year has given us the space and time to reckon with ourselves. We have had to drop pieces of our normal ways of working and living and have been able to see what about our lives we’re willing to not pick up again.
The characters in this show are also undergoing life changes. There are things about their relationships and behaviours that no longer serve them, and in meeting each other, they find ways to guide each other into making a new normal where they become empowered to live freer, more fulfilling lives.
Is there anything different about it from a director's standpoint?
It is very challenging to develop a hybrid theatre/film piece like this with virtual environments. What you are just capable of envisioning you suddenly realize might not work on filming day because suddenly there are shadows or interference in the receivers or one of a multitude of unforeseen challenges! Fortunately, Gallery 7 has amassed a fantastic team of experts, so all I had to focus on was directing!
How do you approach directing a play in this medium?
I don’t do a lot differently directing in this medium. I rely heavily on my stage manager to keep track of the script and schedule, and focus all my attention on the actors. In fact, for me, directing remotely means I can actually see my actor's faces in closeup, which might even make it easier to “read” their thoughts and see their choices!
If I didn’t have the strong support of our incredible team of stage managers, this would be very challenging as I would have to juggle a script, notes, and still have some attention left over to watch the screen!
All the rehearsals happened over Zoom, right? How did you find that process?
The first time we met live was on the day we shot the scenes for the show. It was so wonderful seeing everyone in 3D for the first time. Everyone looked so much more lively and happier. You don’t realize how awesome human beings are in person until you’ve spent a year only seeing them in Zoom windows.
What themes stand out to you in the play?
Shelley has managed to pack enough content in this play to make a 6 show series if it were produced on a streaming service. This play takes place over a span of months, allowing the characters to meet challenges and grow beyond them.
My favourite thing about good writing like this is that throughout every story, I can always find that love is the strongest force for healing, heroism and happiness.
Do you have any favourite moments or scenes?
I’m afraid to give spoilers by talking about my favourite moments or scenes, but if I were to speak generally, whenever the characters' words land on each other and affect change in each other, those are the moments that really sing for me. Fortunately, Shelley has written a connection like that for every character, so it’s a very satisfying play for me!
What can audiences expect to see when the show starts rolling?
My hope is that audiences will see characters they would want to welcome into their own homes, to find strength in the way they overcome their challenges, and find hope where they start to see ways out of their dark paths.