Liz Truchanowicz: Talks to us about Theatre & Beauty

Liz TruchanowiczWhere do you live? Where are you from? Hometown?

I currently live in Montreal, but I’m originally from Mississauga, in the suburbs of Toronto. I was born in Poland, but Mississauga and Toronto have always felt like my hometown.  I moved here in the mid-90s to come to McGill to study archaeology.  Which I completed and worked in Toronto for a bit as an archaeologist. I then returned to Montreal to do a theatre degree as well. I was in my early-mid 20s and realized I didn’t want to wonder if..I didn’t want to wake up when I was 40 or 50 and wonder why I never tried. So I picked up and went back to school. Can’t say I’ve looked back. I ended getting my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Directing and have been working pretty continuously since then.  So for now I live in Montreal, I tend to take it year by year.  Depending on the work I have here. So far Montreal has treated me well.

When did you start directing?

I started directing when I came back to Montreal to pursue my theatre degree. I hadn’t really directed before, but I had participated in theatre since my elementary school days.  I did, however, learn in grade 10 that I should never act again, and short of some small collaborations, I have kept true to that. I prefer to remain behind the scenes.

Why did you start directing theatre?

I’ll be honest and say I don’t know. When I came back to school, even though I hadn’t directed before I knew that was what I wanted to do. There is something very appealing to me about guiding the entirety of the vision of a production. I enjoy that the director is involved in every aspect of a production and ultimately, with a team, creates a whole. I want to tell beautiful stories on stage.

What inspires you?

Beauty. I am a very visual person and striking visual images inspire me more so than stories do, which I suppose is  bit ironic as theatre is about telling stories.  I am especially drawn to sharp contrasts – either black & white or colour, seemingly unnatural nature, hard lines, haute couture,  Alexander McQueen, Piet Mondrian, pop art, retro, specks of light bound by darkness.

Currently I am obsessed with the colour blue (vibrant cobalt) dismembered branches, lighting installations, silhouettes, and lace. I’m not exactly sure what that all means, but it’s to what my mind and my eye is currently drawn.

I took this picture a while ago, and I find it very intriguing and is very emblematic of what types of images draw me in.

Blue Edit

Do you have a day-job? What do you do other than directing?

I guess I do, but I’ve been fortunate in that I haven’t had a day job outside of theatre for a long time. I am also an administrator and currently work for the Magnetic North Theatre Festival as the Compass Points Curator (which is a program for theatre students and emerging artists). I am also expanding my skill set and have in the last year begun working on television and film projects in production. Though I don’t have an interest (at the moment! Never say never…!) in directing for that medium, I am interested in learning how it all works from a production point of view.

How long did it take you to direct this play?

I did director’s homework over a few weeks  and then had two rehearsals with my actors. I haven’t directed a radio play, which ultimately is what this is, in a long time and it is not my forte, I found it be an interesting challenge. I would probably have prepared differently knowing what I know now. Looking back on it, I think I would have liked to have been the editor, I wonder, a director’s cut of a podcast play! Could such a thing work?!  Given a future opportunity I would probably approach it more like a film than theatre actually. I think with podcast plays the emphasis needs to move away from the rehearsal time to the post-production time.

What do you like best about directing theatre compared to other mediums or other theatre work?

What I like the best is the artistic freedom. Now some would disagree with me, but I think that in the theatre, you have the greatest freedom. I think the theatre can equally be a place of discourse and of entertainment . It is the place of shared, ephemeral experience. Everyone in the room experiences the same story (whether narrative in nature or not), but no two people experience the same event.

I also believe that theatre can never replicate the realism of television and film and needs to stop trying. I believe once you accept this, there is immense freedom in theatrical expression.

What is the greatest challenge you think directors/thespians face today?

 I think the greatest challenge facing young theatre artists today is mediocrity. I think that sometimes in fear of not selling tickets or of not challenging  ourselves we tend toward the safe and the sellable. I think we need to not be afraid of new and original work, not be afraid of failing spectacularly, not be afraid of rigor. In all your work. I think trying to create something palatable is the death of art. Some people’s work is undeniably more popular in nature, but that equally is nothing to fear.   I understand it’s hard when it’s your own money on the line, but I think young artists should strive to create the art that is inside of them, rather than what they think the audience wants. You may not find your audience right away, but they are out there. I believe that great, not just good, but great work comes from knowing the rules first – and then choosing which ones to break and from unfaltering rigor.

I also think that comparison is horrible. Comparing yourself to your peers or friends will only get you in trouble. Everyone moves at their own pace through life, through art. Comparing where you are at to where others are at is a great way to end your creative drive and yet it is so easy to do.

What kind of support do you have for your directing? 

I suppose I don’t have any support in terms of financial or an established theatre where I am in residence at . However I do feel like I have a wonderful support system in that I have a variety of amazing artists I have worked with over the years that want to collaborate with me again on future projects. That support money can’t buy. Well I suppose it can, but you know what I mean.

Are you on FB, Twitter, Flicker? Do you have a website/blog? Can I contact you? 

I am on Facebook, but I limit it to people I’ve met in real life! You can, however, check out my website at http://www.theatreinactu.com and contact me through there and I promise to always respond! I am also on Pinterest and you can follow me there  – http://pinterest.com/liztruch/ – aside from a plethora of baking and cooking ideas I also pin images and design I find striking and inspirational.

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