The Trappist writer Thomas Merton famously said: "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." Indeed, it is precisely in the act of letting go, giving ourselves to an art form, that we discover more profound aspects of ourselves. Artists often speak of 'discovering' their work more than 'creating' it, revealing a reflective power capable of transforming both creator and observer.
I have seen this in my own creative experience. I have been an instructor and innovator for more than 25 years; I have directed countless stage plays and written and directed 3 stage plays and 2 feature films. Throughout this time I've worked closely with thousands of actors, and I've seen the transformative power of art deliver its magic time and time again. People change when they develop artistic skills: they build confidence and engage more constructively with their community and peers.
Yet developing artistic skills is not easy. It requires a community and context out of which to grow. It requires resilience and dedication. It also requires both deep sensitivities and a thick-skinned willingness to jump into your worst fears--over and over again. So the successful delivery of art is, in the most real sense, a triumph: it represents the artist's victory over uncertainty and fear. There, I believe, lies the heart of its transformative power.
Which brings us to Penticton. I and my partner, Ronan Reinart, stand on Eckhardt Avenue outside an old church, wide-eyed and blinking into the Okanagan sunshine. “Ronan?” “KT?” “What have we done?” In 2015, Ronan and I shot much of our second film, The Orchard in Naramata, Peachland and Penticton. My lead character, a self-absorbed Los Angeles talent agent, was unexpectedly falling in love with the South Okanagan, and so was I. How could you not? The sun-soaked rolling hillsides, undulating swathes of grapes, peaches, apples and cherries, great food and wine, wonderful people, and the calm energy of a lifestyle devoid of big-city hustle. All of it encouraged us to leave Vancouver, move to the Okanagan and take over an old church that will become a black box theatre and production studio. I do not believe in the 'tortured artist' cliche. As an artist, I am at my best when my muse is happy. But her happiness does not exist without challenges, and inside of every problem, she is there, demanding vigilance and courage. These demands may seem easy to avoid; however, a supportive and inspirational environment quickly shows them for what they are: the foundation of artistic and human experience. I don’t think I’m unique in this regard. We all have muses, intuition, and creative impulses but only some of us choose to pay attention. Why? Because artistic expression is risky and scary, and it exposes aspects of us that are tender, emotional and vulnerable. Its essence is the unknown, and it coaxes a constant sense of abject fear, which isn’t an easy sell. Until you get the payoff, that triumphant transformation.
So, what am I here to do? I could say it's to make movies or write plays or teach artists or help build a broader artistic community--but all of these are interconnected. I will make plays and films, and in doing so I will teach and learn and participate in a broader creative community. Fuelling all of it will be my fascination with stories and perspectives that are complex and compelling, menacing, provocative, beautiful and vital.
I am not afraid of straddling art forms. In fact, my world is full of multidisciplinary artists. I was an actress on both stage and screen, I am a writer, director and producer in both stage and screen. These may seem like vastly different activities, but they are connected at the source: a Storyteller. I have instructed hundreds of artists to not only improve their craft but diversify their artistry. Different art forms are a bit like ingredients in your kitchen: the more you have at your disposal, the better your meals.
So we will create a black box theatre at our facility in Penticton. A black box theatre is a thrilling place to experience these things. It is immersive and engaging: it can induce in audiences entire universes built from the canvas of imagination. The audience become painters inside this 3-dimensional black canvas working quietly and intimately with actors (who have worked respectfully and thoroughly with the playwright and director). It is not a spectacle so much as an experience, and it lingers like a beautiful novel.
Here we will challenge boundaries that reveal aspects of humanity that are better shared, considered and discussed. We will punch above our weight, and invite audiences for the ride. In doing so, we will all lose ourselves and find ourselves over and over again.
Welcome to Tempest.