Lara Gordon is an actor and improviser in the Guelph and K-W region. She completed her BA in Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph, where she wrote, directed and performed in a number of shows, including Quiet Time: a one woman show inspired by her foster sister. Lara has studied improv under various trainers across Canada for the last 12 years. She is a trainer and the head judge with the Canadian Improv Games for the Southern Ontario region. In the off seasons she has taught improvisational workshops for students, as well as residents at the Homewood Health Clinic (an in/outpatient facility for those suffering from mental health and addiction). Lara is Sonderlust’s Theatre for Young People Director. She will be heading a TBA youth project that has been supported by Carousel Players later this year.
Tell us a bit about why you wanted to create a youth sector for Sonderlust.
Building a Sonderlust youth program is super important to me. Having a space where you feel safe and comfortable being yourself when you’re growing up is huge. We’re all so vulnerable through our teenage years, and it’s easy for individuals to slip through the cracks and find themselves feeling all alone, or engaging in risky activities in an attempt to feel connected to something or someone. My hope is that Sonderlust can have programs running for young girls to come to where they feel safe opening up, and exploring all of those intense emotions or experiences they’re living through daily, and creating something positive together. Just as important, I want to have a space where young girls feel safe to let their guards down and just have fun. There is so much pressure with social media, and the feeling that you always have to be “ON”, that it’s key to have somewhere were you can let your hair down without feeling judged, or worried that you may look silly. If any of that resonates with even one person, then I think that can be considered a success.
You’ve been doing improv for quite a while now. How did you first get involved, and what impact does it have on your creative process?
I started doing improv back in high school when I joined my school’s improv team. We competed in the Canadian Improv Games (C.I.G.), which is a nation-wide festival where schools compete in formats that highlight key improvisational skills. After graduating I continued with the C.I.G. as a volunteer, and trainer, and continued performing with local troupes and in festivals around Canada. I’ve slowed down a bit now, but improv still is and always will be my passion.
As far as how it impacts my creative process, I would say it goes beyond impacting me just creatively and has impacted every facet of my life. I think in order to be a well rounded performer it’s important to have a basic grasp of the key elements of improv. From exploring a character in the early stages of rehearsals, to creating scenes, or being able to work through flubbed lines in a performance, improv has helped me become a more tuned-in, and adaptable creator/performer. This all goes for everyday life as well. Some of the fundamental “rules” of improv, are really great guidelines for real life. The biggest take-away for me has always been the rule of “being in the moment”. It’s something I struggle with a lot, and I think many people do. Teaching yourself to truly be in the moment means experiencing everything around you as it comes, and not thinking too far ahead and getting yourself into a tailspin of worry. I’m still a master worrier, but improv has really allowed me to be more comfortable and confident in myself and the choices I make, both as a creator and human being.
Rumour has it you’re going to be heading up Sonderlust’s next SonderLOVE campaign. What exactly is a SonderLOVE campaign, and what do you have up your sleeve or the next one?
SonderLOVE is a chance for us to give back to our community in a way that’s fun and meaningful. Our goal is to have 3 SonderLOVE campaigns a year, each focused on a different organization or individual that needs support. We kicked things off in February with a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region and raised money online through donations in honour of Galentine’s day. If you don’t know what Galentine’s day is, I highly recommend you watch “Parks and Recreation” where the whole thing started, but it’s essentially a day dedicated to ladies celebrating ladies. Anyway, we wanted to do something fun for the day, and thought what better way to celebrate sisterhood than to raise money for our “sisters”? And thus, SonderLOVE was born!
Our next campaign is coming up in July, and this time we’re raising money for an individual rather than a group. We are presenting a staged reading of a play I wrote that’s inspired by my foster sister, who is developmentally delayed. All the proceeds will go directly back to her and her care. Sam is so excited that “her play” is being shown again, and I’m so excited to be able to use this platform to help give back to her!
Come join us for our second SonderLOVE Campaign: Quiet Time — July 13th at edna’s!
Cover art by Jason Cianelli