Nicole Smith holds a BA in Theatre Studies from the University of Guelph. She is a writer, director and Metcalf Foundation Producing Intern with Pat The Dog Theatre Creation. In 2015 she co-founded The Muddy Mary Project, a theatre festival for emerging artists. Finding Temperance – a play she co-wrote and performed in – was produced by The Muddy Mary Project the same year and supported by the Shaw Festival through the Ontario Arts Council. Nicole is the founding Artistic Producer of Sonderlust. In collaboration with Lisa O’Connell (Artistic Director of Pat the Dog), she facilitates The Women’s Room – the first and only female playwrights unit in the Waterloo Region.
What do you wish you knew about the theatre world when you first started creating?
Honestly, nothing! Which sounds like a bit of a cop-out answer, but it’s true. My favourite part about working in theatre is that it’s unpredictable and not monotonous. In terms of administration or production, there is ALWAYS a fire to put out or something you’ve done wrong that you can learn from, and (somehow) that’s never discouraging to me, it’s motivating. I’m not all that interested in getting things “right.” I think you learn most from failure and from diving in and trying something you love without knowing what to expect from it. That’s not everyone’s favourite thing, I know, but it’s so much more exciting to me than working a very predictable, 9-5 kind of job. The idea that theatre has been a big part of my life for the majority of my life, and yet I’ve barely even scratched the surface of knowing what the ‘theatre world’ is about, inspires me.
Why start a theatre company here in the Waterloo Region?
I did the Toronto thing about eight years ago — and while I loved living there while I did, at the end of the day, for me it is one major city of many major cities that I’d like to visit, work in and explore. In terms of building something, though — truly building something lasting from the ground up — I’m more interested in doing that where my home is, and I’m more interested in doing that in a place that doesn’t have it in the same way bigger cities do. I know I speak for everyone on the team when I say that creating new work in places that aren’t already used to it is important to us. Plus, despite its flaws, I really love K-W/Cambridge.
What type of work do you aspire to do with Sonderlust as an emerging artist in the community?
Sonderlust is a bit of a weird entity right now because we’re somewhere in between a collective and a company, and our primary goal is to bridge a gap between our community and the professional artists working in it. So we sit in the middle of a lot at the moment, and will for a while as we grow. I’m grateful to work with talented artists and solid people who understand as thoroughly as I do, though, what it is we hope to achieve. Ultimately, the work we want to create is new and female-centric. We’re interested in highlighting the stories of women, particularly those most overlooked. Not everybody wants to get up on stage and tell their story to the world, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have one. What we really aspire to do is broaden a perspective.
Cover art by Jason Cianelli