An interview with multifaceted actor and performer Joella Crichton. We dive deep into Joella's artistic journey, exploring the unique creativity she discovered within the Afro-Caribbean community as both an actor and Carnival Queen. We learn how her role as a performer becomes a means of self-exploration and human connection, delving into the toolbox of skills she utilizes to bring her stage characters to life.
Joella Crichton's journey as an actor began when her mother asked her what she truly wanted to do. Armed with her passion for acting, she got accepted into the prestigious acting conservatory program at York University. However, while studying there, Joella realized the Eurocentric views of the plays they were analyzing. This realization led her to embark on a mission to find her own voice within those texts and celebrate the diverse voices within them. Inspired by the rich tradition of oral storytelling in the Caribbean, Joella became determined to tell stories that matter and showcase her unique voice.
Join us as we uncover Joella's insights into the power of theatre and her experiences working on this year's Stratford Theatre Festival productions of Les Belles-Soeurs and Wedding Band.
Topics and outtakes from our podcast conversation:
The Importance of Vulnerability: "And it's really shaping who I want to go forward and be as an artist and the kind of stories I want to tell and the importance of really the vulnerability."
— Joella Crichton 00:04:4600:04:58
Stratford's Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion: "Stratford was one of the first companies that reached out to us. They have a wonderful equity, diversity and inclusion department ... they are working to make those changes, which, as a black artist, is so necessary."
— Joella Crichton 00:07:5500:08:12
Representation Matters: "I think part of the whole myth around, I don't even know what it is. The whole myth is that if we do something, people aren't going to see it because it's different. Whereas maybe people want to see something and see people who look like them, and that will make them come, that will make them feel welcomed, that will make them invited to the theatre."
— Joella Crichton 00:09:4300:10:07
The Power of Vulnerability: "Sometimes it does feel like when I'm working on Wedding Band, it does feel like I have to open up to my own relationship with my son, as my character has a son who has passed away. So in my real life, I have to be willing to show how that relationship is on stage."
— Joella Crichton 00:31:5600:32:17
Parenting and Working in the Arts: "The support that I have now to be able to be away from my son during this time while I'm working in Stratford and he's living in Scarborough, and the toll that takes on my mental health, my relationship with my son, my relationship with my partner, the support has been really big on that end. And that is something I'm forever grateful for."
— Joella Crichton 00:39:1000:39:33
The Power of Black Creativity: "I really discovered Black people and the way that we create extremely unique but very helpful to my process as an artist."
— Joella Crichton 00:41:2500:41:37
"Being able to do a work that's Canadian on a Canadian stage with actors who are Canadian is like something you'll remember forever. It's kind of a blessing. It's like an artistic gift to be able to say, I performed in this play in 2023."
— Joella Crichton 00:47:2200:47:45
The Impact of Audience Reactions on Performers: "And what I've found, or some of the conversations we've had with the other actors, is when we hear how the audience reacts, that really affects us as human beings."
— Joella Crichton 00:48:5600:49:08
The Impact of Audience Energy on Performers: "I wish people could see one show and then see the next show later that day and feel the difference between the audience because it's a really interesting question, I have to say. It's like nobody ever asks you what it feels like when the audience is on your side or not on your side. What it feels like to play a character that maybe does something that you would never do as a human being and how the audience responds to you and what it feels like because those things are real things. Like the energy you receive from somebody can really affect you. And so you have to find a way as a performer to take care of yourself and your body and your heart. But I think by the end of the play in Wedding Band, it's so clear that the audience has been on a huge emotional journey and they have received something. I don't always know what it is, but the energy shifts and the energy changes."
— Joella Crichton 00:50:2200:51:28
About the show
AUGUST 8 – OCTOBER 28
BY MICHEL TREMBLAY
ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY JOHN VAN BUREK AND BILL GLASSCO
DIRECTED BY ESTHER JUN