In honour of International Women’s Day, the women of Imago
share some words about the women who inspire them…

Artistic and Administrative Associate: Joy Ross-Jones
My Choice: Footnotes Collective Members Heather Caplap and Erin Hill

I set the rules myself: Pick one woman who inspires you and share a blurb about them for International Women’s Day.

Picking one awesome woman is a very difficult task, so instead I’ve picked two great inspirations who are also my amazing friends, Heather Caplap and Erin Hill.

These women are my co-creators in Twigs for Bones, our puppet collective. We met at Concordia, while I was there for my second undergrad in Theatre for Social Change. I suppose having one undergrad already placed me in a different head-space from most of my fellow Concordians who were generally younger and in a different phase of life. As a result, I still hadn’t developed a strong social circle even after my first year there.

Erin started talking to me in class one day. Then another day she brought me a snack, and then for whatever reason she invited me to perform with her and a few friends who were creating a piece for OFF Fringe, Summer 2011. Thank goodness she did. This little performance (which we always look back on and laugh about…bright blue body suits, ha!) led to a friendship and creative partnership that has been monumental in my growth as an individual and a creator of theater. I also hold these ladies responsible for opening my eyes to the world of puppet theatre, which I have since happily, wholly and passionately wandered into.

Me and Heather (2)

Erin

They are empowered, sensitive and forward thinking women. Heather is an unstoppable force who will achieve whatever task she sets her mind to, no holds barred. And Erin might as well be made of sun beams, for all the joy and intelligent sensitivity she brings to the world. We’ve been together as a collective for nearly three years, during which time we’ve experimented with storytelling through poetic image, narrative, objects, and puppetry. We listen to each other and encourage each other’s ideas, and through our mutual love for quirky, eerie, mildly upsetting performance, we’ve become a family.

Me and Heather (1)

Heather, Me

On a day celebrating women for our endless talents and virtues, I’m blessed to not have to look far to find ones who encourage me towards becoming a more inspired, full, empowered woman.

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! GO WOMEN!

Artistic Director: Micheline Chevrier
Her Choice: The ladies from Pussy Riot

Court hearing on Pussy Riot case

It is impossible to select only one woman who has influenced or inspired me in my personal and professional journeys. But, if I had to chose, at this moment, I would have to say that young women who socially and politically engage through their art are my greatest inspiration. At a time when most young people are concentrating on their own ambitions and needs, there are those, such as the Pussy Riot, who elect to have a larger perspective and, in doing so, challenge us all to do the same.

On this International Women’s Day, I salute young women across the globe, such as Pussy Riot, for indeed inspiring change.

Producer: Viviane Dohle
Her Choice: Lynn Leonard-Griffiths 

Lynn_Retirement

Lynn Leonard-Griffiths was a talented actress appearing in many critically acclaimed plays with the Youth Theatre group in the early 1970’s in Montreal and New York City. She found her true calling in 1974 when she became a teacher of kindergarten students. Lynn was my Improv coach in high school, she was the first person to teach me about story; about the power of story. In our Improv sessions she worked tirelessly to turn high school students into persuasive story tellers with naught but a clue from the audience. She became a dear friend and a mentor; she is greatly missed.

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Board Member: Cynthia Hammond
Her Choice: Dr. Catherine MacKenzie

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Catherine Mackenzie 1
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Catherine MacKenzie[/ezcol_1half_end]

When I first met Dr Catherine MacKenzie in 1994 she was teaching a course called “Feminism, Art, Art History” at Concordia University; I was her teaching assistant. I sat at the back of the classroom and laughed at her jokes, but she was more than funny. She was wildly subversive, intelligent, and fiercely critical of the western art historical canon, and the way it had excluded women and anyone of difference from its hallowed halls. For a new graduate student like me, Catherine’s lectures were an inspiration, opening my eyes to a history of women’s creative achievements that the world seemed to have forgotten. But she also illuminated how ideas like “artistic genius” could, if examined through the right questions, challenge entire systems of knowledge and meaning. Catherine is now my colleague. She is a feminist who lives her politics. Her dedication to and solidarity with students, her high standards, and her fight to keep the university an open and inclusive space inspire me, daily.

Playwright in Residence: Michaela Di Cesare
Her Choice: Tara Nicodemo

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In honour of International Women’s Day, those of us at Imago Theatre are sharing women artists who have influenced our careers. The woman I would like to write about today is Tara Nicodemo. Ten years ago (Wow. I need to take a minute to process that) for my sweet sixteen my aunt and uncle bought me a subscription to the Centaur Theatre. I was thrilled. These theatre outings were my introduction to professional theatre outside of the touring shows that had come to my St-Leonard high school. It was during this theatre season that I first saw Tara Nicodemo in a play. It was The Shape of Things by Neil Labute. Aside from being completely enchanted by Tara’s performance, I was encouraged to see a young woman from my community up on that coveted stage. I’ll sidebar right now to say that whenever I see Tara work on stage or in film, I am blown away by the humanity and charm of her characters. She has a way of reaching the audience and being intimate with them while still being theatrical and in complete control of her craft.

As the Italian community would have it, Tara’s family had been shopping at my parents’ deli for years (my mother informed me of this upon seeing the Centaur program I brought home.) I continued to follow Tara’s career through all the Italian plays at Centaur. Meanwhile, my mother continuously mentioned her “actress” daughter to Tara’s family whenever possible. Tara eventually moved to Toronto and news of her illustrious career was passed on like a game of telephone from her family to my mother and then to me. We must now flash forward to when I moved to Toronto to attend U of T. One day my mother lamented to Tara’s family that I was completely alone in a big city like Toronto and feeling so homesick and could Tara do anything at all for me? I was so embarrassed! But a few days later, Tara emailed me and invited me over for dinner. It was pouring rain as I made my way through the Kensington market to her front door. I must admit, I hadn’t realized I was homesick until the smell of pasta sauce in Tara’s warm home reminded me of Sunday lunch. That night, Tara shared a lot of wisdom and advice with me. She encouraged me as I described “this idea I have for a one woman show”. We compared stories about our Italian fathers and experiences of moving away from home. That she would reach out to me in such a generous way has been symbolic of our friendship since that night. Tara throws herself selflessly into her work and into her friendships. She has fostered and encouraged me ever since that rainy night in Toronto and I truly don’t know what I did to earn the trust and respect of such a spectacular woman. She even introduced me to my current agent! This year on Women’s Day, I would like to thank Tara because 10 years ago she was an example to a teenaged girl who had never before realized that little girls from the East End could do that.

Don’t miss Google’s awesome International Women’s Day icon at:
www.google.com