The first in a series of blog posts by Apprentice Artistic Director Camilla Fitzgibbon as part of the Conseil des arts de Montréal’s DemART-Mtl program
“You play a very public role in the theatre community, and yet few really know the human behind the critic, and who you want to be, artistically,” Mathieu Murphy-Perron prompts me when I ask what to write about on this first blog post.
The thought strikes and takes a moment to sink in. It settles. I sit with it.
It’s uncomfortable. I suppose it’s because although I think of myself as being quite vulnerable in many ways, I will confess to being terribly guarded in others. It’s startlingly easy to hide behind the digital veil of Montreal Theatre Hub.
4 years ago I knew no one in the industry. I had never even done theatre – or practiced any artistic expression, for that matter – in any real capacity. My only exposure to the form had been as a shy spectator, and even then that was limited by having been born and raised in middle class suburbia in Brazil where the study of dramatic literature was shunned from any school curriculum. My sole offering to the community was the desire to learn, to serve, and to belong.
A life immersed in the stage arts was previously not an option. Despite Brazil’s rich cultural heritage, artists continue to face vicissitudes of existence in a severely underfunded environment. To be paid to create is a chimerical notion and to consume art at any will is a privilege of a select few.
There was also a resistance to honouring my childhood calling that was profoundly internal; more often than I like to admit, I have struggled with believing I’m not ( ____ ) enough. To pursue one’s most private passions takes spectacular courage, and it becomes exponentially more difficult with the wears and tears of time.
I graduated from theatre school this past summer of 2019 at the age of 30 (my third academic venture after previously obtaining a diploma in computer science and a bachelor’s degree in business). It’s been a most turbulent and curvilinear of professional and personal trajectories, but one that I am proud to call my unique own.
There is a particular drive that can derive from the experience of prolonged confinement and censorship – externally or self-imposed – and an acute sense of urgency that lends itself to making magic happen. It is never lost on me how remarkably fortunate it is that my default mode is now that of wonder and play.
Too often I hear from industry folk that “you should only be an artist if you can’t do anything else.” I respectfully disagree. I find choice and agency to be far more empowering.
I join Tableau D’Hôte Theatre today in the spirit of the utmost celebration and gratitude. I feel so wonderfully welcomed by this country, this city, this community, this company – a marvellous collective of Canadian voices and stories that I look forward to capturing and highlighting in a new artistic capacity. I am increasingly at ease with my place and identity in Montréal theatre, even as I still navigate the complexities of working in it simultaneously as a performer, producer, and a member of the reporting media. I owe it those – Mathieu and the Conseil des Arts de Montréal’s DemART-Mtl program – who have been understanding of these often conflicting roles, and embracing of Camila as a whole.
Thank you for giving me a place to call home.