Concordia University

Q & A with Jessica Carmichael

Meet new faculty member Jessica Carmichael, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre
December 17, 2017

New faculty member Jessica Carmichael is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre One of new faculty member Jessica Carmichael's goals is to explore non-traditional and non-hierarchical storytelling methods.

Can you describe your artistic practice?

My practice is rooted in the creation of theatre, by way of direction, dramaturgy, playwriting and acting.

What is your primary area of research (or research-creation) and what sparked your interest in it?

As a director and researcher of theatre I am interested in experimental and contemporary practice, as well as re-examining the body of classic western works in non-traditional adaptations and forms. In my directing work I have developed an interest in process-led work.

As a mixed non-status Abenaki and Euro artist, one of my over-arching goals, regardless of the project, is to explore non-traditional and non-hierarchical storytelling methods. My training is within the Western Canon of work and methodologies, and my current work both expands and pushes against this training. My heritage encourages me to look at Non-Western storytelling and the post-colonial implications of the canon today.

Tell us about some work of art that you read, saw, or experienced this summer before you started at Concordia.

This summer I was making art, directing and co-creating the play Ipperwash commissioned by the Blyth Festival of Canada. The piece was an embedded practice working with the people of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation to share their stories, their present and hopes for the future, while dealing with a painful examination of their relationship with the Canadian Government.

A play I saw this summer was These Violent Delights by Cole Lewis and her company Guilty By Association. The piece was performed at the Summerworks Festival, and saw students from Simon Fraser University travel across the country to work with Professor Lewis on the question of what is a Monument? How does a Monument capture and provoke memory? How does it share in the act of grieving?

Why did the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia seem like a good fit for you?

Concordia’s Theatre Department offers students an opportunity to explore theatre as an art form, to investigate what that means, and work on its practice as an instrument for social and personal change. I felt these values aligned with my practice and research: the critical inquiry building to  understand what art making responsibilities fall on the artist? What comes out of it?

What was the best advice you ever received from a mentor as an artist or a scholar?

Forget being polite. An artist is not polite. They are honest and raw and risk takers.


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