When Patrick Lloyd Brennan, BFA 10, and his former partner Sheldon Lawlor debuted The New Bourjoiesie, a show put on by a dance company Brennan ran from 2009 to 2011, the audience experience was deliberately immersive.
“We created our characters in advance on social media,” recalls the graduate of Concordia’s contemporary dance department. “The cast rehearsed in our loft for six months and the audience was able to follow them on Facebook before the show premiered.”
Brennan’s love of live performance has been severely tested by the COVID-19 crisis. A veteran of Montreal’s theatre scene, he currently manages the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF), a strong supporter of English-language theatre in the province since 1972.
How did you get involved with theatre in the city?
Patrick Lloyd Brennan: Through Concordia’s Art Matters festival when I was a co-producer in 2010. It was a position that allowed me to see Montreal’s arts and culture ecosystem from a unique vantage point. There was great cross-pollination so people could jump from discipline to discipline. My theatre admin experience started there.
The festival was foundational for me. It enables students to run every aspect of what is now the largest student-run arts festival in North America and puts the work of students in professional venues.
What also stuck is the value of emerging artist perspectives. They’re coming straight out of the classroom fresh with innovative ideas. They don’t just learn from us — we learn from them.
How did your time at Concordia shape you?
PLB: In high school and CEGEP I was obsessed with going to university and when I went to a Concordia open house, it felt like home. Being accepted at Concordia was a dream come true for me. The university became my family. I am very proud to be a Concordian.
What was the immediate impact of COVID-19 on the theatre community?
There is no other way to describe it than absolute shock. Montreal’s English-language theatre community has always been very resilient, but COVID-19 shut everything down.