Actor Katelyn McCulloch (BFA 2011) shares her tips on getting the best out of your York experience, and updates us on her high-flying adventures since she graduated.
“What attracted you to York in the first place?”
I was living in Nova Scotia and I knew I wanted to study theatre in Toronto. I knew someone who had gone there so I applied and flew to Toronto to audition. I got the best vibe from my audition. The faculty and facility were amazing and I just felt at home. It quickly became my top choice.
“What was the most valuable thing you learned while studying in Theatre at York?”
How to fuel myself as an artist. Especially since I have chosen an extremely physical form of theatre I need to continue to inspire and feed my creative soul. This means, knowing when my body has had enough, knowing when to get a massage or sleep in. Eating in a way that can keep me going for a 3 hours silks rehearsal and also doing something everyday for creativity. So if it means reading a new play, watching a youtube video that I love, writing in my journal (yes I still write every day, it keeps me sane) or knowing when its time to put on some bad TV and relax. York taught me the importance of checking in with my body and listening to what it tells me. Otherwise you'll burn out.
“What was the most challenging aspect or experience of training/studying at York?”
Knowing when to ask for help. That was the hardest thing I had to learn but has helped me the most since school. I would like to try and do it all by myself, but I would just burn out or get frustrated and shut down. I had to learn that letting someone help me didn't make me weak or bad at something, it actually made me better.
“What is your fondest memory of studying Theatre at York?”
My fondest memory was definitely being a frog in our 4th year show Ti Jean and his Brothers (see the Flickr set of pictures from this show). My best friend was also a frog and we graced the stage in unitards and hopped around having the time of our lives. We had so much fun!!! I loved doing our fourth year shows.
“What was your favourite place at York, and why?”
Berries and Blooms—for the sandwiches. I still crave them.
“Do you have any advice or tips for York students just entering the dept.?”
BE A SPONGE! You have an amazing faculty that want to HELP you grow and develop into the best artist you can be. So listen to them. Even if you don't care about production, soak up your labs (I've use my c wrench and my sewing skills post school…seriously!). Even if you don't care about acting, absorb what your teacher is saying and take notes. As an actor, I prefer working with directors and designers who have a basic understanding and respect for the work I do because I have it for them.
“Do you have any advice or tips for York students just about to graduate? about to join the job market?”
Start treating yourself as an actor NOW! The switch from student to actor can be tricky for some people and you need to start conducting yourself as an actor now and take responsibility for the choices you make on and off the stage. You have to trust your guts and go after what you want. No one is going to spoon feed it to you, so you have to put yourself out there and kick some butt. Oh yeah.. and HAVE FUNNNNNNNN, you're almost done!!!!
“If you had the chance to go back and visit your younger self as you were beginning at York, what advice would you give yourself?”
DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF! The amount of things I worried about in first year is insane. I worried about things I had no control over, that was the hardest part. So, if you're new at York…remember you can only control you and your actions, focus on yourself and no one else. And surround yourself with people you love and who love you. I found the best group of girlfriends who are still my friends today and we really helped each other through all of the tough times and celebrated with each other during the great ones!
“Did connections, friendships, relationships you made at York help you afterward?”
Absolutely! First of all, the people who were studying in other streams have helped me with stage management, design and other tech skills on various shows. Whenever I need someone in the production realm I have a ton of talented people I know who can get the job done. Also, the MFA's who were at York while I was in my undergrad have been colleagues of mine post York. Marvin Ishmael recently directed me as Puck in his adaptation of Midsummer Night's Dream and I have helped Jack Grinhaus (Co founder of Bound to Create) workshop some pieces and lent my talents as a movement coach.
“Are you still working in Theatre, or related Arts? In what ways?”
I sure am!
Upon graduating York I performed in a Fringe (2011) show called Infinitum by the Cheshire Unicorn. This was a movement based piece that also involved aerial silks. We went on to win Patrons Pick and Critics pick from NOW (NNNN)! and went on to have a successful remount in the fall of 2011. BUT most importantly I fell madly in love with aerial arts. I began training at Cirque-ability on aerial hoop, trapeze and silks as well as hand balancing, acrobatics and partner balancing. While in my undergrad I always loved doing physical theatre and using my dance background to fuel my acting. For me, aerial arts was the next step. Currently I am a full time coach at Cirque-ability and the Artistic Director of the school's aerial performance team. Last year I directed their two sold out shows Exposed and Alter Eco. I also choreographed and played Puck in Marvin Ishmael's Caribbean Dream where we received an excellent review from Mooney on theatre. I have also been performing with Dr. Draw (an electric violinist) as a dancer and aerialist. Together we've rocked Toronto and Montreal including the MOD club, ROM and Toronto Buskerfest. I recently launched my own theatre company No Parachute Theatre which is my current adventure. No Parachute is an interdisciplinary theatre company dedicated to pushing the physical and emotional boundaries of the human body through aerial dance, movement and text. We are currently in development of our first show. Find us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/NoParachuteTheatre.
I was also was chosen for Labcab (2011) at the Factory Theatre where I wrote, choreographed and performed What have 270 calories, 17 grams of fat and reeks of Dill? (which was actually my Archetype Project—our final 4th year project) I have also performed at Aertime, Dance expeditions, Dance Ontario and spent time training in San Miguel Mexico since school. I signed with the agency ETM right of school and have been auditioning for TV/film and filmed some commercials since.
Updates and news www.katelynmcculloch.com