Spotlight on Alumni: Anusree Roy
Anusree Roy (BA Playwriting/Theatre Studies 2006) is a Governor General’s Award nominated writer and actor whose work has toured nationally. Her plays include: Brothel # 9, Roshni, Letters to my Grandma and Pyaasa. Her Opera librettos include: The Golden Boy and Noor over Afghan. Her latest libretto Phoolan Devi will premiere at N.Y.C in the fall of 2014. She also holds an M.A from the University to Toronto. She is the Co-Artistic Director of Theatre Jones Roy and has been published by the Playwright’s Canada Press. Her plays and performances have won her three Dora Mavor Moore Awards along with multiple nominations. She is the recipient of the K.M.Hunter Award, RBC Emerging Artist Award, The Carol Bolt Award and The Siminovitch Protégé Prize
Do you have an advice or tips for York students just about to graduate? About to join the job market?
My advice would be two-fold:
- WORK WORK WORK – Do any kind of work related to theatre. Anything. Even if all you ever wanted to do/be was an actor, a director or a producer and someone is hiring you to mop the floors of the theatre, do it. DO IT! You will learn so so so much and this is a VERY small community. You will get to know people and before you know it, one thing will lead to the next and many new doors will open. There is no room for ego and no job is a small job. Seriously. So, NEVER say no to work. Even if it doesn’t pay – just do it. I have worked for free on so many occasions and those very people who I volunteered for, ended up hiring me. No job is too little or too small.
- APPLY TO EVERYTHING – Right after I graduated with my masters form UofT, my friend Tom, told me Anusree, Apply to everything and I did. I wrote to every artistic director, submitted my plays everywhere, call any and everyone I knew and asked them if they were hiring and if I could apply and so many opportunities opened up. Also, apply to as many grants as possible, you never know which one you will get.
What did you learn at York that has been of greatest value?
Peter McKinnon taught me the value of time and I am so deeply grateful to him for that. He was VERY strict about deadlines —deadlines with him were ABSOLUTELY non-negotiable. No matter what. The world could come to an end you would still have to hand in your assignment on the deadline date. Since I started to work professionally I realized that he taught me something invaluable. The professional world is all about deadlines and you have to meet them, or you’re fired! I am so grateful to him for forcing his students to be disciplined.
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?
I would tell myself that I have to keep being fearless – that I have to trust the way the next four years will unfold and that I will be able to be a writer and an actor even though I wouldn’t get into acting at York. I would tell myself that I had to turn the disappointment into something active – into fuel – and to keep creating!
What did you do the first summer out of York?
I worked three different jobs to pay my bills, volunteered as an usher at Factory Theatre, Canadian Stage and TPM. And I volunteered on various summer shows around the city.
Please tell us about what you’re up to these days, and about some of the most exciting work that you’ve done since graduating.
I am currently working on a couple of things — mostly writing a lot. At the moment I am working as a Story Editor for a new Canadian TV Series called Remedy – it’ll premiere in February on Global TV. It’s been a challenging yet incredible learning experience. Along with that I have a couple of plays I am working on – Sultans of the Street is my very first TYA play that’s premiering in February at YPT, I am writing a play called Little Pretty and the Exceptional with Factory Theatre, on mental health issues in the Indian community in Toronto. I just finished a draft for the Blyth Festival – it’s a new play called No One We Know – It’s a play that explores loss of a loved one in a small town, and I just stated to write a play for Nightwood Theatre – no idea what the play will be called yet, but it’s a play inspired by the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. Also, I was commissioned to write an Opera last year – The opera is called Phoolan Devi – It’s inspired by the life of Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi. It’s premiering in NYC next year.