May 9, 2016

Spotlight on Alumni: Katharine Noyes

Katharine Noyes (BA 2014)

Since graduating from Devised Theatre in 2014, Katherine Noyes has been using her theatre background in education. She began by working as a teaching assistant/substitute teacher for Young People’s Theatre for a few months before having her own Grade 1/2 drama class at YPT’s downtown location.

While at YPT, she also began working as a support staff member at Taddle Creek Montessori School in the Annex. She also developed a 2–week March Break Camp for “Casa” students, aged 2-5, at Taddle Creek during her time there.

Last February, she was accepted into the Artist in Community program at Queens University’s Bachelor of Education program, and started my Consecutive Education program in May 2015.

She recently completed my 3 week alternative practicum with 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook, where she wrote a teacher study guide for the upcoming touring show Wounded Soldiers, as well as a brochure of acting tips for volunteer actors who often act in 4th Line Theatre’s shows. During this time, she also taught lessons on Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints to local theatre groups and high schools.

Currently, she is in her final school practicum before starting her final term of Consecutive Education. On top of her tutoring job, she has recently been hired as a Child and Youth Facilitator at the Kingston Military Family Resource Center, where she will be substituting for other facilitators and creating programs of her own, including a theatre camp in the summer.

Katharine Noyes and company in "The Seeing Place".
Katharine Noyes and the cast of the short scene “The Speech,” in the Queen’s B.Ed Musical, The Seeing Place.

What attracted you to York in the first place?

A friend of mine had enrolled at York a year before me and he told me a lot about the theatre program. I just couldn’t get over how excited he was to be a part of York (there were also lots of interesting stories about Winters Frosh Week). When I went to the Open House, I had the pleasure of meeting Peter McKinnon for the first time. He talked about the variety of streams offered in the Theatre Department, which really appealed to me. I really felt that the department was focused on fostering student success, in every way possible. I liked knowing the faculty would always have my back.

What was the most challenging aspect or experience of training/studying at York?

One big challenge, especially in the Devised Theatre program, was team-building and conflict resolution skills. Creating your own theatre piece is a very personal journey, and sharing that experience with six other people, with their own artistic vision, can be very difficult. Being able to work through issues together as a group is a huge advantage in any situation. I still use team-building skills today in my classes and practicums.

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?

This is a classic, but it still stands true: Relax! You can plan and prepare all you want, but sometimes, things might not work out the way you wanted them to. It’s ok to not know what you want, or change your mind about what you want to do. Sometimes, those challenges you don’t think you can handle turn out to be the dream job you didn’t even know you wanted! Enjoy your time in university, make friends, go to the Ab, finish your assignments (yes, for all of your classes), find your limits and stick with them. Most of all, learn from all your experiences, not just the academic ones.

Can you tell us a story of a moment where your training at York was clearly useful?

During my B.Ed year, we are always encouraged to reflect on our past experiences to aid us in our future challenges. This is where I had the advantage over my other classmates. Theatre is a reflective art form, and by reflecting on my performances in Devised Theatre, I developed the skill to see what worked, what didn’t work, and how I can improve. Reflection is crucial in every career you pursue, but it’s rarely practiced in other disciplines. Through reflection, I am in tune with my limits, my strengths and my areas of improvement, all of which lead to better creative work, and confidence in my choices.

What surprised you about YOU by the end of your time at York?

I guess I was surprised with how much I learned. Through my classes, I learned a lot of practical skills, but throughout my undergrad, I also taught myself life skills, such as multitasking, effective communication, networking skills, and proper self-care. I had no idea I was capable of doing half of the things I completed in my undergrad. I graduated from the program, with a better knowledge of who I was as a person, and who I wanted to become. It’s a great feeling.