4 Questions: Chris Dupuis
This article is part of our series 50 Years of Disruption, in celebration of the Department of Theatre’s 50th Anniversary. In it, we’ll ask each participant four questions about themselves and their time at York.
1. Who are you?
I’m Chris Dupuis (BFA Directing and Playwriting 2000). After I finished at York, I started working with a company called bluemouth inc.; a collective who make site-specific interdisciplinary performance. Along with that, I spent a two years as an intern at Buddies in Bad Times. At that point, Buddies didn’t have an emerging artist program (no one did) so I created a program for myself, working with a number of different directors and playwrights. Not long after this, I mostly left theatre, and started working as a visual artist primarily with video art and interactive performance. In the last five years, I’ve shifted back to working with performance again (primary dance) and also started working as a curator, presenting film screenings and exhibitions. Through all of that, I’ve also worked as an arts journalist for various magazines and websites.
2. What was your favourite moment during your time in the Theatre Department, and why?
The moment right after we did the first performance of my fourth year show (a piece called RAW, about three friends living in residence together), there was interlude of quiet calm where I was able to look at the work and think, “Okay, maybe I actually learned something here”.
3. What comment, quotation, statement, or action that a professor—or classmate—offered had the greatest impact on you?
There was so much that I took in over those four years, artistically, intellectually, and personally, that it’s hard to locate a single moment that had the greatest impact. But if I had to isolate one thing, it would probably be a comment John Mayberry made (I think during a production meeting):
“If everyone around you is being an asshole, maybe it’s you.”
In nearly every aspect of my practice, I’ve worked in collaborative or collective processes and so being able to have a functional relationship with the other people in the room is key. Having a sensitivity to your own mood swings, triggers, and biases (as well as those of the people you’re working with) is critical in being able to navigate those spaces successfully.
4. Is there a way you incorporate a particular aspect of your theatre training in your current work?
The playwriting courses I took with Judith Rudakoff were foundational to my development as a writer; I probably wouldn’t be a writer today if I hadn’t taken those classes. The design classes I took with Shawn Kerwin were also instrumental in shaping how I thought about space. I often say to students that if you want to be a director, take a stage design course. You’ll learn more about blocking there than you would in any scene study class. And the drawing classes we took were also incredibly useful. I think any artist, no matter what medium you’re working in, should take some drawing. There’s nothing better for teaching you how to see.