The Story of Us…
Assistant Stage Manager
Why are you an artist? One of my fondest memories is my mum reading great classic novels to my sisters and I on her bed. Tales of far off places and magical worlds, fabulous beasts and courageous characters. My love of stories grew into a deep affection for theatre and the arts. I am an artist because I explore the whys and how's of human nature, history and circumstances. Because I want to know God, know people and know culture. I feel the need to express myself in unconventional ways. I gravitate towards abstract thoughts and feed on passion. The energy that lifts my spirits is that of Christ being glorified in the creativity of those whom He has created, whether they know it or not.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? Because Fire exit gives me Hope, challenges my beliefs and creativity, and changes my perspective on life, faith, and theatre. I chose to work with Fire Exit because Val is original and her imagination runs wild with possibilities for the plays she puts on. I chose Fire Exit because, there, I am surrounded by passionate people searching for answers to difficult and sometimes unanswerable questions and are willing to take risks and be bold in their quest for art.
Diana Marie Stolz
Why are you an artist? With no intention of sounding trite, I am an artist because God made me that way. I inherited from Him, what I call, “the God gene”. My other-world “Father” gave me the creative gifts of acting, singing and writing to be used for His people and His glory. Underlying those talents is a personal passion to share them that began when I was a child. I have been given a voice to speak for the silent, the squelched and even the downright chatty. I believe both God and I are most fulfilled when I’m using it. It is a time when I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit most acutely. One of my favourite places to do this is Fire Exit Theatre because here, my voice is used for Hope, Challenge and Change.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? I was introduced to Val when I was a first year student at Rosebud School of the Arts. She taught our Drama Ministry class. It was then, I became a patron of Fire Exit. For my final school project, I produced a play called “Wobbling Madonna” by Lucia Frangione. After graduation, I remembered her artist’s challenge to consider sometimes giving my work as a tithe. I thought the play suited Fire Exit and offered myself and the production to Val. She accepted and so began our working relationship almost a decade ago. Since then I have had the honour of treading Fire Exit’s boards many times, which has included the thrill of acting alongside my daughters, Cyra and Jaala.
Why are you an artist? I am an actor, a story teller, because that is what I am, that is what I have always been and always will be. It as if I have never had a choice, as if a gift that I never earned was placed in me at birth, it is just there and to ignore it would be selfish, would be to deny who I am. I believe that artists are given these gifts to be used as tools for some purpose as yet not fully understood by me.
As an artist, an actor, I have this opportunity to tell stories that speak honestly about the human journey, that speak to individuals in a way that maybe provokes thought and from time to time a desire to change. For me this is a great privilege, I find it very humbling and I do not take it lightly. And besides it is a lot of fun.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? There are a number of things that I like about Fire Exit: They are very deliberate in the stories they choose to tell, the tackle hard issues sometimes, there shows are more than entertainment (although they are entertaining). They have such great people to work with, actors, directors, stage design, lighting, costumes, stage hands, all are amazing to work with. And the result is a very high quality product. All people no matter what role they play are appreciated and treated with dignity, there skills are always respected and honored. Fire Exit is just FUN to work with. I have worked with many companies and Fire Exit is my absolute favorite.
Ila Faye Turley
Why are you an artist? I have no other choice. Whether I am planning a renovation, painting, sewing for myself or my friends and family, decorating, planning a garden, or connecting part of myself to a story that needs to be told in a true way, it is all part of the artist in me. I need a way to connect myself to the world.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? Fire Exit has wonderful, exciting, gifted and open directors. They help you realize your part of the story. It is a group unlike any other in Calgary. They should be considered professional, because what they choose to present, how they choose to present the story is unlike any community theater in the city. Those who work with Fire Exit, know what I mean and I hope the audience appreciates the quality of work that goes into their productions, for it will keep me coming back to be part of the team.
Why are you an artist? I am an artist, that's what I am told. I act and I write. But really, I am just a human who has experienced and seen a lot of things and believes that some of those things are worth remembering, worth re-telling. I try poorly to re-tell some of these stories, and am called an artist. So be it! That's what I am.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? I chose to work at Fire Exit in "Here Breaks the Heart- the Loves of Christina Rosetti" because the story is true. It is real. It is ever-present, no matter what century you live in. Fire Exit doesn't do plays just to draw crowds. It does plays because they are life-changing. That goes for the actors as well as the audience.
Assitant Stage Manager
Why are you an artist? I never really considered myself an artist, although I have always loved the performing arts. I see my role backstage as a way to support the real artists, to allow them to shine, without having to worry about details like where their props are, or laundry, or if their exit is clear. If I do my job well, the actors can immerse themselves in their roles, and the director and designers can rest assured that their vision will be preserved. That is my art – that is my gift.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? I chose to work with Fire Exit because I knew that my faith would be respected. I can invite any of my friends to Fire Exit plays, and know that they will be challenged to think about God and things of faith, without being patronized or preached at. I love that about Fire Exit – Christians get a different look at how God may work, and not-yet-Christians will get a glimpse of the Creator. I keep coming back to work with Fire Exit for a couple of reasons: one, because I love the plays; and two, because I love the people – I feel like a part of a community that wants to tell great stories that make a difference in our world!
Why are you an artist? Because it's my way of connecting with the world, of loving the world, of climbing inside and giving voice to, of understanding and causing to be understood, of drawing connections between ideas, building bridges and learning of our humanity. It's my very favorite thing. To stop and forget all that needs forgetting. And to remember all that needs remembering about being alive and about God and about us, about love. About naked, open, rawness. I hide otherwise. When I am committed to my art, there is no hiding. I'm too engaged. In that world of artistic expression, there is only opening, giving and loving. It is being alive. Living. On the edge. Receptive. In tune. Attuned. Harmonic with the highs and lows. At once outside and inside. Omnipresent. Irresistible.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? I chose to work with Fire Exit because it's a rare and beautiful thing to be listened to, to be seen and heard with an ear of understanding. It's a gift to be given a forum to express oneself. For the kindling fire in one's heart to be given a hearth to burn brightly. This is what Fire Exit has done for me. Not only provided a hearth for my single spark, but for many sparks to come together and set ablaze a crackling fire to warm the toes and souls of many. I'm thinking of the visual artists who contribute paintings and drawings in harmony with a playwright's themes. I'm thinking of Corps Bara Dance Company with choreography reinterpreting the story of a play.
Why are you an artist? In my case it has always been a love of preforming. And the possibility, for a few minutes at least, to be able to create an environment in which everyone; cast, crew and audience, transcends their daily reality into an alternate one. And as theatre is "live", and if everything is just right, we are to create and simultaneously experience this live reality it in the moment. We can experience this with a good book - but this is a singular experience. There is something about the collective experience in live theatre, and of being part of an ensemble that creates that experience that has always held an extremely Strong attraction for me. It absolutely fills me with energy when it does happen. And on a softer note, when a cast and crew gel into a solid ensemble during the creative process, a sense of family is created that I have always found extremely satisfying.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? Well, from my first exposure to the company, ( which was the ACT adjudication process ), I was attracted to both the subject matter, style and feel of the company. I believe that F.E's choice of subject matter to be staged, gives it a definitive sense of purpose or direction, but, most importantly, within the framework of a stage piece which entertains. Finally, I have always been attracted to the level of professionalism ,( from venue, to subject matter, to staging ), that F.E's productions strive for.
Why are you an artist? I view the theatre as a form of art that brings to life stories that we know or stories we have never heard before. It’s method of delivery can have a tremendous impact on how we view our world and expose our own individual perceptions or biases or through what lense we view that world. I love the reflection and emotion that it brings.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? Val asked! Val had put out an ask for a stage manager on Facebook, at a time in my life when I was no longer working full time and was looking for something interesting to do and learn next. Because I had been a patron of the arts for so many years, I thought it would be interesting to be on the 'other side' of the stage and learn what that process looked like. While I didn't know what to expect, what I experienced was the clincher for me of 'why Fire Exit'. Heart and soul went into every aspect of a production from every person who was involved. Watching the creative process unfold from the first rehearsal to the final production was amazing. And how that happened was only possible thru a dedicated team effort. At times thru the process I was thinking 'what! Are you kidding?!' But it's a good thing I was there to learn, because not one person said 'it can't be done' but rather 'lets get it done'. This is a group dedicated to the vision and mandate of Fire Exit Theatre, and I have been privileged to be a part of that team.
Why are you an artist? The simple answer is my parents have always encouraged me to do work that I love, life’s not necessarily about paying the bills. For me, being able to create things with my hands, to live and breathe art, whether music, painting, sewing, drawing, or designing is so crucial to being alive. I love the opportunity to work in a creative community of artists discovering the greatest Creator of All.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? Fire Exit Theatre took a chance with me as a newbie designer, let me experience a real theatre environment, make mistakes and learn from them. Fire Exit Theatre has a heart for people; On and off stage, FET serves to create hope, challenge, and change for the actors, technicians, designers and the rest of the team. Fire Exit has nurtured and challenged me as an artist to give my all, to care about the people involved in a production, more than the finished “artwork”.
Why are you an artist? I believe in the power of story: to connect us as humans and help us understand ourselves and our relationships to each other and the world.
I believe humans are inherently creative and, through creating, we express vital aspects of ourselves and transcend our own experiences, allowing us to master our struggles, heal our wounds and find meaning in our lives. We make the unconscious conscious and are able to reflect on our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Why did you choose to work with Fire Exit? The pieces you choose challenge our thinking, seek to explore our deeper experiences and concern themselves with our spirituality, something that is uniquely human and the source of meaning in our existence. They go beyond "entertainment".