“Nothing kills me more than when people make art that doesn’t really say anything. I’m just like ‘bye’,” Rachel Manson, ArtSci ’17, said in an interview with The Journal. Amen.
The first three things you need to know about Manson are that first, she’s an improv master, second, she swears like a sailor, and third, her favourite cocktail is beer.
After four years in the drama program, a minor stint with the English department, two full years of directing experience at Queen’s Slam Poetry, an exciting Queen’s Players career plus a little improv, Manson has made her mark on the Queen’s theatre scene.
She’s also a playwright and a stand-up comic, performing frequently at stand-up shows around Kingston. “I always go back to what makes people laugh,” Manson said of her favourite writing. “Laughing means listening. A lot of people think it degrades, but it’s a visceral reaction.”
Manson’s parents are both doctors and her sister is currently in law school, leaving her to follow a more creative path. “My parents were very supportive of my … hobby. Eventually they realized I wanted to keep doing it.” As for her Toronto high school experience, although she was involved in theatre, Manson said she felt as though she was “asleep for four years.”
In terms of her experience growing as an artist at Queen’s, Manson credits the drama department’s focus on extracurriculars. “I’ve learned so much about theatre, I don’t think I really could have learned that anywhere else,” Manson said. She was afforded the rare opportunity of becoming a playwright for the Drama Studio Series, having the chance to see some of her writing come to life on stage this past year, including one final farewell this March as her play One Flew Into a Box takes the stage.
When asked if she considers herself a triple threat, Manson laughed. “Minus the two other threats. I sing sometimes in players. Once I fell into a musical by accident. It was called Dolls and it was weird as fuck.”
Manson has her hands full already, adding that she’s done it all in theatre from being a technical assistant, to costume design, to acting.
Her writing style can be characterized as dark and hilarious. She writes only dark comedies and claims to not know how to write anything else. I have my reservations about that claim, Manson seems well-versed in all forms of expression.
She credits Danielle d’Entremont, ArtSci ’14, as her mentor, an older Queen’s student who ran Queen’s Poetry Slam and was also in Queen’s Players. “My friend invited me to this slam poetry thing. I had never written poetry in my life. And it was so fucking cool. She was running it, and she just passed the torch,” Mason said of d’Entremont.
Her first poem was written on a whim and a table at her first slam. After launching her slam poetry career in first year, Manson started directing in December of 2014, halfway through her second year.
Manson has no current plans to go to grad school, but is exploring some playwriting fellowships as potential next steps after her impending graduation. “I need a healthy break from school,” she explained, “I don’t understand how people can just keep doing it.”
After graduation, Manson wants to still do stand-up, “[Stand-up] is cathartic. Everyone should do it at least once in their life.” On a more stable note, Manson would love to write for a late night show.
When asked where she’d like to be in a decade, she answered, “Just not homeless, honestly. If I can afford a bagel once a week — I will have made it.”
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