Threads of theatre

Liam Karry cites Kingston’s DIY work ethic as fuel for his vision of engaging theatre.
Liam Karry cites Kingston’s DIY work ethic as fuel for his vision of engaging theatre.
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Who: Liam Karry 

Medium: Theatre, film.

Where to find him: Novel Idea, the Sleepless Goat or walking up and down Princess Street.

Where you may have seen his work: The Single Thread Theatre Company. He has also worked with the Queen’s drama department, Theatre Kingston, The Critical Stage Theatre Company, Chaos Theory Theatre, Domino Theatre, Thousand Islands Playhouse and others. A few of his film projects have screened at The Kingston Canadian Film Festival. The short film Milo screened at The Grad Club this past December. He is presently working on directing for Single Thread’s next show, The Pillowman, which is slated to be mounted in Kingston in March.

What inspires you? People. The opinions and imaginations of others never ceases to jump start my own. It is wondrous that we live in a society in which it is so easy to learn about how others experience their own lives.

Why did you start Single Thread Theatre Company? I wanted to be part of a collective which produced thought-provoking theatre that was relevant to the community from which it sprung. For myself, I needed a vehicle with which I could determine the ways in which live theatre is relevant now. I am happy to say that I think that we’ve found a few.

What is the ultimate aim of any community production you participate in or produce? To encourage thought, discussion and debate in your intended audience. As a theatre practitioner, I am somewhat end-product or audience-oriented. One manner in which theatre frequently fails is that it tends to be self-absorbed. When creating live drama it is so incredibly easy to forget that you create theatre ultimately for the audience because you prepare the piece without them. The bio-feedback which exists between performer and observer arguably drives the magic of live performance. Therefore it is not surprising that the performers instinctively cling to what they know on opening night, and struggle to deliver a performance that not only fails to consider the audience, but actively ignores them. When working on a production, one must constantly ask “Why?”—and if the answer does not immediately take into account the experience of the observer, one needs to work harder until it does.

How has the Kingston arts community been formative in your development? I’d like to believe that I’ve absorbed a bit of the “do-it-yourself” work ethic that seems to fuel the entire limestone arts scene. Artists within Kingston as well as the University are known for making their own artistic opportunities through co-operation with like-minded individuals. I have a friend who graduated from a Toronto university several years ago and who currently works in stage and screen in the GTA. She often enviously and humorously refers to the loose collection of local artists in the GTA as the “Queen’s Mafia.” I’d like to think this signifies of how other artistic communities have started to take note of how driven, creative and co-operative the artists that work and live here are.

Looking to the future, what do you believe is Kingston theatre’s greatest need? There seem to be more groups mounting their own work. This is really good. What is needed now is a manner in which these artists could co-ordinate their efforts, sharing resources, talent, audience base, advertising, etc. Granted, a great deal of learning can occur when one reinvents the wheel. However, I feel that greater learning and growth opportunities lie in raising the profile, quality standards and sustainability of the local theatrical scene as a whole.

—Taylor Burns

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