Remembering Kim Renders

Photo supplied by Queen's University

On July 17,  beloved teacher and theatre trailblazer Kim Renders passed away. 

Renders, a teacher, artist, and activist, made a profound impact in Kingston and across Canada.

As many in the community grapple with the loss, outpourings of memories and support for Renders’s family came throughout the week.  

A pioneer in theatre and a founding member of the  Nightwood Theatre Company—Canada’s oldest feminist stage company—Renders made art into activism and gave a voice to the marginalized. 

In addition to many acting and directing credits, Renders was also a writer. She wrote one-woman plays and articles discussing pressing social issues. 

Her one-woman show Motherhood Madness and the Shape of the Universe has been performed throughout Canada and Britain and was adapted for CBC Radio. 

In 2006, Renders became a professor at Queen’s in the drama department. Working in drama and gender studies, Renders threw herself into her teaching.

She was a supportive mentor who expected the best from her students.

Former student Rachel Mack Arts '18, said Renders was there unequivocally for every one of her students. 

When Mack was going through a hard time, Renders noticed and reached out to her over facebook, sending her a “lovely” message, telling Mack she “wasn’t alone.”

Similarly, former student Shannon Crooks Arts '17, was intimidated to be working with Renders because she thought she “wouldn’t measure up.” That wasn’t the case.

Over the course of a semester, Crooks said she grew to see Renders as a mentor and described her as one of the best professors she’s ever had. 

“She inspired me to demand more in life and not be afraid to use [my] voice. The impact she had on me was so strong because she actually gave a shit about her students,” Crooks said. 

Felicia Myronyk agrees. She remembers  one exercise where students passed an imaginary ball around a circle, making a sound when they caught it. 

Renders was frustrated that her students were being reserved and so she let out a loud scream. She had each student go around the room and scream at the top of their lungs. 

“Kim let us claim our space. That’s how she lived her life. Unapologetic. Strong. Claiming her space but giving room for others to claim theirs,” Myronyk said. 

Beyond her students, Renders’s unapologetic and unfiltered persona inspired those around her. 

Dr. Christine Overall, a Professor Emerita at Queen's knew Renders since she joined the faculty in 2006. She said Renders’s generosity made her a constant friend. 

“She cheered me up in tough times, she encouraged me to try new things, she made me laugh,” Overall said. “Her departure leaves a yawning gap in my life. The world is diminished by her death.” 

While Renders was deeply committed to her students and her work, it was her family that centred her—they were everything. 

In a shared letter, Kim’s sister Micky Renders wrote that “every aspect of her work, her art, her health, and her heart was in some way filtered through, influenced, inspired, or coloured by the friendship and love she shared with [her husband] Robert Lindsay, [her son] Finn Lindsay, and [her daughter] Jill Lindsay.” 

Micky Renders, touched by the tributes to her sister, added she hopes her sister is remembered for using her art to lift up others, and to imagine a more equitable and just world. 

“She believed in art as a powerful force to imagine a better world and raise issues, make positive changes, to highlight injustice, to support and help women and those on the margins find their voice and realize their power, and to challenge the capitalist and patriarchal forces that are entrenched in our institutions.” 

To honour Renders’s legacy, former students, colleagues, and friends started a fundraiser with a goal of raising $5,000 for the Nightwood Theatre’s 10,000 women campaign. Currently, $2,735 has been raised. 

The campaign aims to increase the presence of women in the theatre arts. According to their website, 72 per cent of theatres in Canada are run by men, only 33 per cent of plays are directed by women. Meanwhile, approximately 70 per cent of the theatre audience is made up of women. 

As a feminist, and as a teacher Kim Renders’s impressive list of accomplishments don't do justice to all that she was. She was a fiercely unapologetic and unfiltered woman who used her platform to lift others up. She fought against injustice and worked to make the world a better place. 

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