Friday, February 13, 2015

Spotlight On...Shannon Holmes

Name: Shannon Holmes

Hometown: Vancouver Canada (now living in Montréal)

Education: BFA Concordia University, Major in Theatre Performance, Minor in Music
MFA Interdisciplinary Arts, Goddard College, Current PhD Student, University of Birmingham UK

Favorite Credits: As an opera singer I loved playful roles that gave me the opportunity to move, Papagena, The Magic Flute, Gretel, Hansel and Gretel. In more recent years I have been passionate about directing shows with my company SoMo Theatre, and had a blast directing Serenade by Slawomir Mrozek, an absurdist animal fable in which I intertwined the music of Tom Waits.

Why theater?: I love hearing and telling stories.

Tell us about The Crook of Your Arm: This show weaves the personal narrative of my family’s struggle in dealing with my Mother’s Alzheimer’s disease with the music of Kurt Weill. The Crook of Your Arm is intimate, moving and sometimes funny theatre that lives in the cracks between opera, cabaret and music-theatre. It features me (Shannon Holmes) and New York cellist,  Molly Aronson.

What inspired you to write The Crook of Your Arm?: This is a piece that grew out of some research I was doing into the dividing line of the singing and speaking voice, and how intertwining personal narrative with traditional text can help a performer access authentic and embodied emotions. I was working with the Kurt Weill song “Je ne t’aime pas” looking to see how I could connect fully with the song while I was negotiating singing technique and singing in another language (I speak some French but don't consider myself fluent) I didn't set out to write a show, but in my explorations this story emerged of my parents and how they have been dealing with my Mother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease and I realized it was a story that I needed to tell. It is sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking, but ultimately about family and our struggle to communicate. I workshopped it for some fellow voice teachers last summer in London where I was studying and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, I got a lot of encouragement to develop the piece further, which I did.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I really love to hear people’s stories, and I really love the human voice and am fascinated by all the amazing things it can do, so anything that can bring those two things together, I love. Back in the early 90’s when I was an undergraduate student I took my student loan and showed up in New York to spend it. I stumbled upon The Wooster Group’s production of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, called Brace Up! and I was blown away. Other artists I love are Laurie  Anderson, Robert Lepage,  Robert Wilson.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Meredith Monk

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Recently, Every Brilliant Thing, in the past, Robert Wilson’s The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Laurie Anderson, "Small Container, Big Sound"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Jesus Christ Superstar in the early 70’s

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Anything to do with Anthony Bourdain

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be ________?: a Midwife

What’s up next?: I will be developing The Crook of Your Arm as part of my PhD thesis and taking it to the UK for performances.