Celia McBride will be representing us at the 2010 Olympics, in Vancouver. Is she a curler? or a luger? Neither, actually. She’s a local playwright with an incredible opportunity on her hands.
As the host country of next year’s Olympics, Canada has been afforded the opportunity to showcase its provinces and territories on the world stage. Before the medal ceremonies, at the end of each day of competition, there will be a half-hour presentation featuring a different region of Canada. McBride is creating the Yukon’s presentation.
“I had a vision that people responded to. [My vision] excited them and they wanted me to create it,” McBride says when asked why she had won this prestigious contract.
Understandably, she is keeping mum about the specifics of her presentation, but she was able to give us a little hint about how she will be representing our territory: “I’m just trying to represent the Yukon that I know and love.
“It will be a mishmash of images and performances that illustrate what it means to be a Yukoner.”
These are loaded words. What exactly does it mean to “be a Yukoner”? Is there something more to it than having a health care card that gets thicker with each passing year?
McBride might not be the only person to have an opinion on the issue, but she does have a set of life experiences that give her a valuable perspective. She was born and raised in the Yukon, and from a young age, she was in love with live performance.
“I was told pretty early on that my whole life was an act and I was a good little actress,” McBride says with a little self-aware chuckle, “so I followed that wisdom and always had a lot of encouragement from others.”
However, it wasn’t until she became disillusioned with acting that she found her true calling. “I went through a stage where I began to think that it [acting] was very fake and I actually developed stage fright fairly late in life.”
As McBride turned her back to the stage, she found comfort in pen and paper: she became a playwright. Since then, her output has been prolific, to say the least. “I have pretty consistently been producing my own work since I graduated from theatre school, 15 years ago.”
In that time, McBride estimates she has written 25 plays.
Much of this work was done when McBride lived in Montréal. In fact, there was a time when she thought that Montréal would be her permanent base, but, as is so often the case, the lure of the North began gathering momentum.
She came back tentatively in 2003 as a playwright-in-residence for Nakai Theatre. Then she made the permanent move in 2004. McBride gushes with enthusiasm when she talks about the Yukon, her re-discovered home.
“I love the land and the people, and the community and the lifestyle.”
Since returning, she has thrown herself into the local arts scene and has even started a theatre company, Sour Brides, with fellow playwright, Moira Sauer.
While McBride hasn’t spent her whole life here, she returned to the Yukon so energetically and that speaks volumes about her commitment and perspective on our territory. Those who return home often have more to say than those who have never left.