My journey to Destination Theatre really began over a decade ago when I was seven years old. A close family friend bought tickets to see Annie at the Grand Theatre for me as a Christmas present. I remember being a little uncertain as I had never seen a play before and didn’t know what to expect. As we sat in the plush velvet seats and I unwrapped a mint my mom had given me, I waited eagerly for the red curtain to rise. From the moment the lights dimmed and the first note sounded, I was enthralled. I sat there breathless, and felt the rest of the performance pass in a blur. I knew in that moment that I was hooked. Theatre became a passion of mine as I began seeing plays on the regular, both amateur and professional. I even took up acting and fell in love with being on stage as well as off. Although I semi-retired from acting after high school ended, I never lost my passion for theatre. I started spending any money I had left on shows in Stratford, London, and the surrounding area. Although I was busy with university, I always kept my eyes open for new opportunities in theatre. Then, this summer I got an email from the English Department about the Destination Theatre program. I applied on a whim, never really expecting to get in. A few weeks later, I got an email congratulating me on my acceptance. I was thrilled.
What drew me to Destination Theatre was the desire to revisit my love for theatre and to explore that love internationally. Although I have been to London, England before and experienced some of the city’s amazing theatre scene, I’m excited to go back it as someone older who has a new appreciation for the vast literary history contained within the city. During the last three years of university, while I have enjoyed watching theatre, I feel as though I have become somewhat distant from it. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am no longer acting or performing various behind the scenes roles. Even though I still watch theatre and I study the text of famous playwrights like Shakespeare in my classes, something doesn’t feel quite right anymore. My role in my love of theatre has changed from active participant and spectator to an observer and academic. It is one thing to read the text of a play and another to see it performed live, and unfortunately I have done more of the former in recent years. I have discovered that I’m not content to simply watch from the wings (if you’ll pardon my stage pun). I hope that by exploring both our local Southwestern Ontario theatre and the theatre in London in Destination Theatre may provide the new perspectives I crave, and may serve as a starting point to doing more Theatre Studies courses. I also hope that by participating in Destination Theatre that I may get back involved in theatre again either as an actor or as someone behind the scenes.
Although the prospect of studying abroad has always appealed to me, I can’t help but feel some fear as well. I worry about traveling. I’m somewhat of a homebody who enjoys having her own space as a refuge from the world. While I have no doubt the people in this class are wonderful and like-minded individuals, I still worry that perhaps I might not fit in and that I may be wandering alone in a strange country. In some aspects, England is no stranger to me. I hear it in my grandmother’s voice, and picture it in the stories she and my great aunt tell me. I see it in the books I study. Sometimes when I picture my future, I can feel the tug of England on my heartstrings, the call of a motherland. I used to dream of getting an English passport, although Brexit may have slightly soured that dream. In some ways returning to England, years after my grandmother took me there to see where she came from, seems like it was made to be. Though leaving Canada may leave me slightly paralyzed with fear, the excitement I feel at the prospect of getting to create my own memories in a country that my family has lived and loved in overcomes any anxiety I may be have. I can’t wait to see what Destination Theatre has to offer me and I hope that you come along with me for the ride.
Carling DeKay is a third year English student at Brescia University College. She lives and writes in a haunted farmhouse with three cats.