Western Edge Theatre artistic director Brian March and local theatre artists Brianna Hamilton and Daniel Puglas (from left) make up Western Edge’s new team of “artistic associates.” (News Bulletin file photos/Courtney Harder)

Western Edge Theatre artistic director Brian March and local theatre artists Brianna Hamilton and Daniel Puglas (from left) make up Western Edge’s new team of “artistic associates.” (News Bulletin file photos/Courtney Harder)

Nanaimo theatre company adds younger, diverse voices to artistic team

Western Edge hopes new ‘artistic associates’ will help form new ideas, reach new audiences

Western Edge Theatre is hoping to generate new ideas and grow its audience with the help of two new additions to its artistic team.

This week the Nanaimo theatre company announced that local theatre artists Daniel Puglas of Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation and Brianna Hamilton will be joining Western Edge artistic director Brian March to form a team of “artistic associates.”

“The idea was to create more diversity and inclusion on the creative team so that we can reach out to more people and bring new ideas forward into our programming at Western Edge,” March said. “And the best way that I thought to do that would be to bring in some new people that would be able to define how we could move forward.”

Puglas and Hamilton both have experience as writers, producers, actors and directors. In 2019 Puglas appeared in Public Intoxication by Nanaimo playwright Miles Hayes as part of Western Edge’s New Waves Festival, and a play of his own has been chosen for New Waves 2021. He describes his philosophy on theatre as “just being able to express whatever you want however you want” and he’s hoping to bring that mentality to Western Edge.

“I’m hoping to bring a bit more cultural awareness for not just First Nations’ culture, but just more cultural theatre … as well as hopefully put on some plays that deal with a lot of modern issues,” he said.

Hamilton acted in Western Edge’s 2017 production of Reasons to be Pretty in 2017 and Between the Sheets in 2019. She said she has a collaborative approach to theatre favouring group work and improvisation and hopes to see Western Edge become more welcoming.

“A big one for me is how can we invite more people into this [theatre] community who maybe haven’t had that opportunity or have been afraid to approach it or they don’t know anyone who does it so it’s a bit of an intimidating thing and offer some education or some more group facilitated things that would bring in people who might not normally have the opportunity to do theatre,” she said.

“Our board of directors is extremely pleased to announce this new artistic team to lead us into the future,” said Western Edge board president Lorna McLellan in a press release. “These times require innovation, and in adopting this new leadership model we are building on the lessons of the past year, both in technology and in society.”

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