Each month the Kamloops Arts Council profiles a different member or donor, so that you can get to know the diverse and talented community that makes up the KAC. This month we feature Erin McMullan.
How long have you been involved with the Kamloops Arts Council?
I joined in spring of 2015, a few months after I arrived in Kamloops.
Why did you get involved?
I was really excited about Kamloops Arts Council’s support of local arts and a chance to connect with other artists since I was new to the area. I was thrilled when KAC believed in my vision of more participatory public theatre, enabling me to create a series of three staged readings of my locally inspired one-act play, Confluence. It was a valuable opportunity to workshop this play in development with local actors and with audience feedback as it was performed to kick off Kamloops Library’s Theatre in the Stacks from July through September and included in BC Culture Days’ events. I will be developing this one-act further for a fully staged performance in the new year.
Tell us about your artwork:
I’ve just sent in my thesis — the feature-length screenplay, Lotus — to complete my Masters in Fine Art (MFA) in Creative Writing at UBC via their distance education program. Imagine Romeo and Juliet in 12th Century Japan set against the backdrop of two historic rival families. It’s been an incredible journey to develop this project with support from my thesis advisor, Sara Graefe, and with thanks to Brian Brett, who taught me that I could write fiction as well as non-fiction. As a history geek, I’ve enjoyed discovering this world both through the films of Kurosawa and through early Japanese Literature such as the 13th Century epic poem about that epic rivalry, Tales of the Heike, Shikibu Murasaki’s novel, The Tale of Genji, (which predates the invention of the English novel by half a millennia), and The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan, the diary offering a glimpse of court life.
I’ve also worked recently as a story editor on such documentaries as the Ewan McGregor narrated IMAX Humpback Whales 3D assisting internationally renowned whale expert, Jim Darling, and on Werner Welcher’s documentary Cold Paradise, broadcast on Omni TV. Samples of my work can be found via my online portfolio.
What are you looking forward to this upcoming year? A special show or project you’re working on?
I’m excited to be part of Kamloops Library’s Fall Author series on the evenings of Wednesday, October 28 and Tuesday, November 3rd at 7 p.m. at the downtown branch. I will be teaching parts 3 and 4 of the dramatic writing workshop I launched during their spring author series. This time I will be focusing on films such as Avatar and the Divergent series to talk about character-driven stories and world building. More information is available on Facebook via the Thompson Nicola region District Library or by calling 250-372-5145 to register.
This year, I’m planning to develop my screenplay, Lotus further and with its strong female (fictional) protagonist – a Buddhist samurai and horse whisperer in 12th century Japan — aim to enter it mid-October Vancouver International Women in Film Festival Screenplay Competition and next year, when it’s production ready, to the Athena List.
Lastly, I’m excited to be a latecomer to the organizing committee for the Kamloops Writers Festival fundraiser, which will feature Ian Weir and Lorna Crozier as the evening’s special guests and be Mc’d by hometown award-winning playwright, Glen Cairns.
Why is it important to support the arts?
Why is it important to breathe? In-spire is from the Latin “to breathe in” and our ability to express ourselves through our unique viewpoints taps into often universal human dilemmas: How does an individual discover their own authentic path through life? How do star-crossed lovers find a space to be together? How can we resolve conflict to effect peace rather than war? My screenplay Lotus asks these same questions along with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with James Cameron’s Avatar and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. We need to keep asking these questions to express those themes of our times and that transcend our time and to continue evolving as “seeking” human beings. We need to keep this conversation alive to raise awareness and hopefully, someday, discover solutions or better ways to cope with these universal dilemmas. Art gives us a forum for that ongoing conversation.
What would you say to someone who’s considering becoming a member with the Kamloops Arts Council?
It’s a wonderful opportunity to network and find peer support with other like-minded artists who “get” what it is to have a dream and go after it with everything you have. To co-operatively promote the arts, and artists, locally and beyond Kamloops.