Maddy Scovil is a recent graduate of Queen’s University’s Drama, French and Education programs. She has been involved with community theatre since the age of 11 and is now the Artistic Director of Blue Canoe Productions. She is deeply passionate about creating opportunities for youth in theatre and helping to grow Kingston’s theatre scene.
1. Tell us about yourself – where are you from, what brought you to Kingston? How did you get your start in live theatre and the performing arts?
I made the move from Brockville to Kingston about 5 years ago to study theatre, French and education at Queen’s University. I got my start in a small student-written piece there and eventually found my way to Blue Canoe in the role of Luisa in the musical Nine. Since then I have performed with the Barefoot Players and multiple Queen’s theatre groups and within the drama department majors. My most recent acting role was the part of Roxie in Blue Canoe’s Chicago. After that I have focused on directing shows such as Peter and the Starcatcher and Man of La Mancha for Blue Canoe.
2. As the Artistic Director for Blue Canoe, you get to work with directors and artists to create exciting shows such as the upcoming production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. How important are creativity and diplomacy in your role? What other skills do you think are essential to being a great artistic director?
As someone who is still quite new to this position, I’m not yet sure of what makes a great artistic director, but there are a few qualities that I’ve found to be pretty helpful. Creativity has definitely been a big one as we’ve been working to create new ways to engage youth and work within our budgets, while diplomacy is something that our general manager, Jessica Rossiter, has been fantastic at bringing to the team. We are a small group working very closely together, so Jess’ leadership has been crucial to getting things going and keeping communication open. I’ve also found that passion and humility before the art have been helpful for me as I plan the next steps for Blue Canoe’s productions.
3. Blue Canoe is a unique local theatre company that specifically focuses on creating performance and leadership opportunities for those between 13 and 30 year of age. What challenges are involved in attracting talent from this demographic? How rewarding is it to see new comers succeed on/off stage?
One of our challenges has been getting the word out to the youth who aren’t part of the Queen’s University theatre group. We’re putting a lot of our efforts these days into reaching out to different groups such as high school students in order to provide even more opportunities to those who don’t already have a way of getting involved with theatre. It’s incredibly rewarding to see how theatre can affect new performers, designers, crew members, etc. as they become more confident and create truly unique productions. Theatre was a life-changing outlet for me, so it’s fantastic to see similar changes happen with the youth we engage.
4. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee involves both a small cast and set. In your capacity as the Artistic Director, how do you tackle issues stemming from these potentially limiting factors, and what unique solutions have you had to apply?
The brilliant and simple nature this show has actually made a small cast and set more of an asset than a limitation for us. It has allowed me to be very selective about my talented group of cast members and production team members while also ensuring that everyone feels a sense of ownership over the production. With a show like this, we focus less on the spectacle aspect of it and more on the characters and their rich storylines. All of this combined with the intimate space of the Baby Grand Theatre has made this show the perfect fit for Blue Canoe.
5. Kingston’s live theatre scene has a lot to offer, thanks to Blue Canoe and the various other companies that exist. What’s your take on the overall strength of the local live theatre and performing arts scene? Why do you think live theatre continues to grow and attract audiences, while other facets of the arts seem to struggle?
As someone who is only just leaving the Queen’s bubble, it is incredible to discover just how many diverse performing arts opportunities there are in Kingston. We are blessed with many passionate artists here and it’s great to see them being supported by new facilities like the Tett Centre and events like Culture Days. The support of the arts that I continue to see gives me a lot of hope for the future of Kingston’s artistic community. I believe that live theatre continues to succeed because of its ability to adapt and develop with audiences while also speaking to universal truths through approachable content. For me, it serves as an escape from the mundane and provides invaluable opportunities for connection.
6. Looking forward, what projects are you most excited about working on?
I’m incredibly excited for our high school show which will be going up in early May. This show will be entirely cast with high school students and we already have a talented production team taking shape. In addition to this, we also have the Juvenis Festival launch coming up on February 1st where many exciting projects will be announced. Blue Canoe’s education programing is also expanding this year with our March Break Theatre Intensive and the return of our Summer Theatre Intensive.
Kingstonist wants you to check out The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (for free)! Interested? Comment, Share, Like and Re-Tweet for a chance to win two tickets for the final show at January 21st at 2:00pm. Winner to be announced on Friday, January 19th!