Leah Edmonds has been immersed in theatre for the last decade, save for a brief few pandemic years during which she completed her Master’s Degree in Philosophy. Her theatre journey began as an actor in high school and community theatre productions, eventually leading her to the BFA-Acting program at the University of Windsor. During her time at Windsor, she honed her acting skills while gaining experience in dramaturgy, prop design, scenic painting, publicity, and fundraising (both in, and outside of school). Drawn by the lecture hall as much as the studio, Leah picked up a second major in Philosophy at the University of Windsor, in addition to a minor in English Literature.
Leah is ecstatic to make her return to the theatre world, this time, in directing capacity. Ultimately, as she willingly admits, Leah has always been a bit too “heady” to thrive as an actor; yet, in directing, she has found a way to synthesize her intellectual and creative passions. It is her aim to bring big questions and contradictions of life to the stage— those which pertain to our unique historical situation within capitalist modernity and those which concern the eternal challenges of human existence. By doing so, she hopes to incite her audience to reflect in a manner that engages both head and heart.
Leah has recently become part of the Crane Creations Theatre‘s prestigious Summer Ensemble 2023 as a Director. This unique program offers aspiring artists in the Canadian theatre industry unparalleled work experience. The Summer Ensemble specifically recruits talented individuals aged 18 to 30, providing them with intensive, full-time training over several weeks. Participants not only acquire valuable skills but also gain invaluable experience in a fast-paced and dynamic environment.
Leah is one of the three directors working with this year’s Summer Ensemble who will together be creating an exciting and dynamic collaborative environment who will together be creating an exciting and dynamic collaborative environment.
What Will Leah Gain In This Arts Job?
Artistic Skills: Explore classical and contemporary text, improvisation, and theatre around the world and their relevance and impact on art jobs and society today.
Orientation in Arts Jobs: Honest insight into professional organizations, structures and systems in place and how to navigate them successfully
Financial Skills: Budgeting and financial literacy delivered in a comprehensible and easy to understand way, tailored for theatre artists’ needs.
Leadership: Debate complex questions and develop ideas and strategies on how to build not only your career but the theatre ecosystem in Canada and Internationally.
Touring in Arts: Discover how artists around the world use international touring as a source of income, and learn how to create shows that can allow you to participate in that market.
Digital Skills: Discover how blog/content writing can earn you additional income, and promote your work, while mastering WordPress, one of the most desired skills in today’s job market.
Leah holds a BA double major in Drama& Philosophy (Honours in Acting) with a minor in English Literature from the University of Windsor. She completed her MA in Philosophy at Concordia University in Montreal where she continues to live. She spends a great deal of time reading, both theory and literature (especially plays), and thinking about what she reads. Leah also has the fortune of dreaming often and vividly; most of her work pulls some inspiration from her nocturnal imaginings.
Leah worked various professional and semi-professional acting gigs during her teenage years. Simultaneously, she held a consistent position as an assistant director and facilitator at a children’s theatre company. Throughout her university years, Leah took on summer jobs ranging from being a lifeguard at a summer camp to working with community-based non-profit organizations in the arts sector. In the later years of her undergraduate degree and during her master’s, she worked as a university teacher’s assistant. Prior to joining Crane Creations in Mississauga, Leah was involved in setting up the Montreal Fringe Festival as part of her most recent employment.
About Leah. An Interview with Leah.
Where Are You From Originally? What is your favourite thing about your home town?
I grew up in Kitchener Waterloo. My childhood featured attentive hippie parents and endless imaginary games.
Kitchener-Waterloo is home to a truly exceptional non-profit organization called The Working Centre (TWC) which serves un/underemployed individuals, new immigrants, and precariously housed populations. My father works for this organization, and I know many of the staff members and the clients by name. All the spaces encompassed by TWC, including the soup kitchen, temporary shelters, bike shop, cafe, and clinics, are brightly painted and full of eccentric characters existing in the community. I am perpetually humbled when I return to my hometown and check in on the projects of TWC.
Do You Have A Favourite Book?
I would have to say Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”– undoubtedly a controversial choice. Certainly, I do not agree with all of Nietzsche’s arguments (if they can even be called that), but he is such a remarkable writer, I can spend hours considering just one of the aphorisms in this text. If I was on a desert Island, Zarathustra could provide me with a year’s worth of thoughtful entertainment, and then some! Moreover, it is a book that I can go to pull me out of a slump; without fail it fills me with creative energy.
Do You Have Any Hobbies?
I don’t know if it can really be classified as a hobby since I wrote about it for a university thesis, but funerary practices– considered from a psychological, anthropological, phenomenological, and theatrical lens. The variation of funerary practices across epochs and cultures intrigues me, highlighting their universal nature among humans (and even some animal species). I like to reflect on how funerary practices are linked to cultural beliefs and attitudes, especially concerning the body, cleanliness, and conceptions of the “afterlife”.
One comparison I find fascinating is between Ancient Greek funerary practices and those of ancient Persian Zoroastrians. The former was extremely concerned with preventing birds from preying on corpses while the latter tradition intentionally left bodies on towers to be carried off by carrion. What does this tell us about the difference between these cultures in their relation to death, the perceived dignity of animals, and, relatedly, the significance of the body? There is, I think, a lot we could say here, along with a whole history of theoreticians, including but not limited to, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, and Derrria.
Most urgently, I am interested in contemporary funerary practices, including what I would want my own funeral and the funeral of my parents to look like. Over the last century, funerals have become increasingly commercialized and sanitized. There are, of course, advantages to this, but I wonder if this modernization process diminishes the power of funerals to honor the dead and aid in the grief of the living. I wonder also if the sterility and legality of the modern funeral lead to a forgetting of death in its existential significance.
What is Your Favourite Food?
Banana blender Ice cream. Frozen bananas, plus peanut butter and cocoa in a blender. Cold and comforting.
What is Your Favourite Meal to Cook? What is Your Recipe?
What is Your Favourite Thing About Mississauga? Tell Us Why?
We Are a Company That Speaks Many Different Languages. What languages do you speak?
I speak English, French.
What is a New Skill You Have Always Wanted to Learn?
I would like to learn fencing, I think. I have always been drawn to shield-maiden type characters (frankly so different from myself). Fencing would let me live this Valkyrie- Lord of the Rings-“I am no man” (tosses hair from helmet) fantasy. It would also, no-doubt, aid in my everyday physical coordination. As a head-centered person, it is good for me to find activities that get me in my body and in the now.
What is one fun fact about yourself?
I wander while I brush my teeth.
What is a Project You Were a Part of or Something That You Did Related to Theatre, That You Are Proud of?
I often think back to a production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” that I co-directed with one of my best friends. It was a cast of yound teenagers, so I had to edit the script quite a bit, but the process was a joy and the final product just delightful! It was my first real directing experice and it left me hungry for more.
Why is Theatre Important?
Because you will see something that wasn’t written and edited by Chat GPT. I joke, but this seems to be where mainstream media is headed. There is nothing like a live event. When people are brought together in real time novel things can happen.
Do You Have Any Advice For Someone Aspiring Artistic Director?
Ouf… Be straight with yourself. No-one is forcing you to be an artistic professional. No one is forcing you to stay in the arts at all except you. So, if you have doubts about it, take these doubts seriously. Ask yourself if the kind of art you do suits you, and whether it is sustainable. I had to ask myself this about acting. There was a lot of things I liked about acting, but ultimately, I don’t have the temperament to be onstage all the time. Put simply: my nervous system can’t handle it. This was a difficult realisation to come to, but I am glad that I reached it as soon as I did.
Directing suits me better, but I worry if it can provide the lifestyle I desire. Expenses are high, especially no. Shit is expansive…especially now, and I want to be able to have a stable home, to be able to afford to go to the dentist, and one day have kids. It’s a downer to think about finances, but it’s crucial to consider how to sustain oneself as an artist. And, if you want to be economically comfortable and you think you could happily take up a more stable profession…think about that possibility seriously.