Saskatoon, Treaty 6: Bethani Jade

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(Photo by Jennifer Sparrowhawk, Intro by Tristan Hills)

Bethani Jade has a vision, she might not tell you this directly, but it is apparent in her actions and the way she goes about her business. Throughout the storms of self doubt and constant questioning in life, somehow, she carries the flame through the wind and the rain, skipping, dancing, singing mumbly songs, and likely tripping over tiny stones. Still the fire inside refuses to be extinguished.

I have seen her take people whose voices were strangers to themselves and place them into a holy choir. Is Bethani magic? Yes, it’s a silly question if you know her. Her intensity brings her great joy and her many mantras are her spells that she casts on her surroundings.

There really isn’t any point going through her accomplishments, I don’t have the breath for it, I will say I know her to be an accomplished poet, performer, director, dancer, producer, cat mom, and feminist.

KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?

Currently I am developing three different theatre pieces that will see the stage in 2017-2018. I just got back from the One Yellow Rabbit summer intensive with Denise Clarke which was like a rock tumbler for my creative soul, polishing my rough edges by fumbling around with twenty-four other precious gems. I’m taking a lot of the things I learned there and getting to work over the summer on Dear Devotion, a movement-based piece based on my relationship to femininity and the three heroines of Sophocles’ Antigone, Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, and Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

I am also writing a second draft of a yet untitled T.J. Dawe-style one-person show about getting lost in Prince Albert National Park as a metaphor for getting lost in a relationship. I’ve yet to think of a title for that one that doesn’t sound like a Deepak Oprah-esque placation.

Finally, I am gearing up to lead the second creation lab with the Dinner Tables theatre collective in the fall. Dinner Tables is a collaboratively created piece about how food connects people, and an experiment in how to build community through the act of sharing a meal. The play is a series of vignettes of a variety of dinner scenes and rituals. The final piece will be staged in a restaurant with the audience seated family style around tables during the performance, afterwards the ensemble will join the audience along with members of the local food chain (i.e. farmers, grocers, food bank workers, etc) for a meal and conversation.

I am also organizing the new home for developing weird and wild theatre and performance art in Saskatoon Alt: DIY Performance Festival coming January 2017. The format is inspired by Emily Carvell at the Fresh Meat DIY Theatre Festival in Ottawa, and will be doing a call for submissions in August. When I’m not working on developing new theatre I work to support playwrights and theatre makers as President of the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre.

In the time that is left over I also write poetry, experiment in snapchat performance, and I just picked up a bass and formed a band on a whim with Sarah Etter called Hush Harlot. We’ve started writing songs even though we’re still learning our instruments. Needless to say we sound terrible right now, but I think it’s important to always be learning new things and practicing a beginners mind.

KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?

By day I work for SaskMusic a non-profit organization that supports musician’s and music industry in the province. I really enjoy being able to help other artists succeed in their goals. I’ve met a whole lot of awesome people through this job that are inspiring both personally and creatively, and it’s interesting to learn more about another creative sector to see where there is room for cross pollination of ideas and working practices.

What’s challenging for me is working stationary at a desk all day, and fitting in all my creative pursuits outside of office hours. I think that’s true of any full-time day job which is why the goal is usually to phase them out into something more flexible, but financial security is also an integral part of my creative practice.

KC: What’s important to you?

My family, my friends, my cat Harold, spending time in the wild, sex-positive intersectional feminism, supporting other artists, reading and writing, public transit, yoga and meditation, fabulous styles, bold choices, dancing, late nights, early mornings, afternoon naps, cuddles, kisses, earl grey tea,  self reflection and actualization, un-schooling: the world is my classroom and I’m learning all of the time, creative chaos, radical vulnerability.

Compassionate truth-speaking is important, and integrity of action, loyalty, curiosity, poetry in movement, movement in poetry, quiet rebellion and raucous reverie. The undeniable power of live performance is important to me, and the universal capacity for creative expression.

KC: What do you like most/least about Saskatoon?

I like walking everywhere. I like having time to notice all the weird little tags and stickers between buildings, and bump into a friendly face or two or several along the way, and still make it pretty well anywhere I need to go in an hour. The riverbank is beautiful to walk along at any time of year, and there are some hidden quirky architectural gems or unknown cafes and shops.

Sometimes, I don’t like how isolated it feels from the bigger centres which can make finding collaborators and getting work seen tricky. I don’t like how backwards-looking, or straight up ignorant a lot of the politics are. But, there are enough weirdos in Saskatoon, occupying the strange nooks and crannies, to keep the city fresh and vibrant, for now at least.

KC: What is your impression of Regina?

My earliest memory of Regina is walking into the hospital to visit my mom and my new baby sister. Now I mostly travel to Regina for work, so my impressions tend to be very downtown and business-focused, like how there are a lot of big thinkers and decision makers there or which hotel has the nicest rooms (Hotel Sask is particularly pretty at Christmas time, but Double Tree gives you warm cookies, and Quality Inn has the best rates for room quality).

I would like to see more theatre collaborations happen between the cities. I know a lot of rad musicians coming out of Regina that play Saskatoon frequently, but I still feel very disconnected from the indie theatre scene there.  

KC: How do you survive the winters?

The key is my big purple parka. Now I should say that I love Saskatchewan winters personally. I think there is something fiercely beautiful about a season so ferocious it could literally kill you. You just don’t fuck around with that. I love it. It’s a fertile time for me, creatively, as I tend to focus more on self care whether that is declining that invitation across town in favour of staying inside with a good book and a cup of tea, or cooking big hearty meals for friends, but my favourite is walking everywhere in my big purple parka. It muffles all the sound in it’s fur trimmed hood, and my hands rest folded at my stomach in my matching purple muff, and I have time to think uninterrupted by phone buzzing or too many busy bodies in the streets. I notice my mood distinctly improves when I’ve had a good long winter walk in my purple parka. That is just the kind of tranquillity that is plain difficult to recreate in the summer.

From the Proust Questionnaire: What is your greatest extravagance?

Emotional excess. I wear my hurricane heart on my sleeve while my mind is concealed behind the black eye of the storm tossing and turning like a shipwrecked sailor caught in the fathomless depths.

Links: www.bethanijade.ca is my website, I don’t have any examples of work up there yet but there is my CV and link to blog etc.