Saskatoon, Treaty 6: Kate Herriot

photo credit: Jennifer Sparrowhawk

photo credit: Jennifer Sparrowhawk

Years ago, when a carnival clairvoyant told me I come from a long line of witches, I immediately thought of my mother (wait for it, mum). Not only did she always seem to call whenever I was sad or broke, but I always marveled at the witch-y way she knows everyone.

Even though she grew up in the tiniest hamlet nestled in the furthest South East pocket of the province, she can trace most people back to it as having lived there or as having relatives that have lived there at one time. Countless times I have mentioned the name of a new friend or acquaintance and mum would say something like “Oh, Robsons! Their family had horses”. Sometimes, if she happened to have been on more intimate terms with the friend’s family, she’d throw in an anecdote "one night we took the doors off of every gate in town and put them on the train".

So, when I mentioned I was performing in a couple of choral theatre pieces and my director was this very talented, charismatic young woman named Kate Herriot, mum didn’t miss a beat before saying “Oh, Herriot! She comes from a long line of storytellers.”

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

Well, this week, a project I’ve been throwing all my weight into for the last several months will have its final 4 performances at The Refinery in Saskatoon. Tightrope is a multi-performing arts festival where short pieces from across the arts disciplines are performed back to back in a bit of an arts potluck/variety night. I co-produced, curated and directed several of the pieces for this project and it’s been a massively valuable experience. As far as upcoming projects go, I am working with Theatre Howl as a director on their next Fringe show which is a horror play called Look//See, I’m working with a group of artists in Saskatoon on a poetry project where we are training in a very specific vocal performance technique, and I will be teaching all summer with Persephone’s Theatre School.

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

My day job right now is serving at Calories bakery & restaurant. I love being surrounded by new smells and tastes all day and I really enjoy giving people a relaxing meal experience. The simple tasks involved in serving food are satisfying to me and I don’t have to think about my work when I go home at the end of a shift. It’s sometimes challenging to find a balance between how many hours I need to work at the day job (to make rent) and how many hours I need to spend working at home to keep up my artistic practice.

KC: What’s important to you?

Hard work is incredibly valuable to me. The harder something is, the more worth doing, in a lot of cases. I have a lot of respect for self-employed people who have developed a successful method of keeping active in their craft, even when they aren’t being hired to do so. My community of friends is very important and unfortunately they are often the first thing I deprive myself of when I’ve piled too many things into my plate. I forget that I’m a social being and I need casual conversation and fun, lighthearted adventures just as much as I need an axe to grind. Good loud music is also one of my lifelines. In the last year I’ve developed a habit of repeatedly pushing myself too far work-wise and so whenever I feel lost in it or stuck or like my brain is on the spin cycle, I make a cd and take a drive with the volume WAY up. Laurie Brown (host of CBC’s The Signal) said that when music is played loud enough, it activates some chemical in your brain that makes you feel calm and happy and I believe just about everything that woman says.

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

What I like the most about Saskatoon is that it feels like a growing, evolving city. I’ve been places in Canada that feel like they’ve already found their vibe, and places that maybe don’t even know what a vibe is, but Saskatoon (at least the parts of it I spend time in) feels like it’s in the process of ‘becoming’. What I like the least is that my family isn’t here and my theatre family from Regina isn’t here. I was trained in Regina and I grew up there, so I miss many of those dear hearts who I don’t get to see very often.

KC: What is your impression of Regina?

Everything I feel about Regina comes from my experience growing up there. I have all my favorite places to walk, all my favorite corner stores and sections of the bike path. I have emotional pushpins stuck all over Regina’s map, marking first kisses, big breakups, car accidents, notable bird sightings, confessions, and all sorts of other experiences that pushed & prodded me into whoever I was when I moved to Saskatoon four years ago. I am proud to say I received the majority of my theatre training in Regina and I’m always thrilled to hear & see what’s bubbling up in their beautiful arts community. I don’t get to travel there nearly as much as I used to and it’s not even that far away – I used to tell people I lived on the Highway #11 because I was travelling back & forth almost every weekend and now I’m missing out on an embarrassing number of cool things happening there because I can’t make it down at the right time.

(from Proust Questionnaire): What is your motto?

I stole this from Mark Manson, but my motto is “Passion is the result of action, not the cause of it.” I had spent the last few years wondering: if my calling is Theatre, then why don’t I always burn with a desire to roll out of bed and work on my theatrical practice? I doubted myself because I had it backwards – I thought the Inspiration came before the Work. You hear about musicians and painters hearing a poem or seeing a heartbreakingly beautiful woman and rushing to their studio to create and that absolutely happens, but most of the time, you have to show up to work first and the inspiration finds you there. I think that’s actually a rephrasing of something Picasso may have said. So, I think what we’ve learned here is that I like stealing other people’s brilliant mottos.