Treaty 4, Regina: Kris Alvarez
There is no question that Kris Alvarez is a versatile theatre artist of formidable talent. She is an actor, a comedian, a theatre maker, a singer and a teacher. She navigates between each element of her discipline with ease and openness and most importantly, with an infectious playfulness. It is this playfulness that makes everything she is involved in creating, so compelling and noteworthy.
Yet, Kris is much more than a talented theatre artist. More notably she is a magnet for community – a community builder. Embedded in everything she creates, is an innate ability to gather people and have them experience a communal event that celebrates differences and illuminates commonalities.
Her talent to attract and build community, comes very naturally for Kris. It is an intuitive talent that never feels forced or put on. Perhaps, as a person born in another country, her sense of self within this community, is heightened and never taken for granted.. Her work is always an invitation to be included and to belong. And her warm sense of humour is disarming because it is always comes from a place of deep care for the outsider. Yes, no one is immune from being the brunt of the joke, yet , at the same time, nobody is every shamed or excluded. Quite the opposite, as all are included through humour and kindness.
Curtain Razors, is proud to be a producer and presenter of her variety show Burnt Sienna. In an era that prioritizes divisiveness and dissonance, it is essential to support work that celebrates and foster, doorways to inclusiveness and commonality. Don’t miss a single show as you are in for a treat.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
“Right now” projects I am super excited to collaborate on with some amazing humans are these 2 recent invitations:
Artesian – create + facilitate arts programming & community events
Wolf Willow –acting coach/consult on their upcoming music videos
Ongoing projects that feed my artistic spirit with rocket fuel!
What Kind of Brown Are You? This project has been under my skin for a while. Originally based on my experiences as a first generation immigrant growing up in 1980s Regina, this show has become the umbrella project for other instalments like Burnt Sienna with Kris Alvarez. In the BS (ha! yes I do call it that) version, I experiment with a variety show format and invite diverse guests to share their experiences. In the spirit of “Brown” i.e. non-traditional, I am constantly attempting to push the limits.
Curtain Razors - As an Artistic Associate, alongside like-spirited collaborators / artist friends, I am able to take time with process, dream out loud, train with gusto, support their work and continue nurturing our arts ecology.
Common Weal Community Arts - As an artist-in-residence under their Respond to Racism program, I am lucky enough to listen to & learn from outstanding diverse people in my neighbourhood. I am giddily preparing a spring theatre intensive with youth from immigrant and indigenous backgrounds.
Life-long projects that keep me alive, humble and grateful:
My 11 year old - Continued learning alongside my kid is such a privilege. We’ve homeschooled since her older sister was in Kindergarten (now in high school). The entire journey has blown my mind wide open.
My Dad - Finding time to play/make music with my Dad is a natural and vital part of our relationship. Beautifully, I also get to do this with my Mom and my partner joining us often.
Fadadance – Sometimes I lead movement-based classes for the very young called Wee Folk… sometimes I rehearse a dance for the annual Christmas party… sometimes I will MC the year-end recital. All these times I get to wear colourful wigs and be around some of my favourite people.
KC: What is your day job? What do you like about it? What's challenging?
Job Title: Homeschooler – Artist – Community connector - Toilet cleaner
I like how fluid it can be (HA! Apologies for the accidental pun)
I like how humbling it is to continuously learn concepts like: I don’t know the answers. I am not that special. It’s not about me.
I like that it isn’t a typical desk job.
I love that I get to see my kids more & we learn alongside each other… that I “go back in time” when I witness my kid navigating the world and all its weirdness. For example, remember what it was like to pay at the till, get the cash out & put the change back in your wallet in -what always felt like- a high pressured time limit? It felt great to whisper to my kid “Don’t even give an ounce of attention to those impatient adults in the line up. They can wait. You’re good.”
Fluidity is challenging.
Staying present & engaged is challenging.
Being patient is challenging.
Not second-guessing myself is challenging.
Because I feel passionately driven to create & connect, it is challenging to not get too “greedy for the fun” i.e. take on too much, say “Going” to all the events, want to help with it all.
KC: What is important to you?
Family… one I was born into + the one I’ve collected along the way
Physical contact & other forms of unapologetic affection
Singing loudly, dancing freely & cackling laughter… Play!
Ease in living.
KC: What do you like the most, and least, about Regina? Most?
I can comfortably and proudly call it home
My parents are near
Everything is near… except the northwest like Rochdale Blvd
Dining experiences can feel limited so when I do find a gem of a place, it feels extra special… like when you find a gem after searching through a second hand store.
Community’s attempts at making life better, more fun, inspiring, inclusive & aesthetically pleasing.
I think our city is beautifully ugly… I am okay with that.
Fadadance. Yes. All the little streams that run from this ocean of love out into shops, festivals, cafes, happenings, schools & families.
The humans! Oh the kind, talented, whip-smart, witty, quirky humans! I’ve had the privilege to meet, hug, collaborate, dance & party with some real authentic humans!
6 degrees of Regina … I fancy the idea of an event where time is spent mapping out the “family tree”…categories like “how many of us have dated that person?” or “how many parties were in that house?” to “who lived in this apartment?” and “what year were you working here?”
Our housing challenges.
Our struggles with making downtown vibrant.
The stadium and all the resources it drains.
Our weird priorities when it comes to taking care of people, heritage, arts, youth, transportation… what do I mean by weird? Come to Regina and ask me over a coffee.
KC: What is your impression of Saskatoon?
Delicious! The tastes and sights of the city!
I enjoy the feeling that I’ve been on a little vacation just by driving up the 11 a few hours.
There is MORE to it than just the tastes and sights! Good vibrations.
In the recent past, I’ve met some fantastic people creating art and connecting people of diverse backgrounds.
Growing up in Regina, I am curious about why we had such a rivalry with Saskatoon in the 80s… or did we? Were we jealous of the prettier city? The bridges? Did we think we were more edgy-cool being from a more ugly city?
KC: Finish this sentence: If the best of all possible worlds was reality....
We would peacefully coexist – all beings loved, free and truly happy.
We would take impeccable care of our land, water and sky.
We would do the same for children and elders.
People would remember to play and make art as freely as they did when they were young.
KC: How has your identity helped you / hindered you?
Identity has inspired my current artistic projects. It reminds me of my roots. I realize now how much my parents’ unconditional love has given me such luxurious advantages in this life.
Identity and becoming too attached to it – the self-centered part of it anyways - can distance me from opportunities to learn new things and meet new people. It can also distract me from truths like: I am not any more special than anyone else.
KC: (From the Proust Questionnaire): How would you like to die?
Timing is funny.
I am answering this a few hours after my husband, kids & I said goodbye to our old dog, Oscar. Quickly scanning the list of questions, of course, this stood out.
At 8AM, holding Oscar close to my heart as we drove to the vet, I had the flashback to the first day I brought him home…holding him exactly like this.
From my humble experience today, in response to the question “How would you like to die?” I can confidently respond:
Peacefully, yes please. To witness an old friend find ease/lose suffering…what a gift.
By being held affectionately by those I love.
Knowing that those I love appreciated how I made them feel in this lifetime.
Having had the privilege of a life filled with radiant radical love.