Interview with Jim McNabb,
Theatre Director

from Riverview Park, date?

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Jim, directing

Welcome Jim, to Riverview Park, and our newspaper. You and I met, because of PAL-Ottawa Since then, I've been to a couple of your productions at OLT. I've been very impressed by your directing techniques. I know there is much more to becoming a great director than just technical expertise.

Q: When did you realize that your intuitive abilities and creative imagination would lead you to become a theatre director?
A: My parents were involved in community theatre, so I learned by example. We lived in Cameron, Ontario, near Lindsay, where we would produce plays not only for our community, but would take the plays to neighbouring towns. I loved the theatre from the beginning. In Elementary School, I was not only an actor, but was asked to assist in directing. In high school, I began to direct some of the plays.

Q: Where did you take your training?
A: After high school, I took a B.SC. degree at Carleton U, because there were no theatre schools or faculties whatsoever in Canada at that time.

Q: Why did you become a teacher?
A: I like working with people, so after Carleton U, I took education courses at U.of T., took the new elective Theatre Arts Course , became a teacher with the OBE. When OBE created Theatre Arts , I taught it until I retired.

Q: What were some of your most memorable experiences as the Director of Theatre Arts at Canterbury High School?
A: Many productions! Every day was a great experience! The subject matter lends itself to many peak experiences. The opportunity to guide students right through the whole process of 'becoming the character', is very fulfilling for me. Because of personal involvement, it is much more meaningful. Some performance highlights for me were productions of Guys and Dolls, Oliver, Working, Kiss Me Kate, Ten Lost Years.

Q: What peak experiences have you had in your role as Theatre Director since you retired?
A: The difference is first: adult expectations. I take them right back to the beginning roots of acting, to the end point, being the production. I love watching their development. That is very satisfying for me. In "Railway Children", some of the children had no experience at all. There is a big difference between pretending or acting 'as though' you are a particular character, and developing your character through analysing your script, developing that character's body language, intuiting the playwright's feeling for the character, and then ,as an actor, becoming completely 'at home' in that character. Seeing each person develop into the art of being a real actor is very meaningful .

Q: What lead you to your involvement in PAL-Ottawa?
A: I was speaking with Jim Bradford, (this was over five years ago), and he told me about PAL-Ottawa, when it was just being developed in Ottawa. ( Jim B. asked me to set up an Events Committee from the beginning. I believe so much in PAL's *objectives, that I became a Board Member, and have been for six years. We hope to have a completed lodge for artists of all types and genres by 2020

  • PAL Ottawa is the eighth chapter of PAL Canada, which, after its founding in 1986, led the way in creating

affordable housing for artists and a volunteer colleague assistance program called Supporting Cast. Like all good ideas, the PAL concept has spread, spawning chapters in Halifax, Toronto, Stratford, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and, most recently, Ottawa. So far Toronto, Vancouver and Stratford have created affordable housing facilities; others are on the way.

Q: What ideas do you have to involve much more of the public to support our cause?
A: For the pat five years, we've been building a foundation, fundraising for operating costs, but now we need to partner with a developer for the PAL Lodge, to create it.. We are also planning many events to raise our profile and raise substantial funds. We have contacted major organizations, some of which are very interested in our endeavour. One of the events will be at the CUBE Gallery in Ottawa. The theme will be: "Building The Arts in Ottawa. We are trying to bring all the major Arts organizations together ; e.g. Arts Court, NAC and more.

Q: What question has no other interviewer ever asked you, which you would have liked then to ask?
A: Well! I've never before been asked that question! (a few minutes later:) What do people gain from being so involved in the Arts? For me, it is expressing my inner self. No matter what art you practice, it is your true essence; therefore, deeply sincere and significant. That is why teaching is so important for me: to open the door to that creativity.

© Diane S. Schmolka, date??
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