Phil Rickaby
Welcome to Episode 250 of Stageworthy I’m your host, Phil Rickaby. Stageworthy is a podcast about people in Canadian theatre featuring conversations with actors, directors, playwrights and more.

If you like what you hear whether you are a first time listener or a longtime listener and you listen on Apple podcasts, I hope that you will leave a five star rating or a comment. Did you know that your ratings and comments do help new people find the show? There’s something in the iTunes algorithm that takes those comments and ratings and bumps the podcast up in findability. And so if you haven’t, and you like the show, just go and leave a rating and if you feel like it, leave a comment. I would love that and I would be very thankful if you did. Or even better than that; If you know someone that you think will like stage where they tell them about it. Some of my favourite podcasts became my favourites because someone I know told me about them. And remember You can find it Subscribe on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts and Spotify just by searching stage where the and clicking the handy subscribe button.

If you want to support Stageworthy consider dropping some change in the virtual tip jar, you can find a link to that in the show notes. Your support helps me continue to bring you great conversations in Canadian theatre. You can find stage where the on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at stage where the pod and you can find the website with the archive of all 250 episodes at stage for the podcast calm. And if you want to drop me a line. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at Phil Rickaby and My website is Phil Rickaby calm. My guest this week is Toronto based musical theatre artist Natasha Strilchuk

You this yourself on your Twitter profile as a dancer, actor singer. doing a little bit of reading about you, it seems to me that dance was your first love. Is that is that right?

Natasha Strilchuk
Yes, very much. So, I my mom always saw me dancing around the house when I was a little kid, like before I could even walk really. So she was like, Oh, this is the thing that’s gonna keep Natasha out of my hair. So yeah, I started dancing it two and a half. And I never stopped. It was always the thing I love to do. And I had, you know, some injuries and things that took me out of that as we do when we throw ourselves heavily into something super physical. But yeah, it but yeah, it’s always been there. It’s always something that I will continue to do, even if it’s not my main it’s not as much my main focus now but yeah, it’s definitely my first love and it got me where I where I am now and I’m always thankful for that.

Phil Rickaby
So you mentioned you know, your your mom, thinking that dance would keep you out of her hair. Were you particularly a child that needed to be kept out of her hair?

Natasha Strilchuk
No, I, I was, I think actually because I was pretty reserved around other people. But at home, I was very outgoing. And so my mom was like, maybe if there’s something that she loves to do, she’ll open up a bit more around others, which definitely helps me. Because Yeah, I always kind of felt a little bit of a misfit in terms of other relating to other people. And me and my brother are adopted. So our family dynamic is really kind of, we’re all very close and it’s not everyone knows what that’s like. And so I definitely felt like they were the only people I could relate to for a long time. And so dance really helped me.

Phil Rickaby
Sure I get I get I definitely get that my, my brother and my sister were both adopted. And both, you know, a children blessed with melanin being raised in a in a white family. And so that I you know, definitely there’s, I get what you’re saying there.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, I that was definitely the case for us being both me and my brother were adopted from Malaysia and in the same town and so, but with my parents being white Canadians, it was a different thing we had to deal with and then I grew up most of my life in Regina, Saskatchewan. So, a lot of white people, you know, not a lot of brown people. So, yeah, it was definitely something that helped me become friends with people I maybe normally wouldn’t have gone out of my way to and, and we had something in common so that’s always a good starting point to for kids. Yeah.

Phil Rickaby
And you were I mean when your parents adopted you but you did not spend the first few years of your life in Regina, I think you were no your parents took you to England.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, so my parents lived in Malaysia for four years which is why they adopted there usually you can adopt from Malaysia they they like their, their kids to be adopted from people who are permanently in Malaysia, but because they were permanent residents at the time they were able to kind of go around that. And then yeah, so I was only there for a year but my brother was there. For two because he’s a year older than me. And then we moved to England and we lived there for six years. And then we moved back to Canada because my parents wanted to be closer to their family because all of our families in Saskatchewan or Alberta, mostly and a few in Ontario now, but yeah, so it was a long time away from home. My dad worked in agriculture. So that took us away. And yeah, so it was also hard coming into a totally new culture. At- I was seven at the time, so it was a big move in the middle of elementary school. Yeah,

Phil Rickaby
yeah. Where we’re in England where you,

Natasha Strilchuk
King’s Lynn, it’s about an hour and a half away from London.

Phil Rickaby
Okay, so you weren’t you didn’t go from like a big city to Regina. You were sort of like Oh,

Natasha Strilchuk
yeah. Super in the country. Yeah, in a very, very small town and Yeah, we had to drive to do anything, which was beautiful. You know, it was really nice. And so it’s very different feeling to move into a city where and even though like we’ve been in London we’ve visited and stuff it’s not the same. So yeah, it was very strange and my grandparents are on my mom’s side were farmers so but we were able to go out and and visit the countryside of Saskatchewan which kind of helped that transition a bit more but even though Regina feels so small now, it felt very big then. I’m sure

Phil Rickaby
it did coming from like, the countryside in England to Regina it must have felt like going to the big city.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, definitely.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, so at what point did you What was your gateway to musical theatre?

Natasha Strilchuk
Well, I my dance studio in Regina Had a musical theatre programme. But growing up, honestly, I didn’t like musicals. Not that I really knew. Really what a musical was, I think I had this idea in my head of what it was like this can’t be cheesy, kind of, you know, saying that I didn’t really get and singing and dancing and and I was like it’s not the same as like classical ballet, right like I had this like snobby mentality for some reason maybe maybe from being brought up in England where, you know, a classical ballet was the thing in my studio there. But yeah, I was really in my head about it. I don’t know why I thought that and and my parents went to shows in the West End all the time, but they didn’t bring us because we were too young. Mm hmm. And so I really didn’t know anything about it other than I watched the concert version of lame is all the time and I have that soundtrack. And I love that. But again, I didn’t consider that a musical. Like I just kind of, because I didn’t see it on stage exactly in the way they film it. Like it’s it’s sort of stage but it’s not really. And they’re singing two mics and, you know, so to me, I was like, and then again, that didn’t really encompass dance, like so I was like, Okay, well, that’s like beautiful singing and, and like, more like, choral music to me. And so, yeah, I guess I kind of thought everything was like, The Sound of Music, or something or

Phil Rickaby
Like a bad Sound of Music? Because

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, I guess…

Phil Rickaby
you’re not the only one who’s ever been like, I don’t like musicals. And you’re like, so musical baby scene and they’re like, I know. But there’s like this idea and people have in their head where there’s like a couple on a hill, and he looks at her and goes, Yeah, Susan. I have to tell you And then breaks into song and people like, oh God. Yeah.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah. And then I think, I don’t know, I was kind of against the damsel in distress type thing that I thought musicals were about, although it’s not as if other things don’t have that, especially in that time. Um, but yeah, so I really had no idea about musicals. And then so when I moved to Regina, and my studio had more theatre. And they also there was a, there was a film scene in Saskatchewan at that time where there’s not anymore, which is unfortunate, but so I did some stuff like background on film sets, and I did through my studio, and I did. And eventually, I saw one of the musicals that they were doing, like I kind of resisted it, and then I think I made friends with somebody who was involved and then so I was like, Okay, well, I’ll go see

Phil Rickaby
Then you have to go

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, right. Like I was like, I can’t be rude. I think I was 12. And I saw they were doing a junior production of hair. Well, I wasn’t a junior production, but they were all teenagers. But like, they cut, there were deep cuts. Not that I knew.

Phil Rickaby
There would 100% have to be deep cuts.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, so, but it really was something that I wasn’t expecting. In terms of the style of music that it was, I didn’t realise that could be in musicals. And there also happened to be just more people of colour in the company at that time. So seeing a bunch of people who, you know, had different ranges of skin tone and like, the the themes of that show, also, like I didn’t know about the hippie revolution, and I didn’t know about the Vietnam War being so young, and I was like, Oh, I didn’t know musicals talked about things like or, or, you know, like, protesting peacefully you know, and, and things like that, like I had no idea. And so I loved it and I thought it just filled me with joy and, and also a friend of mine, Tihara, who is in the industry. Now she was there and she’s an Indian woman. And she was a featured person in that show. And I was like, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anybody who looks like me doing anything like this, which was a huge eye opener that I was like, oh, wow, like maybe I could do something like that. And, you know, so it was really amazing. And then later that year, the the national tour of Mamma mia was coming through vagina, which I think was like the biggest musical that had come through in a long time. And I saw that and I saw Louise Pitre playing Donna And I, she blew my mind. Like, I think she was probably the only thing I remembered about that production other than it being ABBA and super fun and, and lots of dancing. But I was like, I’d never seen a character quite like Donna and I was like, I want to be like that when I grow up. Super just like kind of kick ass woman who is still able to like being vulnerable and, but lives her own life. I think that was the main takeaway that I was like, she’s just really doing what she had to do. And there’s something about that, that I had never really seen.

Phil Rickaby
Right.

Natasha Strilchuk
And so I was like, wow, musicals can tell this type of story, and I had no idea. And so, and even in something like Mamma mia where it is, it’s like very, it can be very cheesy and the music of it Abba’s just so like joyful and you want to dance in your seat. So sometimes you may not take away those storylines, but that’s what resonated with me was the kind of emotional female empowerment. Part of it. And even though I didn’t know what that was at the time, it really has affected me. Up until now.

Phil Rickaby
It’s so interesting to me to hear you talk about Mamma Mia, because there’s like this generational thing where for probably people like your parents, they were like, when they see that musical, they know the songs enough to sing along with them because they may have been on the radio and things like that. And you were seeing it for the show and the songs within the show two separate experiences, but happening at the same time. Totally.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah. And I I think, yeah, maybe her dancing queen and you know, like From the really famous ones, I’d maybe heard on the radio but yeah, it was definitely that and I think we all loved it and I, so then I, I auditioned for my musical theatre company after that for the next year and I got in and then it kind of never looked back. It was definitely I got the bug and it never quit.

Phil Rickaby
And, and and how old were you at that point when you first started being introduced to musical theatre?

Natasha Strilchuk
Around 12? Okay,

Phil Rickaby
yeah. And then and then after see after having this sort of formative experience seeing Mamma Mia, you, you’ve done it twice.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yes. Yeah. Was that like me? Um, it was really great. I and I did two productions in a year. So it ended up being six months on me, which was a lot. And I know that’s a lot of Mama. Yeah. And I know many people and some of those who I worked with in those productions who were on that Earth. Actual tour or were you know did it in Vegas or did it summer for like years. So they have a very different experience. But for me, it was really great. And I, it was nice to kind of feel like as like the show us that in the 90s like the present day of the show, or like early 2000s. And I grew up in that time. So it was nice to kind of understand that. And, yeah, it really was a thing that I was like, Wow, it’s so nice that I get to do the show. After having that experience of seeing it and then working. I feel like both the shows that I did. The direction style was very different and still was able to get to the heart of that message really clearly. And so when I did it Neptune I feel like it was very much more a kind of shows Offer like, more like a Broadway production in the way of like, we had full like glitter cannons at the end and disco ball coming down and, you know, huge dance numbers and just it was so fun. And and like it really was like a rock concert. Every time we did it, which was so fun. Like I don’t you don’t get that experience very often if you don’t aren’t a musician like that. Yeah, um, so that was really exciting. But we It was very, still the actors that we had, were able to really tap into those emotions like they weren’t just you know, playing the joke and then that was it, which I feel like sometimes the show can be is like you, you just leave the story a bit and it’s mainly focused on the numbers. depends on who’s doing it. But yeah, I felt like those actors and like the creative team that we had, we were able to really encompass all of those things, which is really nice. And then I had a totally different experience, but equally as positive, working at the globe with Stephanie Graham. And so we in Regina. And so when it was so nice to be able to do that show in my hometown, and doing it in the round, just created a very, very different experience. So we were able to have kind of pull the scenes into a more intimate version of that show. And like you don’t have the space to do as like huge production dance numbers as much in those big numbers. Even though we had great dancers and we, the choreography was awesome. But you’re have to think about the space in a different way and how are you going to utilise it and so that everyone In 360, can see and get the same kind of similar experience. Hmm. You know, so that was really cool and different in that way. And so, also the casting was different in that way. Like I feel like we had a lot of, you know, a little bit more of a I don’t know, what’s the word, the vocal stylings were a little less like Broadway Beltre, and a bit more like folky Poppy, kind of voices you know which which lends itself to that space really well, and and to the music as well. And in both productions A lot of people have done the show before as many people will continue to do the show, as it is so popular, but I needed a break from it. But now having time away, and especially in the pandemic, I’m like I would do Mamma Mia. Any work again. You know, yeah, but it is a show that I love and I like do anytime. I think that it’s just so special and it gives a lot of joy to people and that’s worth a lot. Especially right now.

Phil Rickaby
There’s something that you said about, about the way that you could look at Mamma Mia and concentrate more on the songs and the numbers, rather than what’s underneath them. Do you think that is that would be the difference, but that could be the difference between a really good production of Mamma Mia, and a not so good production of Mamma Mia, which might lead into the whole like idea of what a bad musical might be that you initially thought.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, I do think that I definitely do. And I think I as a performer and as a choreographer, and hopefully a director one day that’s kind of Where I see musical theatre growing and especially Canadian Music Theatre, that we’re such good storytellers. And I think that we have an incredible dancers incredible singers incredible actors. And, and, but the way that we can facilitate really amazing stories, which I think comes from way does so well is that we are telling a story from the heart of it. And that’s what’s going to kind of uplift the stories that we have. I feel like Anna free gables does that so well. And yeah, so I definitely think that was kind of my feeling that that musicals were were just this kind of robotic thing, which I now know is not true. But yeah, maybe if I see a show that’s not that great part of it for me is that I don’t feel it seems to me And, like, I feel like it’s being found in.

Phil Rickaby
You know, whenever I’m sitting in a theatre and something isn’t working for me, I have recently and only within the last couple of years gone from, or there’s so much. Why, why is this not yet for me what is missing? And trying to look at it in a more clinical way rather than just feeling frustrated and angry?

Natasha Strilchuk
Mm hmm. Me too. I definitely felt that more in the last few years.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, I think that’s that’s I mean, you that is the useful way to look at a show that might not be that might not be good is being able to say to us that and examine it and say, why is that not working? Now, I know this, I file this away. Let’s not do that in the future.

Natasha Strilchuk
Exactly. And it really informs also the way that I want to perform and and how I can go about that moving forward. So Yeah, it’s been it’s been a very helpful tool when I’m seeing these balls now.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah. Awesome. Now just to move on to the present day, how are you doing in all of this?

Unknown Speaker
I’m okay. I feel like any everybody is very up and down and myself included. It’s been, you know, some days are just so hard when I think about that I have no idea when we’re going to be back. And especially for for theatre, where it’s just going to be so much harder and everybody who can kind of make us come back, like the government. We’re just at the bottom of the list which I I get, you know, but it’s hard and it’s disheartening. Especially when you you know, You think about what is getting me through this pandemic, oh, reading books and like seeing new shows on Netflix or watching Hamilton, you know, and, and things like that, that it’s art. And I think that even though I’m in that world, and that’s my business, that regular old, whoever, who has a nine to five, and, you know, doesn’t do something like I do on their day to day is still doing those things, you know, and that’s what’s getting them through. When, you know, you’re you have to take care of your kids who aren’t on at school and you have to work from home on your laptop all day or whatever it is. Art is what’s getting us through so I’m also just working at this time to kind of better myself and and know kind of know where I want to go in the future and and i think that storytelling is so important. And so I just want to know where I can fit in to that and that I can talk to other people who are seeing things the way that I do. And the people who are seeing things the way that I don’t know anything about, you know, so and getting to know people that maybe I wouldn’t have because they were too busy before. Yeah, that’s I wanted to talk to you.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, that’s actually a super, like interesting product of this. There are conversations happening now. That would never be happening if the theatres were open. Mm hmm. The conversations that were happening this year at the Stratford Festival conversations with with with various theatre institutions having to confront their institutional racism and their Their their bias for towards a mostly white performers, directors, playwrights, all of that stuff. These are conversations that we can have now because nobody’s stuck in the cycle of production.

Natasha Strilchuk
Exactly.

Phil Rickaby
So if nothing else, if nothing else good comes out of this there is that. Yes, these cover these things are being addressed.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, it’s it’s been so nice, especially seeing how Stratford has taken it upon themselves during this time. Especially for me, there’s a personal connection there as I did my debut there in 2017. And so to see all of the work that they’re doing, and especially the artists that some of whom I worked with during my time there or got to know and there’s just so many incredibly credible people working and or not working In, in the industry in Canada right now, that haven’t had the opportunity to have their voices heard, and they deserve it, you know, and they work really hard and it’s just so nice to see on a major platform that happening. Yeah,

Phil Rickaby
absolutely. And, and all of these voices that are being heard, you know, from from, you know, the theatres actually having to listen and they’re having to listen because they’re being made to Yeah, I do think that that when Stratford basically turned over the keys of their official Twitter account to the to the to the to the in the dressing room, hashtag and let the artists of colour tall tell their stories of the racism that they experienced at the festival and and in the town and in other places in the theatre was like that’s very brave of them to do and to not centre those conversations. I think that was an incredible step. for them.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, I agree. It’s just so necessary and and for the people to feel like they can come forward the artist and not have fear that their job is going to be taken away or their future jobs, because I think so much in our industry is that we just fear that, that we won’t have a job and so we give up pieces of ourselves because because of that,

Phil Rickaby
yeah, I mean, the theatre schools have to address their part in that too, though. I remember when I was in theatre many, many years ago, and I know it hasn’t changed. The prevailing idea was not to rock the boat. Yes. Yeah. Like underlying everything. Yeah. was, you know, we were in fear of of doing the wrong things, we would be kicked out and that sets a tone for when you get out in the in the industry.

Natasha Strilchuk
Absolutely. I have actually been in conversations with Randolph where I’ve went to school with their new artistic director Mike Reinhardt. And he’s been so great and he’s doing amazing things there any Randolph alum that feels like they want to, who listens to his may listen to this, I hope that they will put forward their voices. Now if they feel like they have something in that institution that they want to change, because now is the time and I don’t want anybody going through Randolph or any other Theatre School and and feeling like they’re just gonna get mistreated or that people want to understand how to teach them because they’re different. And because they don’t see anybody who maybe understands what they have gone through. And therefore it’s difficult when we are so vulnerable in theatre school and where we’re breaking down so much of ourselves to to feel like we’re being a good performer. And there isn’t a lot of safety nets there to bring you back up.

Phil Rickaby
No, I mean, it’s, it’s like it’s that way for everybody but but artists of colour. They have the issue of many theatre schools. I know when I was in theatre school I’m look thinking back now I didn’t have any teachers of colour. Yeah, three years of my time at George Brown College there were everybody was white.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, I maybe had two and they were dance instructors. And one was George Randolph, who is the head of the school. So, you know, I definitely feel that I had, it was difficult for me, especially being a brown person like South Asian in musical theatre where there’s really hardly any musicals for us. And so a lot of the time I really felt like and people, teachers also kind of said it that they were like, We don’t know what to do with you. And I can only speak to my personal experience in that, but I’m like, I’m paying money the same as anybody else. Like, if you don’t know the answer, then I feel like you should find somebody who knows the answer. Because and you may or may not get a solid answer, but the thing is, you need to then be like, okay, Natasha, I don’t know exactly what roles you may fit in. So what do you feel like you’re suited to? And what can we do to facilitate and make you feel confident that moving forward, like this works with your voice type, and this works with your look, and you know, like, I was like, just treat me then like, I don’t have brown skin. Yeah, look at what’s in front of you. Because, yeah, maybe? Absolutely. I need to know that going into the industry. There are going to be people who are Have a bias about what I look like and maybe don’t think to cast me, but I need to have the confidence to go in there and be like, No, you do want to hire me. Because I can do everything the same as everybody else, if not better than some people. So please just look at me based on what I’m bringing to you in the room. And I didn’t feel like I got that there at the time and in certain things I did get, and I’m grateful for so many of the things that I learned and and the teachers who were straight with me in terms of it’s gonna be hard. No, it’s gonna be hard for you. And you already know that you have to work harder than some people because you may not get looked at or even if you get brought into the audition room because you’re checking off a box. It doesn’t mean that they’re gonna hire you. You know, so you know, it’s Man, you have to prove yourself over and over yes harder than Yes.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, yeah the idea of the the whole like, we don’t know what to do with you to me is such a goddamn cop out because yeah, as an audience member I’m already suspending my disbelief, right I’m invested in believing what is on the stage when I walk into a theatre. So I don’t care if brother and sister are if one is Chinese and one is black and mom is and mom is Indian and and dad is and dad is is is is Malaysian, like, I don’t care. as an audience member, I’ll buy it. You know, and I think that that the idea of, of, oh, if somebody has if somebody is brown or they’re black, I don’t just don’t know how to deal with that and it’s just like, the audience will deal and they will they’ll believe it and they’ll they’ll buy into it because it’s there.

Now, I wanted to read sort of started we sort of got off on a tangent when I started asking him what are you doing in the pandemic? And and that’s all super important stuff because the pandemic has led to everything we’re talking about there. But I kind of also want you were, were you in Toronto when, quote unquote lockdown happened or were you in Regina?

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, no, I was in Toronto. I actually had just come back from assistant directing at Neptune for calendar girls, and I came back and they were kind of talking about Coronavirus and it. They weren’t sure what we were going to do yet. And but because I was travelling through the airports and stuff, I was a little bit worried and then everything seemed fine. Then I went to go film something and during when I was on set in Paris, Ontario, um they were like, okay, so lockdowns happening on Monday. And I was like Friday. So and I was getting back on Monday. So I just made it back to Toronto as lockdown was happening so I wasn’t stuck. Paris, Ontario, which is nice. Um, and then I just recently flew home last week to Regina to visit my parents because it’s been very difficult not to see them. So I’m I’m still in my kind of two week isolating yeah thing here. But so far so good and and the trip on the plane was fine. Like Not a lot of people are going to Regina so I didn’t have anyone near me. Which was nice. But yeah, I’d been in Toronto With my partner and our dog, which is great to spend time with them. So yeah, just trying to find the good things.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah. Were you So did you was it is it just was it just you and your partner and your dog in your apartment?

Natasha Strilchuk
We have roommates as well. Yeah. So

Phil Rickaby
That makes it a little bit easier to spend 100 days in one

Natasha Strilchuk
exactly yeah, it was helpful to be able to have other people around um and they went back to their from Nova Scotia so they flew back I guess a month ago or so. And yeah, so we had hadn’t been there very long by ourselves. And then I kind of was like, sorry, babe. I’m gonna go to dog um, yeah cuz he had full time work right now and and throughout the pandemic has and I have not and so you No, it’s difficult to see. And my roommates also were working from home because their music teachers, so they’re able to do that over zoom. So it was difficult for me to feel like I wasn’t doing anything productive. Yeah, you know, so it was hard to see them all working. So it’s nice kind of come back home. And although I am doing things here for work or that have to do with the industry, but it takes the pressur e off a bit.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah,

Natasha Strilchuk
you know.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah. It must be nice to to see your folks. I mean, oh, yeah. You know, I mean, I haven’t seen members of my family. Well, since since, like March. Yeah, essentially, I saw them, I think maybe around March 15 ish, just before everything started, and I haven’t I haven’t seen them since we’ve talked but it’s just not the same, you know?

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, totally. I, my dad had just come to Halifax and we flew, flew to Toronto on the same flight. And before he flew to Regina, so I thought seeing him but then I didn’t see my mom or my brother. I saw them before Christmas, I think. And so yeah, it was just a really long time and I but I was also worried because my mom is high risk. So I also didn’t want to put her in a position where she could get sick. Yeah, I wanted to wait also until cases in Ontario were going down and that Yeah, we felt like I could be distant enough and and luckily, it’s pretty easy in the house to just, I wear a mask in the house. If I’m around, where my mom would be, and I sanitising everything and washing your hands every second, but, but it’s worth it to see them and and, you know, there are other outside factors besides me that could even those scotchmans very low with cases. You know, there’s always a risk and yes, that’s never fun to think about. No.

Phil Rickaby
As as you know, this goes on, and we’re looking at this point. You know, although I think initially Mirvish productions in Toronto said that they would restart shows in January and now it was pretty much looking like that. That’s not going to be possible, even if they did, and it was allowed by the government do like I don’t think audiences would go

Natasha Strilchuk
I don’t think so either. Especially it’s gonna end there’s a lot of older folks who Yeah, see musicals. So

Phil Rickaby
yeah, yeah. Think, you know, I think that it’s, it’s, it’s going to be a while before people feel comfortable being in theatres. And so the question, the question is, and I think that we’re, I think initially, when this happened, I think the idea of, oh, January that’s so far away, it’s, it will be fine by then. And now I think it’s starting to, to land that, that that’s probably not going to happen too, and that it’s going to be longer before we can get back into the theatres and, and what we do with that, and I think, you know, people are starting to now look at how can I make a video presentation work? Yeah, can I live streaming things? Is that something that you’ve at all thought about? Or, or not?

Natasha Strilchuk
Um, I have been mostly doing things like having to film myself dancing for a choreographers process. or something like that, you know, and then people have edited them. And there’s a couple projects that I’m in that are gonna come out soon. But other than that, I have been thinking about that just in the way of like, well, that would be great, I guess, but how are we going to get around, you know, like copyright? And, you know, like, it’s hard to say for commercial, commercial music theatre, how that’s going to happen.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah,

Natasha Strilchuk
I mean, you know, especially when theatres here just don’t have the money to do all the things they have to do to kind of maybe film things. Yeah, it’s gonna be really interesting. And I think we’re all going to have to create our own stuff for a long time. And to if you do film a TV like that’s happening So that might be your focus like I’m, I’m a little bit trying to, to focus on that a bit and see where that goes. And but yeah, it’s really hard like it’s just it’s there’s so many question marks and it can be very depressing to think about you know, and like I teach dance when I can and and to not be able to do that in person is difficult and I know this goes are kind of starting to get it so they’re able to to have kind of distant squares for the answers and like sanitizer and masks and things like that, but as like I generally just substitute dance teach so I’m not the first person that’s going to be given a job

Phil Rickaby
yeah.

Natasha Strilchuk
So, yeah, it’s just kind of like, Okay, well, I’ll be doing other stuff that doesn’t have to deal with theatre probably. And, you know, I am excited like, because I’ve been talking with Randolph to hopefully, ta for them and assistant director there. And which has been probably the next year. We’ll see. Hopefully, if the school is able to be back in January, I think is the hope. But, again, me, you know, it’s just so hard to know how things yeah.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah. I worry about the future of the people in the industry. Because, you know, yes, some film and TV is starting to ramp up but not it’s not going full Tilt, and how many people will have to find a job outside of the theatre? If we say if we can’t get back into the theatre for at least until next summer? Like what happens then? You know, I worry about people leaving the industry I worry about I don’t worry about so much of that stuff and, and how can we keep it alive? If all we have is streaming?

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, totally.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, yeah, I’ve been thinking about that, too. It is worrisome like I and I know. In the meantime, some people are thinking about going back to school, which I think is great to further educate. But it’s also like yeah we all need to find ways that we can hopefully come back from this better than ever and, and also in a way that audiences will still want to come. You know, that it won’t just Be like, well, we’re fine. We don’t need live theatre. We have, we were totally happy with sitting at home and watching our Netflix show. Or, you know, like, how many times can I watch Hamilton so that’s fine.

Phil Rickaby
I mean, the thing is, like watching Hamilton and watching things that were broadcast by the National Theatre in England or, or Shakespeare’s Globe and things like that, as much as I enjoyed that the only thing really solidified for me was how much I miss being in a theatre.

Natasha Strilchuk
Absolutely same.

Phil Rickaby
And so I wonder, you know, if all these everybody is getting entertainment from from Netflix and things like that, but at a certain point, when people have the opportunity, as we’ve seen, you know, people have the chance to go out and sit on a patio, they will go and it will be something special. So maybe by the time we’re able to open the theatres, it will be such a novel experience that maybe people will come Come out in droves.

Natasha Strilchuk
Yeah, I hope so. And I hope that we can take this time to try and make theatre more accessible when we come back and and have it for people who don’t normally come to the theatre and cheaper tickets if we can. And I know it’s all going to be fun. difficult because we all need to make money. And we all have a bottom line. But I think, and I definitely know all the performers, I’ve talked to you that we’re ready, like we will be ready when we come back. And I think that will also I hope that it helps people be grateful for what we’ve had and, and that it really is a special experience that we get to do what we do and you know, to not take your job for granted. Because it’s, yeah, sometimes you get annoyed by so in your cast or you get annoyed by, oh, well, that’s not the way I would do it or Whatever it is, you know, anything that because it’s a job like of course, sometimes it feels like a job. And – but coming back, we also need to, to hold on to the fact that we’re all there for a reason and we make people happy and that is and question and to maybe tell stories that people wouldn’t have otherwise known anything about. And that’s really important. And so I’m hoping that we can all come together as audience members and people in the industry to create more exciting and innovative theatre from this. Yeah.

Phil Rickaby
As we, as we draw to a close of our conversation, one of the questions that I’ve been asking everybody since the pandemic and the lockdown started is what is giving you joy. These days

Natasha Strilchuk
oh so many things honestly I going on walks with my dog, like really getting to be in the moment when I’m doing things like that because I don’t feel like I have to rush back and work on a certain thing or feel stressed because I have an audition coming up or you know so I’m really kind of trying to take in the little things that make me happy which is you know, being outside or getting spend time with my partner or also I, I am diving into more directing things and like directing styles and I can do that at home. And so it’s been really exciting to get to, especially when there are things like the National Theatre, putting out their shows and like Stratford putting out their shows and Hamilton and things like that, that I get to see those things that maybe I wouldn’t have before. And I yeah, can conceive what those directors have done and those actors and just it’s that feeling you enjoy it I think also just getting to do the things that make me happy. I started learning how to paint with acrylics, which I’ve always wanted to do. And I was always like, I don’t have time for that. And, you know, and also, like, it’s not gonna be good. never done it before, you know, but it’s been nice because I don’t feel any pressure. I can kind of paint whatever I want. It doesn’t have to look good which has been so nice and also Gives me a creative outlet that is not theatre that I don’t have to think about it that I don’t have a job and then I don’t know when I’ll have a job and it’s just but it’s so creative and it still, you know, gives me ideas and, and yeah, it’s it’s nice like I there’s so many things that I think that I’m trying to do and and that gives me joy that I have the time.

Phil Rickaby
Hmm. That’s great. Natasha, thank you so much for this conversation. It’s been great.

Natasha Strilchuk
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.