Woman of the Month Before – Ella Simon

Written by Dolly on April 1st, 2012

Presenting:

Ella Simon

Here’s a little bit about her:
Ella has worked as an actress in theatre, film & television, and has an extensive background in improv. She is currently performing in the Importance of Being Earnest at the Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver, and has worked with companies such as Ground Zero Theatre, Carousel, Green Thumb, Chemainus Theatre Festival and the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. Her performance career started as a teenager in Calgary with the Loose Moose Theatre Company where she studied and worked with improv guru Keith Johnstone. She enjoys surfing, playing ukulele and has recently started taking Italian lessons. Ella is the only 5’1 Polish professional actress in Vancouver and hopes it stays that way.

And here’s how she answered my 6 questions about creativity:

What does it mean to you to be creative?
As an Actor I am always creating, it’s 99% of my job. I think that people learn how to be creative when they are children. It’s about being curious, discovering the world, not knowing the right answers and most importantly playing! As an actor I get to play and tap into my inner child who is not afraid of making mistakes. Children are amazing storytellers. I think that as adults we try too hard to get the right answer and sometimes that hinders our ability to explore. I get the license to be creative and I’m encouraged to make mistakes and take risks. For example, when I have an audition, I need to be spontaneous and offer my creativity to the director – it’s my job to help him find what he doesn’t know he’s looking for by creating something different, and hopefully memorable. In rehearsing a play, I’m given a script, and I get to create a character, their world and tell their story. When I’m doing roving theatre work, (improvising with kids and the public) they’re my scene partners without even knowing it and they always give me the best ideas!

What triggers your creativity?
Working with other people. What others offer me is what inspires my creativity. But it’s not a one-way street, I also need to be available to give that back. Working with my scene partner to create something that we will in turn communicate it to an audience. That is what theatre is. Even for a one woman show, I always use a collaborator whether it’s a director, musician, stage manager, for me it’s all about collaboration.

What hinders your creativity?
There can be many obstacles in creation that one can be faced with. Sometimes when creating, you come to an impass because there are two different ideas and you come to a crossroads. A road must be chosen and there's never one correct answer in the creative process. That’s what the director is for…to make the final decision! Some personality types work better together than others, and sometimes clashes can create rifts in the creative process, but overcoming them can be as simple as respecting the other person’s ideas. I think that’s true with any job, life situation or human connection. Even friends agree to disagree!

What’s the wildest journey your venturesome spirit has taken you on?
My job involves taking risks and seeing what comes from them. My acting career recently took me into a job as a part time science facilitator with Science World; bringing science shows to kids across BC. It is a job that I wasn’t sure I would be suited for. I knew I could do the performance aspect, but was terrified of the science. The risk paid off, as I now get to travel to remote areas of the province, and give children exciting and educational performances that they wouldn’t necessarily have access to. An added benefit, is that I get to see parts of BC that are rarely visited. The job requires me to be creative in a new way: problem solving. For example: science demos not working, logistics of going to small towns & villages, scaling down our equipment to fit on float planes or speed boats, maneuvering down logging roads, etc.

On a personal note, another risk I took recently was learning to surf, and the two came together this past February when I was performing in Ucluelet, Bamfield and Ahousat.  On my afternoon off, I took my surfboard into the ocean (By myself! In Winter!) and had a great surf session. This was something I never would have imagined I could do a year ago.

What does being bold and provocative mean to you?
I’ve often been told I’m a bold person many times, and I usually don’t realize it.  I think it’s because I speak my mind.  Sometimes the simplest, most straightforward, honest answer is unexpected and so it seems provocative. I think being bold means not being afraid of saying what you think.  

What’s next for you?
I’m currently playing the role of Cecily in the Arts Club Theatre’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest’ which will continue for the next few weeks. Then I’m off on a couple trips with Science World to Deas Lake and Telegraph creek in Northern BC.  The movie I filmed last summer Locked In a Garage Band is due to be released this spring, so I’m looking forward to seeing myself on the big screen. Then I’m off to Italy for a 3 week vacation and come back to start work on The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s children’s show called “Animal Tales” with my handsome boyfriend.  So I’m looking forward to an exciting next couple of months.

And here’s two things that inspires Ella’s creativity:

Sherry Lu, another inspiring woman and a great self taught photographer, who also works at Science World with Ella. Check out Sherry on her website.

And here’s an article Ella finds particularly interesting.

How Theater for Young People Could Save the World. By Lauren Gunderson

Thank you Ella for always being on the job!

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