Interviews

Published on May 16th, 2015 | by Biz Books

The Biz Interview: Christina Wells Campbell of Classic Chic Productions

Christina Wells Campbell is the Artistic Director of Classic Chic Productions, a Vancouver-based ensemble with the mandate of creating opportunities for women to develop acting, directing, and design skills through theatre productions that will consistently offer them great roles to play, whether the characters are male or female.

Glengarry Glen Ross is their latest production, which opens on June 6th at the Beaumont Stage. We spoke with Christina Wells Campbell to find out more about what Classic Chic Productions is and what it’s bringing to the Vancouver artistic community.

Can you start by telling us about how Classic Chic Productions got started?

I wrote a blog post about that very thing which you can read here. That’s the long answer. The short answer, and it’s less altruistic than you might expect, is that I really wanted to play Iago and realized the only way for me to be able to do that was to have a company where women played all the parts.

Of course there are great women’s roles in the classics, but so many of them (particularly in Shakespeare) are pleading for their lives, begging for justice, or goading men to act on their behalf; from Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing’s “Oh, that I were a man!” to even Lady M’s “When you durst do it, then you were a man” I wanted to be able to explore parts where the characters have agency in their lives—where they make choices based on their own motivations and desires—even if (or especially if?) the consequences of those choices turns out badly.

What do you want actors in your productions and audiences who see them to come away feeling after experiencing a Classic Chic production?

I want the actors to come away with a better understanding of how men (in general) are in the world. It’s proved to be both a fascinating and a powerful thing to feel what it’s like to put on the costume of man because it points also to how we put on the costume of woman. Men (again in general) tend to occupy more physical and energetic space than women. They state their positions without apology. They are better at letting the world know what they want. And being able or not able to do those things has repercussions for women – from having your voice heard at a board table to having your testimony believed in court.

I want the audiences to feel that too. But I also want them to be taken along for the ride—to forget the gimmick of it being an all-woman cast and be engrossed in the story.

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What can you tell us about the upcoming production of Glengarry Glen Ross?

It’s going to be good. It’s vicious, funny, and a little heartbreaking.

What are the biggest challenges with running a theatre production company today and how do you deal with them?

Same as it ever was: money, time and space and not enough of any of those. We’ve dealt with them through ulcers, insomnia and general anxiety. No, I jest. We deal by having small budgets, getting things donated or in-kind and putting great people on the tasks of fundraising and marketing. The key to most things in life is relationships – making connections with people you like and respect and building a network that eventually becomes like another family.

Are there any books or specific authors that have been influential to you so far in your creative journey?

As far as influencing my creative self and spiritual self, I look to these books.

  • Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
  • On Becoming an Alchemist by Catherine MacCoun
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

Other authors and playwrights I love are: Morris Panych, Christopher Durang, Zach Helm, Charlie Kaufman, Robertson Davies, Jane Urquhart, and Carol Shields.

What can you share about any future projects that are in development?

Still evolving. I’m afraid there’s not much to report on that front. Soon though. Soon!

Where can we find out more about Classic Chic?

The Official Site, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Glengarry Glen Ross runs from June 6th through June 27th at the Beaumont Stage. For ticket information, please visit TicketsTonight. You can also support the production through its Indiegogo campaign.

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