Artists Revisited(8)

Artists Revisited: Adrienne Wong

There are many lessons to be learned in the art world, and Adrienne Wong is more than happy to share a few she has learned throughout her career. Ms. Wong challenges the definition of theatre by pushing traditional concepts to their limits. Her work examines how people relate to one another and studies the tools we need in order to live close together in an increasingly crowded world. Driven to provoke audience engagement within and outside of the play, Wong’s art urges communication and introspection.  She credits her time with the Girl Guides, particularly the idea of leaving a place better than you found it, as part of her motivation to produce this type of work.

Audio guides standing by for "Landline", created with Dustin Harvey. Photo by Dustin Harvey.
Audio guides standing by for “Landline”, created with Dustin Harvey. Photo by Dustin Harvey.

A Calgary native who lived on the west coast, Wong is now based in Ottawa. Because of her widespread circle of family and friends, she is well versed in how to have a conversation online. This real life experience made Ms. Wong curious about the concept of “liveness”: is a conversation over Skype just as live as an in-person discussion? Wong thinks so: her art combines traditional theatre and new technology, aiming to examine how different forms of “live” translate into performance. Yet the idea of communication can be found even deeper in Wong’s artistic ideology. She also believes in the constant questioning of oneself as an artist and as a person.

“There are no stupid questions”, she says when asked about the best lesson she has learned so far in her career. She underlines her belief that artists should make as their goal the recognition of their own ignorance. For Wong, it’s very important that artists understand that it’s all right to ask questions… after all, no one knows everything! Wong also highlights the importance of letting your ego grow, not to the heights of the caricatural diva, but rather to the point that you can withstand legitimate criticism without losing your drive to create for an audience.

Another of Wong’s tips stems from advice she once received from colleague who, when presented with a tight deadline, asked: “Do you want it good, cheap, or fast? You get two out of three”. Wong says that keeping this motto in mind as she makes production decisions makes it easier to prioritize what she wants and needs from a project.

Two listeners engaged in "PodPlays", produced by Vancouver's Neworld Theatre in association with PTC. Photo by Michael Sider
Two listeners engaged in “PodPlays”, produced by Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre in association with PTC. Photo by Michael Sider

As a freelancer, Wong also makes sure to ask herself why she’s doing a project. Again, she categorizes her choices into three parts: is she doing something for the money, for the people, or for the project itself? She tries to make sure at least two of these boxes are checked. Although there’s nothing wrong with doing a project just for the money, she argues that you have to be honest with yourself and really make sure it’s worth it to you emotionally and creatively. Doing a project you’re not attached to without the support of great people can cause more damage than it’s worth.

Some tips and tricks to keep in mind when trying to decide which new project to take on.
Some tips and tricks to keep in mind when trying to decide which new project to take on.

Wong is a strong supporter of promoting art in everyday life. She is enthusiastic about the benefits of art, both creatively and physically: she doesn’t underestimate the impact of pushing people out of their comfort zones. She highlights the importance of getting people out of their houses and engaging with subject matter that could make their world even the slightest bit bigger.

If you’d like to learn more about Adrienne Wong, check out her blog, or read an article about her project with Spiderweb Show.

 


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