Paula Zelaya’s Exciting Theatre Initiative
Paula Zelaya is a 5th year International Scholar from Mexico City. She speaks of the various courses and extracurricular activities at UBC that led her to establish her own theatre company.
“We started Quimera Theatre, a small theatre company, at the end of my fourth year at UBC. A few friends from theatre class and I came together because we wanted to create theatre in a collective model without establishing a hierarchy of roles or limiting ourselves to producing previously published work. It was the culmination of a long learning process about theatre production and creation that started when I arrived at UBC to study a degree in Honours English and Theatre and continued during my time as president of the UBC Players Club, the UBC theatre club. It is as if a school project had jumped out of university and had become a part of real life, something serious, yet exciting; something that had come out of my learning from class and club but that I could now call my own—like most of the learning experiences I have had since coming here from Mexico four years ago. Quimera presented a play at the Vancouver 2012 Fringe Festival and will be presenting a brand new one, this time a main-stage, at the 2013 festival.
The company is particularly interested in creating plays that probe and explore the definition of what is real and what is fictional, and the barrier between audience and the stage. This and our unusual, ‘many-headed’ organization as a company are things that remind us of a Quimera, which is the spanish for chimera, a beast of Greek mythology formed out of parts from various different animals and a word used to describe something unreal, illusory, or imaginary. In my time at UBC, I have also tried playwriting and had a short play I wrote produced by the Players Club this year. English honours with its philosophical and moral challenges and the hands-on nature of theatre have helped me discover a passion for writing for performance. I am deeply interested in the importance of fiction, storytelling, film, and theatre as both cultural and, in many ways, spiritual objects.
I still have a year left to graduate but our little theatre company feels less and less like something unreal and more like a promise waiting for me on the other side. Being brave about making my own work and working with friends to create our own opportunities have been some of the best lessons I have learned so far. I am very excited to continue expanding my understanding of what makes a good story and how to tell it.”