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IMPACT Staff Profiles: Pam Patel
Submitted by meganh on Tue, 07/28/2015 - 3:51pm
Last week, we sat down with MT Space Associate Artistic Director, Pam Patel, to kick off our blog profile series. We want this series to shed light on behind-the-scenes details and showcase the amazing folks who bring IMPACT to our community every year.
Pam has been involved with IMPACT since its inception in 2009. During the festival's inaugural run, Pam was a performer and festival-goer. During it's second run, however, marked Pam's first time signing onto IMPACT's staff.
“In 2011 I was the conference coordinator, I took on that position. And that's when I experienced what it is like to lose your head, to be in the heat of the moment, and that you are trying to make the impossible happen.”
Rewards of the IMPACT Conference
Despite the initial chaos of joining the team and planning the conference, navigating the challenge of planning was not without its rewards. “At the end of it all, when I saw what happened with the conference, it wasn't just a conference where people are brought together and you talk about stuff...These discussions were people coming together and experiencing that solidarity, and becoming allies, and understanding one another, and hearing one another.”
Realizing this was a moment of clarity for Pam, who said , “and that's when I came back to Majdi, and said I want to be part of the conference every year, and I truly have not experienced any other conference in Canada that's like that. Where you are bringing people together who feel marginalized – differently-abled, Indigenous, immigrant, artists, LBGTQ community so they are reminded that they are not alone. Because a lot of the time we feel that we are alone.”
In 2013, Pam took on the conference and the inaugural opening ceremonies for IMPACT. Now in it's fourth run, her list of duties are ever-expanding, including all of the aforementioned as well as helping with the Stage & Story Market, another first-time event for our festival. “'I'm bracing myself for it,” she says with a laugh.
Yet regardless of the challenges, Pam offers real insights as to what makes the festival so sucessful.
What Makes IMPACT So Successful?
“I think the reason why the festival continues to run, despite having very limited resources, limited funding, limited staff, laying everything on the table, and thinking year after year that it's not going to happen, – I think that the reason it does is because it's an artist-run festival. We are so careful to bring a team together that will not just see this a job, but will really invest themselves to make this happen.”
This has always been a central theme of IMPACT: bringing art by artists to the community. Many of our other staff has also been multifaceted in this way: performing and being a part of MT Space as well as helping to establish the festival. Pam elaborates further:
“There's a term that Majdi uses in the studio called “collective pregnancy” -- we are all pregnant with this 'baby' together, you live with nurturing and feeding and taking care of this festival until it’s born. That’s how we see our pieces: you don't go home and leave everything at the door, you carry it with you—you're always thinking of ideas, you're thinking of what you can do regardless of the role you're playing. We get the artists together because everything that we do is creative. And that's why impact has succeeded with being bigger and better year after year.”
As all of our staff undertake the 'collective pregnancy' of planning the festival, any challenge is outweighed by the amount of creativity the energetic staff — including and especially our associate artistic director--brings to the table.
Technology and the Stage
“I'm super stoked for this year because I'm really interested in expanding the conversation we've been having at the conference to make it multi-disciplinary, expanding it into the tech sector. And I personally have always been interested in technology despite being a bit of a Luddite, I've always been really curious about exploring the use of technology in theatre productions.”
IMPACT's three-day conference series will highlight exactly this: the ways in which our stages can become 'smarter' and exactly how technological advancements fuelling revolutions around the world can be integrated into one of humanity's oldest art forms.
A Platform for Aboriginal/Immigrant Voices
Along with technology, MT Space and the festival's forefront has always been giving Aboriginal/Indigenous/immigrant voices an effective platform to raise their stories right here in the Kitchener-Waterloo community.
“We are filling a huge void that is here, giving the immigrant refugee community a voice, and reflecting them on stage and in the theatre that we do.”
But she goes on to describe the concentric circle of impact even outside of our community: “outside of KW, I think MT Space plays an important role in the Canadian landscape of theatre. There aren't a lot of companies who have a mandate to produce, create culturally Indigenous work. So i think it's important for MT Space to stick around, and to grow, so that we can become a leader and lead by example with what we're doing.”