Laurie Steven wins OAC Chalmers Arts Fellowship! Odyssey Theatre’s Artistic Director to Smash Stereotypes

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Odyssey Theatre is proud to announce that Artistic Director Laurie Steven is a recipient of the prestigious Chalmers Arts Fellowship.

Awarded by the Ontario Arts Council, this grant provides significant funding for senior professional artists to take time from their usual creative pursuits to investigate, explore and experiment with style, technique, method, content or an issue in their arts practice. Instead of supporting specific projects, the program allows artists to dedicate themselves to their art form and further develop their careers.

Much of Steven’s work as a director, writer, dramaturge, and translator has involved myths and fairy tales—universal stories that are inextricably bound to culture and society as we know them. But she finds the characterizations of women in these stories to be “troublesome,” saying, “fairy tales are often patriarchal: heroines wait to be rescued, old women are demonized, and mother figures are villains extraordinaire.” This fellowship will allow Steven to create new archetypal female characters that speak to audiences today: “The heroines I write tend to be fighting for empowerment. They are characters with modern sensibilities trapped in a mythic past. I want to transport them to the modern world and address the concerns of contemporary women.”

In order to develop these new roles and settings for women, Steven will be venturing beyond our borders to attend the American Folklore Society Conference and study fairy tales, myth, and their integration into popular culture. She will also shape her new characters and worlds by studying the work presented at the Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionettes in France and the London International Mime Festival. Laurie will keep Ottawa updated on her explorations via a blog where she will elaborate on her artistic quest and post samples of her work as it is produced.

Odyssey Theatre is absolutely thrilled by the news of Steven’s fellowship. In addition to acknowledging the huge contribution she has made to the Ontario Arts Community over the past 31 years, the grant allows her to develop captivating, original characters and vivid new settings for Odyssey’s future productions. The company looks forward to the creations Steven’s own artistic Odyssey yields.

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