Drama and adventures in Canada with Matthew Mooney
After the restrictions of the pandemic, acting graduate Matthew Mooney knew he wanted to spread his wings and have an adventure.
Matthew, 28, graduated from Queen Margaret University in 2020. When the world began opening up after the lockdown period, he grabbed the chance to travel and headed for Canada.
He said: “I have always been scared to travel, however, the lockdown period really changed that. I felt I was running out of time to travel and so my yearning to see more of the world flourished. My desire to combine acting and travel was further heightened as my acting agent, Stiven Christie, went into retirement. Jobs for actors in Scotland were sparce following the reopening from Covid, and as 30 was approaching, it became a focused effort to make more of life. So, I decided to head to Canada, which to me is like Scotland on steroids, and it’s not too far away from home. The only requirements to enter Canada with a working holiday visa were (1) to be under 30 and (2) to have £2000 in the bank. I just made both requirements.”
Matthew continued: “So, I set off in January 2023 with the notion to head to the Canadian mountains which were -40c at the time. You’ve never felt a cold like it, when your nostrils freeze, and your fingernails burn. I had a job lined up in a bar, but within three days that fell through, and so my loose plan fell apart, and my real adventures began.
"I hitched from Canmore to Calgary on my own, carrying my life on my back. I slept on a stranger’s floor for 10 nights, whilst hunting for jobs. Cash was running low, so I was delighted to land a job with a devising theatre company."
Devised theatre is essentially collaborative theatre when there is no pre-existing script. I would work with the kids to explore the imagination and play together to devise a show - usually taking it from its inception to completion. We would perform our show to their parents and school at the end of the week. I had done devised classes at Queen Margaret University so, fortunately, that stood me in good stead. I had always wondered if that class would come in handy one day, and I was pleased to be able to put it to good use. It was reassuring to be able to pull on this knowledge resource from my QMU education, as things had been getting rather desperate on the job front.
"The company, Trickster Theatre, paid me to travel around the province of Alberta, also paying for my accommodation. It was ideal. I was creating shows with primary school kids using props as stimuli."
In one example, we had tunnels as a prop, and we made a show with the kids about astronauts blasting off into space to get to Planet X, where everyone puts their ex-girlfriends and boyfriends. However, it’s not a child's imagination if you are not stopping for a refuel on Uranus, a planet that is oddly smelly. Once we arrived the astronauts were able to rescue their teacher (and my ex) from Planet X. The job was wildly enjoyable.
“As summer began to approach, schools would soon close, so I was on the lookout for my next job.
"I applied to Theatre Calgary's Shakespeare on the Go. After a couple of zoom auditions, I was accepted for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, playing all three characters: Bottom, Lysander and Moth. It is thanks to my education at Queen Margaret University that I had the confidence to tackle Shakespeare. During my course, I spent time individually with lecturers Robin Wilson and Marion Scott working on some Shakespeare pieces. I used the same pieces to secure the job with Theatre Calgary."
Matthew recalls another Shakespeare class, which he took outside of QMU, where he got the lowest marks in the group and only scraped a pass. He said: “I hadn’t had much luck with Shakespeare before getting some individual guidance at QMU.
"It’s down to the help and support of Robin and Marion at QMU that I have the confidence in myself to excel. The pair of them have an abundance of knowledge on Shakespeare - in one or two sentences they gave me more comprehension than I'd had from some 10-week courses."
Matthew continued: “I am performing every day this week, and then our run concludes. Following that, I begin rehearsals for ‘The Mousetrap’ which will be performed on Theatre Calgary's mainstage.”
Matthew concluded: “I am loving my adventures in Canada and working as an actor in Calgary. At many of my performances I give a shout out to Queen Margaret University and the acting course I studied there. I also get a great reaction from the Canadian audiences when I mention my hometown of Glasgow.
"But it was my experience at QMU which opened me up – giving me confidence in my own abilities and encouraging me to try new things and live my dreams. I will always be grateful for my QMU acting course and the lecturers who have helped make me who I am today."
We wish Matthew all the very best in his acting career and on his Canadian adventure.
If you are a graduate of QMU, you can keep in touch with the University through the alumni office at E: email@example.com .
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