Defining Team in Divisive Days

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During this period of self-isolation and social distancing, I find myself thinking of the importance of community and the team that we here at Live History have been crafting over the last few years. 

Maybe it is the fact that there is an awful lot of time nowadays to allow your mind to wander almost aimlessly. Maybe it is a sense of nostalgia for old times, even if those old times were just a few short weeks ago. Whatever the reason, two things continue to creep into my mind:

  1. What does it mean to be part of a team?
  2. How can a sense of community help during these tumultuous times?

The first thought, “What does it mean to be part of a team” feels like it should be an easy one to answer. After all, I could just pull out a dictionary and look up a definition and be completely satisfied. And yet, why is it that this doesn’t seem to be the case?

Let’s start with the definition. 

I think anyone would agree that you can define a team as being “a group of individuals working collectively to achieve the same goals.” That sounds right to me and everything about it makes sense, so why does it feel as though it doesn’t do the word justice? 

That's a Dictionary alright. (source: The Writing Cooperative)

I think the biggest issue with this definition, for me, is that it is just altogether impersonal. Yes, a team is a collection of individuals all working together to achieve the same goals - but who are these individuals and what are their goals? Each individual has their own talents and passions. Each has their own story and, in turn, adds to our own. A team is the sum of its parts. Every person involved brings something unique and entirely their own that transcends themselves and creates an integral piece of the puzzle that is every team.

So what better way to define the Live History team than to speak of the individuals that make it up?

Jackie, Dan, and Michael at Simcoe, Ontario. Dressed for Everyday.

I would be remiss to not start with the ones that brought all of us together and who continue to operate as the driving force behind the company: Jasmine and Joshua. Jasmine, in her creativity and drive, has created the company that we are today and continues to push us all each and every day to strive towards that original goal of bringing history to life. Her strength and her passion are palpable in every aspect of what we do and can be felt throughout both our senior and newest team members. Joshua, whose mind is always moving a mile a minute, works tirelessly to craft new puzzles and mysteries that not only offer a fun challenge to all audience members, but are also rewarding to solve in their own right. Together, the two of them have blended their passions to create something truly unique.

Of course, what good is a theatre company if you don’t have shows to perform? Enter Jeremy, a man for all seasons, and the writer of Live History’s shows. You’d be forgiven if you thought that we had snagged Tom Selleck, for a creative and brilliant mind hides behind a magnificent mustache. Jeremy crafts stories and dialogues effortlessly and gives the team an open and inviting playground to do just that - play.

Not pictured: Jeremy (source: IMDB)

From these humble beginnings, the team has continuously grown and with such growth comes new individuals and new passions.

Enter Dan and Caroline.

“Danoline” - as no one calls them, have become integral members of the team with years of experience between them. Both have become well known as leaders to all of our team members and are always open to conversing about their experience or sharing what they know. Caroline has taken the latter quite literally and has become Live History’s go to “History Department” - diving deep into research rabbit holes and emerging with a plethora of knowledge for all of us to utilize. Dan, in a similar sense, has taken the reins of a “French Department,” steering the team in an exciting new direction.

And then there is Jackie. 

Jackie has got to be one of the coolest people you’ll meet and on a team full of cool people, that’s pretty darn cool. Jackie has been with the company for a while now and her responsibilities have grown exponentially over the years. Most recently, Jackie has taken to helping Joshua design the clues and mysteries for shows and has even designed a few herself (some of which have travelled quite literally across the globe). Jackie is an invaluable resource for us here at Live History and it is her drive and dedication that is part of the reason we are so hopeful for the future.

Relevance? It is a pretty cool image.

Of course, Jackie isn’t the only actor and team member who has been with us for a little while now. Each year Live History conducts auditions, both locally and abroad, where we search for the best new additions to add to our team. We have been extremely fortunate over the years to have secured such amazing people and have been even more fortunate to have been able to hold on to as many as we have.

Enter Jesse, Michael, Curtis, Cassidy, Sully, and Sophie. 

When I first started with Live History, I didn’t really know what to think of professional actors. I had never really worked with any before and I didn’t know just what to expect. Turns out, all of these individuals showed me what it means to be truly professional. Each and every one of them has a fiery passion for what they do that comes through not only in their craft but in just simple conversations with them. They have worked incredibly hard to be where they are today and we are incredibly fortunate to have them as part of our team. Each performance they give inspires me to become a better actor and to learn more tools of the trade. It is truly an amazing thing to work with such talent and to see how much the entire team benefits from it.

Being an international touring company does have its perks and one of the best ones that I can think of is the opportunity to work with actors from around the country and the world. Most recently, we have had the opportunity to work with Joanna in B.C, Kim and Suzie in Nova Scotia, Corey in the U.K., and Ella and Marilyn in New Zealand. Each of these national and international actors teach us an incredible amount and are wonderful to work with. Oftentimes we find ourselves as strangers in a strange land, and these familiar and friendly faces help us not only acclimatize, but also feel comfortable and secure. Their support is greatly appreciated.

Ella at Ferrymead Heritage Park, Christchurch, New Zealand

The talent doesn’t stop there, however. As mentioned above, each year Live History conducts auditions and this year was no different. What was different about this year, however is the sheer volume of talent that we were able to experience. Auditions are always a hard thing - You have to judge people on a pretty subjective craft. This year, however, that task was all the harder because of how amazing everyone was. It was hard to settle on our usual: “a few here and a few there.”

So we settled on nine!

Enter Lorilee, Teal, Ben, Chelsey, Angie, Isabelle, Priscilla, Alecia, and Andrew.

Nine new actors and each with a wealth of experience and passion that they bring to the table. While several of our shows set early this season have been postponed, we have had the wonderful opportunity to work with these actors extensively at our annual Mass Rehearsal. The level of talent they showcase is astounding and we are all excited to see them out touring soon. It will be an absolute joy to work alongside them and create some truly unique and exciting shows.

Just a regular afternoon spent learning mysteries.

Of course, over the years we haven’t been able to keep everyone that we’ve worked with, as a few have gone on to do bigger and better things. That being said, it would be a shame to think of them as no longer being a part of the team, as they have been instrumental in getting us where we are today and it would be dishonest to say that we don’t continuously miss them. Still, we are happy about the opportunities that life has given them and we hope that their time with us was as enjoyable for them as it was to us.

So that’s the team in its entirety. Whew. We did it.

Do you see now why I had a hard time just settling in with that original definition? Our team is made up of incredible individuals who amaze us each and every time that we work with them. Whether we see each other every few days or once a year, there is a comfort in working with such a group. Each and every single one of them brings their passion and unique talents to the forefront and all of us benefit because of it. It isn’t enough to say that we all work towards the same goal - instead, that goal manifests itself because of the people we are working with. The two are not mutually exclusive from one another. 

So we are left with the second thought that has continuously been running through my head as of late:

How can a sense of community help during these tumultuous times?

Jesse and Sully discussing the benefits of Social Distancing.

I think the answer is right there: How can it not? The communities we create are a way of life. They are integral for how our days play out. What is astounding to me is to think about the communities that lay just outside of our immediate vicinity. What I mean is, for me, one community that I am a part of is the team that I have just described for you, but for each and every single member of that team, they have their own outside communities. Friends and families. Jobs and other acting opportunities. Those communities, no matter how distant or distinct, share at least one member in common.

As a result, are we not all part of the same community? Are we not all on the same team? 

By looking after one another and doing what is best for them, do we, in turn, do what is best for everyone? 

I think that we do and that now, more than ever, we are in a position to do just that. 

So yes, everything is a little up in the air these days and maybe that will be the case for a while. But what isn’t up in the air, what should never change, is the commitment we should have to maintaining our communities. If we all look out for those in our immediate vicinity, our immediate teams, we’ll end up looking out for countless more. 

Stay in touch with your teams, no matter how distant, and keep working towards that goal, whatever it might be. 

We’re all in this together and that is a great story to tell.

Live History's 2020 Season Team (Most of Them). We're Great with Symmetry.

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