JHISS Performance Reflection

I can’t believe we did it! We’ve become international performers in Ireland. Who gets to say that?! WE DO!

I also can’t believe it’s over. Can I turn back time to 7pm and start fresh from the very beginning, when we first enterered the studio theatre and took our rightful places on our creaky black chairs? Can I go back to my very first interview in Ireland, my very first international conversation?

Performing in the John Hewitt festival has been one of the most inspiring moments in my life. Although I was nervous, I was mostly excited, especially for my solo journalism piece. Overall, I think I conquered my nervousness.

It was delightful to mingle with the audience afterwards, meeting likeminded people and making friends. Also, the wine reception was a nice touch!

Irish Current Events

Read an interesting article in the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, which talks about budget cuts forcing U.K tuition to rise exponentially. According to the article, inflation and reduced public funding is causing a gap of between £900 and £2,500 per student at Queen’s University in Belfast. This is bad news, especially with the influx of Brexit. Although no one really knows what will happen, odds are that even more inflation will occur.

I talked to an astronomer at the Armagh observatory yesterday and he told me that Brexit is one of the worst things that can happen to educational institutions in the U.K – especially for science. Some of the most revolutionary science research occurs at Oxford and Cambridge in England and if funding is cut to those institutions, there will inevitably be a halt in scientific research.



JHISS Reflection

I had a fantastic time at the John Hewitt festival today! I was able to make it to two panels today, alongside my writing workshop, which was probably my favorite.

I learned so much with poet Matthew Francis today – he even gave us homework, but I’m not complaining! I feel grateful for the oppurtunity to be here and revel in the talent of other amazing and inspiring writers.

Can’t wait for the rest of the week to begin!  I’m very excited to perfom on Wednesday as well. I feel it’s going to be a blast 😀

Armagh: Before and After

Upon my arrival into Armagh, I immediately felt a sense of relaxation. Armagh was certainly a dramatic change from the big city life I’m used too. I love how the baristas and shopkeepers will know you on a first name basis. I love how the cathedral bells chime every hour. I love the fresh Irish air and having the ability to walk from one end of the city to the other, in less than an hour.

A part of me is excited to go back to Calgary and tell my friends and family about all the amazing experiences I’ve been having, but another part of me wants to remain here. A part of me wishes that my friends back home could have the same experience I’ve had. I wish they could empathize with the friendships I’ve created, the photographs I’ve taken, and the writing I’ve completed. But there is something scared about being in Armagh that you can only find whilst living in the city. The city has drawn me in and captured a part of me that will forever remain here, no matter how hard I try to bring it back home.

Not only have I been blessed to work with top journalists and writers from Northern Ireland, but I’ve been able to form friendships. I know have friends from all across the globe – and these are friends I will most definitely have for life.

I think Armagh is a magical place, a writers paradise if you will. I think it’s quiet enough to focus but exciting enough to indulge in all that Northern Ireland has to offer. Armagh has pushed me to my limits, changed my perspectives, and taught me to be tough. Nothing in life comes easy, not even writing. And if anything, I am extremely grateful for the realization that it’s OK to laugh. It’s OK to feel. It’s OK to hurt.

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Nathaniel McAuley Workshop Reflection

I really enjoyed our time spent with Nathaniel during our writing workshops! He is clearly a very talented writer with a lot of experience, so there was no shortage of information to absorb. I especially loved our characterization exercises – creating something from nothing. It was tons of fun and he was very encouraging about our work. I only wish we could have spent more time with him one-on-one. Since I’m in the journalism track, I felt there wasn’t as much to go over writing wise (since journalism writing differs greatly from that of fiction or play writing). That being said, he generated a lot of input from our class as a whole, which helped the playwrights narrow down their characters better. Overall, I thought the workshop went well.

Man at the bus stop – Backstory

Name: Jim Hennings, 63 years of age.

Jim got an Arts degree from the University of Toronto in 1953. He was a well-known artist when he first started out and designed the covers of children story books with his best friend and lover, who was the novelist. After 30 years, his friend passed away and he could no longer design book covers for her. He fell into a dark place and ever since, he has been trying to pursue his arts career again. He decided to start his own tattoo company from his living room, Hennings Ink, inspired by a rose tattoo that his deceased friend had. He learned everything about tattooing from YouTube, and earns a menial living off of his business. He can’t afford to pay for online advertisements, so he hands out business cards at bus stations around Toronto, where he met Jenny.

Audience and Writing

As a journalist, it’s very important to consider my audience when I am writing. I try to consider the fact that my audience may be coming from a variety of viewpoints from a variety of different cultures in a variety of locations. In order to maintain professionalism, and to keep my opinions as subjective as possible, I try to write journalism pieces with an open mind.

That being said, if I am writing an editorial or an opinion based piece then I think it’s more important to write for the audiences entertainment versus writing to inform and educate.

Overall, audience is very critial to consider regardless of what you are writing. Readers can react to writing in so many different ways. It’s impossible to please everyone, especially in journalism and often times, journalists are responsible for writing the most controversial pieces, producing the most controversial opinions.

Character Story – Jenny Brightman (Jennny B)

Jenny grew up in the big city of Toronto, Canada. She was raised as an only child by her single mother, May. Jenny has very vague memories of her father, but knows that the relationship between him and her mother is very tense.

Jenny has always been a bit of a trouble maker. In 6th grade, she got suspended for smoking a cigarette in the school bathroom. At fourteen, she got her first tattoo, a small star on her left ankle. It was done by a man she met at the bus stop.

Jenny works as a waitress at a breakfast diner. In her free time, she rents roller skates from a nearby shop and skates around the city. People often watch in entertainment when Jenny is out roller skating – her striking blonde hair and ice blue eyes, combined with her extraordinary speed and talent make her stand out. She joined a roller derby club at 19 after seeing an advertisement in the Toronto Star paper, and quickly became the best bi-weekly roller derby competitor.

She enjoys the attention of the community, especially that of boys. She dated regularly in high-school and earned a reputation as “easy Jenny”, for she would willingly perform sexual favours for boys. Her first serious relationship was with a skate boarded named Owen. They dated for a year and a half before Owen called it off. He accused Jenny of being too “flirtatious” with other men.

Presently, Jenny is single. She enjoys going out and meeting men, along with having sex. She isn’t particularly safe in her sexual endeavours, and recently went to the doctors for her second case of chlamydia. She still lives at home with May, but never tells her mother about her health complications.

Her current worldview is that in order to please yourself you must first please others, but this view has been skewed by her interactions with men. She has developed the mentality that she must be promiscuous in order be loved, and so far, has failed in her attempt to find a meaningful relationship. Her roller-derby competitions remain her escape.


Favorite Character

Every since we read The Wake and saw the performance at the Abbey Theatre, I can’t seem to get Vera out of my mind. Before seeing the live performance, I had the preconceived notion that Vera was a misunderstood, promiscuous, struggling woman. Although she could easily have been perceived as crazy, she stood out more to me as a “real”.

Everything from Vera’s decisions, to her diction, to her interaction with the other characters: she displayed an element of surprise and the general curiosity of human nature, yet she knew the consequences of her actions and went with them. She was generous to others, but not always to herself.

I think we all have a little Vera in us, if I must admit. We all have that desire to stray from what we know and go after the seemingly unachievable. Even if it means we have to act on impulse and  forgo the opinions of others.

Belfast Encounter – Stuart Bailie

He was likely in his fifties. Threads of grey hair coated his chin. His thinly framed black glasses scooted down the bridge of his nose as his eyes glanced up and down from a paper he was holding.

He had bought me a small cup of lemon tea upon my arrival. The tea was flavourful and reminded me of his generosity. As I take a sip, the piping hot liquid burns my tongue. I cringe slightly, turning my head sideways so as not to be noticed.

A quick scan around his office revealed to me that he was passionate about his job. A whiteboard hung on the wall behind him. It was covered in blue, black, and red scrawls of local band names and upcoming music events. CD’s and magazines flooded the floor.  A trash bin carried several empty coffee cups and Cadbury candy wrappers.

I listened intently as he explained the history of Northern Ireland’s punk music scene. He was brimming with information. I was entranced by his many years of experience working as a music journalist and could only aspire to one day be as knowledgable.