Theatre SKAM is excited to introduce our new Pop-Up Theatre Director, Paula Humby! Paula is a bilingual theatre artist with a BFA in Acting from the University of Alberta who has recently relocated to Victoria. Selected acting credits include: Mr. Burns, a Post-Apocalyptic Play (You are Here Theatre), Skirts on Fire (Teatro la Quindicina), Hamlet and a Comedy of Errors (Freewill Shakespeare Festival), Bone Wars (Punctuate Theatre) and a Christmas Carol (Theatre Calgary). 

Paula is also a playwright. In 2019, her play Élise Contre l’Extinction Totale was performed at over 70 schools as a part of L’Unithéâtre’s interprovincial tour. She has co-created works for several site-specific festivals including SKAMpede, Found Fest and the CITF in Monthey, Switzerland. Paula was making her directing debut with Martine à la Plage at l’Unithéâtre when the pandemic hit. Since then, she has worked on a variety of online projects including the Citadel’s Stuck in the House Series and co-creating the Home Suite for the Found Festival with her husband Ben Stevens. Paula is itching to get back to it, and is so grateful for this opportunity to create theatre with some excellent collaborators this summer!

To learn more about Paula’s theatre interests and her plans for the Pop-Up Theatre this summer, we asked her a few questions:

How did you get started in Theatre?
I’ve been involved in theatre since I was a little kid. I was fortunate to get to see lots of plays and live performances because my parents are big supporters of the arts, and every time I saw a performance, I would say “I want to do that!” Which is actually one of the reasons I love the Pop-Up so much! I want to bring live theatre to communities across Victoria to inspire future theatre artists!

What aspects of theatre do you have experience in or where your interests lie most (i.e.: playwrighting, design (lighting, sound, costume, and/or scenery), construction (scenic and/or costume), acting, directing, and/or applied theatre)?
I feel that as an artist, especially in Canadian Indie Theatre, you’re always wearing many hats… I trained as an actor at the U of A, but I also have experience as a dancer, musician, playwright and director. My passion lies in collaborating in the creation of new works. I love being involved in New Play development and I’ve worked a lot with devising site-specific theatre. 

Name a theatre artist or play that inspires you and your art.
Some plays that I’ve seen recently that blew me away and inspire my work are Bears (Punctuate Theatre) which was at the Belfry a few years ago, Bertoffenheit (Kidd Pivot and ECT) and Mouthpiece (Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava). Looking at my list, I guess I am inspired by stylized works that incorporate strong physicality, energy and music.

In terms of artists who inspire me, I am really inspired by Kristi Hansen. She’s an incredible, Edmonton-based artist who somehow manages to co-artistic direct a company, mentor artists, and perform all over town, and across the country. She is a powerhouse, and having worked with her as a performer, she is always positive, professional, generous, hilarious and so much fun. She inspired me as a performer, an artist in the rehearsal hall, and a leader in the arts community.

Do you have any ideas for the Pop-Up Theatre for this summer? What are they?
I really want to use the strengths of the team in building the Pop-Up Shows, and I want the process to be as collaborative as possible! So I’m waiting to sort out our team and start brainstorming together before making any big plans. However, I like to create shows that are high-energy, physical, and have a lot of heart. So you can expect to see that! We also had many talented singers and musicians audition, so I would love to incorporate lots of music, both singing and instrumental backing.

But if I had to write a play today, I am really interested in Aloha Wanderwell. I don’t know if everyone already knows about her, because I’m new to Victoria, but I just learned about her, and I am obsessed. She’s a Canadian explorer who grew up on Vancouver Island and her life is amazing and wild! She left home when she was 16 to assist an explorer and visited 80 countries and became the first woman to circumnavigate the world by car. Along the way, she had all these crazy adventures, she was arrested for impersonating an officer, because she liked to dress in uniform…

Anyway, I’d like to see an Aloha show. I’m excited that we get to create 4 different programs, it gives us opportunities to explore different genres. For example, we might have a Victoria History theme, a musical theme, a TYA theme and a Sketch Theatre theme. There are so many possibilities! I guess to sum it all up, I have LOTS of ideas and I’m excited to get started!