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Julie's Story

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Name: Julie
Course: MA Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance
Graduated: 2016
Current role: Freelance Director (Theatre & Opera); Playwright/Librettist

The programme coursework challenged me, sharpened my thinking, and increased my artistic capacity.

What is your job now?

I am currently Artist-in-Residence at Pacific Opera Victoria (Victoria, Canada) where I'm expanding my practice as a stage director while also contributing to a range of community engagement and audience-building initiatives. Alongside this, I have my professional freelance work, which includes both writing and directing.

Julie McIsaac at an awards ceremony, width 450

What did you do before applying to TFTI?

I was working as a professional actor, and had a burgeoning practice as a director and playwright.

‌Why did you decide to do a Masters degree?

I felt that I was intuiting my way through my directing and writing, rather than consciously practicing my art. My artistic choices were determined by a sense of what “felt right” - and while I will always love the impulsive, non-cerebral aspects of my process, I was looking to build a more robust foundation of knowledge and theory, and uncover new ways of working.

Why did you choose TFTI?

The balance of practice and theory was appealing. I was returning to academia after nearly a decade of working in the industry, and though I was keen to develop my critical capacity, I wanted to keep my artistic practice percolating. The location was also a key factor; from York, I was well poised to take advantage of performances & opportunities in both England and Scotland (compared to the distance between major cities in Canada, a few hours by train is nothing!) Finally, there was the range of programmes within the department. Interdisciplinary collaboration has always been a major source of inspiration, and I was excited to study alongside filmmakers, sound designers, visual effects artists, etc.

Julie McIsaac in rehearsal 450 x 301

What were you hoping to get out of studying here?

To engage more critically with my own work and the work of my contemporaries, and to more accurately situate myself in relationship to my artistic predecessors. I was also looking to build cross-Atlantic relationships with fellow theatre artists, as well as with those working in related fields (film, television, etc.)

How did you become aware of the University of York?

While doing research online re: post-secondary institutions / theatre programmes in the UK.

Julie in Fiddler on the Roof

What are your career goals?

Right now, I’m dedicated to creating and directing new Canadian works, championing the unique voices and hitherto unheard stories of our nation. My long-term goal is to become a decision-maker in a major cultural institution, either in Canada or abroad (provided that international and cross-cultural collaboration is part of the mandate).

What would you say to someone thinking about studying at TFTI?

Take advantage of everything on offer academically, practically, and socially - in the department, at the university, in York, and the surrounding area. The programme coursework challenged me, sharpened my thinking, and increased my artistic capacity. Even more valuable are the colleagues and friendships that I carry forward into my present and future work. Proceed with focus, tenacity, and an open heart. A life-changing year awaits you.



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