Emerging Artist Spotlight - Rem Murray - Western Canada Theatre
At Western Canada Theatre, we provide opportunities to shape the artists, artisans, technicians, and administrators of the future through mentorship programs, professional development opportunities, and ongoing employment.

If you have been to a show at Western Canada Theatre lately, you have most likely seen our featured Emerging Artist, Rem Murray, onstage! Rem has been performing in shows with Western Canada Theatre since he made his debut in the Children's Ensemble in Fiddler on the Roof in 2013 (although he's a lot taller now than he was then!) You may also recognize him from his role in the ensemble of WCT's production of The Wizard of Oz, as Johnny in Hurry Hard, as Sonny in Grease, or as a member of the Ensemble in this season's production of Shrek The Musical. Rem is also a graduate of Western Canada Theatre's Stage One Theatre School, and an alumni of Kamloops School of the Arts. We had the opportunity to chat with Rem about how Western Canada Theatre has helped shape his love of theatre, which has led to an amazing start to his career!

What aspects of WCT attracted you as an emerging artist? Why WCT?
WCT is such a pillar of the theatre community in Kamloops, I do not think there are many young aspiring actors from Kamloops and surrounding communities who are not attracted to working for this amazing company. When you grow up in Kamloops, certainly the proximity to the company is a factor, but I think another factor is that WCT shows are the ones that I watched growing up, they are the amazing works that inspired me to want to pursue theatre in the first place, so it became very easy to say “that is the place I want to work”.

Can you share specific elements of our productions that resonate with you?
I actually think the diversity of WCT’s productions is something about the company that really shines and makes it special. Each season at WCT has plenty of diverse types of shows, either through genre, or tone, or medium, and thus plenty for every kind of theatre lover to enjoy. At the same time, however, there are wonderful unifying elements to these diverse shows. You can always expect the shows to be high in quality, spectacle, and heart, no matter what kind of show it is.

How do you see WCT contributing to your growth as an artist?
WCT has had an immeasurable impact on my growth as an artist. Up until doing my first show at WCT, I only had experience doing theatre at Thompson Rivers University’s Actor’s Workshop Theatre. The jump from working on productions at the university to fully professional productions at WCT was a huge leap for me, and I cannot thank James MacDonald enough for giving me the opportunity to first experience what it was like to work in that capacity. If it were not for WCT, I would likely still not have learned all the things about the industry and the art that you learn from working in a professional environment. Working at WCT has inspired me to try new things, helped me develop new skills, and make new connections that will absolutely benefit my career in the arts. I have also had the pleasure of being an understudy in the productions I have worked on at WCT, and I think that is another amazing avenue that the company provides to its emerging artists. The ability to work under and with, and learn and steal from, typically more established artists is something that I think is invaluable to my development as an artist.

What experiences or performances at WCT have left a lasting impression on you?
Obviously, the shows that I have worked on at WCT each have innumerable memories attached to them. But in addition to those memories, I cannot help but think of memories of all the amazing shows I saw growing up at WCT through school field trips to student matinees. My first memory of theatre is coming all the way from Merritt, where I lived at the time, to see WCT’s 2007 production of Beauty and the Beast. The magic of theatre was palpable to my young mind at the time, and every year I looked forward to the field trips to the theatre. I think it is amazing that WCT does these student matinees and I know they helped instill a love of theatre in me at a young age.

How has WCT helped to advance your career/prepared you for the future? And how does the environment at WCT support and encourage emerging artists?
I think one of the most amazing things about WCT is the volume of opportunities available for emerging artists within the company. Every show that I have worked on at WCT has featured many local or emerging artists outside of myself, and in more artist roles than just acting. I think about Hurry Hard, which was being performed this time last year, and a large majority of the people working on that show, from designers to actors, to its director, were artists who choose to make Kamloops their homes. WCT is amazing for bringing professional theatre to this beautiful city, but I think now more than ever that professional theatre is being created by people from this beautiful city. And I think that is something deeply admirable that the company is doing.

As a graduate of the Stage One Theatre School, what is your advice to youth who are just starting out with acting/performing?
Do it and be brave! I remember starting out with stage one and being so nervous to go and try things. I think for kids who are in the process of becoming the dubious teenager, going and being silly in the way that Stage One is so good at facilitating can be terrifying and difficult. However, from my experience, one needs to fully embrace the silly and the strange before they can truly enjoy the joy of play that theatre provides. So if you find yourself hesitant to try acting or performing in general, I think it is important to just do it and have trust. Be brave and try silly things, and trust that it will be fun and that the world will not fall down if you do.  

Do you feel like your time with Stage One helped prepare you for professional theatre?
I am a certified Stage One kid, so I have gone through a few of the educational programs that WCT offers to young people interested in theatre. I feel that the general interest in performance and the ability to get up in front of a room full of people and be silly in a Stage One class has been integral to any amount of professional success that I have achieved or will achieve. It is not to say that people cannot get these things from other places, but the program set me up early in life with those things and also made me feel very sure and confident in them, and that's something that is deeply important and underlying to the work I am trying to do now.