40 Questions with Erin

Date posted: June 5, 2018

Over the summer we’ve asked our staff to participate in 40 Questions – a questionnaire we ask the actors of each production to fill in. We thought you would like to get to know the different people who work here.

This time it’s Erin Macklem, our Artistic Associate and Outreach Coordinator.

Where were you born?
Dawson Creek, BC (no, not Dawson’s Creek – that’s a TV show)
What did / do your parents do?
My mom, who is from Saskatchewan, was a nurse who worked in many capacities: ER, seniors’ care, public health. In her early career she worked in Northern communitites – she has a great story about helping to deliver a baby on a plane one night on the way to the hospital! My dad, also born in Dawson Creek, spent his early twenties hitch-hiking around the world – he lived on a Kibbutz in Israel for a while. That wandering spirit informed his career path – he’s had many careers over the years.
I have one younger brother – we were ambivalent towards each other as kids (when not openly hostile) but now he is my hero. He has a Masters in Experimental Math and a PhD in Computer Science. I have no idea what he does in his work – or what he’s talking about when he tries to explain it to me. But he is the best dad ever to my two little neices. They will rule the world one day. And the world will be in good hands.
Where do you live now?
I am grateful to live on the unceded lands of the Lekwungen speaking people – also know as the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. I’ve been a guest on these territories, now known as Victoria, for 24 years.
Do you speak a second language? What?
Sort of. My mom’s first language is French but she stopped speaking it when she was around 11 because the town she lived in was mostly Anglophone, and other Francophones told her she had a funny accent. Turns out it was a Metis accent but she didn’t discover that until decades later, after her father passed on. All this to say that I speak a bit of French, and am actively learning more – with my daughter who just started French immersion. She’s helping me.
Favourite colour?
Green. No wait, blue. No green. But also blue. Like Robin’s Egg blue.
Favourite book?
Oooh, tough one. Margaret Atwood’s “Good Bones” really spoke to me when I first read it in my late teens and it’s remained a favourite. But if I had to pick a recent favourite I’d say “All Our Wrong Todays” by Elan Mastai. I don’t usually go in for Sci-Fi but this book was highliy recommended at a Belfry Booksmack and I took a chance. It blew my mind. I like how it’s plays with time and also the very form of the novel.
Favourite movie?
I cry every time I watch “Cradle Will Rock” – it’s like a strange meta love letter to theatre and musicals and the power of art to rise above adversity (I’m tearing up already). But I’ve watched “Cold Comfort Farm” about 80 times. I can recite the whole thing. The way Flora Post comes in and cleans up always inspires my disorganized ass.
Favourite piece of clothing?
Anyone who knows me will appreciat that this question is impossible for me to answer. Shoes? In general. Does that count?
Favourite Quote?
“My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” – Louis Riel, July 4, 1885
Favourite food?
Whatever is the daily special at Picnic Two on Fort Street. And their “Matchai.”
Favourite dish to make?
In my family we call it “bowl food”. It’s like a sausage stew with whatever winter vegetables are on hand. It’s always a little different, and always even better the next day. Also crepes. But my kid won’t eat them so I don’t make them as much as I’d like.
Favourite word?
“Circuitous” – people tell me this word describes the path I take to “get to the point” (or don’t).
Favourite piece of music?
Music! My other love (besides shoes and theatre). How can I choose? I’m a big fan of Canadian Indie music – favourites being Stars, Metric, New Pornographers, Memphis, Portico (not to be confused with Portico Quartet). But I also LOVE Kate Bush, Liz Phair, Nina Simone, Peter Gabriel, Talk Talk, Cat Stevens, Arvo Part, Debussy and Satie. And I cried when Chris Cornell died. OH – and the soundtrack for Onegin.
Favourite character (real or fictional)?
Flora Post (see “Cold Comfort Farm” above). She takes no prisoners.
Dream car?
Solar powered electric pop top Westfalia camper van.
Current car?
2007 Honda Fit – the seats fold flat – I can fit a lot of gack in there.
What do you do after a show?
If it’s a show I’ve worked on – drinks with the cast!
What do you do in your downtime?
Go to the park with my daughter, listen to music, go thrift shopping, bead.
First paid acting gig?
I was a magician’s assistant right after high school. Yes, I got sawed in half. No, I can’t tell you how it was done. I was sworn to secrecy.
First acting gig?
I was in a kids’ choir in Creston and we would often participate in the high school musicals. So I played a street urchin in the melodrama “Nellie” and a Munchkin in “The Wizard of Oz” when I was about seven.
Your most terrifying backstage incident?
I designed costumes for “Beauty and the Beast” and the Beast’s transformation to the prince was precisely timed with lighting effects that sort of blinded the audience to they couldn’t see what was happening on stage. The cues were really complicated to call and on opening night something went wrong and the poor actors were madly doing this quick change on stage…and the whole audience could see it happening.
Your most terrifying onstage incident?
Performing in Cabaret in Kelowna during the Okanagan Mountain Park fire, on the night of the fire storm. Every time we got off stage we were getting news about the evacuation orders. By the end of the show over half of the cast had to find other places to stay because we couldn’t go home. I remember driving to Vernon to stay with my Grandma and watching the fire rage down the mountain, trees and houses exploding. It was nearly midnight and highway traffic was backed up in both directions.
How many miles do you log a year?
I stay pretty close to home these days since my daughter started school – but we go back and forth to Kelowna quite a bit to visit my family.
Strangest job you’ve ever had?
Playing a dead body in the Belfry’s production of Rachel Wyatt’s “Knock Knock.” I got rolled out in a coffin and the characters danced around me like they were playing musical chairs. When the music stopped they all grabbed the string closest to them which were attached to rings on my fingers – so my arms shot out of the coffin and the characters prised the rings off my fingers. I had the best curtain call ever.
If I wasn’t an actor (designer / director / playwright) I would be?

Or a private investigator.

Or I’d own a little shop where I’d resell all the treasures I find at the thrift shops.

Best advice someone has given you?
“Good enough is good enough.” This was in relation to being a new parent, but as a perfectionist who struggles with anxiety it’s been good advice for many things in life.
Best meal ever?
A seafood platter. More scallops please.
Best show you’ve seen?
Kidd Pivot’s “Double Story” – the second piece “Man Asunder” remains the most perfectly realized piece of dance theatre I’ve ever seen. When the show was done I just sat there in the MacPherson with my heart in my throat until the usher finally encouraged me to leave.

Also Onegin. I saw the Arts Club production and begged Michael to program it. (Thank you Michael!) When I saw our first preview I bawled my guts out. I had to quickly gather my wits to host the Afterplay discussion!

Best concert you’ve attended?
Large venue – “Cake” at Rifflandia 2012

Small venue – tied between “Memphis” and “Bruce Peninsula” at Logan’s

Most inspiring person you know?
Monique Gray Smith – an amazing author, an inspiring speaker, and a beautiful human being. She teaches about the inter-generational trauma resulting from the Indian Act and residential schools while focusing on reconciliation, respect, relationships, and resilience. I learned more about this country’s history from her in one hour than I did in my entire formal education. Her generosity of spirit and kind heart lift me up and fill my heart with happiness.
Pet Peeve(s)?
People driving slowly in the fast lane.

When something goes missing from a set of things.

One word answers.

Five people (real or fictional / dead or alive) that you would invite to a dinner party? Why?
Tommy Smothers – because he’s hilarious, politically on point, and I always liked him best.

My brother – because he’s a genius, he’s funny and he’s awesome. And he’s also big fan of Tommy Smothers so they’s get on like a house on fire.

Terry O’Reilly – because I love hearing about the weird world of advertising (and I’d ask he if could invite Ari Posner and Ian Lefeuvre to play variations on the theme song from “Under the Influence” all night long). It is a dinner party, after all, right?

Celina Laderoute – my great grandmother on my mom’s side. I never met her but family stories tell me she was a healer, fluent in seven languages, and had a quick wit. Apparently, when she was at odds with my great grandfather (Jean Baptiste Laderoute) she’d say “Don’t think you’d even be here if it weren’t for your blue eyes.” Since she chose him for his blue eyes I like to think she had a hand in choosing my blue eyes.

Miss Hannigan (from “Annie”, as played by Carol Burnett) – because she’d keep everyone in bathtub gin and hand out awesome gaudy lavalieres as party favours while singing about how damned hard life is but there better days to come.

Celebrity Crush?
Alan Rickman as Snape
What are you most proud of?
The 2016 production of “This Little Light” at the Belfry that I wrote with Brad L’Ecuyer. This contemporary reboot of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl” was set in Fernwood and celebrates friendship, music, and light in the darkest days of winter. The play was produced in partnership with the Canadian College of Performing Arts, with George Jay Elementary School, Central Middle School, and other wonderful members of the community. Thank you Michael and Ivan, thank you Belfry team, thank you Jane, and THANK YOU Brad.
The quality you most like in a man?
The quality you most like in a woman?
Your greatest fear?
My daughter dying before I do.
When do you lie?
When my daughter asks me if I can afford to buy her that cookie. Well, sometimes it’s not a lie, depends how close to pay day it is.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Laying on a blanket in the grass with my daughter, looking up through tree branches to a blue sky with a warm breeze blowing the clouds by.