Joelle Wyminga, who grew up in Nanko, took part in Bard on the Beach summer internship program. (Submitted Photo)

Quesnel-area actor celebrates summer of Shakespeare

Joelle Wyminga interned with Bard on the Beach, despite COVID-19 cancelling the festival

Joelle Wyminga was recognized as one of Canada’s rising theatre stars. She was part of ‘Riotous Youth,’ a paid internship from Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach program and received funding from the RBC Emerging Artist Program.

Not bad for a kid who grew up in Nazko.

“There wasn’t a lot of live theatre,” Wyminga said. “As kids my sister and I’s favourite thing at school was getting to perform in our Christmas Concerts.”

Bard on the Beach was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the internship was in jeopardy. RBC Emerging Artists stepped up to provide funding and keep the program alive.

“We were able to all come together and figure out what parts of the program we could keep and what could be modified,” Wyminga said. “It’s been really great to have something to do over the summer… We put together a showcase that released on the Bard on the Beach Youtube, it’s us performing Shakespeare, but recorded on our phones.”

Riotous Youth also run a ‘Young Shakespeareans’ summer camp, which Wyminga was in the middle of instructing while talking.

How do you digitize the experience and bring the essence and entertainment of Shakespeare to a computer screen?” Katie Johnstone, Education Coordinator for Bard on the Beach asked. “Our interns showed us not only that this could be done, but that it could be done with a lot of creativity.”

After finishing up with Bard on the Beach, Wyminga’s focus will shift to her own theatre company. The graduate of Trinity Western University founded a grassroots theatre company called Far From the Tree Productions with her sister, Shelby Wyminga and Zach Running Coyote.

“Throughout the summer we have been working on an audio production I adapted of Little Women,” she said. “We’re working on editing that and the hope right now is it will be released around Christmas.”

READ MORE: Study finds 2019 was a ‘banner year’ for female filmmakers

In 2015 Joelle’s parents – Jon Wyminga and Shannon Bell – started the Nazko Arts and Music Festival as a way to recognize artists in the community.

“My first memory of Shakespeare was these little cassette tapes that we had that were Shakespeare stories for kids that we would listen to in the car,” Wyminga said. “We had Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, and a Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s incredible to me that those tapes have led me all the way to where I am now, part of one of the theatre programs out there helping shift Shakespeare to the virtual world.”

READ MORE: Making music and memories in Nazko

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