Who is Pamela Barker?
It’s taken me a long time to realize that it’s perfectly acceptable to call myself a writer, director, actor, or whatever I happen to be that day (admin assistant to pay the bills) and that those labels fit awkwardly on me because although labels make me uncomfortable, sometimes what they stand for doesn’t.
You’ve been a director, writer, creative director, business partner, and actor. What has been you’re favorite so far?
Writing and directing are tied for first. And when the two are combined (which presents its own challenges and stigmas), ultimately, I find it quite liberating to let go of my vision and let the actors take over for a bit to play around. Then, I step back and really think about whether my ego is working for or against the project. A true narcissist – it’s all about my ego in the end.
Which have you found the most challenging, and why?
The business aspect isn’t my strong point. Leonardo (previous partner and co-founder of Accidental Crossroads) and I joke about how I’m always finding ways to give away the money we raised to random people. He has had to put his foot down and say “Um. we need that money to put on the show.” To which I would respond “Oh yeah, right!” I wish I were exaggerating. The thing is, that there’s a nagging (and idealistic) “art should be free” feeling I get in my gut that I must find antibodies for. I’ve started reading Lewis Hyde’s book The Gift, so I’m hoping that will help give some perspective on the concept of art as commodity. Getting into deep waters, here.
I read you developed a drama program at an International School in Macau, China. Can you tell us about that?
I started the programme in 2007 at The International School of Macao, and developed it for a second school year. It was terrifying initially. I asked myself “Do I have enough experience to do this?” It was my first encounter with taking a bit of a blind plunge and truthfully it was starting that programme that made me realize I wanted to take more risks creatively and professionally.
You’re the co-founder of the new Toronto-based production company ‘Accidental Crossroads’. Where did the idea come from/ Why did you start it?
When I returned from China I promised myself two things: to write a lot and to apply to the Toronto Fringe, 2011. I found a coffee shop in Parkdale and went almost daily with pen and paper to write (old-school, I know – and much more productive for me). When autumn rolled around, I applied to the Fringe- terrified and excited to feel the terror. Randomly, at The Local pub in Roncesvalles, I met Ryan Watson and bounced preliminary show ideas off him if I got in. I approached Leonardo Dell’Anno and asked if he wanted to give a play a try. The rest fell into place. The company literally got its start with chance encounters, luck of the draw, and a lot of hard work from a lot of talented people.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I want Accidental Crossroads to become a home for any artist looking for inspiration (this will become more apparent when my website re-launches next year.)
I want Accidental Crossroads to continue to create unique plays, with a collective collaboration feeling always at the roots of the final product. I’d like to branch out into film.
I want to continue to enjoy the experience of newness that comes from each project or show.
You play Em in the brand new comedy The Mirror. Can you tell us what it’s about? your role, and what you hope the audience will get out of it?
Well, the problem is the sell. When people hear “a show about two single women struggling to find happiness”, men and women alike often roll their eyes and say “Not another female angst-ridden blah blah”.
But this show is actually different. Two very different women need to learn from each other, and they do it through various sketches depicting preconceptions or experiences within the dating world, or long-term relationships. Em’s relationship just ended, Kay has rarely been in one. How do they judge each other? How do they relate? It’s funny and upbeat and should leave any single person with the feeling that it’s quite normal to be happy. And as a bonus, I hope it leaves those in relationships feeling grateful for the healthy relationship they hopefully have. (If it’s not, this show may just be the poster child for break ups. Whooops!)
What else are you working on? Do you have any projects coming up that you’d like to share or are excited about?
Currently, I’ve got a web series in the beginning stages, a dramatic television series script started, a children’s adventure play (with life-sized puppets) outlined, and a random musical all dancing around in my brain. But, I need to figure a way to keep those projects sparking while I (shudders at the cliché) finish my novel, and (smiles at the prospect) focus on website development this year for Accidental Crossroads.
If you could only scream 1 thing out to the masses, what would it be?
Smile more. Seriously. Smile. (Don’t smile seriously, though – defeats the purpose of ya know. not taking things so seriously).