MTYP’s Rising Star – Shae-Lynn Papiz
Shae-Lynn Papiz has been a student at MTYP for many years. She is also an amazing teaching assistant!
Last May, Shae-Lynn played the role of the Major General in MTYP’S Musical Theatre Company’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. This is her last year at MTYP and in the fall she will be heading to Edmonton to study Musical Theatre at Grant MacEwan University! You have one last chance to her in Tumbling After, currently playing at the Fringe Festival, which was written and directed by MTYP’S own Theresa Thomson.
Q: What inspired you to get into theatre?
Shae-Lynn: My family was supposed to go see Cats at Rainbow Stage and my uncle had been sick and we didn’t want to waste a ticket. My mom said, “You are going to see the show”. My original thought about Musical Theatre was that it was stupid, and I didn’t understand the point of everyone singing everything. I didn’t understand what the big deal about theatre was. But I went that night to the show with an open mind. I came out saying “this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”. And its helped me overcome so many hurtles that without the theatre, I would still be struggling with today.
Q: What are some of your best memories as an actor/theatre artist?
Shae-Lynn: This is a difficult question because there are so many amazing experiences I have had and amazing people I have met. A couple that really stand out to me though, is my first time ever playing a main character in a musical. I was in grade 8 and we were doing Shrek and I ended up playing Fiona. That experience opened my eyes to what I can do in theatre. Working with everyone, and hearing their advice really helped me push forward in theatre. Playing the role of Fiona has really stuck with me and forced me to come out of my shell and really take risks as an actor. This helps as a young person going into such a competitive field. My time in Musical Theatre Company at MTYP has also pushed me out of my shell. I have met some incredible people, and I will never forget the time I have spent with them and the long hours we have worked together! Everything that I have learned from that time is unbelievable, and I never would have imagined having such a great experience.
Q: You just directed your first show! What was that experience like? What did you learn from being a director?
Shae-Lynn: It was scary at first. At my high school we are project based, so we do everything based on our interests. Normally students do one year projects or half a year, and mine took me three years. I was planning for one show and had to stop half way through because of other issues that happened, and had to restart. So everything I had done over a year I had to do in four months! With directing, it was interesting getting to see actors from a director’s point, because I had always been an actor in these situations. Getting to see how actors work, and how they think from a director’s point of view was great. Hearing students talk about things they didn’t like from past experiences in theatre was helpful. I tried to stay mindful of those comments when I directed the students. A lot of them had never done theatre before in their life or ever thought they could do it. So I got them up on stage for the very first time! I was able them things that they can not only translate on stage but in real life. And from a director’s standpoint, that really helped me grow. It was great to see my friends act on stage and getting encouragement and mentorship from other people in the community: from MTYP, Rainbow Stage and SIR. Getting trained in the behind-the-scenes really strengthened me as an actor, and has really given me more appreciation for what goes on behind-the-scenes, and the thought process that goes behind all shows and how they are picked for a reason.
Q: Do you think starting as an actor first helped you communicate as a director?
Shae-Lynn: Starting out as an actor really helps directing: it’s knowing the way actors think. From my experience as an actor, I know I’m more motivated when my director’s motivated. So as an actor coming into a director’s role, I make sure to clearly get that across to my cast. That allows them to follow the journey with me and no one is left in the background. As well as that whole experience of hearing comments and hearing what people may not like… I certainly have had experiences where I may not have liked the atmosphere created, and I’m a very positive person I like to think, so I try to create that positive environment for everyone to thrive in, and to be the best person they can be at all times. Starting from that actor root, really helps build those branches for a director.
Q: This year you are taking part in MTYP’S summer studio production at the Fringe. What’s it like working on a Fringe show? What has your experience been like working with the Summer Studio the last few years?
Shae-Lynn: Working on a Fringe show is such a special experience. Fringe is a time where all actors get together and stand on stage and show their stories and talent with people of all ages. When I got the chance to be in a Fringe show with Summer Studio at MTYP, I was so excited. It was my first time doing a show that was not a musical. It was a challenge to not only be in a show without music, but rely on my acting abilities alone. It was a learning experience that improved me as an actor and a person. The Fringe shows are always short, so it was interesting trying to convey a message in a short amount of time. I transfer those skills to when I direct. It takes a specific amount of skills to do a Fringe show and I feel that being in Summer Studio has made me a fantastic actor and communicator on and off the stage.
As it is my final year at MTYP as a student, I am looking forward to my last show in the Winnipeg Fringe and learning as much as I can. The experiences that I have had at MTYP have been a huge part of making me into who I am today.
Q: And finally, what is the feeling you get when you step onto the stage in an empty theatre?
Shae-Lynn: When I was thinking about this question it really brought up a lot of emotions for me. I think the first thing I feel is I’m home. This is where I want to be, I feel like myself on stage. Now it’s kind of interesting because I have really bad anxiety, and when I was younger it used to be quite bad, and theatre was kind of something that you really had to be out there to be in. When stepping on the stage I felt powerful, I felt encouraged and I felt like I was home… I was in a second home. It washed away all those fears and anxiety, and as soon as I step onto the empty stage I know I don’t want to be anywhere else but there.
*Fun Fact: Shae-Lynn’s grandfather (her GG) played the Major General in The Pirates of Penzance when he was Shae-Lynn’s age. She played that same role this past Spring in our Musical Theatre Company Production.