Profile: Kathleen Hamilton
by Jane Ledwell
Kathleen Hamilton doesn’t mind being known as a “shameless hussy”: she wrote and directed a play of the same name. Neither does she mind being known as a blonde, though her one-woman show Blonde Moments turns common assumptions about blondes on their heads (so to speak).
“When I workshopped Blonde Moments it changed me,” states Kathleen. “It was healing, on a very deep level… I’ve always been affected by one-woman shows, written and performed by the artist. Personally, for me, those have always been powerful. I thought, why not make more of those?”
This thought led her to create Solo Works, in which brave participants develop, write, and perform monologues. Their efforts culminate in a public performance to a packed house. Kathleen has run this program twice, autumn 2003 and 2004. “Solo Works is very dear to my heart,” she says. “It is so empowering and artistically satisfying for [the writer/performers]. It creates a safe environment where they can come out, give a piece of their own truth, their own beauty. For me, that’s way up there on the scale of ‘art.’
“There are a lot of bright lights on Prince Edward Island. Many, many,” says Kathleen. “But some keep their light hidden. The more we see other people being themselves, the more we give ourselves permission to be ourselves—as artists, and as human beings. We dissolve barriers of persona.”
Kathleen loves to play with persona through acting as well as writing, so she and several others have formed Beyond the Bridge Theatre Collective, to produce original and especially Canadian plays. “Obviously, we’re looking for strong parts for women,” Kathleen says, “and material we can get behind, short of writing our own material (which we have done and will do again).” The collective’s first production will be Daniel McIvor’s Marion Bridge, with Kathleen, Christina Forgeron, and Melissa Mullen, directed by Laurel Smythe.
Kathleen says the actors “recognize the humanity” in MacIvor’s “amazing” characters. For Kathleen, to act is not to relinquish the voice she develops in her self-written shows. “To be able to give life to them, you have to go deeper into your self, to honour and respect characters created by someone else.”
And, as if she didn’t have enough on the go, Kathleen’s “big creative project” is her four-year-old, Cuyler. “I worried, you know, that being a mother would interfere with my creative process,” Kathleen confesses, “but, really, it has enhanced it. For one, I focus on what is truly important. Time away from him really has to count for something. Also, every performer could learn from observing children—the amazing courage children have. Even in learning to walk, for instance.”
Since Cuyler’s birth, Kathleen has also been working on a book (with Susanna Rutherford), tentatively called Sex After Baby. Kathleen says, “When I was pregnant with Cuyler, I read everything. I wanted to be prepared for everything. There was nothing about the profound changes a women goes through in her sexuality. This really annoyed me.” Kathleen would someday love to make a film, but the idea is on hold—“Maybe after I sell this book and go on Oprah and make a ton of money,” she smirks.
Instead, Kathleen will next facilitate a writing course in Montague, where she lives. Her last two writing courses developed into groups that still meet regularly. “Each group wanted to keep going. So they kept going, and they let me come. Now, I don’t facilitate: we take turns.”
Kathleen also says, matter-of-factly, “We eat lots of chocolate. When we did Solo Works we ate chocolate every night. Chocolate is pleasure. And writing is pleasurable—it gets you in that zone of expecting to experience pleasure.
“More brilliance! More chocolate!” Kathleen says lightly. But her demand for “more” from the universe is sincere. If she receives more than she needs for her own use, then all the more to share around.
NOTE: Beyond the Bridge’s production of Marion Bridge is scheduled to be on-stage in late February/early March, but, at the time of writing, the production has been left homeless due to the schedule for renovations at the Arts Guild, where it had been booked. The Collective hopes to confirm location and dates as soon as possible.