White hand-drawn block letters read Immigrant Lessons on a purple-red gradient background filled with letter outlines.
Donor Funded

COMPANY IN RESIDENCE

The Company-in-Residence program is designed to offer professional development, encouragement, and resources for a Vancouver-based company in its early years of creating and producing theatre-based performance.

The program is an opportunity for a young company to gain insight into the operations of a large not-for-profit organization, and to explore their own work within a supportive environment. It is designed as a “one-size-fits-one” model and can respond to the needs and aspirations of the chosen Company in Residence. A variety of goals can be proposed for the residency. For instance: development of company infrastructure; gaining perspectives about production, script development, or touring; the creation of a new work; or learning how to more efficiently market the art.

2021–2022 Company in Residence: Immigrant Lessons

Established in 2016, Immigrant Lessons is a vibrant, young collective that exists in multiplicity as an arthouse, research/creation lab, youth artist incubator, and interdisciplinary performance troupe. It utilizes and explores the mediums of dance/movement, theatre, film, photography, digital media and technology, spoken word, creative writing, music, fashion, visual media, and design. Using an exciting mashup of styles including street dance, hip-hop, dancehall, Afrobeat, and more, they tell stories of first- and second-generation immigrants navigating Canadian culture and facing questions of identity and belonging. Audiences are taken on an emotional journey through curiosity, struggle, and love. The collective is directed/founded by Queer Black (Afro-Caribbean) interdisciplinary artist Kevin Fraser. Its core artistic associates include: Sophia Gamboa, Sevrin Emnacen-Boyd, Simran Sachar, Joshua Cameron, Hayden Pereira, Vanessa Yuen, and Joanne Park. In addition to its core members, Immigrant Lessons regularly brings in guest mentors, collaborators, and interpreters for its umbrella of work, research, exploration, and collaborations.

Immigrant Lessons

Kevin Fraser, Director/Founder of Immigrant Lessons, answered some questions for the Arts Club.

Q. What/Who is Immigrant Lessons? What do you do?
A. I feel like there’s been so many shifts in the meaning of why it is I create under that moniker. Immigrant Lessons, for me, is shaping into this multiplicity of different perspectives that also encapsulate creation and research development. Right now, I have multiple casts along multiple streams of research that are based in different ideas that I’d like to excavate, and right now we are leaning more into film and theatre. In short, Immigrant Lessons is a creative hub to give voice to different socio-economical issues that still keep people marginalized but also reimagine the framework.

Q. How did you get started with Immigrant Lessons?
A. Immigrant Lessons was a collective that started in 2016, primarily of street dancers. It started as a space to hold for under-represented and under-served communities, underground artists, queer, LGBTQ and BIPOC youth—basically sort of an incubator for young artists that don’t normally get opportunities to work in different realms. We trained mainly in street dance forms and it started out more as a lower key thing where we would get together once a week, hang out on the weekends. Then, the trajectory changed the more that I wanted to lead into different ways I could explore my art.

Q. What is your mission with Immigrant Lessons?
A. Immigrant Lessons is a space/realm in which I can use what I know and what I love to give voice to people who feel voiceless, unseen, counted out, at a disparity, and so on. That’s what it is for me—really giving agency and support to individuals that have these feelings and sharing experiences; that’s what I love doing.

Q. Why did you decide to participate in the Arts Club Company-in-Residence program?
A. As I was diving more into theatre, I was very interested in the house, just because I’ve spent most of my time predominantly in dance for the last 15 years. And since I do have a theatre background, I wanted to dive back in and play more in that realm, and learn how to write plays. It was all part of a big intrigue. I’m pretty fearless in the way that I love diving into new things, so I just took a chance and applied and hoped that the Arts Club would be interested in that transition I wanted to make in myself.

Q. What are you hoping to learn by working with the Arts Club?
A. I really want to get a deep knowledge of the process of developing a play. I want to see if I can sit on some processes and would love to see what it is to develop a script and see the very beginnings, from the read-through, through to the stage. It’d be really interesting to see different theatre processes being developed, and then see how that informs my process in creating a script and using that inspiration to write my own. It’s really about developing a base for what the theatre world is. I’m always interested in pushing boundaries of different ways mediums inform each other and how they collide.