January 15th, 2016
Dean Patrick Fleming, Artistic Director of Geordie Productions
QDF: What got you involved with the Theatre World?
Dean: Oh my God! That is a long time ago. I believe I was 18 or 19, and I had a bunch of friends who did improv, comedy improv. They were a troop called Caught in the Act. One day, I wrote a skit for them. They said “Cool, we’ll do it if you do it with us.” So, I did, I performed with them. Then, I began to perform with them for two years. We treated ourselves as a band, we played in bars and we did a lot of crazy humor. I realized after a certain amount of time, that I wasn’t really good at it and I wanted to get better at it. So, a friend of mine told me that Concordia had a theatre department. I was about to quit University. I auditioned for Concordia with my first monologue I ever did. Al Goulem coached me because he was a part of the improv troop. And I got in. That completely changed my whole outlook and everything; it focused my life completely around theatre once I was in theatre school. I was a little bit older too so; it was good; I knew what I wanted. I think it is really interesting that when a person in school finds their passion that’s when learning changes. When you aren’t just there to get a mark or to finish school, you are actually there learning what you want to learn, learning the craft and the field. I used to be there all day and all evening.
QDF: Why is it so important for kids to see theatre?
Dean: Well I think in a way, it’s the same reasons as why all theatre is important, we go into a room and hopefully we’re seeing a little bit of the world we are living in; a slice of it put in front of us. It gives us an opportunity to see something different, then discuss it and think about it. I think that’s not different whether you are doing theatre for young audiences or doing theatre for adults. The topics might be different or the themes might differ. But the actual act of going to see the theatre and the importance of that act, I don’t think that’s different no matter what. That is what theatre is, and that is what I love about it. That’s what I love when I get to see a play and that is what happens. When it doesn’t happen it is disappointing.
QDF: At this year’s META awards, you received the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion award (EDI). How did you feel when you were awarded this?
Dean: Feels great. To be recognized for it, it was a moment of pride. It was lovely when I came off stage, Elsa Bolam, the founding Artistic Director of Geordie Productions, ran up to me, it meant a lot to me. She was really proud to be a part of that as well as the founder of the company. It is a vital part of where theatre has to go, right now. It is a big discussion that we have to be having. It was a proud moment. I also found it nice that it seemed like a special moment for the community.
QDF: What was a magical moment for you, while working as Artistic Director of Geordie Productions?
Dean: I don’t know, there is a lot. (Pause) Oh, God, there are so many, there really are! There are small moments, tiny little moments in time like the moment where the lights went down, in The Jungle Book, and the kids screamed, full out. Just ‘cause they were so excited. That this was about to happen. It just blew me away that I wanted all audiences to be that excited about a play. Or a moment in Beethoven Lives Upstairs on opening night, in a very quiet moment, where Beethoven discovers he is going deaf. There is a small light on Alex McCooeye, who played Beethoven, and I just heard this little voice in the audience, from a kid say, “Daddy, are you crying?” And then the father answered “Yes, very much.” It’s the effect of theatre, the effect of a moment. Or in Chloe’s Choice, when a group of Muslim girls were so excited ‘cause they saw a Muslim character on stage. I was sitting in the lobby and they were beaming. It’s just moments like that that you remember but there are a bunch of moments. I don’t really know if there is one, there have been too many.
QDF: What do you hope to leave as a legacy to Geordie?
Dean: I would like to leave a company that is respected in the work that we do. A company that other companies want to bring their work in and a company that is in an ok financial state. I’d like to leave what Elsa left for me, a place to jump off for the new person to come in. I want them to come in and to have the ability and the structure here, so that they can take a new chance, go crazy and do something that they want to do. I think that the new artistic director needs to feel that that’s what he or she can do.
QDF: What is next for you?
Dean: I have no idea. No, I really don’t, I have been answering that question now for about three months and I still don’t have a new answer. It’s both scary and exciting. I like to think about it as those two things together always bring good things. But, I don’t know. I said to Amanda, my partner, “I wonder if Beethoven will be the last play I direct.” And she was like “I don’t think so.” And I said, “Well no, but maybe, you never know.” I guess it depends on what happens. I am planning on staying in Montreal for little bit, my youngest kid is still in high school, and I’ll certainly stay till he is done high school. I would like to direct elsewhere though. I would like to direct for the companies here. I will be directing at Concordia in the spring then I’ll direct Geordie’s final show this year. It’s one of my favorite shows that we have done in the past 10 years during my time here. And then we’ll see. I have been fortunate enough to gain a lot of knowledge over the past 10 years and I would like to take that somewhere and to be able to share it.
QDF: You studied at Concordia University’s Theatre Performance program, what made you want to go into directing?
Dean: I just was starting to enjoy watching the people who were directing me. I am a control freak. I mean, I do collaborate, I learned how to do that. I love the idea of creating the world and trying to get everybody into the same world. I think it is so much fun! I get to work with artists and see what they do. I started to do that right away in school, I directed my first show. They allowed me to do that, it was fun, and I enjoyed it. I have enjoyed every single show I have been a part of.
QDF: For an emerging director, what is one tip you wished you had when you started?
Dean: My tip would be to understand that we want them to succeed. That it’s not that big of a game; nobody is sitting on a high mountain judging them. We’re all here; we’re all just trying to make it good and to make it work, so that we can talk to people, at least more easily than I felt I could. But the one thing I hope they do, that I did, is to just watch people. If you have the opportunity to be in the room, with someone you respect, do it! Just get in there, watch the way they work. I was lucky enough to work as an actor, a decent amount. And I went to every rehearsal whether I was called or not, to watch the director and how he or she would interact with actors. Also, I would see what other actors were doing and just seeing the pictures that were being created.