Meet Director Sharisse LeBrun

Sharisse is directing the Jean-Michel Cliche play Hinter, which will debut as part of this year’s NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival.

Photo by Kiana Mozaaffari.

We’re very excited to welcome Sharisse LeBrun as one of this season’s directors. Known to many in the Fredericton theatre community through her work with both Bard in the Barracks Theatre Company and Theatre New Brunswick’s theatre school, Sharisse has contributed to many productions over the past several years as an actor and theatre instructor.

Currently working to complete her MA in Drama, Theatre and Performance studies, Sharisse is making her directorial debut as part of this year’s festival.

How did you first come involved in acting?

Since I can remember, I’ve always had a love for reading and storytelling. I’ve always had a book on the go, and especially loved getting lost in old timey musicals and variety shows. When I was eleven, a family friend pointed me in the direction of Theatre New Brunswick’s Theatre School. Not knowing a soul, I auditioned for the Intermediate Musical Theatre program and haven’t stopped being involved in theatre since.

You’re directing one of this year’s Acting Out productions. How have you found the transition going from on-stage to off-stage craft?

I stumbled on directing somewhat accidentally. A few years ago I began working for TNB’s theatre school because I love theatre, love children, and know personally the huge impact the programs have on young theatre people. I started just choreographing and working with the younger age groups and slowly took on more responsibility over the years, directing Junior Acting and Junior Musical theatre programs as well as the summer theatre school. I’ve seen myself as a theatre educator for a while now, but I think it took Tania Breen (the director of the theatre school) calling me a director to realize that that’s what I primarily do now. So while I still have lots of learning to do as a director, and am still learning to own that title, it feels very natural for me to be working on and off the stage.

Hinter In Rehearsal. L-R: Ryan Griffith (actor), Sharisse LeBrun (director), Telina Delby (acotr) and Amanda Thorne (actor).

How is the show developing and how long have you been rehearsing?

We only started working with the script about a week ago, but the script has already grown and morphed a lot since the first draft. I have an incredible cast of not only extremely talented and intelligent actors, but they are all very passionate and excited about the story we’re telling. And rightly so. Hinter is full of beautiful writing, and Jean-Michel Cliche has written characters that feel so real and relatable despite existing in a rather mystical universe. Watching how the actors’ experiences digging into these roles has shaped and influenced the last few drafts of the script has been really exciting.

Finally, let’s have some love for NotaBle Acts. Tell us why you think this festival is so important.

First, speaking to my earlier point above, it’s so important that playwrights have these opportunities to hear their text spoken out loud and to get actor feedback as they develop their script. The reading and rehearsal process so far has allowed for an already beautiful, creative story to become very clear and precise, to bring all of the pieces of the script together really cohesively. I’ve also seen it allow the characters Cliche has been creating to become that much more full and human as the actors begin to live in and make sense of the characters’ journeys. Having the opportunity to work with professional dramaturges is also a huge gift that NotaBle Acts brings to emerging and established New Brunswick playwrights.

For me personally, NotaBle Acts is giving me my first opportunity to direct outside of a theatre school setting. I’m getting to work with a script that is much more challenging and rich than what I usually get to work with, and actors with a lot more experience for me to learn from as a director. It feels like a very safe space for me to get to begin growing as a director in the Fredericton theatre community.

Finally, I just think it’s necessary that we continue to support and develop the work of local playwrights, so that we can continue to tell and witness the stories and this province and its people—the stories we want to hear and the stories we need to hear.

Catch Jean-Michel Cliche’s play Hinter, as part of this year’s Acting Out: Two One Act Plays series, August 3-5 at Memorial Hall (UNB), 7:30 p.m. | $15 regular, $10 students, seniors & underwaged. View Event

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