Thought Residency: Camila Diaz-Varela

Thought Residency: Camila Diaz-Varela

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Hi! This is Camila and this is my ninth thought.
Today I’m thinking about, I don’t know, the stories we tell each other. The stories we tell each other casually. I think theatre is so beautiful as a way to highlight stories and bring them into a (sometimes literal) spotlight, but there’s always these mini stories we tell each other right? You know? About what happened in our day or something we heard, and I find those endlessly fascinating.
And I guess a source of a lot of interesting times and fascination for me is this garden in the Citadel Theatre building. It’s this humid conservatory of tropical plants and I’m like “what is this doing in the middle of this theatre?”. And I’ve heard some stories. Like it’s actually a public park and the guy who built the McLab Theatre – this big theatre, this thrust theatre – just put it in there. That the plants come from the Muttart Conservatory. That there are cockroaches. But also it’s so beautiful. Yeah. Just a bunch of stories hanging around the leaves of that place.

Hey! This is Camila and this is my 8th thought.

It’s kind of expanding on something I was thinking about earlier in the month, about force and ease when learning new things, and this is kind of building off of that. I have new words now. I’m talking specifically about an example in circus – there’s a bunch of circus in the show I’m doing, like aerial stuff and tricks and parkour – and we were talking about the adrenaline rush you get, the healthy respect you have for the work, because you could literally die. It’s very dangerous.

But the play between adrenaline and skill. You can’t – yes, there’s going to be adrenaline, but you can’t rush anything. You actually have to be so still within the rushing, and that takes skill and craft.

And I feel that way about acting too sometimes. Sometimes you manipulate yourself emotionally into these states and it’s just adrenaline and pushing, but the skill is maybe not that. Yeah.

 

Hey. This is Camila and this is my 7th thought. Consent is the bomb. Consent is the shit. I swear in every single situation. Not just in the rehearsal hall, but, in the rehearsal hall it’s amazing. Because, basically, when you really connect with your scene partner and are on the same page, and agree to push boundaries together, that is magic.

And it’s not just a sexual thing, it’s not just like when the scene is getting intimate, or you have to get in there, or whatever. Any kind of scene partner, because you’re building a relationship with someone. You’re building a relationship as a professional artist but also as the characters, and it’s just so liberating. It’s so liberating.

And just basically: when you assume and you push things, push emotional states, manipulate, and are alone in your pushing, that’s scary for you and, guess what – it’s scary for the other person. So pro tip: don’t do that. Consent is awesome. Try it out.

Ooh and just to clarify, affirmative consent. I’m talking about affirmative consent.

 

This is Camila. This is my 6th thought. They’re little thought snippets.

Thought snippert number one: Spring is a secret hustler. It starts off really cold and right at the end – boom – it blooms. And that’s only what we see. It’s secret because all the work happens underground, underneath the surface. There’s lots of activity right now but it’s just inside. And that’s badass.

Thought number two: Change is constant, but I am the seed and the soil of that change, so I can shape how it grows. And that’s important to remember.

And then, the last part is just: I like that my voice can change. I like that I can name a new chapter and the story goes on.

 

Hi! This is Camila and this is my fifth thought.

I mean, in a nutshell, I’m thinking a lot about perfectionism. This is something I think about constantly when I’m making… anything. Anything, point blank. But definitely when it comes to making art, making theatre. Perfectionism, as in my own. And today it manifested in a lot of thoughts that sounded like ‘well, a good artist would do this’, or ‘you should do this’ or ‘this is how it should feel’, and ‘this is how it should be’ and that’s the least fun way to make anything, right? But then there’s a balance. I know people can relate to this, but today that has been my day. Just really considering and being in conversation with my inner perfectionist little gremlin. Love you gremlin. Can we be friends?

 

Hey! This is Camila and this is my fourth thought.

My brain feels like total mush today because I spent the whole day writing for a bunch of different projects, and my brain is now mashed potatoes. And so it’s almost like a waiting room in a video game. And this is what it sounds like, also. Musically. (She plays the omnichord.) Yeah. That’s called the writing brain mush theme. 2018, April. That’s what it is. It’s official.

 

Hi, this is Camila Diaz-Varela and this is my third thought.

Yesterday in a fight choreography session, we were learning a new sword sequence and there was some really interesting thought that got dropped, some wisdom, and it was this: the first time you do a fight, or learn a fight, you usually just go full throttle, full energy, full grip into it and it’s not unusual to be sore the next day. But the more that you practice the fight, the more that you refine where exactly to put your energy, the less sore you become and the more strong you become. And I thought that was a good thought for life really.

 

Hi! This is Camila Diaz-Varela and this is my second thought.

Today’s thought is about the springtime. It’s the spring guys. It’s awesome. It’s awesome. I’m in Ontario – no I’m not, I’m in Edmonton right now. I usually am in Ontario in the spring, and the lands are very different. Edmonton is much more north, much more west. But they both have wild leeks that grow, which is pretty cool. Probably different varieties, but they look very similar. So something I’ve been looking forward to, a little connection to home, is looking at the ground trying to see if I can spot any wild leeks on my way to work. I do cross a number of forests so I’ve got a pretty good chance. If anybody in Alberta sees any wild leeks, hit me up, tweet me. I want to know.

 

Doo doo doo.

Hey, this is Camila Diaz-Varela and this is my first thought. It is about wholeness. I find it really easy to compartmentalize myself, and it’s a way that I’ve been able to survive for the part couple of years as an artist. Trying to separate the different things that I do. I’m a theatre maker, playwright, musician, arts administrator, recovering actor, and I’m realizing that part of my healing as an actor – which I’m doing right now, quite actively – is remembering my wholeness as a person. If my neck is stressed, it’s not just my neck. It’s my whole back, down to my legs. Never forget you’re a whole thing, and it’s actually really cool.

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About the Author

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Camila Diaz-Varela is a first-generation Mexican-Canadian citizen, musician, and theatre maker based in Tkaronto, on Dish with One Spoon wampum belt treaty territory. She was born in Kjipuktuk on unceded Mi'kmaq territory (also known as Halifax, Nova Scotia) and is very proud of it. She is passionate about combining music, theatre, and conversations about justice. And learning to identify plants wherever she goes.