By Sonja Jacobsen
Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with all-theatre-everything gal Natalie Collins, whose one-woman show Graceless Grace has danced its way onto the Waterfront Theatre stage for this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival. This is Natalie’s debut Fringe show and her first time putting on a show that she both wrote and is performing.
Graceless Grace had its early beginnings in 2014 as a Grad project during Natalie’s time as a production student at Studio 58. It started as a ten minute long character piece, but has since sprung into a full length production. The comedy show centres around eighteen-year-old Grace Monroe as she tackles the audition of her life…for Canada’s Next Dance Star! Unfortunately, unlike Natalie’s honest family, Grace’s parents give their daughter unrealistically positive feedback about her dance skills. Graceless Grace tells the story of the character’s fall from a grace she has to realize she never had in the first place.
We all know a Grace, an over-confident under-achiever who dreams a little too big. When I asked Natalie if she related to her character, she was hesitant due to Grace’s ability to live in ignorance of her lack of dance expertise for years. In her real life, her sister had no problem
telling her she couldn’t dance. After Grace faces reality, Natalie is able to see more of herself in the character she created.
“In grade 12, if you had told me I’d be doing a one-man show choreographed by my best friend…” She said, laughing. This was not her expected path.
Natalie’s love story with theatre is not the cliché “Everyone knew I was made for the stage from the moment I was born.” In elementary school, she was more into hockey, but in high school she couldn’t find a decent team, so instead she joined the school production. She was really just looking for something fun to do with her friend and certainly wasn’t expecting it to become her life path. That same friend, Kai Bradbury, choreographed the dancing for all of Graceless Grace.
Humble Natalie is still a bit baffled that a show she created from scratch is being put on at one of the best theatre festivals in Vancouver. I asked her about what she would tell a young version of herself or what advice she would pass on to people striving to dip their foot into the Vancouver theatre scene. She told me that although the Fringe Festival seemed way out of reach, realizing it was within her grasp was crucial. If this one mountain wasn’t as big as she built it up to be, the future mountains are likely not to be so big either.
Graceless Grace plays as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival until September 17th.
Tickets: $14 | Location: Waterfront Theatre | Website