To be asked to create something out of your knowledge and comfort zone, in a collaborative environment, under a time constraint, with a guaranteed audience, and you’ll be provided with rehearsal space and paid for your work. Are you kidding? I would do this every month if I could.
Q: Tell us about yourself.
RIEL: I am a Vancouver based comedian who has been described as “delicious”, “hilarious”, “ferocious”, “filthy mouthed” and as “a blizzard in the House of Commons”. I grew up traveling with the Caravan Stage Company, town to town by horse and wagon, and later worked extensively with the Caravan Farm Theatre. Familialy I come from a long line of compassionate, opinionated, active and funny lefties. These experiences provided me with a rich cache of stories, and some discomfort with stasis and classism. I am constantly searching for the new, inclusive and stimulating both personally and professionally. Ultimately I believe that funny trumps everything.
Q: Tell us about your Brief Encounter.
RIEL: I was paired with Serge Bennethan, a choreographer, who I had never heard of (sorry Serge!). I asked around and people’s jaws sort of dropped, and I realized maybe he was someone I was a bit lucky to be paired with, and possibly he was a bit KNOWN, and whatever…so I got a little nervous. Then we met and the world just sort of settled into a right feeling. What a joy to be paired with Serge. We right away agreed that our best way to use our limited time together was to delve headlong into each other’s art forms. In the end it was a very funny and charming piece of theatre, I danced and he was funny, and one which I never, ever would have created without Brief Encounters.
Q: What is your favourite thing about Brief Encounters?
RIEL: My favourite thing about Brief Encounters is that it provides this incredible platform for shifting your paradigm as an artist, to be bold and brave. To be asked to create something out of your knowledge and comfort zone, in a collaborative environment, under a time constraint, with a guaranteed audience, and you’ll be provided with rehearsal space and paid for your work. Are you kidding? I would do this every month if I could.
Q: What is the coolest thing Brief Encounters does for the community?
RIEL: Brief Encounters gives the artists and audience alike a glimpse into the excitement of collaboration, the joy of risk taking and the absolute necessity of connection and engagement. Artists are challenged, but so is the audience, because suddenly you don’t just have a room full of people who came to see dance, or a play, or a band, but a room full of people who came for all of these things, who came because they desired their curiosity and hearts to be awakened and opened. To see what’s possible when humans gather, converse, create.
Q: How has your time with Brief Encounters affected you career?
RIEL: My work with Brief Encounters has led to so many surprising and interesting connections, and each of them have led to my confidence as a writer and performer growing by leaps and bounds. These connections have encouraged me to take risks both at home and abroad and have helped me shape my idea of where I want my career to go. I do not think it is overstating the case to say that my experience with Brief Encounters was a pivotal and paradigm shifting moment for me both personally and professionally.
Q: What are you up to now?
RIEL: I am gathering together all the threads of my work and designing the tapestry of my career, finding where the Vancouver ceiling is and taking myself to bigger markets, in hopes of always being able to make a living at my art! I am producing comedy shows, including a weekly show called Amuse Bouche, and quietly writing a little webisode thing that may or may not find it’s way to being made, but I hope it does because it’s really funny. I have performed comedy across North America, but me and New York are in love and are planning a future together. If necessary, New York will move with me to Los Angeles because of my career and because we both love the weather and street tacos. If you stop by my house with two bucks you can get some advice or a conversation. Seriously.