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March 6, 2011 / Jenny Ann Fraser

The Grand Finale

I cannot remember the exact moment when, as a child, I discovered that I can imagine something and then make it come into reality by using my own mind and my own hands. I think I have always assumed that this was the purpose of minds and hands, because I have always felt that is what I was made for.

I can remember being 6 or 7, sewing the outline of a crude Christmas tree into a scrap of corduroy from my Mum’s sewing supplies, gluing it to Popsicle sticks and proudly giving it to my next-door neighbour on Christmas day. It may have been the praise that hooked me, but I think it was probably destiny.

I wanted to be a dance teacher when I grew up. This was solely because I thought that dance teachers got to decide what costumes we wore for our yearly recital and I couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful… until I grew up and discovered that I could get paid to play with the satin and sequins without having to dance. Which is a good thing, because playing with satin and sequins is a heck of a lot harder than it looks and doesn’t leave time for much else.

One of my closest friends often describes me to people as a Systems Analyst. I am a technician who loves most to figure out how to make things work, which is why I happily leave the work of designing to those more talented and imaginative. I prefer to sink myself into how to make the idea a reality. That challenge, more than anything else is what excites me.

Having had a job that allowed me to figure out how to draft a pattern to make the chosen materials work and then deciding the best way to put it together was the obvious career choice. Seeing it come to life on stage is just the icing on the cake. It hasn’t simply been what I do, it has been who I am.

But, the long hours of difficult work and the financial insecurity of a seasonal position have taken their toll, and I have had no doubt for a few years now that it is time to move on.

Still, leaving Prairie Theatre Exchange after 11 seasons as Head of Wardrobe and nearly 16 years in the Winnipeg arts community feels sadly a bit more like losing a limb than moving on to greater opportunity.

Although I have no doubt whatsoever about my decision, leaving so many wonderful, talented, people after so many years together is much harder than I had imagined. Sometimes even new opportunities create reason to grieve.

Prairie Theatre Exchange is not only a part of who I was, it is also the only place in my whole life that I ever felt I belonged.

My work has meant the birth of friendships that will last a lifetime. Shared heartache joy, success, and a lot of laughs. The long hard hours, and stress seem insignificant in comparison. That chapter of my life has come to a close but I can choose to remember all that was good. There is after all, so much to be grateful for, and in this moment, despite my tears, I am truly grateful.

I am grateful that I was able to work in a field that allowed me to combine and share my talents, with talents of so many around me.

I have learned so much, grown so much and as I embark on my new path, I can look back through the years and be reminded that I am, and have always been capable of more than I ever imagine.

I am grateful for the people whom I worked with every day. The set, costume and lighting designers, actors, directors, stage managers, musicians, choreographers and other artisans who came and went with each production. I have been truly blessed with talented sewers who have worked in my shop bringing costumes to life. There are some that I may never see again, but many who will still be a part of my world. Even though my shop is no longer my shop, I can still be there to watch shows that were produced by those I so love and admire.

I am grateful for this last show of my career, the world premiere of Sharon Bajer’s 2nd play, Burnin’ Love.

It turns out, that polyester double-knit, and a metallic silver ultra-suede suit were exactly what I needed to be able to spend the rest of my life looking back with a smile. I may have fallen in love with Elvis.

I have always believed that we are meant to live our lives giving the best of who we are, which to me, means using our talents fully and whole-heartedly.  If we could all commit to sharing our talents and our passions with each other, and respecting those unique gifts in everyone, I think the world would be a very different, and much better place.

Art, is so much more than entertainment. It is a celebration of the beauty of human creation that has amazing power to transform all of us.

So, as I trade in my sewing kit, rulers, paper and scissors for other creative en-devours, I re-new my commitment to giving my best, not giving up and finding the path that will allow me to contribute the best of myself with the hope of making the world just a tiny bit better.

Zachary Stevenson as Elvis in Sharon Bajer’s Burnin’ Love

Richard Waugh as Old Elvis. Zachary Stevenson as Elvis In Sharon Bajer’s Burnin’ Love

Richard Waugh as Old Elvis. Zachary Stevenson as Elvis

Costume and Set Design: Brian Perchaluk

Lighting Design: Scott Henderson

Photo: Bruce Monk

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13 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Ollin / Mar 6 2011 4:12 pm

    Great Jenny! I love your conclusion about art, and about putting passion in the work we create and share. Good luck to you in your next fantabulous journey! 🙂

    • Jenny Ann Fraser / Mar 6 2011 4:45 pm

      Thank you so much Ollin!
      What I am most looking forward to is having the time to spend with this blog and others, (like yours!).

  2. DM / Mar 6 2011 6:53 pm

    this jumped out @ me:

    ” I discovered that I can imagine something and then make it come into reality by using my own mind and my own hands”
    That describes what I love to do as well.
    Looking forward to the updates on your new job. ps thanks for your kind words on the blog today! Wish you could have met Winston. 🙂

    • Jenny Ann Fraser / Mar 7 2011 6:53 am

      Hi DM,
      I have to say, I’m a bit nervous as I head out to do a job where I’ll be sitting at a desk…
      You’re very welcome re; the comment I left.
      Oh, I too would have loved to have met Winston. I’ve never had a pig for a friend before.

  3. Bryan Thompson / Mar 6 2011 10:05 pm

    Jenny, I very much enjoyed this. It looks like you’ve had a lot of fun and I’m interested to see what will happen next in your work. I enjoy your blog and look forward to a new beginning in other areas.

    Take care!

    • Jenny Ann Fraser / Mar 7 2011 6:56 am

      Hi Bryan,
      Thanks so much.
      I’m not sure that the world of heating and cooling will create many exciting blog posts, but what is exciting is the fact that it will leave me with time to do other things that will contribute to blog posts.
      I am most excited about having time for the things I really love.

  4. Debbie @ Happy Maker / Mar 7 2011 9:36 am

    Hi Jenny,
    Life is full of changes. I like the way you look at the change you are going through. Being grateful and remembering the fun and doing what you loved. We always have to look at change on the positive side and it makes to more like an adventure. Thanks for sharing and good luck, you are going to do great, because of your attitude.
    Sending smiles to you,
    Debbie

    • Jenny Ann Fraser / Mar 7 2011 4:45 pm

      Hi Debbie,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      I have always found change to be rather difficult and this one is particularly huge. I do realize though that it truly is a series of multiple open doors to new opportunity and I am working diligently to remain mindful of that.
      Your generous comment is a helpful reminder.

  5. Belinda / Mar 7 2011 6:05 pm

    Hi Jenny, so good to read your words again. Great costumes!

    “If we could all commit to sharing our talents and our passions with each other, and respecting those unique gifts in everyone, I think the world would be a very different, and much better place.”

    I believe this. It applies to art and many other things that we are drawn to. I find that what many people struggle with is listening inward fro what their heart’s desire is. For many, it’s too easy to succumb to the pressures of a conventional life with a 9-5 job even when they’re cut out for something less common. I can see that this is true for you. You know how to listen to your heart and are not afraid of following it. What a great example you are for the rest of us.

    • Jenny Ann Fraser / Mar 7 2011 9:24 pm

      Hello Belinda,
      Thank you for your generous words as always.
      Sadly, it seems I have succumbed to the 9-5 to five world and I have no choice but to mold myself to fit if I want to continue having a roof over my head…
      I think that the reason why so many of us can’t follow our hearts is because we live in a world that puts a monetary value on everything, and it was decided probably near 1000 years ago that artists and artisans should work for low wages…
      I really do believe that if we valued each individual for what they can contribute with their natural born, and finely honed talents, wages could be equitable and fair and we would all be able to follow our hearts, and in doing that we could contribute even more.
      I see a future blog post here! Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Patricia / Mar 7 2011 10:01 pm

    I commend you as I know how hard it is to leave something that feels just right and is full of wonderful connections and friendships. I had to do that with my University job – it was just right – but there was no pay or benefits.

    It will be fine and more windows and doors will open. wonderful pictures and sharing

    Thank you for your great words and comments on my blog – greatly appreciated

  7. rob white / Mar 9 2011 7:30 am

    Hi Jenny Ann,
    I applaud your courage in the face of change. I am sure your spirit and willingness will be a wonderful gift in your next endeavor. The way to begin change is with light-hearted feelings of self-liberty… your passion and creativity will remain with you no matter where you go.

    • Jenny Ann Fraser / Mar 9 2011 12:34 pm

      Thank you Rob! Your kindness and wisdom are greatly appreciated!
      I will keep your advice in mind.

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