June YP of the Month

A few years ago, we were blown away when one our 12 year old kids submitted to direct and write a Cannonball show. Usually a task of that magnitude is only tackled by our oldest and most experienced students, and to be honest, I’m not sure we would normally consider letting a 12 year old take on that kind of responsibility. But this young woman was different. She’d already acted for us and proven her maturity and talent, so we offered her a staged reading at Cannonball with the goal of developing her play so that it would be ready for the following year’s festival, and this young artist did not disappoint. At age 12, not only did she absolutely COMMAND a room full of actors much older than her, she used the experience to grow as an artist, improve her play, and prove that she was ready. At age 13 she directed the show in Cannonball and cemented her name as a force within the CYPT ranks, and we can’t express just how proud of her we are. Now in 2019, she’s directed a second Cannonball production, assistant stage managed a summer production, acted in several mainstages, and is getting ready to appear in the upcoming summer production of A Play About a Dragon. And I suspect she’s running for political office in her down time, because why not, and I hope she does, cause I’d vote for her. She is one of the reasons the next generation is going to be just fine. And who is this lovely and loved little leader of lads and lasses?

Our June YP of the Month is none other than…

Mari Wilson!!!

From the moment she could talk, it was evident that performing was in Mari’s blood. Putting on mini plays for her parents, singing in a choir, acting as her favourite television characters; the signs of a theatre kid were there, very early on. Mari has been involved in the arts for so long, it’s hard to think of a time when she wasn’t.

Even after moving to Calgary, away from the bright lights of Los Angeles in 2015, a new city wasn’t going to stop her. Nervous, but confident, she auditioned in the fall of that year for CYPT. She was cast in The Paper Bag Princess and Other Munschy Magic. She then worked as the Assistant Director for This is Not a Love Story, her first time working behind the table. After, Mari worked in Grounded, where she got to meet and work with some of the actors she had been admiring from the audience. In the spring of 2017, she completed one of the biggest projects she had endeavored on, writing and directing her own show, Centre Street. Then she worked in Snow White, in which she got to play one of her all-time favourite characters, Princess Mathilder. Just this May, Mari directed Super Spud, her latest project.

Mari and the cast of Grounded by The Outpatient Collective, 2017.
(Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)
A photo booth at West Village Theatre in Calgary on Saturday, May 4, 2019. The fun picture session was part of the season 28 launch event put on by Calgary Young People’s Theatre. (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)

Though much of Mari’s theatre work is onstage, most of it is spent in the audience. Whether it is cheering on her friends, watching those she admires, or supporting the cast of a show she directed. Most of her early experiences with CYPT are watching Mainstage shows and waiting for the day she could perform with such wonderful actors. Those actors inspired Mari to keep auditioning and to keep working in theatre in any way she could. The least she could say is that she would not be where she is today without them. Now, the crazy thing is, she knows she is becoming that actor now. Inspiring kids in the audience to pursue their dreams and try out the arts. It’s like a big cycle, and it’s terrifying. As Jamie Dunsdon once said, “Once the kids get to a certain age, they say ‘everyone is graduating! That group of amazing actors are gone! Who is going to play those roles?’ You are that group now. Step up.”

Before CYPT, Mari didn’t have a community to call her own. Being involved with CYPT, however, has not only given her a place to play, explore and have fun. It has also given her countless theatre moms and dads, older brothers and sisters she looks up to, and younger siblings who she can’t wait to see grow up. CYPT has given her a family.

“Sometimes the in-between moments of shows are the best. Laughing about a line we messed up, finding everything funny because we’re all sleep deprived during crunch and tech week, and the pep-talks we have with each other before the show… that kind of thing.”

Mari Wilson
A scene from Centre Street, written and directed by Mari Wilson for CYPT’s 2018 Cannonball Festival of youth theatre. (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)
Actors perform Life in the Realm during the Cannonball Festival at West Village Theatre in Calgary on Saturday, May 7, 2016. The festival features six plays, all produced by youth, in conjunction with Calgary Young People’s Theatre. (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)
The Paper Bag Princess and Other Munsch Magic at the Shaganappi Library in Calgary on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)
Snow White at West Village Theatre in Calgary on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
(Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)
Actors perform Grounded at West Village Theatre in Calgary on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)