Spotlight on the next generation of artists: Sarah Komendat

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Spotlight on the next generation of artists: Sarah Komendat

Thursday 2 May 2024

This article was produced in partnership with the University of Ottawa's Department of Theatre and Faculty of Arts.

Sarah Komendat is 20 years old and a native of Ottawa. She is currently a 3rdyear theatre student at the University of Ottawa, and will be graduating in a few weeks. She answers our questions to tell us about her theatrical path.

What made you want to be an actress?

I've been involved in theatre since childhood, initially through my mother-in-law and her son. He and I used to play dress-up, make videos and even create our own version of the Kaboum series. That's really where it all started for me!

Can you tell us about the key moments in your career so far?

In high school, I went to École De La Salle. In grades 7 and 8, I chose visual arts and theatre, my two passions. Then came auditions in grade 8, for which I performed the famous bingo monologue from Michel Tremblay's Les Belles Sœurs. My teacher at the time, Renée Aubin, really helped me to make my interpretation more profound, subtle and intense. This text followed me for years, as it was the one I later performed at the auditions for the Ontario Excellence Arts Award. I'm very attached to this text, it holds a very special place for me!

It was in grade 10 that I got my first major role. It was a very rich learning experience: the role included a lot of text, I had to work very hard, and it enabled me to explore and develop another facet of my acting, more serious and more sensitive. Speaking of learning, my drama teachers from grades 9 to 12 contributed greatly, and people like Maxine Turcotte and Éric Beevis had a huge impact on my artistic journey.

Today, I'm in my 3rd year at the University of Ottawa. We've just presented our production, and I'm graduating in June! So, I'm about to "jump into the void", so to speak. Most of our professors told us that this in-between period would be the ideal time to create, to think about all the things you want to do from an artistic point of view, to explore, to experiment. As far as I'm concerned, even though I specialized in acting at the conservatory, I really want to explore writing and directing. What's important to me is to nurture my creativity; now it's important to have confidence in yourself, in your art, and not be afraid to take the plunge!

I'm excited, but also a little scared. It's a career in which expectations are high and nothing is guaranteed, but I'm confident! I made a lot of discoveries and encounters during my three years at the conservatory. I'm not starting from scratch, and I know I can always seek advice from my teachers. The help, support and resources that this program has given me are considerable.

What do you love most about being an interpreter?

Lots of things! Nurturing my creativity remains central. I'm someone who dreams a lot, and in other environments and careers, that would probably be less easy. What I love about theatre is that EVERYTHING is possible, and the only limits are the ones you create for yourself.

Can you tell us about one or two memorable moments from your studies at the University of Ottawa?

There are so many of them! We are a close-knit group of eight people who have truly become my family.

At the beginning of the 2nd year, we had an intensive two-week workshop with Miriam Cusson, during which we recreated our own version of the show Un. Deux. Trois. This project, which tackled a lot of identity-related issues, really taught us about ourselves, and generated a lot of questions, debates and very rich discussions. That's when I started writing for the first time: a monologue about the French/English identity split, about the linguistic complex I ended up freeing myself from thanks to encounters with bilingual people who felt free, assertive and able to express themselves in their own way.

At the beginning of the 3rd year, we did a lot of clowning. Being more used to contemporary and realistic type of acting, this really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I'm usually less comfortable with improvisation; I like to have a text to study. But in the end, I loved the experience, and realized that I was capable of doing this aspect of acting, and loving it!

What are your interests or passions outside theatre?

I love plants! If my artistic career didn't work out, I'd be happy living among flowers! I'd love to live in the countryside, I love being outdoors. I also love the creativity of bartending, creating beverages and cocktails. I'm currently working in my father's café. It's a creative place where we created the concept together from A to Z with my father and sister. In a nutshell, if I had to have a dream other than theatre, it would be: a café/flower shop, in the countryside, with something to write about!

How do you see your future as an artist?

It's hard to project yourself clearly into the future, because there are so many variables and everything can change. But for now, I imagine myself in Ottawa, maybe in Montreal, in this environment I know and love, where so many wonderful things are happening. A place where I'd be happy to live my art, and where I could play and create.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I received the Patrick Leroux grant from Théâtre Catapulte. This summer I'll be shadowing their laboratories, during which I'll be getting dramaturgical advice on both their projects and my own. I'll also be taking time out this summer to write for my own projects, particularly in relation to my own experience of bilingualism. Incidentally, I've also done some projects in English (a musical in particular), and in the future I'd like to write in both languages. I like to say that I speak in italics!