June 6, 2018 - 5:15pm
Meet Leon Potter, Chair of VIU’s Theatre department, who prior to coming to VIU had been working as an actor, director and designer in the theatre industry since 1989. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre, specializing in lighting and set design, from the University of Victoria and a Master of Arts in Directing from London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
The founding Artistic Director of Vancouver-based companies The Looking Glass Theatre and Blue Peanut Productions, Potter has also worked around the world, including London, New York, Edinburgh and now Nanaimo. Right now he is busy planning the Theatre department’s 2018-19 show lineup, which includes Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill in October/November; No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre in December; and Oedipus Rex by Sophocles in March.
If you had to do something different, what would you do?
My first answer to that question is usually, “King, I would be King.” But in all seriousness, I would actually love to be a paramedic. Those people have saved my life in the past and I have always held what they do in the highest esteem.
What trait do you admire most about yourself?
Laughter! At the end of the day I like a great belly laugh that can shake the room.
One of VIU’s values is encouraging a global exchange of ideas. What does this mean to you?
In my mind this means that the information age has made the world a much smaller place with the capability of sharing and exchanging ideas, cultures, techniques and advancements in almost every field imaginable.
You recently became a Lord. What does that involve?
This question made me laugh hysterically. OK, so I found out where to purchase a lordship because I wanted to get one for my dad for his 75th birthday (what do you buy the man who has everything?) and while I was at it I got one for myself. The process was pretty simple and I am now the “Lord” of five square feet of land in Northern England. More than anything it is a bit of fun, really.
What are some of your goals moving forward for the Theatre program at VIU?
There are several of these. The Theatre program at VIU is unique in its approach on several levels. We are well-known for our small class sizes and a hands-on approach. What’s not as well known is that we are one of the very few programs that combines teaching with a road house (rental facility) where the students gain experience working directly with touring companies and the community. Our students also work closely with local companies, including Theatre One, Chemainus Festival and the Port Theatre, and gain real-world experience as a part of their training. Down the road, we would like to grow the program to incorporate an acting diploma and keep on top of advancements in design and technology so that we can keep on par with the industry as well as continue to grow as artists ourselves.