Theatre Production grad finds her way into the art world
Being part of the team that stages three musicals in a span of eight months while taking classes full time is no easy feat. Doing it as a single mom is something else entirely.
“I’m an older student and a mom, so the two years I spent here were intense,” says Tara Manyfingers. “Sometimes is was a struggle to keep up, and other times I was cranky and hard to be around because I was felt like I was missing out on time with my son.”
Tara’s bigger goal was part of what kept her going when life in Theatre Production got overwhelming. Ten years earlier she had finished the first year of a Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) program in Calgary, but decided that she needed to take a break for a while and focus on her family.
“My son was only two or three years old then, and being away from him and in school was really stressful,” says Tara. “I wanted to be a mom, and I don’t regret that at all because you can’t get those years back. I read to him every day, and now he’s 13 years old and doing really well in school.”
But finishing her own post-secondary education was always part of the plan so two years ago, Tara started looking for a route back into learning.
Read about Ryan Agozar, a member of the Class of 2016 who found his calling in human resources.
“A counsellor suggested the Theatre Production program at MacEwan because she knew they made costumes and that I grew up sewing—but I had no idea what I was actually getting myself into. The program takes you through every aspect of the theatre, and you gain a new appreciation for the people behind the scenes. It taught me to be more social and to work on my people skills, it showed me the good energy that comes from being part of a team and making something big come together, and it also made me realize that my artistic skills are greater than my technical ones.”
Those artistic skills—sewing, sculpting, painting, building furniture or props, and making ceramic pottery—found their way into almost one of Tara’s projects. A props assignment to build a shelf turned into an intricate custom headboard, another to build a mini car morphed into a car-inspired coffee table and her colour wheel assignment was an intricate puzzle in the shapes of Canadian animals.
“I overcomplicate things, and in a way it ends up being a nightmare time-wise,” Tara laughs. “But there’s also this sense of pride that comes with making something beautiful.”
Now Tara is focusing on her artistic talents while she continues her BFA at the University of Alberta.
“Once I was at MacEwan, the momentum started to build and I knew that there was no way I was going to stop learning,” says Tara. “I don’t take anything for granted, so I applied to finish my BFA and now I’m just going for it.”
Her theatre production skills are helping her reach that goal. Tara just worked on the strike (tear down) of Edmonton Opera’s Turandot and will be spending part of Reading Week in Dawson Creek on her first road crew job.
“Picking up calls on the weekends and during holidays is helping me save for my first international trip to London in February with the painting department at U of A,” says Tara.
Striking a balance between her home life and her education still feels like a juggling act, but one she knows it will be worth it in the end.
“I just finished midterms and my house is a mess,” she says. “Sometimes that gets me down, but then I remind myself that nobody has it all together all the time. I’m very close with my son and I pay attention to the things that matter. I hope I’m teaching him to stay in school, to continue his education and to have faith—doing those things will take you somewhere good.”
MacEwan University is proud to celebrate the more than 2,900 members of the Class of 2016. Congratulations to this year's graduates, medal recipients and distinguished award honourees.
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