• Mikenze Pearsoll

Branching Out of Yoga: Back to My Roots

Yoga brought so many changes to my life. It also brought back my confidence to get back on stage. In 2013 I graduated the Music Theatre Performance Program at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, ON. My time in Brockville was marked by successes and failures, but it ended on an all-time low. Basically, I nose-dived into depression, anxiety, and extreme anger. I would step away from any performance for six years. I even stopped singing. It took me a long time to crawl out of the hole I had been stuck in since childhood to finally find myself.


ART Head Shot

The first step to this was in mid-2018 when I attended a retreat for victims of sexual abuse. This one-week experience gave me a newfound appreciation for the outdoors and helped me find the confidence to try Yoga. It also gave me the opportunity to apply for financial compensation for my childhood, which was later awarded to me as well as the funds to attend psychotherapist sessions. It was a few months later that I found Yoga. Fast forward to April 2019, I was moved to a different house at my workplace at the time, and one of my coworkers informed me of an audition taking place for a three-person play. This is how the Universe works. It puts you into situations that provide you with the information and opportunities you need to progress and succeed. I wasn't sure if anything would come of the audition, but I decided that I needed to try anyway. I found out a few weeks later that Shatterbox Theatre had cast me as the lead role in 'ART' by Yasmina Reza.


I was extremely excited for this role, as well as very nervous to have to memorize an entire third of a play. That's roughly 30 pages, to put it into perspective. In the months leading up to the start of rehearsal, I had lost my job, so I began volunteering for theatre and film productions. This volunteer work made me realize that I was much happier on stage/ screen than behind it. This also gave me the push to audition for the Canadian Model and Talent Convention, to which I was invited to attend in June 2020.


Roxanne (Yvonne), Vivian (Simone), Mikenze (Marcia)


Rehearsal for 'ART' began at the end of June. This play was originally written for three men but was being produced by Shatterbox Theatre with three women. It is about these three characters and their long-time friendship breaking down, with a white painting being the catalyst. Each character has been going their own way for a while, but it all comes to a head when S[imone] buys a white painting for an obscene amount of money. I played the role of Marc[ia], who is the friend who cannot withhold her displeasure in the white painting and the owner's newfound appreciation of art and art culture. Yv[onne] is stuck in the middle, wanting to keep the friendship together, and often becomes the human ping pong as Marc[ia] and S[imone] argue back and forth.


Mikenze (Marci) Photo Shoot


Marcia Destroys the Painting

'ART' was a very text-heavy play. All three characters had long monologues throughout. Yv[onne] had the longest monologue I had ever seen in a play. It was a full two and a half pages long, and the actor was able to pull it off brilliantly! I was astounded at how well she delivered it. Rehearsal was once per week for the first two months and twice per week in the third and final month. Memorization was tough, but not as difficult for me as it was for other characters. Even though I was the lead, I mostly responded to S[imone], who was the one who created most of the topics of discussion. I was fully memorized three weeks before opening night. The others were memorized by opening night. The amount of pressure this placed on my shoulders to remember my own lines and character work as well as be able to cue the others if they forgot, was immense. Luckily, we were able to work together to get through the text.


Marcia Talking to Yvonne

I thoroughly enjoyed playing the role of Marc[ia]. I connected deeply with this role as I feel as though I have been in that position before. I have absolutely watched friends drift away and been angry with them for the choices they have made. I was able to tap into that inner annoyance I feel regularly, and after each rehearsal I just wanted to be happy. It drained me of all the negativity I had, which was fantastic! After the show wrapped, I found myself missing that outlet. It made me realize that I need to find a way to release that side of myself as well as using Yoga to calm and centre myself.

Yoga During Cue to Cue

I continued with my daily Yoga practice during the run of 'ART'. Yoga helped me to reduce my stress and refocus my mind when I needed to memorize my lines. It helped give me the energy I needed to get through every performance. It helped me keep calm and confident, and to be able to give my best performance. If it weren't for Yoga, I wouldn't have had the confidence and energy level to perform.


Final Show - Final Photo

Shortly after we wrapped our run of 'ART', I auditioned for the musical 'Spring Awakening' by Steven Sater. Shatterbox Theatre informed me a week later that I would be cast as Hanschen. Hanschen is a male character who has a very risqué scene. I was cast as this character because I have the confidence to pull off the male role. I also deliver the risqué scene very well. My family may be slightly embarrassed by this performance, but I am okay with that. They will be more proud than any other emotion, in my opinion.


Rehearsal - Spring Awakening Medley - Cue The Night


Spring Awakening Head Shot

'Spring Awakening' was originally a German play written by Frank Wedekind and was a staple in German literature. Kids in Germany even read it as a part of their school curriculum. Steven Sater worked with composer Duncan Sheik to adapt the play into a musical, and it debuted on Broadway in 2006. 'Spring Awakening' is about teenagers discovering their sexuality. This musical is very heavy, with a few comical moments. I guarantee I will be crying on stage during a few scenes. This music is beautiful and heart-breaking, and the story line is relatable for anyone who has ever experienced any type of abuse or sexual confusion.


I often think I wouldn't be able to handle the subject matter of this show! It is absolutely heart-wrenching. I really need my Yoga practice to bring myself back to reality and back to a positive head space. I never imagined how my Yoga practice would help me to deal with difficult emotions and situations. I am so thankful for this, because I really do love being on stage.

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