Each month, Penny & Pound Theatre Productions is proud to shine a light on past and present alumni who are making a difference in the KW and surrounding arts communities.
In June, we introduce P&P performer Emaan Ansari (she/her) who made her P&P debut as The Nutty Milliner in our production of CURIOUSER: A NEW MUSICAL (2021.) Since then, Emaan has appeared in a plethora of Penny & Pound productions, including CLUE: ON STAGE (2022) as The Unexpected Cop, THE GOD COMMITTEE (2022) as Dr. Ann Ross and GREASE (2022) as Rizzo.
WHO ARE YOU? Isn't that what we're all trying to figure out- who we are? If we look at it physically, I'm Emaan- an eighteen year old from Kitchener. But, I guess I'm still on the road to figuring out who I am. I love performing and directing, and honestly feel most at home when I'm on stage. WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE PERFORMANCRE YOU'VE BEEN IN? This is an easy one for me. My last performance with Penny & Pound was in October of 2022, where I played Rizzo in Grease. Rizzo was always a dream role for me and I was incredibly lucky to portray her and bring her sass and fierceness to the stage. We had an incredible cast and an equally incredible crew. Sometimes, I find myself humming the Grease songs and I laugh, remembering all of the fantastic memories I made. I always dreamed of singing "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" up on the stage, under a spotlight-- and it actually happened! It truly made me feel important in the cast. I also felt like a bit of a role model for other kids of colour. Growing up, I never saw people of colour in theatre, and to portray such a large role who is predominantly performed by white women was an honour. HOW HAS YOUR TIME WITH PENNY & POUND INFLUENCED YOU? When I first found Penny & Pound, I was in the 10th grade. The only other performing experience I had was with KW Glee. After my first audition, I was cast in the original production of CURIOUSER and I was ecstatic! Penny & Pound lifted me out of the place I was in and introduced me to the entire world of theatre. From there, I did every show for a year. Penny & Pound not only introduced me to some of my favourite people in the world, but it taught me about how the arts can be a fantastic outlet. At Penny & Pound, no matter who you are, you're a part of something-- something that matters. There are so many people who don't feel like they matter at all, and feel like they're without purpose. It gave me a reason to wake up every day. It showed me that pain shapes who we are and nobody is EVER alone. WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER EMERGING ARTISTS? Don't be afraid to stop and enjoy the moment. I feel like as artists and performers, people are constantly jumping from one project to the next. Don't be afraid to stop and fully absorb the moment you're in. Time flies incredibly gast, and if you don't stop and look around you might miss it.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE WATERLOO REGION CAN BETTER SUPPORT YOUNG ARTISTS? Creating more safe spaces, funding local businesses and providing kids with the opportunity for the arts. A lot of schools have very poor arts programs, and putting more funding into them and a little more care into bettering reputation of the arts can help so many people. My high school's art program is not nearly as good as it could be, and that can easily be changed with time, effort and care. As well, we can remind people that the arts doesn't have to be as cutthroat of a place as it is. Art is a form of expression and a way to encourage growth and change. Theatre should be a safe space for everyone, and I think the Waterloo Region can do a better job of cultivating that. WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU? I graduate high school in two weeks, and I'm officially an Arts and Business student at the University of Waterloo! I'm hoping to try more local theatre in the future, and maybe even try out university theatre.
Emaan Ansari (centre) with Ella Davis, Bianca Soskic, Abbey Cowan and Shay Carr in GREASE (2022) | Photo: Alyssa Palmer WANT TO STAY CONNECTED WITH EMAAN? INSTAGRAM: @emaanhansari