• Penny & Pound Theatre

June Spotlight #4: Ruby Cudney

In honour of #PrideMonth, each week of June, Penny & Pound will be shining a spotlight on a talented, up-and-coming LGBTQ2SIA+ performer in our community. This week, we introduce P&P alum, Ruby Cudney (She/They), who made their Penny & Pound debut as Wendy Otis in 'THE CANTERVILLE GHOST' (2016.) Since then, Ruby has appeared in 'LES MISERABLES' (2017), 'A NIGHTINGALE SANG: IN CONCERT' as Nadine (2019) and ONCE UPON A MATTRESS as Princess Winifred (2019.) This season, Ruby made an appearance in our virtual Valentine's Day cabaret, FROM THE HEART!

{IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A pastel rainbow background. A white polaroid frame over a picture of Ruby Cudney, wearing a blue top and bra against a blue/grey background. On the frame is the name 'Ruby Cudney' written in bold pastel-rainbow letters.} 1) TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF Hey! My name is Ruby and I’m an 18 year old actor and writer based in KW. I’ve just recently finished high school; I attended Eastwood C.I. in the Integrated Arts Program, where I majored in drama and vocal for four years, and was an active participant in all of the theatre productions that took place during my time there. Outside of theatre, I love reading and writing, and watching old movies! I’m a proudly Queer person and I’m passionate about advocacy/ activism both inside and outside of the arts! 2) WHEN DID YOU FIRST FALL IN LOVE WITH THE ARTS? I’ve been in love with the arts for practically my whole life. My family is extremely artsy, my parents and siblings are actively involved, primarily in music - so it’s just in my blood! But I first fell in love with theatre specifically when I was just 10 years old, and I played a small part in an original pantomime at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. I’ll never forget that first night on stage; it was magical, and I knew I would never get that feeling doing anything else. I was completely “bit by the bug,” as they say. Since then, I’ve devoted almost all of my time, energy, and focus to creating and participating in theatre of all kinds. Whether directing or acting, there’s no place I’d rather be. 3) HOW HAS THE CURRENT PANDEMIC AFFECTED YOU? I think it goes without saying that this pandemic has had negative impacts on us all, but for performers it has been extra challenging. The thing that keeps us alive has been completely halted since March 2020 - so yes, to say it’s been difficult would be an understatement. It’s been the hardest year of my life. I would love to be able to list all of the ways it has helped me become a better person, but that wouldn’t be genuine nor honest. I feel very lost and alone without theatre in my life; that sense of purpose that it provides me with is gone. Not to mention I’m really missing the social interaction of it all! And outside of theatre, this pandemic has made things super tricky because I’ve had to trudge through school during all of this; trying to graduate while having everything taken away - Prom, Graduation, all the bells and whistles - its been tough! I have my fingers crossed that it will all be back better than ever, and that this hiatus has given us time to reflect and educate ourselves; I can see positive changes being implemented in the theatre community and that makes me very excited. Onward and upward! 4) HAS THIS VOCATION ALWAYS BEEN YOUR GOAL? Excluding a couple of very early years of childhood where I wanted to be a fashion designer, absolutely. Since that first show, I’ve kind of had a ‘one-track mind’ in terms of my future aspirations. There hasn’t been very many moments where I’ve doubted that this is what I want to do, and I hope it will stay that way.

Jaida Smith (left) and Ruby Cudney (right) star as Pam and Wendy Otis in 'The Canterville Ghost' (2016.) {IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Jaida Smith (actor) and Ruby Cudney (actor) sit on a floral sofa. Jaida wears a pink floral blouse and bell-bottom jeans. She holds a can of hairspray in her right hand. Ruby wears a red-and-white striped shirt and bell-bottom jeans. Around her shoulders is a whte sheet. Ruby and Jaida high-five.} 5) HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING, AND WHAT TRAINING DO YOU HAVE? I’ve been “training” in some form since I did that first show as a kid. However, most of what I’d consider my training has just been learning through doing! I wholeheartedly believe there’s no better way to become good at theatre than simply by doing it. When I started, I had no training of any kind, in any discipline, and I mostly learned what I know now from continuing to go out for shows in the community. Other than that, I’ve taken enriched drama and vocal music classes throughout my high school career, two years of private dance lessons, and the odd acting workshop here and there. I’m hoping to do lots of training if things open back up this fall!

6) DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER UP-AND-COMING PERFORMERS? If this is your passion, meaning that you eat-sleep-and breathe it, and there’s nothing else you’d rather do - you HAVE to give yourself the ultimate gift and pursue it. Don’t listen to the many people who will try to steer you in another direction (and trust me they will). Go outside the box and create things that you’re not seeing; push for better representation and narratives that aren’t being told! Tell your story! Take risks, make mistakes, and put gratitude at the front of everything you do - we’re incredibly lucky to have these opportunities. Be kind to everyone, especially your techies! And don’t forget that this is what you LOVE to do. It can be a very stressful, emotionally draining business, but if it’s what you love, it’s more than worth it. 7) WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU? I’ll be taking a gap year this upcoming fall, mainly to catch up on all the training + experiences I missed during this pandemic. I’m holding on to hope that things will open up and I’ll be able to direct and perform again! After that, I’ll be applying to a handful of theatre programs, mostly in the Toronto area. As for long term, I’ll be striving to integrate performing/creating/writing into my life as much as possible.

Ruby Cudney stars as Princess Winifred in 'Once Upon a Mattress' (2019.) Photo by Tawp Photography. {IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Ruby Cudney sits at a wooden table, holding a large open book. She looks confused. In front of her is a vase of purple flowers and another smaller book. She wears a green-and-white dress.}

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