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Mentorship pair Alissa Watson and Jean van der Merwe took part in our Professional Mentorship Program in physical theatre and clown. Alissa introduced Jean to different types of clown and exercises in creating and developing their own content for clown. Alissa also coached Jean on a clown turn for Jean’s show commissioned for One Trunk Theatre’s “Knock Knock Ginger” series.

How was your experience in the mentorship program? Why do you think this mentorship was valuable to you?

“Watching my mentee gain confidence in their creation, performance and impulse work this year was thrilling. I love working and creating in clown; I believe it is essential to exploring the highs and lows of the human experience. Witnessing Jean’s artistic discoveries and enthusiasm for the art form, was rejuvenating. The opportunity to have professional conversations and provide feedback allowed me to practice my skills in a new way. Working together not only inspired our artistry, it also heightened our creativity. We are both stronger artists as a result of the Creative Manitoba Mentorship program. I can’t wait until my menTEE becomes my menTOR (wait…maybe they already have…)!” – Alissa Watson

Born and raised on Treaty 1 territory, Alissa Watson is a desired collaborator, artist, and educator whose passions include physical comedy and “clowning around”. Alissa has studied with clown greats John Turner and Michael Kennard (Mump & Smoot), Deanna Fleysher (Butt Kapinski), Eric Davis (Red Bastard) and Nathaniel Justiniano (Naked Empire Bouffon). She was awarded the 2015 Reg Skene Award for Emerging Theatre Artist and the Brandon University Distinguished Young Alumni Award in 2020. Alissa is a member of Prairie Theatre Exchange’s Emerging Playwrights Unit and plays the washboard in the sweet and cheeky, Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir

Jean van der Merwe was born in South Africa, raised in the land of the living skies (SK) and is currently living in Winnipeg on Treaty No. 1 Territory. Jean studied at the University of Manitoba where they obtained both an Undergraduate Degree, and a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Music, Vocal Performance. They are coming-off-the-heels of a thrilling summer as a Resident Artist with One Trunk Theatre. When not performing, Jean is usually found watering their house-plant collection, going for a long walk with a good podcast in their ear, or cuddling with their cat.

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