As Canadians return to theatres across the country, St. Clair College graduate Nathanael Judah is preparing to take the stage at one of the nation's most prominent festival theatres.
He has earned a coveted contract with the Shaw Festival, North America's second-largest repertory theatre company.
"It's amazing to be here," says Nathanael of this most recent step along his career path. "It's an incredible opportunity."
As an actor in his premiere season with the festival, he participated in a three-week training intensive program where he honed his skills, learned about the festival environment and culture, and made connections with the people who will be his colleagues in the coming season.
"It's a really supportive environment for performers,” he explains. "We have an opportunity to share and express opinions and to learn about all the resources available to us before we start rehearsals in the spring.”
Following an uncertain time for artists, Nathanael says he also appreciates the potential for longevity as a performer with the Shaw Festival. Many cast members return season after season, creating a palpable sense of community.
The pandemic has given Nathanael an appreciation for the need to strive for career stability.
"I was fortunate to have procured an agent following my graduation in 2019, before the impacts of the pandemic hit," he says. "That allowed me to secure work in film and television at a time when performance before a live audience was not possible.” He says his training at St. Clair helped prepare him for the flexibility and adaptability required of a performer when making such a shift. Now, with a return to live theatre back on the table, Nathanael feels excited and prepared. He credits St. Clair for providing him with the skills to build his career.
"Not only did I learn how to perform, audition and prepare for a role, but how to form lasting connections with my artistic community,” he explains. "Forging strong relationships with my peers, and learning from industry-professional faculty members, has set me up for success in a field where the ability to connect is vitally important.”
The Shaw Festival environment reflects these values, and Nathanael sees it as an ideal place to take the next step in his career. Having recently returned from Calgary, where he performed in the premiere run of new Canadian musical The Soul of Motown, he is thrilled to begin his work with the festival.
"I'm excited to be here, and to be able to represent St. Clair College at this level,” he acknowledges. "The Music Theatre Performance Program is made up of extremely talented performers and incredible faculty, and I’m glad to have an opportunity to spread the word about that throughout our industry.”
In his premiere season, Nathanael will perform in two plays: George Bernard Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma, at the mainstage Festival Theatre, and August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, at the more intimate Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre.
You can see him on stage at the Shaw Festival, beginning July 16, 2022.