Shining Student Mirielle Nieuwenhuis has always known she was meant to be an actress and has pursued this goal with fervor at ULethbridge. Gaining crucial work experience in all aspects of theatre performance and production, Mirielle is ensuring she gets the most benefit from her university experience.

Sometimes when I need inspiration I think to what inspired my younger self. What made little Mirielle want to be an actress? I am constantly looking to nostalgia, to childish whimsy, to crafts that used to litter my childhood bedroom. If my younger self could see me now, I think she'd be pretty proud.

Meet Mirielle. Mover. Shaker. Theatre-maker.
Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts - Dramatic Arts | Major: Performance

Why did you choose to pursue fine arts at ULethbridge?

I had the opportunity to attend the Fine Arts Open House in my last year of high school. I was able to meet many of the drama staff members and tour the fine arts building. The kindness of the staff and volunteers made me realize that this was where I wanted to grow as an artist.

What inspires your artistic/musical practice?

I've known since I was little that I wanted to be an actress. And I also thought that that could never happen, that I could never truly make it in the arts. But coming to the university and meeting and working with so many amazing people has made me realize that my childhood dreams are coming true.

Sometimes when I need inspiration I think to what inspired my younger self. What made little Mirielle want to be an actress? I am constantly looking to nostalgia, to childish whimsy, to crafts that used to litter my childhood bedroom. If my younger self could see me now, I think she'd pretty proud.

Did you know what you wanted to study before you came to ULethbridge? Has your academic plan changed?

Yes, I applied to ULethbridge in the same degree that I am in. I knew that this is what I wanted to pursue. But recently I have decided to add some backstage courses and experience to my university education. I am taking some courses from the Technical stream in the fall and spring and I am looking forward to seeing where that will take me!

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

I have had the opportunity to work on a number of Mainstage and student-led TheatreXtra productions in the past four years in both onstage and offstage capacities, including IDENTUALITY, facilitated by Jay Whitehead, In Omnia Paratus, directed by Achilles Friesen and Jessica Syratt and The Little Prince, directed by Nicola Elson, but the most memorable was Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors, directed by Nicola Elson.

This was the first show after the campus was closed because of COVID, and it was my first time performing on the University Mainstage! I am still so thankful for the friends I made on that show, and I've had wonderful opportunities to work with all of them again and continue those relationships! At the time it just felt so nice to be creating live theatre again. Going on that stage in my costume, hearing the buzzing lights and the audience laughing, was when I fully realized that live theatre is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

How have your professors or instructors impacted your education?

My professors have been some of the most important parts of my time here. They believed in my abilities when I didn't, they told me the tough things I needed to hear, and gave me so many opportunities to grow as an artist and a person.

I have been so lucky to be able to create so many connections with the professors in the Drama Department. Nicola Elson, Dave Smith, Jay Whitehead,  Justin Blum, Doug MacArthur, Mia van Leeuwen, Ron Chambers, Gabrielle Houle, Shelley Scott and Greg MacArthur have all been essential to my experience at the university. I cannot thank them enough for how they pushed me to be a better artist.

I am constantly inspired by the work that they do and the dedication that they have to their students. I am pushed to be a better artist because of the work that they have been doing through their teaching and kindness.

And the staff at the University have also been incredible. Their help and dedication is what made me want to come to the university in the first place, and since then every staff member has made me feel at home in theatre.

Have you received any scholarships and awards?

I have gratefully received some scholarships throughout my time, in particular the Abbondànza Fine Arts Award and the Abbondànza Fine Arts Scholarship. Both of those scholarships were incredibly essential to my studies at university as they allowed me to have a little bit of financial stability. It gives me such hope to know that there are people and organizations in the community who are willing to give new artists the resources that they need to foster the artistic community in Lethbridge and beyond.

Tell us about your experiential or work-integrated learning opportunities at ULethbridge and how these have enhanced your education?

I've had the opportunity to work on many theatre productions through the University Mainstage, but I've also been able to be a part of the student-led theatre company on campus, TheatreXtra. Through In Omnia Paratus, I was able to make connections with my peers and learn about the full creation of theatre in a constructive space. Not only that, but being an actor in this production provided its own opportunities since it was performed live every night over Zoom. I am so grateful that the university can support student-led theatre because it allows so many connections to be made between students of all ages and skill-sets. I learned so much about theatre creation and playwriting because of my time in that show.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

I'm pursuing the backstage elements of theatre in the fall, including assistant stage managing A Suessified Christmas Carol on the University Mainstage! I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge and continuing to make connections at the university and throughout the community!

What advice would you like to give those about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

Try everything. Try things that you think you might not enjoy. Give everything a shot once. Your peers are in the same boat as you: work together with them. Be bold. Be brave. Ask your professors if they know of opportunities both in and outside of the university. Your professors want to help you. They want to see you thrive. Ask for help when you need it, because you will.

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