This week we are shining the spotlight on Laura Olafson, playing Kassandra in Iceland. This is Laura’s first appearance with TPM, and we are sure you will agree that she is a fantastic addition to our family of artists. Laura chatted with us about her time in (the country) Iceland and why she considers herself a drama queen.
You travelled to Iceland in 2009. What was that experience like? What made you want to visit the country?
I traveled to Iceland in 2009 with The Snorri Program. My father is a full blooded Viking and I applied for the Snorri Program because it’s aim is to strengthen the bond between Icelanders and people of Icelandic descent living in North America. I can’t really put into words how deeply the experience of being in Iceland for six weeks affected me but as soon I stepped off the plane, I felt as though I had come home. Meeting family, making new friends, being immersed in the language and the culture, taking in the breathtaking sights, sounds and magic of that country left a huge impact on me. I did not grow up with any grandparents and so I never felt connected to the stories of my families past in any way. Seeing the farmsteads where my great grandparents were born was a truly remarkable gift. Now I just have to get to Newfoundland and Ireland to see where my mother’s people came from!
How did the 2008/2009 market crash affect you, if at all?
The crash did not really affect me in any way, however, travelling to Iceland in 2009 was very beneficial for me. Before the collapse, I would never have been able to afford to travel there but luckily, the year I was there my money went a long way. I was able to purchase some beautiful gifts for my family, enjoy some yummy meals, buy a ton of music, and party all night long in the unique clubs and discotheques.
How did you become a theatre artist?
I think it’s safe to say that I was born a drama queen. I have always loved to play pretend. I was mentored and encouraged by my elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Judy Steele and by Mr. George Budoloski and Ms. Robin Dow while I was immersed in Grant Park High School’s Performing Arts Program. I flourished in the program and so after I graduated I decided to pursue my passion at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB. I worked as an apprentice in many shows out West before I came home to work as a professional. I truly believe that you don’t choose this life as a theatre artist, that it chooses you.
Any passions or hobbies outside of theatre?
Outside of my work in theatre, I work in the school system. I support children and teenagers with special needs. I worked in group homes in my early twenties and have always felt a strong connection to helping others. I obtained my EA (Education Assistant) diploma at the University of Winnipeg five years ago and have worked in many schools over the years. This work is very sacred to me. Each child I get to work with teaches me valuable lessons about life and helps mold me into a better human being.
If you were not a theatre artist, do you have a fantasy, alternate dream job?
I have a couple of dream jobs. I would love to be a doctor, helping people in poverty stricken countries. I would love to be an honest and forthright politician. I should have gone to law school because, aside from high marks in Performing Arts and Peer Tutoring in High School, Law was another subject that I did very well in. All that being said, playing pretend is my dream job.