When Red Deer College theatre instructor Lynda Adams first heard she had landed on an esteemed list of 25 of the province’s most influential artists, she couldn’t quite believe it at first.
“I didn’t realize that I’d been nominated, so when I first received the email, I thought it was spam,” she recalls. “But then I realized it was legitimate, and I felt terrifically honoured to be included in this list.”
The list was compiled by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and it’s officially called ‘25 Influential Alberta Artists’.
It comes at a kind of crossroads for Adams, a respected theatre performance and creation instructor, who is retiring from RDC in December and relocating to the west coast with her husband. “It’s a bittersweet thing because it’s so much about the colleagues and the environment here,” she said of rich experiences at RDC. Of course, students have always been at the heart of it all, too.
Meanwhile, until that last day comes, she’s of course keeping busy. “I’m teaching a tonne, but having fun.”
As mentioned, she will certainly be missed around the RDC campus, having been a prominent educator and mentor over the years there, and acknowledges the change will likely feel kind of strange at first.
But she and her husband are very much looking forward to being closer to their kids and grandchildren, who call the Vancouver area home.
“I will be back here and in Calgary quite a bit, and have contacts in Edmonton as well, so I’m not leaving Alberta – period,” she added with a laugh, pointing out that she also has many good friends here in Alberta along with other family members, too. As to projects on the coast, there will indeed be a whole new world to explore. “I will freelance again, just like I have always done. Until I came here (to RDC), for 25 years I freelanced all over. So that is the plan.
“One thing that I have always told my friends who are retired who say, ‘What are you doing? Retire! Then you can do whatever you want.’ I always say, I am doing what I really want to do,” she laughed. “I always say, I worked really hard to get paid for my hobby. So I tell them, you guys quit work so you could do your hobby – I’m actually doing my hobby at work. I’m so fortunate, but I worked really hard to do that.
“I’ve also been able to travel the world, but I’ve travelled the world with my work,” she said, adding that part of those travels came about as a professional dancer. She’s been able to visit such faraway locales as Australia, Switzerland and Greece.
“Also, every time I do a play, I get to go to a different world because we get to research that play and immerse ourselves in it, and the world that it comes from. To me, that’s like travelling.”
Meanwhile, the AFA compiled the list of top artists as part of the organization’s 25th anniversary. Organizers received more than 250 nominations from this past April through June.
From there, AFA identified 25 artists from the past 25 years who have significantly impacted their communities, influenced the development of art and artistic practice in the province, and inspired others to do the same.
There is no doubt that Adams has made her mark on the province’s artistic landscape, with more than 30 years of international experience as an instructor, professional theatre director, choreographer, performer and creator of new works. She has an extensive background in dance as well.
Adams was also the curriculum director for the Artstrek theatre program and the artist in residence at Victoria School of the Arts, both for over 14 years.
Looking back, Adams’ interest in artistic ventures was sparked early on.
“One of the things that I will never forget is my grandmother coming to Edmonton and taking me to see My Fair Lady at the Jubilee Auditorium. That was when I really became interested in theatre and dance,” she recalls.
“I also kept bugging my mom to send me to ballet school. I really wanted to take it, and when I was 12, she signed me up.”
She continued to excel over the years in jazz and tap as well, and along the way, she found herself drawn to other aspects of artistic expression. She also found a love for teaching, too.
After receiving her Master’s Degree in Movement for the Actor from the Laban Centre of Dance and Movement in London, she returned to Canada and resumed teaching at educational institutions throughout Alberta and B.C.
She then moved to Red Deer and began teaching at RDC 14 years ago.
From the start, things clicked. “The students are fantastic, and it’s always so rewarding to go through the process with them, from when they audition to when we take them on a journey of learning.
“I found my niche in movement, movement for the actor and it just feels like home to me.”
Adams has also directed 13 plays during her time at RDC, with two plays in particular – Meiko Ouchi’s The Dada Play and Vern Thiessen’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights – standing out for her. Her very first was Chekhov’s The Seagull.
Meanwhile, she continues to inspire the students at RDC with her wisdom gleaned from such a rich and varied, successful career – that is really by no means ending anytime soon.
“You never know what will unfold, so you have to be willing to try different things and challenge yourself to grow and develop.”