Queen's University

Queen's alumna steals the spotlight in annual list

 
2010-01-14

Queen’s alumna Deborah Pearson (Arts Sci ’05) has been named one of the top 100 most influential figures in British theatre by Stage magazine.

Ms. Pearson, 26, is the founder and co-director of Forest Fringe, a venue at the popular Edinburgh Festival that gives performers, directors and writers a chance to show off their talents.

“My reaction was mostly shock and gratitude,” Ms. Pearson says of the announcement. “Having worked as long as we have on a voluntary basis, an honour like this one is really invaluable. It means so much to know that we’re making a difference because our community recognizes and appreciates what we do.”

Ms. Pearson, a Toronto native, turned down a scholarship at a drama school and opted to study English and Film at Queen’s because she wasn’t sure theatre was what she wanted to do. “Then when I was at Queen’s I just kept getting involved with student productions and realized that I couldn’t stay away from theatre,” she says.

“Throughout university all I wanted was to become a writer and an academic,” adds Ms. Pearson. “I still think I’d like that life one day, but this feels pretty worthwhile too. Life kind of tells you what it wants from you sometimes and not the other way around.”

Tim Fort, the head of the drama department at Queen’s, says Pearson made an impression on him as an undergraduate playwright. “She wrote this extraordinary play for our Vogt Studio Series, and I had no idea it was student-written,” says Professor Fort. “It was amazingly mature and thoughtful.”

Ms. Pearson contacted Professor Fort six months ago about tying the festival to Queen’s in some way, and visited the campus in November to talk to current students about her work. With the support of Professor Fort and the drama department, future plans include the possibility of sending students to the UK to participate in the festival itself.

“She’s already got these huge connections,” says Professor Fort. “People know her and know that she was able to facilitate one of the biggest festivals in the world.”

And Ms. Pearson is more than willing to help other artists along the way. “The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is inspire people,” she says. “I think that inspiration is one of the best and most pure experiences of being alive that a person can have. There’s nothing better than giving or sharing it.”

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