Four years ago, Camille Intson didn’t consider herself a writer. She had “a poetic sensibility, but no refinement.” But more than anything, she wanted to write.
“I was very anxious about writing. I would go to the Writer-in-Residence and Student-Writer-in-Residence events and I would sneak in, and sit awkwardly in the back and wonder what it would be like to have that job. I’ve been admiring them over the years,” said the fourth-year English and Theatre and Performance Studies student.
This year, Intson will step into the Student-Writer-in-Residence post at Western. She follows in the footsteps of Sydney Brooman, who recently graduated with a degree in English and Creative Writing.
“I want to be able to promote the arts on a greater scale. This is a great way to do that,” said the award-winning multidisciplinary artist working in theatre, performance art, poetry, short fiction, multimedia and folk music.
“I want to dismantle elitism in creative communities. I feel as if there are opportunities for students to be creative and get published, but those circles are sometimes closed off. The literary scene in London is great; I want to dismantle the barriers and go out into the community.”
Given her involvement in the arts scene in London and Western’s literary circles, she will have plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Intson’s award-winning work as a playwright has been workshopped and produced at amateur and professional theatres and festivals across Canada. Her poetry and short fiction have been published on and off campus, and her debut album, under her folk pseudonym, CAMIE, will be released in February 2019.
A co-founding Director of ArtLaunch Theatre Company, Intson is currently working on a digital performance art exhibition and two plays at London’s TAP Centre for Creativity, where she is a resident artist. In addition to the plays – Patchface and We All Got Lost – there’s also a “plethora of bizarre, creative projects” on the go.
She will undertake an undergraduate thesis at Western this year focusing on theatre and the idea of the posthuman body in performance.
“I’m hoping I will be able to combine these two residencies (at Western and the TAP Centre) and connect artists in the Western community and the London community and do some sort of joint exhibition or showcase,” Intson said.
She is busy creating; she won’t deny that. She’s not some tortured artist, constantly inspired by strife (she hates that stereotype) but is inspired by different things on different days. Like Joni Mitchell, who painted when she was happy and wrote songs when she was sad, Intson has an appropriate medium as an appropriate outlet for what she is thinking and feeling at the time.
“My two main mediums are playwright and folk music, and I take it as it comes. Now that I have a studio (at the TAP Centre), I can say, ‘It’s Saturday, and I’m going to spend eight hours writing Patchface.’ Music comes when it comes,” Intson said.
“When I’m happy, when I’m in a solid place, I write plays. When I’m not, I write music. I haven’t written a song in a long time – and that’s fantastic. Folk music is one of the most intimate forms for me; the language just is. It is beautiful and metaphorical and simplistic and more confessional. It feels more personal, whereas when I write a play, it’s not about me at all.”
Whatever she is writing, Intson’s interests in desire and intimacy shine through. She’s interested in performance art that tries to eliminate the physical body – probably a by-product of her own performance anxiety, she said.
Patchface excites her so much that Intson spent an uninterrupted six hours with it just days ago.
Its three unnamed characters – a man, a woman and ‘Patchface’ – meet in a prose drama wherein the first two are a middle-aged couple in a city characterized by dull grayness. The wife, suddenly and inexplicably loses her eyesight. On the same day, a telemarketer – ‘Patchface’ – calls the home and the husband starts falling deeply, passionately in love with this faceless woman. On the other end of the phone, the telemarketer is a self-identified ‘ugly’ woman who lives in poverty and feels on the margins of society, having big patches covering wounds and burns on her face.
On the phone, she is “this beautiful creature,” Intson explained. It’s about desire and projection and how things are not what they seem.
It was a busy summer for Intson. She performed a show with her theatre company called The Last 48, selling out the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and earning four-star reviews from the CBC; she designed soundscapes that mimicked artificial intelligence and participated in TENT, the Toronto Fringe’s immersive summer program for emerging theatre producers and spent time in Stratford as Theatre Ontario’s Youth Scholarship recipient.
Now back and settled on campus, Intson will hold office hours 1:30-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays in University College, Room 2432. She can be found online at camilleintson.com or everywhere on social media at @camilleintson. She is best reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Intson will be doing a reading at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at The Wave as part of London Open Mic Poetry.
The Student-Writer-in-Residence program – unique in North America – was developed in 2013 by the University Students’ Council and the Department of English and Writing Studies. The mandate of the program is to provide support for an accomplished undergraduate writer while allowing other students to benefit from the writer’s creativity, expertise, and organizational skills. The SWIR fosters exchange among aspiring student writers and contributes to the culture of creativity across campus, within the London area, and across literary genres, media, and technologies.