Saskatoon·Future 40

Saskatoon actress, Future 40 winner Heather Morrison to debut as playwright with Thicker Than Water

Heather Morrison's life on and off-stage is a balancing act with multiple roles, new baby and an upcoming debut as a playwright.

Future 40 winner Heather Morrison balances life with new play, many roles

Heather Morrison is a 2015 Future 40 winner, actress, playwright and new mother. (Heather Morrison/Sum Theatre)

Throughout her life, the theatre was always calling Heather Morrison's name. 

However, like many who carry creativity, a day job put artistic projects on the back burner.

"It was that thing where I was spending all of my free time, working in the arts, and constantly turning down opportunities because I couldn't fit it in to my schedule," Morrison said.

In 2014, she took the plunge and quit her full-time job to pursue bigger dreams in the theatre.

Our history is in our blood.- Heather Morrison

Looking back, Morrison, now 30, said she still can't quite put her finger on what triggered the jump.

"It was very interesting, because you think you're going to wait until you're ready and go. But, I don't know. I just lined up six weeks of work, and I just jumped," she said.

The leap of faith in her own ability paid off.

Since then, Morrison has been able to put more energy into her joint, theatrical venture SUM Theatre. An organization that has enabled Morrison to bring interactive arts programming to at-risk kids and teens in the city, through Youth On The Rise.

"The kids need it, they get a real sense of community out of it," she said. "It is life-changing for them."

Morrison said the program connects youth with mentors from several backgrounds, including theatre, in order to cultivate confidence and other skills to succeed.

Heather Morrison and new son (far left, back row) with the Sum Theatre crew at Winterlude 2015, in Saskatoon. (Sum Theatre Saskatoon/Facebook)

Thicker Than Water brings serendipitous playwright debut for Morrison​

Morrison's first play, Thicker Than Water, will debut on Saskatchewan stages in Regina, Moose Jaw, North Battleford and Saskatoon in June 2016. (Globe Theatre/globetheatrelive.com)

In June, Thicker Than Water, Morrison's first stab at play-writing, will launch on Saskatchewan stages.

The piece shares a uniquely female experience, exploring motherhood, mental health and family.

"This is a first for me, it is a play I have been working on for a long time," Morrison said of the work, produced by SUM Theatre.

Morrison said she began writing the play years ago, before she was a mother, and ended the process as a pregnant woman. Bringing the process full-circle, in a very serendipitous way.

"It is about this woman who thinks she might be pregnant and that leads her to examine her family history, wonder about how she will be as a mother," she said. "It is about motherhood [and] mental health."

Morrison explained that the three main characters in the show are all an extension of herself and reflect different experiences she has had, with a similar situation in her own life.

"Life reflects art," Morrison laughed of the situation.

Morrison with new son Judah. (Heather Morrison/Submitted to CBC)

Morrison explained the play explores questions raised by her own family's history.

"My mother has been very open with her life ... in the play, I chose to take a different route. I make the mother closed off, not open and her secrecy has fairly harsh consequences in the script."

Morrison said exploring intergenerational feelings is a main theme in her piece.

"How our history is in our blood, blood is thicker than water, is the idea of it," she said. "It is worrying that we cannot help but pass those things on to our children."

The play will run first at Regina's Globe Theatre in June. It will also travel to Moose Jaw, Sask. and North Battleford before finally playing in Morrison's hometown of Saskatoon.

Future 40 affirmation for the importance of art

Heather Morrison's life on and off-stage is a balancing act with multiple roles, new baby and an upcoming debut as a playwright. 0:40
Morrison, who was a CBC Future 40 winner in 2015, said the award continues to serve as affirmation of the importance of her work.

"This isn't just an award for artists. This is an award for people, across the province, who make a difference in a variety of different ways," Morrison said. "I feel like sometimes the arts can be perceived as something that is just a little bit of fluff, or extra in someone's day. When, actually, the arts have the ability to make an incredible difference in people's lives."

Morrison said it also helps with motivation when the workload gets heavy and the days are long and hard.

"On those days when I don't believe in myself, it is nice to feel I have support through other people in my community through the Future 40 award," she said.

Morrison is currently preparing for a role in Persephone Theatre's The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble and in Shakespeare On The Saskatchewan's all-female production of Julius Caesar.

Know someone who deserves some recognition for the good work they are doing? Nominations for Future 40 2016 are open now!

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