Jane Ohland Cameron – a little creativity in everything

May 17, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“I get up at five o’clock in the morning and begin with writing. I’m structured around creativity where I am in my life.”

This daily routine of an early morning and a straight forward focus is the recipe for how Jane Ohland Cameron enjoys her life.

Having realized at some point that time “is not linear,” but shifts in unexpected ways, Ms. Ohland Cameron comments that “I’m finding that I hold the future loosely because whatever we think we know about our futures, we know we can’t – I build the structure and allow the creativity to come in. Take all the variables and try to shape them into some kind of order.”

She commented, “I am intentionally adding small comforts into my life. I see abundance  in creativity and using my time to create rather then consume.”

Now in her seventh year with Theatre Orangeville’s Creative Partners on Stage: (CPOS) –  a partnership between Community Living Dufferin and Theatre Orangeville, bringing all participants into the joys and benefits of theatre arts and producing two shows a year, Ms. Ohland Cameron writes or adapts and directs the  plays or shows with this group of people.

Her whole life has brought her to this. Born in Simcoe, Ontario, down by Lake Erie, as she pointed out, the lives of her sister, Karen, and herself were largely engulfed in Musical Theatre.

“My mother would take my sister and me to see the original musicals on at the O’Keefe Centre [as was] when they were pre-Broadway,” she told us. “We saw Camelot with Richard Burton and the original cast before it went to Broadway. We saw the original cast of West Side Story. The Sound of Music with Marion Marlowe.”

She related, “Our mother had a passion for Musical Theatre. She would take us to see the shows and after, we would go to Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street and buy the sound track. We listened to it over and over. At home, my sister and I would act out the stories on a table in our bedroom, using stuffed animals.

“Years later, Karen went on to be a Muppet builder and when I saw some of her work in a Muppet movie, I could see in the animals she built, the stuffed animals we played with on that table stage we used in our bedroom all those years ago.

“My mother grew up in a generation where she thought she could never do, she could only consume – it was probably where she belonged.”

Ms. Ohland Cameron outlined her professional life thus far, telling us, “I graduated from Western with English and Drama and went on to teachers’ college, after which I had a English degree with a specialist certification in Theatre.”

She eventually did little teaching, for theatre and writing called her.

“A drama professor at Western started a small theatre company in London, Ontario. He picked students from the Drama course at Western to be part of it. There were some well known theatre people. Peter Colley, the playwright, was one of them. A number of the actors went on to have professional careers.”

She admitted, “I did some acting but I wasn’t very good at it; not my forte. I was happier off stage, making props, painting scenery and as Assistant Director.”

Her story continued, “Then, I left the theatre and moved to Ottawa and started a bulk food store for a while.

“Over the years, I worked for a show, ‘You can’t Do That on Television’, based in Ottawa,” she recalled. “I just walked in off the street and asked for a job. I was working on sets for a while and they asked to write some of the show.”

A life of moving, of interest: “Later, I worked for the Elizabeth Fry Society for a while. After that, I moved to southern Ontario. To Adjala.”

In the meantime, she had met and married Chris Cameron.

These early days in this area were her first days with Theatre Orangeville. She went on:”Our three sons went to Theatre Orangeville, to Gary Sarazin’s classes. He was extremely generous to let me work with him, writing scripts for his theatre classes. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.”

Creative Partners on Stage is, as Ms. Ohland Cameron was clear: “This is entirely David’s [Nairn, Artistic Director of Theatre Orangeville] vision. It’s now 10 years old and this is my seventh  year with it.”

As she is writing so much for the two shows a year as well as the other things she does with her life, creativity always in the centre, she finds when she has time on her own that “silence is such a gift.”

All the seven years of her time with C.P.O.S. have been since her beloved husband, Dr. Chris Cameron, died in a car accident, eight years ago this year. Dr Cameron was a well known, well loved doctor in this town. She recalled when the police came to her house at four o’clock in the morning to tell her the tragic news of his death.

“That moment is very clear but much of the rest of it is a blur,” she commented. In fact, the day of his death is one of the performance days of the upcoming show, Sea Changes.

“He was very supportive of all my creativity and, in many ways, I can honour him as I always do on this day by the production of this show.”

She responded to questions about her ambitions to produce more work, perhaps, to travel.

“I very much live in the moment,” she said reflectively. “So much of my focus is on the play, Sea Changes.”

One of her chief concerns, like any artist, is “one of my greatest fears with the arts I create that could become a sort of Groundhog Day [repeating itself over and over]. I’m working with the same actors, dealing with the same theatre; I’m exploring some of the same themes. So, there is a fear of becoming repetitious.

“Where I want to go – I want to explore more about the actors. Right now, my journey is to see how I can take my creativity further within the actors in CLD – to bring out more creativity in the actors I work with. It’s not a case of pushing myself but with time and finding more within the actors themselves.”

Tragedy sometimes instills a shift in our perception of the elements that are a part of our lives, of all lives. In Ms. Ohland Cameron’s life, it is her view of time: “I don’t see my life as being linear,” she said. “I almost see my life as a spiral- that creative work that I do expands the orbit in terms of the community. I no longer see any life as linear. I can’t quite comprehend a future except to continue to expand my creativity.

“My awareness is in a very non-linear way.

“I hope my plays mirror how we are against anonymity and honour each other  as the individuals that we are.

“Sometimes, in theatre, we can be afraid of other people’s talent, that they’ll overshadow our own. Yet, it’s such an honour to work with creative individuals who are much better than I could ever be. I want to call for all the (CLD) actors to come to the table their most creative selves.”

She told us, “I’m accountable to the actors and the audiences. I like to invert the pyramid.”

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.