When Christine Quintana was 11 years old, she booked herself an audition for The Sound of Music at Richmond’s Gateway Theatre. She went to the library and photocopied her sheet music, then got her mom to drive her on the big day. Quintana was asked to return for a callback, but she was unprepared for the dance portion of the tryout. The folks conducting the audition thanked her and showed her the door.
She remembers, “I went out to the car and my mom was like, ‘What? Oh my God!’ She was driving and crying. But I was like, ‘It’s okay, Mom. It’s a competitive field. And this is just the beginning.’ ”
At this summer’s Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, Quintana, who has just turned 26, was on-stage twice—to receive the Sidney Risk Prize for Outstanding Script by an Emerging Playwright for her play Selfie and to accept, with her fellow artists, the award for the outstanding musical in the small-theatre division. That was for Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical. Quintana wrote the book and lyrics for Stationary, she performed in it, and her company Delinquent Theatre, which she runs with Laura McLean, produced it.
Quintana is chatting with the Straight in a lounge in the Performance Lab. She’s in the building three days a week, working as the marketing and operations coordinator for Neworld Theatre, and she has multiple projects on the go, including creating Never the Last with violinist Molly MacKinnon. It will be about Russian-born Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, who defied convention to establish herself as a female composer, in Canada, in the middle of the last century.
Quintana says that, on her artistic journey, Vancouver’s cultural community has consistently nourished her. “I went to Queen Victoria,” she remembers. “It’s a tiny primary school—only K to 3. And that was such an East Van smorgasbord of people. The parents would help to do the holiday show. Somebody who was a muralist would do the background, and some singers who were parents wrote the songs.”
Several times, she participated in the Cultch’s youth program, which gives folks under 24 the chance to explore various art forms. “It was nuts!” she remembers. “I produced a cabaret night when I was 16 or so. I legit did that.”
And she’s deeply grateful to Craig Holzschuh, the artistic director of Théâtre la Seizième, who commissioned Selfie even though he had seen only one of her plays.
Asked what advice she has for young artists, Quintana quickly replies, “A community is give-and-take. In a lot of ways, you’ll get back what you put in. So go see shows. Volunteer for things....And, if you don’t see a space for yourself, make one.”