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Female actress on stage in a split photo. One side wearing braids with green satin ribbons, a khakhi button up shirt and flowered apron. The second side she is a ghost covered in blood and holding a cup of what appears to be more blood high above her head.

Bailey Chin [BA/2024] performing in Peer Gynt and Macbeth at UM. Credits: K. Berg and E. Friesen

Theatre a safe space to learn how to fail

2024 graduate grateful for opportunities and says program truly “chose her”

June 4, 2024 — 

As a first year student, Bailey Chin [BA/2024] wasn’t quite sure what to study in university. She had already taken a year off after high school and still hadn’t decided what might be for her. So, like many others, she registered for University1. Among the arts and science courses she registered for, a longtime love of theatre led her to try Introduction to Theatre. Jump forward and COVID-19 led Chin to take another year off and work professionally as an actor before coming back to complete her degree in 2024. Years of study and many productions later, Chin is graduating this spring with a bachelor of arts majoring in theatre and hopes to continue her journey in the performing arts world.

“As corny as it sounds, I truly feel like this program chose me more than I chose it,” said Chin. “Intro to Theatre quickly became the highlight of my week, and I realized it was all I wanted to spend my time doing. So, I did!”

“Something that has always stood out to me in the theatre program is how close everyone gets,” Chin continued. “The work we do is inherently emotionally vulnerable, so it makes sense we’d be friendly. What I didn’t expect was how many deep friendships I would cultivate that went beyond the classroom. The students and professors genuinely root for each other. I have professors who have come to every single show I have done outside of university productions! You don’t get that everywhere. It’s special.”

When asked about what had the most impact on her during her time at UM, Chin revealed it was, “being given a safe space to learn how to fail.” It seems this provided lessons on the stage, in the classroom and in life. “I know that sounds bizarre when talking about school, but stick with me here. Something you learn early on in theatre is the idea of “instant forgiveness”. It basically means that when you’re up on that stage, if you make a mistake, the only real way to deal with it is to instantly forgive yourself and move on. Dwelling on the errors does nothing for you, but learning to accept that it happened and keep going is where you truly learn. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist (every one of my professors that reads this will be nodding along right now, I’m sure) and learning to let go of that was hard for me. But having safe spaces to screw up in and safe people to help me learn from it made all the difference, and I’ll always be grateful for that. I’m a better artist and a better person as a result.”

During her degree, Chin had the opportunity to both act and work behind the scenes in productions at UM such as Macbeth and Peer Gynt. Outside UM, she has already performed at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, MTC Warehouse (her first lead role), Prairie Theatre Exchange and The Citadel (Edmonton).

“Getting the opportunity to do huge productions while you’re still learning is incredibly valuable,” said Chin. “You can learn about acting all you want, but once you’re actually up there, it’s a totally different game. Both are essential and I’m thankful I got as much experience as I did at UM prior to making my way onto other stages.”

Learn more about the theatre program in the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media.


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