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Actress draws all sorts of inspiration for role

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Spenser Payne is set to play Theresa in an upcoming production of The Crackwalker.

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Spenser Payne is set to play Theresa in an upcoming production of The Crackwalker. Photo Store

Though she takes some inspiration from her bouffant background, Spenser Payne isn’t clowning around when it comes to her upcoming leading role.

The 24-year-old Transcona resident is set to play Theresa in Sweet and Salty Collective’s production of Judith Thompson’s The Crackwalker. After generally playing the comedic supporting character, it’s one of the Collège Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau grad’s first roles where the story revolves around her character.

Payne explained bouffant is the "grotesque form of clowning", and she drew on her experience in the art to play Theresa, an indulgent character who is battling personal demons.

"It’s been an interesting ride, because she’s mentally handicapped and explores her dealing with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder," Payne said. "I love her at the same time because she’s fearless, absolutely impulsive.

"She says what she wants to say, does what she wants to do. If she wants to sleep on her friend’s couch, she’s going to do it. If she wants to kiss someone, she’s going to do it."

Payne noted she first got into bouffant clowning when studying at the University of Alberta, recalling it didn’t go well, but tried it again during a Theatre Incarnate workshop upon returning to Winnipeg.

"I fell in love with it at that moment, because how much fun is it to be impulsive, and fart and laugh about it?" said Payne, who has joined the six-woman Talentless Lumps to help carry on in the medium.

The Crackwalker, written by Governor General’s Award winner Thompson in 1980, is the first production by Sweet and Salty, which was started by Payne and fellow Talentless Lump Heather Russell. Payne said she embraced being able to wear the producer hat for the first time, taking on responsibility for everything from the grant application to the poster.

"We had the idea last year. We thought ‘Let’s do a show’, so we wrote a grant (application)," Payne said, adding the application to the Winnipeg Arts Council was successful.

The collective tapped Shakespeare in the Ruins founding member Debbie Patterson as director. Payne previously worked with Patterson on The Taming of the Shrew in 2008.

The Crackwalker runs Sept. 26 to 29 at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 1 at 626 Sargent Ave. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. from Sept. 26 to 28, and there are 2 p.m. matinees on Sept. 28 and 29. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and the unemployed.
For more information, visit http://thecrackwalker.tumblr.com

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