Leslee is a local gem of the community theater world. There were many influences in Leslee’s life that led her to become the recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for a Lifetime of Artistic Achievement and the Artistic Director for the Manitoba Theater for Young People.
Her fascination with telling stories began with her love for the storytelling traditions within her own family, this led her to become involved in theater while in school. As a child, she had the opportunity to visit the Manitoba Theater Center when they opened up the theater for a backstage tour for youth. She had the opportunity to Canadian theater legend John Hirsch at work at the Manitoba Theater as well as be influenced by great Canadian plays such as Mother Courage by Martha Henry. She also saw the influence of Creative Drama, and Agosto Boal’s idea of theater as a mechanism for social change.
In 1982 she founded the Manitoba Theater for Young People with a focus on promoting social transformation and championing human rights. She brought influencers from all over the globe to the theater so that that Canadians, and specifically young people would have the chance to learn from them as she had learned from those that came before them.
Having moved to Vancouver a few years ago Leslee has set her sight on a new horizon while maintaining a vision close to her heart. One of her hopes would be to see to fruition a visible and accessible community space where artists can connect, work and create with young people and each other. Her hope would be that the community would begin to focus on creating rather than consuming art.
Article by Daniela Guerrero-Rodriguez