Nazneen Adrienne (transcript)

Nazneen Adrienne
Fri, 10/16 4:43PM • 57:21

Nazneen Doyle, James Avramenko

James Avramenko 00:40
My babies is we are back. Welcome Welcome. Welcome to the first episode of Season Three of friendless The only podcast about how to lose all your Facebook friends, one hour at a time. As always, I’m your long lost host James Avramenko. Back from the cold of hiatus, from the long darkness of no podcasting land. That’s right, I have returned with an all new bundle of interviews for your listening layout. So my initial idea for season three was going to be centered entirely around high school just high school friends. That was it. The plan didn’t really come to fruition, a lot of talks kind of fizzled out. Totally cool, all good. But luckily, in it may not have worked for the entire season. But it did work for this episode, because I have my old high school friend and fellow UVic alumni Nazneen Doyle on the show. Now, Naz is currently a junior high teacher, something we talked extensively about in the interview. But she was also instrumental in the recent call it the agitation at UVic, to assess the systemic change that’s needed in their treatment of the bipoc and female student body. We talked quite extensively about how schools are adapting or not so much adapting to the new demands of keeping school students and schools safe, as well as our mutual history of being beaten up by theater school and the emotional scars from that experience. So I’ve been away for a while I took a lot longer hiatus than I expected, I would. But it has been so so needed, so refreshing, and I am back now and ready to produce. But I do feel like I want to caveat right from the start of the season. I do believe that this sort of like create things all the time and always be producing mentality is super unhealthy. So I’m going to simply commit to creating as much as I can when I can. And if I need to take another break, I’m going to, if I ever need to do anything like that, I will give everybody fair warning. But, you know, maybe this is just putting too much energy into hypotheticals that haven’t even happened yet. But I just thought it would be worth kind of saying right up the top. But the truth of the matter is, I’m just so excited to be back podcasting. I’m so excited to be back with you, whoever you are. I love you. I genuinely love you. And I just thank you for being here with me for this wild ride. But without further ado, let’s jump right into the episode and listen to NAS Doyle talking about friendship and how to cope as a teacher in the times of COVID Holy shit Nazneen Doyle How the hell are you?

Nazneen Doyle 03:33
I’m pretty good. I’m pretty good. It’s been a wild couple of weeks, but I’m good. I had a good day.

James Avramenko 03:41
So we go way far back. We go into the before even the before times. Today can baby Oh, great, Ted. But I let’s see, because we went to university. I guess the last time I saw you was probably close to about 10 years ago now. Wouldn’t it have been?

Nazneen Doyle 03:58
Jesus Christ?

James Avramenko 03:59
I know time is fucking gross, especially like, let alone the elasticity of like COVID times, but just in general pious sucks. So so let’s start at our start. I want to just dive right into what you remember. If you remember how we met.

Nazneen Doyle 04:24
Well, we were both at the same high school. Can I say the name?

James Avramenko 04:29
I think so. I don’t think that’s libelous. I mean,

Nazneen Doyle 04:33
I don’t know why they’re not gonna talk shit about the school. We went to bonus High School in Calgary. So we would have met in grade 10 which would have been like 2002 2003 ish. I can’t remember which semester or free time we met. But I was aware of you before I actually knew you because you were the only boy in dance.

James Avramenko 04:55
My reputation preceded me did it?

Nazneen Doyle 04:58
Yeah. The only boy in dance And so I kind of was like aware of you. And then I think that we, like met properly because of drama stuff,

James Avramenko 05:07
right? Of course, of course. Yeah. Now I remember because I don’t you know, it’s funny, especially when you get into high school years, everything just sort of blends together into one, anxiety, stomachache, right, but, but, but I definitely remember not necessarily the exact date, but I remember you were really close friends with David Miller, who

Nazneen Doyle 05:30
still am

James Avramenko 05:31
and you’re still friends. That’s beautiful. Ilove that I’m so glad to hear that. He was in my French class in grade 10.

Nazneen Doyle 05:38
Yes, French. That’s correct.

James Avramenko 05:39
And, and I was like, I just thought he was the coolest person. Because, you know, he was like, he dyed his hair and he wore cool band hoodies. And so I was just like, this guy, and he painting his nails.

Nazneen Doyle 05:52
It was like very avant garde for 2002 or 2002.

James Avramenko 05:56
I was like, You are the bravest person I’ve ever Oh, yeah, baby. badass. And then, and then by proxy, I felt like everybody who he deemed cool, like had to be cool, right? Like you had, you had at a minimum contact. Cool, right? So there was that little group that you were a part of that I was just like, wow, yeah.

Nazneen Doyle 06:18
That’s nice.

James Avramenko 06:19
Fuck Yeah. Um, so we we slowly throughout the years, as I remember it, we sort of, you know, as high school does you sort of weave in and out of knowing each other. And sometimes you’re in the class, and sometimes you’re not in a not, but especially I feel like where we bonded was, was especially great. 12. Yeah, definitely we were because we were in the mainstage together, and then we were in just like, every acting class, we could get together. Right.

Nazneen Doyle 06:47
I think we were acting together in grade 11 as well.

James Avramenko 06:50

Nazneen Doyle 06:51
Which I think when we started becoming friends, I think it was grade 12. For sure. For sure. Right, because we are in musical theater. Yes. I think it was grade 12. We were in like everything together. And we were in a drama class together. And we hung out a lot outside of school. Well, there was that.

James Avramenko 07:07
There was the infamous weekend crew.

Nazneen Doyle 07:10
All the weekend crew,

James Avramenko 07:12
the legendary weekend crew.

Nazneen Doyle 07:14

James Avramenko 07:15
Now, were you a part of the founding of that. Do you know the story of that?

Nazneen Doyle 07:20
I was part of the founding of it. I don’t remember how we named ourselves. But it was definitely something that came from. I’m pretty sure it was me Elise and Jasmine came up with it.

James Avramenko 07:32
It had very distinct Breakfast Club vibes. I felt like

Nazneen Doyle 07:37
extreme Breakfast Club.

James Avramenko 07:40
I always got them feeling like y’all had watched Breakfast Club one weekend and we’re like, Alright, here we go. Breakfast Club weekend, weekend crew.

Nazneen Doyle 07:49
I mean, it wasn’t as explicit as all that. But you know, we definitely watch The Breakfast Club many times.

James Avramenko 07:57
So you went on to know did you take a gap year is that ended up happening? Because

Nazneen Doyle 08:03
I took one year off because I wanted to make some money.

James Avramenko 08:06
Gotcha. Okay, cuz as I remember, it was from my side was, you know, we graduated together. And then I went off to UVic. And then a year later you showed up, but I was like, Fuck, yeah. Someone I know. And so what did you do in that, in that? In that time?

Nazneen Doyle 08:25
I worked. I had two different jobs. I started working at a it was a clothing store and market mall. It was it was bluenotes market. Yeah. I know, selling them cheap, cheap jeans,

James Avramenko 08:36
Oh, man.

Nazneen Doyle 08:37
And then I got a job through a contact of my dad’s where I ended up being a receptionist at a printing company downtown called first on color. And that was actually awesome.

James Avramenko 08:49
That that those are the kinds of jobs that you I never know how someone gets that job. Other than, oh, my dad knew. So buddy.

Nazneen Doyle 08:57
That’s 100% why it was like I had parental connections. But it was, I remember it being an awesome job because I like was the receptionist. But I also did all of like the, like the work orders for print jobs. And I like did copy editing and stuff. And I would like take proofs of things over to like, offices downtown. And I was like, I’m a working girl. And I felt very like cool and fancy. It was like a big deal for an 18 year old and I loved that job.

James Avramenko 09:23
It’s such a it’s such an incredible, like, when you’re young and you get this job that you’ve always sort of imagined is like, you know, big person job. When you actually can accomplish it. It’s such a validating feeling.

Nazneen Doyle 09:37

James Avramenko 09:38
Did you ever go back to it? Did you ever go on with it?

Nazneen Doyle 09:41
No. And I I went off to to Victoria, the fall of 2006. And then the rest, as they say is history. I’m sure we’ll get into it.

James Avramenko 09:51
Oh, yeah. Well, that’s that’s right where we are. So when you showed up at UVic What was your takeaway from that program? You did? You know, did you so For me, I I took five years, I definitely fucked up several classes got a lot of Ns, no F’s, but a lot of Ns. A lot of not completes. And so I ended up having to take summer school and an extra year. Did you did you get through in a in a full four years or? I did five just because I kind of switched gears halfway through? Not for academic reasons. I was a huge fucking nerd and I did great. I did really well. Yeah, hell yeah.

Nazneen Doyle 10:33
But I switched. And I went in there with like, the intent of going into acting. And then when that didn’t happen, I switched to applied theater, which is sort of led me to my like, current job as a teacher.

James Avramenko 10:45
Oh, outstanding. So so when you come out of applied theater, you’re now a teacher. And and so what? What bridges you between those two things?

Nazneen Doyle 10:56
Well, like in addition to taking theater stuff, I also did a lot of English at UVic, because that’s sort of my other like, the thing I was passionate about at the time. And then upon graduating, I was like, extremely disillusioned with theater. applied, or sorry, my experience that you Vic was by and large, really, really bad. Yeah. And I don’t know how much you want to get into it. But suffice to say it was not a good time with the exception of my applied theater courses. Yeah. And in those applied theater courses, my favorite things, my favorite times were the times that I was like, working with youth. I also, in like my last two years of school there, I was also volunteering with this nonprofit. I don’t think it exists anymore. But it was called capital families Association. And they had this like evening, like student drama program thing. And another person that applied theater was like the, like director of that program. And so I volunteered with that program, and we did some like, collective devising work with kids. And it was like, it was just really rewarding. It was a lot of fun. And so when I graduated, I was kind of at loose ends. And I didn’t really know, like, what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to go. But I had these moments that were really joyful for me. And I also had this other like, huge passion for English. And I was like, Well, why don’t I pursue becoming an English teacher? And I did, and now I am, and it was 100% the right choice.

James Avramenko 12:32
That’s beautiful. I love that. That’s so it’s so wonderful when you hear someone pivot and, and and stick the landing, right?

Nazneen Doyle 12:41
Oh, I love my job. There’s nothing else I’d rather do. It’s the best

James Avramenko 12:45
What um? Do you have a specific grade? Or do you teach multiple levels.

Nazneen Doyle 12:51
Uh, for most of my career, so far, I was teaching high school English, so grade 10, 11 and 12. But I recently, so this September, I’m in a new school teaching grade eight. So it’s Language Arts and Social Studies. So it’s a bit of a switch littler.

James Avramenko 13:10
I, you know, it’s funny, because I, I I’ve always thought if I want to, if I you know, if I was going to teach, I’d be trying to teach high school, but I have such a deep respect for junior high teachers, because I, for me, Junior High was probably the worst three years of my childhood. And so I feel like the teachers who are in that time period who have to deal with that constantly day in day out with, you know, 30 of the most miserable. What do you call it? hormonal, little shitheads. Right. It’s like,

Nazneen Doyle 13:46
Yeah, totally.

James Avramenko 13:47
It’s just a battlefield.

Nazneen Doyle 13:49
It is a tough time, like, my junior high experience was also terrible. And I think I think that’s like, all the more reason, you know, to want to be there and work with them because they need to, you know, they need adults who like care about them and are like really invested in them. So I really like it like I did I talked to in your high my practicum. And I really liked them. Like they’re basically the human equivalent of puppies, like their feet are too big. If they’re not good at like, maneuvering their bodies through space. Yep, their voices are all weird. They’ve got strange smells, and they’re just really sweet. Yeah, they’re really sweet. They’re just like, precious babies. And I really, really like them.

James Avramenko 14:27
Oh, that’s a wonderful it’s, it’s it’s just it’s it’s really wonderful. Also to hear teachers with, with, you know, I’m not saying these are teachers I know, but I have definitely heard teachers, you know, speak with such a almost vitriol about their students and this resentment, right? And it’s like, I don’t understand it because it’s like, you’re you are like, you hold these precious little jewels in your hand. And if you do your job, right, you you change lives forever. You know,

Nazneen Doyle 15:00
if you don’t like kids get the hell out. Like let somebody else who wants to do it do your job.

James Avramenko 15:05

Nazneen Doyle 15:06
There’s there’s easier ways to make a very middle of the road living.

James Avramenko 15:12
It’s gonna say you’re not exactly rolling it, you know,

Nazneen Doyle 15:14
no, I don’t, don’t do this because you want to, like, get super paid. Like, I make enough money. I’m not complaining. But like, you know, I could I could go into oil and gas and be getting a lot more money and put in probably fewer hours. Yeah. I mean, so you gotta love it.

James Avramenko 15:33
So in terms of teaching these days, so we’re in a really unique spot. This week was the first week back for you. Right?

Nazneen Doyle 15:42
it was indeed

James Avramenko 15:43
and how, and how was it?

Nazneen Doyle 15:48
Listen, it’s been a buck, wild. It’s been wild. Like I would say, overall, I’m really glad to be back. We have to go fully online in March. And I hate teaching online, I hate it. There’s no part of me that’s well suited to it. I’m an extrovert, I need to get out of my house, I need to be around people, I need to see my kids. So it was awful teaching online. So in that regard, I’m really happy to be back. But there’s so many like, new like rules and regulations in place. There’s a lot of things that are still up in the air, there’s a lot of unanswered questions. And it feels like we’re sort of building the plane as we fly it, you know what I mean? Yes. So it’s wild.

James Avramenko 16:37
Now, terms of so for instance, like, trying, just because, you know, I, I’m not somebody who’s got any right to be anywhere near school these days. So, on any level. And so what would like, what would a typical day for a student look like these days, like in terms of within the the sort of parameters of this new, this new normal.

Nazneen Doyle 17:02
So I think things probably look different in high school. But in my school, which is a middle school, grades five to nine, the kids are not allowed to enter the building until 15 minutes before the bell. And then teachers go out and they open the doors. Every grade has a designated door that they have to come in, and a designated stairwell that they have to use to get up to their room to sort of like mitigate crowding and bottlenecking. Kids have to have masks on and we’ve got like tape lines down the center of the hallways so that you like you, right, you walk on the right side, you know what I mean? Like a car, and all of the desks are in like, individual rows with as much space between the desks as we possibly can, which is not two meters, because that’s not possible. How can your average classroom know like, not with, you know, however many kids you’ve got? So yeah, they were masked basically, all day, they’re in the same classroom all day, and their cohort and the teachers are moving. So I’m moving, but my kids are staying. Okay. I have two sections of humanities. So I am going back and forth.

James Avramenko 18:08
Um, and are they given chances to like, kind of get up and move around? Or like, how are they

Nazneen Doyle 18:14
like, we’re trying to build in breaks throughout the day. It’s not something that’s like, super standardized, but I give my kids breaks. I’ve got a few kids that have like ADHD and really benefit from like, body breaks. And so there’s kids, that they’re allowed to go like, do a lap around the school if they’re like feeling, you know, antsy, like, I took my kids outside last period of the day today, we were doing like a class discussion in social studies. And I was like, we can do this outside on the grass. You know, just trying to like, build in those moments for them where they’re not feeling like they’re trapped. Yes,

James Avramenko 18:46
yes. Well, cuz Yeah, just listening. I mean, you know, like, my brain goes, like, my little ADHD brain goes like, Oh, my God, six hours in one room, like, we’ve been talking for 17 minutes. And I’m already like, Okay, I gotta walk around, I got to move something. My body is tense that I need to, you know, like, it’s, it’s a, I, it just it my heart really goes out to these kids and what they’re dealing with and the stress levels I can’t even imagine like, because there’s the there’s the there’s the anxiety of starting school, and then there’s the anxiety of a pandemic that nobody really fully understands. And everybody’s collecting information about and then you’re forced to just sit in this dungeon. Yeah, good, Lord.

Nazneen Doyle 19:30
Like, the last thing we want in the world is for school to feel unsafe. Yeah. And for school to feel scary, right. That’s the last thing we want. So it’s like walking that really fine line between making sure that we’re, you know, doing what we need to do, and like mitigating risk, but also making them feel safe and comfortable. And that’s a hard needle to thread.

James Avramenko 19:52
Yeah, well, I mean, I really do tip my hat to you. I just wish you all the luck with it because it’s just it’s such a it’s such an imperative. of job, but at the same time to where, you know, we’re collectively, culturally and societally, we’re not giving it the respect it needs, you know, and, and that’s something that really drives me crazy. I, you know, I, you know, we speak of high school and we speak of meeting and theater and you know, I, for me, when I discovered theater in junior high, that was the first time I felt like I had found a safe space to be in and figure out who I wanted to be, you know, and, and, and 100%, right, you know, and, and then building that into, you know, taking musical theater and taking dance and taking all these classes, and, you know, like, like, you know, being the only boy and dance class and like, yeah, part of me took it as a joke, but then also part of me was like, well, I want to be a performer so I’m gonna need to learn how to dance you know, and, and, yeah, totally, and having those safe spaces. And so I just like, I can’t even imagine. I mean, I you know, I barely got through and you know, our our risk of infection was mono. Yeah. Where they were just like, stop sharing drinks.

Nazneen Doyle 21:03
mono and like hangovers after cast party.

James Avramenko 21:05
Exactly, exactly.

Nazneen Doyle 21:07
Yeah. No, my heart goes out to the kiddos. It really does. Like I just kind of imagined how they’re feeling right now. Glad to be back, though.

James Avramenko 21:16
Oh, yeah, I bet it’s a relief for them to get out of the house, you know, but

Nazneen Doyle 21:20

James Avramenko 21:20
My, my nephew. He just started grade one. And I just the mind trip to me of like, being a child and processing that is just, it’s too much for me,you know? What is your most vivid memory of our friendship?

Nazneen Doyle 21:41
So I actually know exactly what I want to say here. Yes, there was a party. And I don’t think it was a cast party. I think it was just a party. And it was at Erica Anderson’s house, she lifted bonus.

James Avramenko 21:55

Nazneen Doyle 21:57
And I think it was the first time you and I really had like a conversation one on one. Okay. There may have been some beverages involved, even though we were not 18. And I just remember, we were like, we started talking about music. Because you and I were both little punk ass kids. And we taught I can’t remember exactly how it came up. We found out we both really liked the band social distortion. And then we put on social distortion. And we just, like, danced in Erica Anderson’s living room, and it was super fun.

James Avramenko 22:34
You know, it’s so funny because I when I when I think of you, I think of you dancing like that in the living room. Like, it’s so funny that that’s the memory you have because that’s the image I have. Yeah, I remember a very similar I remember when we all went to see stars in grade 12. And just like, dancing so hard that like the next day, I couldn’t lift my head, you know. And that was that was something I always loved about about party with you is that we always just took it too far.

Nazneen Doyle 23:10
Oh, I love dancing. I still do. I still do. Like my favorite thing to do. I love it. Yes. I remember that concert vividly. That was phenomenal.

James Avramenko 23:19
that was an important night. That’s for sure. God damn.

Nazneen Doyle 23:22
Oh, yeah. seminal experience. Well, I’m really interested in hearing how like, pandemic times have been for you. What have you been doing?

James Avramenko 23:40
Yeah. Um, so I, I have been right in the emotional rollercoaster. But I’ve been trying to like really, like, let myself do that. Like, I’ve been trying really hard to sort of, I’ve been using this time to really attune myself with what I want to do daily, rather than what are my like long term goals and right, you know, what I want to do next year, whatever, because if this has shown me anything, it’s that it’s, you could make all the plans in the world and who cares? You know, like, yeah, so I have been working on just lots of writing lots of like, reflection, lots of like, work when I want to work and then just laying about and playing video games when I don’t, and just like being super cool with all of it,

Nazneen Doyle 24:28
you know, trying to stay really present.

James Avramenko 24:31
Yeah, yeah. And just like figure out like, it’s, it’s a funny thing, because it’s like, I really hate using I always find that like, Zen terminology and sort of like meditative language really goes hand in hand with cult language. And so I’m always very, very cognizant and very cautious of being like, well, I’m living in process because it’s like, well, I could either be talking about meditating or I’ve joined Nexium, you know,

Nazneen Doyle 25:00
So just don’t brand anywhere. I’d be fine.

James Avramenko 25:02
I’m trying. I’m trying not to Okay, I’m doing my best here, but I’m sure I might need a harem. I don’t know. We don’t know what’s happening.

Nazneen Doyle 25:14
If you haven’t listened to it you should live in. You should listen to that. Nexium podcast and CBC did it together great.

James Avramenko 25:22
It’s not somebody knows nothing. It’s a it’s a uncovered. Thank you. Yeah, that season is incredible. Yeah, no, but ya know, just lots of writing and lots of just being cool with being productive whenever I feel like it. That’s, yeah, yeah. I don’t know. Does money spark joy in your life, or cause you stress? If you said stress, you’re not alone. For 42% of Canadians, their biggest stressor comes from money. I connexus. They care about your financial well, being. Money doesn’t have to be stressful. And connexus is here to help. The connects is hashtag money talk blog provides expert advice, tips and solutions for all life stages and events, getting married, buying a house, budgeting, saving that covered all and more. And did I mention it’s free? Check it out today at connexus money and start feeling confident and stress free about your money. So something I’ve been wrestling with a lot recently, especially but it over the last couple years has been this idea of Am I a good friend? Have I been a good friend? And and what is it to me that makes a good friend so so you know, I mean, we’ve got I’m sure you could look up Merriam Webster’s and say, you know, a friend is somebody you you know, whatever, which is

Nazneen Doyle 26:51
how a grade 10 would start their essay.

James Avramenko 26:53
Exactly. Right. So, but, but like, I guess for me, what I’m what I’m driving at is what, what, what is a good friend to you right now.

Nazneen Doyle 27:05
So at this point in my life, now more than ever, I realized that like the number one thing that I value, in my friendships is like, a pretty deep level of emotional intimacy. And I’ve, I don’t know, like, I’ve seen some shit in my life. I’ve had some, some pretty terrible experiences. And I’m not going to like, unpack my trauma for you. Unless you really want me

James Avramenko 27:34
No, and no, I don’t know. Absolutely not. That’s completely

Nazneen Doyle 27:37
No, but like, you know, I’ve been through some stuff like worse, you know, I’m a, I’m a cancer survivor. Like, you know, I’ve seen some shit. Yeah. And at this stage in my life, I just feel like, I don’t have a lot of time for relationships that are shallow. Which is not to say that every single one of my friends has to be a best friend. But when I am spending time with somebody, I want there to be like, a certain level of emotional connection. Like I don’t really at the stage of my life at 33 years old, have people that I just like, hang out with casually and just like go and have a beer with you know what I mean? Like, really, my, my relationships, the people that I choose to spend my time and my energy on and with are people that like I care about very deeply and who care about me deeply in return. Yeah, um, so yeah, emotional intimacy, I think is the biggest thing.

James Avramenko 28:32
That’s such a beautiful point. And I because I, I am 100% with you about that. And and I find myself and I and I don’t say this to knock anybody who would do this with but I do find myself sometimes feeling almost, like, emotionally robbed by something like going out for a beer and then not being able to be vulnerable, you know, sort of forcing or, you know, being forced to sort of remain a little surface being a little cautious. You know, I do yeah, I still work in theater. And I’m actually I will be honest, I’m actually I’m really seriously contemplating getting just completely out of it because I there’s so much Oh, god, I’m blanking on the word but it’s like very superficial. It’s superficial, but it’s also very like, God why you can like blanking on the word it’s like, very like, manipulative. It’s very like say one thing but mean the opposite and sort of goad you into saying something so that they can

Nazneen Doyle 29:33

James Avramenko 29:33
Duplicitous Thank you. I knew an English teacher would guess

Nazneen Doyle 29:37
why they paid some moderate bucks

James Avramenko 29:42
but very duplicitous, duplicitous and and so, you know, I’m, I’m looking exactly what you’re saying. I’m looking for intimacy and and authenticity. And, and so I think that’s why I’m, I’m in the process of questioning this so much is that I I don’t feel Like I’m able to be as vulnerable as I want to be. And that might be a form of narcissism, but I’m not gonna unpack that.

Nazneen Doyle 30:10
I don think so I think it’s okay to know what you want out of your relationship. Yeah, yeah. Cuz I feel the same way. Like I’m at the point in my life where I don’t know how to be casual with people. I don’t know, I’m, I’m extremely like a vulnerable heart on my sleeve, kind of a person. And if people like, aren’t really like into that, then that means we’re not going to be able to like be friends. Yeah,

James Avramenko 30:34
yeah. I’m just I mean, that it’s it’s so funny. I mean, it’s, it’s so wonderful talking to you right now. Because it’s really reminding me of all the wonderful things I always I always admired about you. And one of them was that you definitely like, just, you would just say it, you’re one of those people who would never like you or sort of hold it in and sort of think like, you would just say it, and it was always like, holy shit. Naz is just going for it.

Nazneen Doyle 31:02
It’s, I pretty much always go for it. That has only gotten, I think, more so over the years.

James Avramenko 31:07
Yeah. That’s fucking awesome.

Nazneen Doyle 31:19
So you’ve alluded to this a little bit. But my next question from you is like, what is your current relationship with theater? Hmm.

James Avramenko 31:28
contentious. Man I’m having a hard time with it to be completely honest. Because I just, I’m starting to realize that that sort of that sort of dream, that is theater, when you say the word theater to a theater kid, you know, when you’re when you’re 16, and you’ve seen your first big play, and you think like theater is, and then it’s that like that magic, whatever that thing is,

Nazneen Doyle 31:58
you do your grade 12 production of seussical. And you think you can conquer the world.

James Avramenko 32:02
Yeah. Exactly, though, right. And, and, and, and, and I want them to believe that And I want every 16 year old to believe that you can do that. But I’m 33 and it didn’t happen for me. And and and I don’t think I want it to anymore is the other thing. Like I think I think what I got from theater over the last 20 years.

Nazneen Doyle 32:31
Wow that’s a big number.

James Avramenko 32:32
Yeah, right, which fucks me up. But, but it’s enough, right? I’ve, you know, I’ve moved on, I’m doing you know, I’m writing I’m writing poetry, I’m writing novels, and I’m doing other stuff. And so I’m more than happy to administrate and to help other people make their art. But But my art I don’t think lives in the theater anymore. And and it’s sort of sad. But it’s also like really empowering because I think one of the great detriments of theater and one of the great holdbacks is that far too often. It’s an art that is built on other people telling you when you get to make your art, you know, is right, it’s casting directors or it’s, you know, chairs of departments or it’s, you know, whoever whatever gatekeeper is, they’re telling you when you get to make your art and and I’m not willing to wait, you know, and I’m also not willing to work with a lot of people because I’m like, No, no, that’s a bad idea. I’m not gonna do that. So books and poetry, the lucrative the lucrative industry of chatbooks.

Nazneen Doyle 33:40
If you’re gonna be broke, you might as well be broke doing something you actually enjoy

James Avramenko 33:44
fucking a rights Exactly. I’d actually really like to, I’d actually really like to ask that same question of you. Sure. Are you involved in theater at all these days are?

Nazneen Doyle 33:56
Fuck no.

James Avramenko 34:00
What is the deal with that? Like, what is the deal with every, like, every 16 year old being like, I’m gonna be a theater actor. And then within six years, it’s like, that’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever had.

Nazneen Doyle 34:13
Well, I can tell you why it is for me. It’s it’s because my theater education was characterized by people telling me that I was useless and worthless and ugly. And not worthwhile.

James Avramenko 34:27
That fucking department Oh, my God. You are a part of an open letter that was sent to the department.

Nazneen Doyle 34:36
Yes, I was

James Avramenko 34:37
now did you did you help draft it or were you just assignee?

Nazneen Doyle 34:40
Yeah, no I helped draft it.

James Avramenko 34:40
Fuck yeah. Oh, thank you. Thank you for that. I really appreciate you doing that. And I realized that I mean, it’s funny. I appreciate sounds. I don’t know it sounds hollow in my ears. But, but, um, do you want to give a bit of a sort of a backstory to what’s going on with that and where, where it’s at as well.

Nazneen Doyle 35:00
The lion’s share of the credit for that needs to go to, there were four alumni who kind of started the initiative successfully, Sharmila, Kesha, and grace. And so what happened was, is that at the end of May, when everything was started happening in the states with the shooting of George Floyd. And lots of organizations were coming out and making statements in support of Black Lives Matter and like the importance of like, at like active anti racism work within our institutions and that sort of thing. You Vic’s theatre department, Facebook was posting makeup tutorials.

James Avramenko 35:40

Nazneen Doyle 35:41
So a bunch of people actually commented on this post being like, what the fuck yeah. And this group of these four alumni actually got in contact with the department. And they got, they put out some calls on Facebook being like, if you’re interested in like working, you know, on this initiative, like get in touch. So they actually talked to the chair of the department, who is Tony Vickery right now. And they, they kind of had a preliminary conversation with him about the importance of, you know, the theatre department speaking out about this stuff, and, you know, needing to acknowledge that systemic and structural racism is a big problem within all institutions, but that those issues are sort of writ large within the theatre community. So they have that discussion. And then Tony put out this statement, calling for or saying that, like the department like acknowledges that and that, basically saying that if any, like black, indigenous and other people of color sort of wanted to like, share their experiences they could. So I then sent him I sent him a letter that he responded to, and then I ended up getting in touch with the four alumni who sort of like started the ball rolling, and then a bunch of other students of color also joined. And we just kind of had a couple of a series of zoom meetings in which we discussed our experiences at UVic in the theatre department and sort of how harmful, detrimental they were. And then we sort of came up with this, this open letter with a bunch of different different points about ways that the department can actively work to make their spaces more anti racist. Without just paying lip service to the idea of valuing diversity, it’s like no, put your money where your mouth is, and actually, like, do these several things. So it was like an actionable list that we drafted, and then we put it out for other people to sort of sign in solidarity and support. So we put that out. And then we’ve since had meetings with the Dean of Fine Arts.

James Avramenko 37:47
Fuck, yeah.

Nazneen Doyle 37:48
Yeah, we’ve had meetings with the Dean of Fine Arts. So there’s some stuff in the works. Some of us are going to be doing some sort of like consulting on some, like, diversity and inclusion stuff that they’re planning to implement with the department. And we’re gonna get paid to do it, which is pretty cool. Yeah, so yeah, I’ve been I’ve been trying to, like, actively help make at least one institution less of a racist, helpful.

James Avramenko 38:12
Fuck yeah, man, they all need some help. Good lord, not one has escaped. That’s fucking awesome. And thank you for doing that work. And, and, I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, like, it’s, it’s, I feel like, I don’t know, I don’t, I don’t even know exactly how to express it. Because it’s like, I feel like as somebody who’s, you know, straight white male, you know, cis, like, I’m literally everything that’s like, just privilege in these in this conversation. And I and I, and I want to speak out, but I also, I’m more interested in just listening and and that’s not only wanting to be silent, did not like, say the wrong thing. Like I say the wrong thing all the fucking time I just, I’m more I’m more interested in just listening, you know, and, and that’s, that’s funny,

Nazneen Doyle 39:04
I think is important. I think that’s an important thing to do. And then, you know, support the initiatives that you know, people who are more actively, like harmed by this stuff, support those initiatives and raise your voice and supportive of that kind of stuff. That’s That’s your job as like a like a white ally and like, you know, fight against racism.

James Avramenko 39:23
Is there anything is there anything I can point anybody towards? Like, right now? Is there anything that you can use? Like you could use some help with at the moment?

Nazneen Doyle 39:31
I don’t think so. Yeah, um, ya know, things are things are in a pretty good place,

James Avramenko 39:36
And how did I don’t ask you this to like, either throw them under the bus or to blow smoke up his butt, but But how did Tony take that? I don’t know. Are you comfortable talking about that?

Nazneen Doyle 39:47
Sure. I would say by and large, the department has been very receptive. Um, the conversations have been productive and fruitful. I am sort of like, I feel good. About the conversations we’ve had, but I want to see what the action actually looks like.

James Avramenko 40:04
So this is something that I’ve been watching across the country because I mean, very obviously, this has been happening. This happened in Saskatoon, the ad of, of Stephanie got fired. And you know, in Calgary, there’s an open letter going around, there’s I believe they’re calling it the 3550 movement, with the idea of the the representation going on there. And, you know, it’s so past time for it. Oh, my God. And yet, at the same time to the I think the thing that I’m sort of holding my breath to see is, what is actually going to come of it, because I’m really worried that the activists who have caused this first sort of boulder to get going, are exhausted.

Nazneen Doyle 40:52
I mean, that’s certainly the case.

James Avramenko 40:54
Yeah, I’m worried they’re burnt out. And I’m worried that there’s no one to sort of spell them out, you know, there’s no sort of reinforcements. And, and I’m, I’m really worried that these organizations are sort of, you know, biding their time until the fervor sort of dies down, and then they can just get back to

Nazneen Doyle 41:10
Yeah, pay lip service to it cause it’s politically expedient to do so right now. Yeah, totally. So like, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, but, you know, it’s like thinking back about our time at UVic. So much of the, like, the mistreatment, that people of color, and women in the department, really, especially women of color, kind of felt was justified by the professors, by the instructors by saying, well, this is how it is in the real world. Right? And that’s like, how they justified so much of their like body shaming, and they’re, like, just all kinds of stuff that they sort of would perpetrate in the department. It’s all part and parcel of that same like white heteronormative patriarchy, right. It’s all comes from the same place. And they would, and they would justify it by saying, this is how it is in professional theater. But it doesn’t have to be you know what I mean, like you made a comment earlier about gatekeepers, gatekeepers telling you when you can and cannot do your art. And I think that if if the gatekeepers expand their vision, theatre doesn’t have to be this way. And it shouldn’t be this way. But instead, it perpetuates itself by sort of like training a generation of theatre artists who either buy into that, or they leave because they’re so disillusioned. We’re making the theater are the ones who continue to, like, perpetuate those really antiquated beliefs about what theater is, and who gets to do it.

James Avramenko 42:05
Yup, because they either prosper under the system, or have learned how to sort of play the game. You know, I really equate it to like cult mentality. Because when you listen to some people talk about ADs and when you listen to them talk about directors and you listen to P you know, the way they schmooze. It’s like, it’s just cult mentality. Because it’s like, suddenly you can’t say anything bad about the cult members because then you’ll

Nazneen Doyle 42:55
Cause then you’ll never get a job.

James Avramenko 42:56
exactly exactly it’s really

Nazneen Doyle 42:58
It’s toxic.

James Avramenko 42:59
It’s fucking gross.

Nazneen Doyle 43:01
It’s this weird toxic, insular little world in which there’s very little accountability, because there’s that fear, right? Because Canada is a big country, but our theater community is very small.

James Avramenko 43:12
Well, and they they make sure you know, day one, you know, they there’s that stupid saying of you know, if you shit in Victoria, they can smell it in Halifax, right? And there’s always like, always be careful of who you know, because they know somebody and if you’re a bad to them, then Ooh, you know, and it’s like, get fucked.

Nazneen Doyle 43:28
Right and that’s a fucked up culture.

James Avramenko 43:30
It’s super fucked up. And actually coming back to your question about my relationship with theatre, you know, the thing that I’m feeling I know that element of it is that it’s like I’m feeling like, we don’t make good enough art to validate this type of toxicity.

Nazneen Doyle 43:45
No we keep putting on the same ten plays because old white people with money like to see them exactly. I think we’ve kind of touched on it, but I wanted because I’ve been so Byard in this, this like stuff with you, Vic these days, I was just kind of wondering, like, what are your like, abiding memories of the theater program at UVic that we both went through?

James Avramenko 44:05
You know, um, I, you said, you know, you spent five years being told no, and that’s how I come out feeling of it. You know, I feel I felt so beat up. You know, I didn’t do theater for God, if I graduated in 2010. I wasn’t on stage again until 2018. So, you know, I took eight years Oh, no, I just did one show. I did one show in like 2012 that Mack would like asked me to do but, but like I did not for eight years because I the you know, I worked in theaters. You know, I got box office jobs and I got you know, Front of House jobs and stuff like that. But I got out of that program just feeling like such garbage and and I felt so betrayed because it’s like I went in, you know, idealistic thinking that I was just going to learn how to make art and then and then I was robbed, you know, fucking pocket pickpocketed and told all the reasons why I would never even have a chance at making it and, and it just, you know, I just I just don’t understand where this fetishization of abuse comes from and where this belief in suffering for art comes from. Like,

Nazneen Doyle 45:24
it’s bullshit.

James Avramenko 45:25
It’s complete bullshit. And and it’s like, you know, we’ve got theater history teachers, teaching us about cultures that thrived through supporting art. And then we’ll have artists telling artists, why you suck. And so it’s like, what the fuck? Like, what are you? Like? Are you teaching me or are you just collecting a paycheck? You old bat.

Nazneen Doyle 45:47
And is that like, old school idea of like, you got to break people down and then build them back up again. Which is like, I’m a teacher now. And that is the most fucked up shit you could do to a student.

James Avramenko 45:55
It’s like it’s a cult, it’s a fucking cult. Like, how do I mind control someone?

Nazneen Doyle 46:00
Yeah, like, I honestly, I wish that I hadn’t done it. I wish I just taken an English degree. Like, I find myself like, you know, when this all started back in June, we started having these conversations. I was like, in mourning for the person I could have been. If I hadn’t been so like, thoroughly beaten down. Yeah, by this institution that was supposed to teach me and guide me. Yeah, like when you were kids when we got

James Avramenko 46:23
children, babies. You know, like, it’s like, I mean, I was I had been 18 for a week.

Nazneen Doyle 46:29
Yeah, hello. you weren’t even legal drinking age in BC. Exactly.

James Avramenko 46:33
That’s the other thing, right? Like, fuck sake? Yeah, I don’t know, man. And it’s just like, it’s really good. At the basic, you know, it’s funny, because I do I do think those same thoughts sometimes I do think about, like, what would I be if I hadn’t gone to theater? And and I do, I more often than not come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t gone to theater. You know, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t have. Right. Yeah. Like, I wouldn’t have the emotional resilience that I have. And, and now that isn’t thanks to them. That is, due to them? Yeah. You know, and, and that’s different. You know, I had I had one prof who was just a monster to me every year, like, the only time they spoke to me was to be, like, really sharpen mean, whenever they, you know, whenever they we I accidentally cross their pads. And they can’t do another show. I can’t do another show. I actually already did. If you go back and listen to season two, you’ll hear their day. But, but, but,

Nazneen Doyle 47:35
I feel like I probably know who it is.

James Avramenko 47:37
Yeah, I mean, you’d know, I’ll tell you it will stop recording after and I’ll tell you but, but, but on my last day, I graduated, I finally graduated and they come and they give me a big hug. And they say I always knew you had it in you. It was why I told you know,

Nazneen Doyle 47:56
fuck off.

James Avramenko 47:57
Fuck off. Like Eat shit, you old bat. But

Nazneen Doyle 48:05
now I definitely know who it is. Cuz you said old bat. Yeah.

James Avramenko 48:08
Well, there was a few of those. But

Nazneen Doyle 48:10
I know, but I haven’t. I have a . Yeah, tell me if I’m right afterwards.

James Avramenko 48:14
I will. I absolutely will. Oh, yeah. Don’t worry about that. But you know, it’s just yeah, it’s just one of those things where it’s like, I am who I am in spite of you. You know, I because I had to work on myself. Because you made me work on myself. You know, you could have helped me and you didn’t. So you don’t get to take that credit. Right? Oh now I’m getting all sweaty.

Nazneen Doyle 48:33
I feel similarly like, I like my life now. And I like what I’m doing. And I like the person that I am. And, you know, who’s to say that I wouldn’t be where I am without those experiences. Like, you know, it shouldn’t have to be that way.

James Avramenko 48:46
Bingo. That’s exactly it.

Nazneen Doyle 48:48
And I and I know that like, regret is a useless emotion. But like, it’s definitely like, it’s hard when you like, you look back at all of the time and all of the money and it’s just man, what did I get out of it?

James Avramenko 49:00
Yep. Yep. You know, it’s why. Like I, you know, I you might have seen, I directed a version of Goodbye, my fancy last year. And,

Nazneen Doyle 49:09
Yes I saw that.

James Avramenko 49:10
and, and it was wonderful. It was it was one of the most magic experiences like of my life, like, just to get to work with the kids and get them excited. And, and, and I just, I made I tried my absolute damnedest to do everything that I wished had been done for me, you know, like, everything that I wished had been sent to me in every, every way I wished I had been treated. You know, I, I just tried to make sure everyone knew how important they were. And everybody knew how special they were. And everyone knew how valued they were and, and and, you know, how how, you know, because, like, there’s some roles that have one line, there’s some rules that have no lines and it’s like, that doesn’t mean you’re not important. It just means you play this part, you know, and and, you know, and making sure everybody else but anyway, there’s there’s all kinds of other stuff that goes into it. But it’s just like, it was actually quite a, I’ll be honest that that process was very cathartic for me because it sort of helped me. It almost felt like rounding out the edges. It was like the the closing bracket on theater for me, you know,

Nazneen Doyle 50:13
it’s like a beautiful full circle moment.

James Avramenko 50:14
Exactly.Yeah, yeah. Fuck Naz you’re the fucking best, I miss you. I just, I’m, I, I, you know, I, I have nothing but just the absolute fondest memories of you. And I just like it’s So

Nazneen Doyle 50:30
likewise my friend.

James Avramenko 50:31
It’s just like, it’s so wonderful to hear your voice and to hear you doing good. And, you know, you’re definitely you’re, you’re, you’re, you are a part of a really, really important part of my life. And, and I, you know, when I talk about, like, the sort of, you know, when I talk about regrets, where I regret is, is my inability to maintain friendships, you know, like, because I think so i think so fondly of everybody. I think these like, I just, I think nothing but just amazing things about people, and then I, and then I don’t talk to them, and I feel dumb, or I feel, you know, you know what I mean by that, like,

Nazneen Doyle 51:08
I do I know exactly what you mean. Like, I have similar feelings also.

James Avramenko 51:12
And it just like, and it feels like it feels so, you know, it’s like, Fuck, you know, it’s like, that’s 10 years of not being friends with Naz, like, Fuck, you know, and then at the same time to being like, like, trying really hard to be like, pragmatic and realistic of like, well we live in different provinces. And like, we’ve got lives and you know, like, like, the way I was trying to treat it with this show, and just in general is like, it’s just really nice to know, if we ever cross paths, it’s going to be the fucking best. But also knowing like, like, not forcing it to happen, right and not feeling bad. Yeah, doesn’t happen or whatever it might be, you know?

Nazneen Doyle 51:49
Yeah, totally.

James Avramenko 51:52
Um, anything you want to close out on anything any before we we pull up the ye olde, Facebook.

Nazneen Doyle 52:01
I mean, just thank you for inviting me to do this. I think it’s like, a very like, cool like concept for a podcast. It’s been really fun talking to you. Like, it’s always super enjoyable to, you know, have cathartic rage about our alma mater. I don’t know, it’s, it’s cool to like to talk to somebody who I’ve known since I was 15. And kind of like, you know, I hear you in a different light. And yeah, it’s just, it’s cool. So I appreciate the opportunity. It’s been really fun Aw thank you

James Avramenko 52:35
Fuck yeah, thank you so much for being on the show. I just like yeah, like I say, like, this has been Yeah, this has been a really a special hour for me. And I just like, yeah, you know, and I yeah, it’s a fuck yeah, Naz you’re, the fucking best. Man. I’m like, feeling like really emotional. I’m like, actually feeling like the cameras not on Yeah, see my face, but like, I’m a little misty. It’s just like, Yeah, I don’t know. I think I you know, I think about the weekend cruise so much. And I think about like, you know, I think about that blog we had, and I think about it.

Nazneen Doyle 53:11
I mean it still exists.

James Avramenko 53:12
I know it does. And I sometimes feel like I want to post on it. And then I feel dumb. But I just like that, those that that group of people were so important to me, and I don’t talk to any of them anymore. And I feel awful about that. You know, we’ve got one last thing we’ve got to do before we end recording and gossip. so Nazneen. am I saying it right? If I say Adrienne?

Nazneen Doyle 53:45
Ah, yeah.

James Avramenko 53:46
Okay. It’s a it’s not Adrian. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Nazneen Doyle 53:50

James Avramenko 53:50
I don’t know. I’ve done that. I already fucked about

Nazneen Doyle 53:53
Techinally cause it’s French it should be like Adrienne but I’ve always said Adrian.

James Avramenko 53:56
Okay.Good. Good. Calgary. You know, good yah it’s fuckin’ Adrien.

Nazneen Doyle 54:02
It’s fucking Adrien get off my dick.

James Avramenko 54:06
All right, one last thing to do. Nazneen Adrienne Ah, fuck I’m doing it again.. We are no longer Facebook friends.

Nazneen Doyle 54:19

James Avramenko 54:20
How do you feel?

Nazneen Doyle 54:22
I feel fine. Facebook is mostly bullshit.

James Avramenko 54:25
It’s it’s an impossible app to like, like I just I feel like it’s at that point now where people who like really use Facebook have just really lost the narrative.

Nazneen Doyle 54:37
Hundred percent

James Avramenko 54:41
Do you have anything you want to plug like anything? Any social medias you want to plug? Is there anything you want people to know? anywhere they can go to find you if you want them.

Nazneen Doyle 54:51
Like I guess if you really wanted to follow me on Instagram and look at pictures of my cats, you could it’s Nazneen Adrienne all one word, but like I don’t No support public education, right to your MLS about bullshit things that are happening in the world. Uh, you know, stay involved and read good books.

James Avramenko 55:09
Fuck Yeah. Thanks, Naz.

Nazneen Doyle 55:13
Thank you.

James Avramenko 55:24
And that’s it. Thank you one more time to Naz for coming on the show. I remain so grateful not only for the work, she’s doing students, but just for being my friend in such a tumultuous time in both of our lives. And I’m just so grateful that she is somebody who is alive today. If you like this show, please please please like, share, subscribe, give it a five star rating on iTunes that helps me so much in getting the word out on the show. Share the links share it on your Facebook, let people know what you think of the show and what you think of me. Unless it’s mean things in which case just like be cool, you know, let’s get this show so popular that my dad finally loves me. He can finally stop seeing me as the black sheep of his children. If you want to get at me for any reason, you got questions or concerns you got something you want to see on the show. You just want to shoot the shit, whatever. You can find me on all social media at friendless pod, or you can email me at and if you haven’t yet, buy my new ebook, an actor despairs. Speaking of abusive theater experiences. It’s only $10 on my website and all the proceeds are going towards making friendless the best show I can possibly produce out of my back bedroom. You can get your copy at That is it for me. But Tune in next week when I’m interviewing the founder of the Saskatchewan Podcast Network, Dale Richardson. Ooh, don’t want to miss that one. But for now, take care. I’ll catch you next time. Fun and safety, y’all

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