Janet Gigliotti
Janet Gigliotti

During this time of social distancing and dark theatres, Vancouver Presents continues to check in with members of our arts community to find out how they are staying creative and managing during the pandemic.

Today we check in with Vancouver-based actor Janet Gigliotti.

1. How are you staying creative during the pandemic?

This is what I’m missing the most. I feel like I haven’t stayed creative. I’ve done a little bit of practicing the piano, but not as much as I imagined I would. I also spend a great deal of time staring at some research I should be doing for a show I’m writing. Planning to write. Attempting to write. It’s been in my head for a year. Now there’s all this time, and very little has been achieved.

2. What’s the one thing getting you through?

My husband and my home. And the cat. Oops, that’s three.

3. How are you staying in contact with family and friends who are not in your bubble?

I’ve seen my family quite regularly with physically distant back yard gatherings. We’ve had a lot of family birthdays over the past three months. Cupcakes (Sweetheart’s Baking) and donuts (Boca Grande) make great shareable birthday cake options! And, of course, the online options have been absolutely wonderful for keeping in touch with friends. I’ve certainly had more time talking with friends than ever before, and I hope we keep this up with our friends who don’t live nearby.

4. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far during the pandemic?

How important it is to work on a better balance in my life.

5. What do you feel the most grateful for right now?

My health.

6. What is something you are doing now that you don’t normally?

Both my husband and I work in theatre, so I think this is the first time, in our entire relationship, that we have both been home, at the same time, for longer than two months. It turns out we quite like each other. So, living together, that’s new. Also, puzzles.

7. What skill have you developed since the pandemic started?

One of the first things I did was refinish our back deck. I stripped it, power washed, sanded, and stained. It took forever. I broke a sander there was so much sanding. I like to think of this as a new skill. One I hope never to use ever, ever again.

8. What have you missed the most?

I miss being in a rehearsal hall, creating and exploring scripts and laughing and crying and just having a great time.

9. Your #1 pandemic survival tip.

I need daily goals. Every night I plan at least three things that I want to achieve the next day. They’re often tiny goals, and I don’t necessarily get through the list each day, but I always make a list.

10. Your biggest indulgence since the pandemic started.

Too much wine 🙁

11. What have you stockpiled?

See above.

12. What have you been reading?

I read a great new book by Stephen Chbosky, Imaginary Friend. We have no idea where this book came from. Neither of us can remember if someone gave it to us or we bought it. But it was sitting there on the nightstand so … I’ve also just started Michelle Obama’s Becoming and, brace yourself, Bookkeeping for Canadians for Dummies. I’ve had that one for seven years just sitting there staring at me and challenging me to figure out what I’m actually doing with the bookkeeping I do for our company. Well, I’m halfway through. It’s not terrible.

13. What have you been watching?

Old movies, Mildred Pierce, North by Northwest, 80s/90s movies filmed in Vancouver (I do not advise rewatching Stakeout – it doesn’t hold up well, yikes). Also plays – Streetcar, One Man, Two Governors, Present Laughter, and we binged all six seasons of Schitt’s Creek, which was fabulous!

14. What have you been listening to?

That hasn’t changed much, mostly CBC or Radio Paradise. But also My Dad Wrote a Porno.

15. What are you doing for exercise?

The usual of a little bit of yoga, some running, some HIIT workouts with apps, but, most excitingly, I’ve done a few online ballet classes. I’ve always been far too self-conscious to attend a ballet class since I’ve never, ever tried it, but Suzanne Oulette offered a beginner class, and I survived! And Cynthia Smithers, out of Toronto, has a zoom beginner class online as well.

16. The one thing you haven’t been able to live without?

The internet it seems.

17. Do-it-yourself haircut or the natural look?

Natural, but my niece and my husband did clean up the hair on my neck to prevent the mullet from developing any further. So I still have short hair, but it’s just growing bigger and bigger. I look a little bit like a muppet.

18. Night owl or early riser?

Does 8:30 am count as an early riser? I feel like it does.

19. Will you be the first out as restrictions are gradually lifted or taking a wait-and-see attitude?

Wait and see. I’ve ventured out a little bit, but I’m really attempting to be safe about it. It’s just not worth it to be careless.

20. What’s the first thing you will do when this is all over?

Get on a plane and go somewhere. And see a show!!

Meet Janet Gigliotti

Janet is a Vancouver-based actor and lives with her husband, video/projection designer Sean Nieuwenhuis, and their 18-year-old, very lazy cat.

Originally a high school teacher, she holds an MA from San Diego State University in Administration and Leadership. After several years teaching in Coquitlam, followed by eight years of pursuing theatre in Toronto, where she joined Mirvish’s company of Mamma Mia!, she returned home to Vancouver and has had the great good fortune to work on many wonderful projects with some pretty fabulous people.

A couple of standouts include playing Helen Bechdel in the Arts Club’s production of the Canadian premiere of Fun Home and playing Judy Garland in Peter Quilter’s play End of the Rainbow.  She recently returned from nine months studying at the HB Studio in New York and had just finished a wonderful run of the brand new Canadian written, Jessie nominated, Talking Sex on Sunday at the Firehall Theatre by Sara-Jeanne Hosie and Nico Rhodes when the world stopped.

You can find out more about Janet at janetgigliotti.com and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.