Our next Women of Oilersnation feature guest can confirm Oilers fans are taking over Vancouver, and we are here for it! Larisse Campbell is a theatre director who was raised in Edmonton and currently lives in Vancouver, cheering on the orange and blue every chance she gets.
If you missed the last Women of Oilersnation feature on Raylene Lung, you can read it here:
MEET LARISSE CAMPBELL!
KYLA: Who is Larisse? What’s your day job, what are your passions, what’s something interesting about you?
LARISSE: Hi! I am Larisse Campbell. A little bit about me… I am a theatre director living on the ancestral territories of the Coast Salish people, also known as Vancouver. I am here with my husband, my hilarious son, Lowen and our rescue dog, Otto. I was born in Lynchburg, VA but was raised my whole life in Edmonton and moved to Vancouver for work after graduating from the U of A.
I love to travel – Africa is at the top of my list for places I still haven’t been that I want to explore/hike and I can’t wait to take my little guy to Disneyland so that he can meet Lighting Mcqueen… because he is obsessed. We are just waiting until he is tall enough to ride the “Cars” ride.
I am also a huge cinephile and love to go to the movies when I have the time. The VIP seats are heated, they recline and they serve beer and wine… what’s not to love!
KYLA: How did you get into hockey and sports in general?
LARISSE: My family are all really into sports but also talented musicians. I grew up watching sports with them and attending their concerts. My first real hockey memory was betting my uncle $1 dollar (yes… it was a bill… I am that old) that the Oilers would beat the Flames. Half of my family were Oilers fans and the other half cheered for those guys south of Red Deer. There was always a friendly rivalry happening at family get-togethers that surrounded the Battle of Alberta. I clearly remember that the good guys won that night. I got my $1 dollar bill and the satisfaction of taking money from my uncle who was then a Flames fan. And I have loved cheering for the Oilers ever since.
My family put me both into arts and into sports at a young age. I am sure they were thinking that I would be able to do both like they did – but I have two left feet and zero hand eye coordination so sports were challenging (insert hand to forehead). Arts stuck as my career pursuits and my love of watching sports/being a part of the sports community has never waned.
I am now one of those crazy Oilers fans who does not let anything stop me from attending a game. I have been wheeled into a game in a wheelchair, through snow and ice, two weeks after having ACL/MCL surgery so I could see the new Rogers arena in YEG. I have attended games nine months pregnant and the night my son was born, a game was on so I made sure we watched it from my hospital room. The Oilers, and hockey in general, are one of my true loves.
KYLA: You have such a rad career as a theatre director! Can you tell us more about that, how you got started, and what you do within the theatre community?
LARISSE: Aww thanks! I always joke that I am the artsiest sports fan and the sportiest artist that you will find, traversing both worlds that seem on the outside, so unalike. But I am so thankful for both communities because they have more in common than meets the eye. Both are about connection to our communities, gathering to experience a communal event and having that event bond us together.
I fell into directing when I attended Victoria School of the Arts when I was attending as an actor and I really loved it. I continued learning about directing when I went to the U of A for the Drama/Education Program. My plan was to be a performer or educator but my wonderful directing professor, Dr. Alex Hawkins (SHOUTOUT), told me at the end of the semester that I had the mind of a director – ability to connect the pieces to a larger story, to a communal experience. It took me a few years to take his words to heart and make the leap to actually pursuing it full time, but it has been a busy and fruitful handful of years, even with Covid taking away a large chunk of time where we could gather together for live events.
The Coles Notes version of what a freelance director does is: I am hired by individual production companies or theatres to come in and direct a show for their season. I will research and collaborate with the other creatives on the team to put together a cohesive show before rehearsals start and into the rehearsal process and I will audition actors/pick my cast and rehearse with them from the start of the process until opening night when usually my job is done… and the next project comes along.
I am really interested in working with women artists, and those who have forever been under-represented in art and in our world at large. I think I am also passionate about putting more of a spot-light on these voices in hockey, too. BIPOC and women’s voices need to be embraced and encouraged in hockey and I am hopeful that we will start to see that more frequently as hockey teams realize that there are fans of the sport from all walks of life.
KYLA: What’s your experience been like as an Oilers fan (and raising another little Oilers fan) in Canucks territory?
LARISSE: It is actually so awesome. There are so many Oilers fans on the coast that I never feel lonely. Lately, I actually feel like we outnumber the Canucks fans. You will wear some Oil merch and go for a walk or head somewhere and someone will inevitably comment on also being a fan. The Black Frog is like the Oilers unofficial headquarters for the coast and it’s always a great time being with a group of rowdy Oilers fans to watch games… if you can get a seat because it fills up fast.
Recently, when going to games here, the chants for “Let’s go Oilers” are louder than any cheer for the Canucks. Might be partly because of the atrocious season that the Canucks are having but it does seem to be that the Oil fans are getting louder and bolder and more in number than ever before.
I sure miss being able to go to tons of home games, like I did when I was living in Edmonton, but I never feel like we are too far removed from the action here. And as soon as it’s easier to make the border trips back and forth to Seattle, I just know that Seattle will be a sea of Orange and Blue for games there too.
KYLA: What’s your favourite Oilers memory?
LARISSE: I have so many but a few that stand out:
1. The cup run in 2006. I had never been to a playoff game before leading up to 2006 and I was lucky enough to attend a few playoff games that season. I had never been in Rexall when it was that loud or electric. It was pure magic. I was also one of the managers at Metro Billiards (SHOUTOUT) during that time. When I was not attending games at Rexall, we were celebrating/working at Metro. The place was insane and just so fun being packed in, wall to wall. I remember so vividly, working the night of game 7. When the empty netter went in, seeing grown men fall to the ground and cry. It was like time was moving in slow motion – nobody left. Nobody knew what to do. We all just stood frozen, letting the loss sink in – willing it not to be real. Now that’s theatre 😉
2. My first game in Las Vegas in 2018 was fantastic – I loved seeing all the Oilersnation fans partying and having such a great time on the strip. Loved walking to the game in a sea of moving orange. Las Vegas knows how to celebrate and Oilers fans know how to infiltrate a place and make the party theirs and we definitely all did that trip.
3. My first time taking my son to a game will live on in my heart as a favourite memory. We took him to a preseason game, just to see how he would do as he was only one and we didn’t want to overwhelm him. We arrived early and took him down to the glass to watch warm up and he was mesmerized with it all. He was in head to toe Oiler’s gear, down to little Oilers booties, so he looked like a seasoned fan.
Colby Cave came by the glass and gave him a glass bump and smiled at him and that meant a lot to me. Lowen will never remember it, but I do. I send so much love and continued strength to Emily Cave as she navigates such a loss. Colby made that memory very special for us.
Lowen sat through the whole game staring at the ice and the players and movement of it all, and just like that, another Oilers fan was born. Like he had much of a choice.
KYLA: What does hockey and being a part of the Oilersnation community mean to you even though you’re a province over?
LARISSE: Being a part of Oilersnation, no matter where I am in the world, means that I can always find someone to commiserate or celebrate with, someone who understands how passionate we are. No matter what walks of life we come from, Oilers fans find each other and share such an awesome connection to our team. I have been in Amsterdam, wearing an Oilers hoodie and a man ran across the airport to show me his Oiler’s phone case. I have connected with strangers from Europe while traveling in Peru, when I was wearing an Oilers jersey and they wanted to talk about “The Great One”. It’s such a cool understanding of how amazing our team’s history has been and how bright our future looks.
I love hockey, and I love Oilers hockey and especially the amazing community that loves the Oilers. We are a wild, motley crew of a bunch, but you can find us spread across the globe – and that connection to each other is really freaking cool.
Looking forward to connecting to all of you if even for a high five or “hell ya” at the next game, or trip to the States or wherever in the world we are.
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