Quinn Buter – The Performer

Who are you?

My name is Quinn Buter. I’m a 10 year old boy from Richmond BC. I have a dog named Hanna and a sister named Josie. [Editor's Note: Quinn is the favourite son of my cousin, Terri. We have an arrangement where he refers to me as "Great Cousin John" and I profile him on high-traffic websites like this one].

What do you do for fun?

I like play video games (Super Mario Galaxy with Josie), draw comics (I may or may not have plagiarized Garfield) – I’m currently creating a superhero comic strip called “Bonfire” and it is very awesome. I also like to hang out with my friends: Josh Booth, Matt Dudicourt and Thomas O’Brien.

What is your favourite community and why?

Merville. Because there are more trees than Richmond. More forest. It’s adventurous and more fun than anywhere else. I like to hang out with Uncle Geoff and Auntie Janet and catch koi fish from the pond. Next time, Uncle Geoff promised that we would start a social enterprise: we will catch more koi and sell the extras to raise money for a charity.

What is your superpower?

First, I am the best Foursquare player in the world. Second, I have the ability to “go whack” and engage audiences with this power.

How do you use this power to build community?

I think going whack helps because it makes people comfortable. We are who we are and no one should change that. So, when I go whack and get a little weird it makes people feel like they can do whatever they want, too. For me, community means acceptance and openness to new things.

My Three Favourite Things About Quinn Are…

1. Stage Presence. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Quinn – in the role of the stuttering Paya – perform in some pretty exceptional musical theatre. And semi-professional acting is just one way that he showcases his stage presence. In my family – especially my mom’s side – you need to speak up if you want to be included in the conversation/song/performance/improv-sketch that happens to be unfurling at the party/barbecue/dinner/holiday-celebration. We’re a chatty bunch. Quinn gets us to take notice. In fact, he so impressed us during Weddingmania 2010 auditions that Michelle and I gave him a very important speaking part during the reception. People are still saying, “who was that kid?!”

2. Mentorship. Quinn, whether he knows it or not, is part of a quintuple-mentorship-program. My grandfather, Finn,  mentored my dad, Geoff. My dad mentors me. I mentor Quinn. And Quinn looks out for and mentors his cousin, Owen, who is now in kindergarten at Quinn’s elementary school. Soon, Little Owen will be able to catch koi fish with the Jedi-like dexterity of his older cousin. Because that’s what mentorship is all about, growing potential for the future.

3. Flat-out Funny. He makes me laugh, man. In fact, he makes many, many people laugh. The kid’s as sharp as they come and he has a truly genuine way about him. Quinn’s humour doesn’t come at anyone else’s expense and is very inclusive. A few years ago, at a family barbecue, he hopped over a fence to retrieve a baseball (which he had only moments ago cracked into the neighbour’s backyard) – while the ordeal itself (cousin Darren and I lifting him over the fence) was funny enough, Quinn’s face poking back over the fence with a look of desparation thrown across it saying, “Mom, hurry, there’s a big dog after me!” took the whole thing to another level. Well played, Great Cousin Quinn, well played.

As told by John Horn…

The Weird and Wonderful World of Drama

Last night, I went to a play at Richmond’s Gateway Theatre called Oliver Handelschmidst’s Weird and Wonderful Circus. My 10 year old cousin-in-law was in the play, and did a wonderful job (go Quinn!). After a nerve-wracking ten minutes in which I did not know that his character was supposed to be stuttering, my husband John and I sat back and enjoyed watching 5-13 year olds dance, sing and act. I was genuinely entertained and impressed with the kids’ performance (arm-wrestling with jaguars? Lobster dances? Tired kid detectives on a kidnapping case taking a kid-nap? HST-jabs for the older folk in the audience? What’s not to love?), and it got me thinking about drama – why and how is it important to our society? What role does it play in building community?

Drama - a solid alternative for us non-sporty folk!

As a kid, I wasn’t very sporty – don’t get me wrong, I tried. I was put in baseball and gymnastics, played on the volleyball team in junior high … I just wasn’t very good. And I didn’t really like it. You know that kid who drew with a stick in the ground way out in left field? Yeah, that was me. My clumsiness automatically turned me off gymnastics (not being able to balance, let alone walk, on the balance beam is quite a frustrating experience). And full disclosure – I only played on the volleyball team because my best friend had signed me up and told me I would get in trouble if I didn’t play (and as a bit of a nerd, I definitely didn’t want to get in trouble). Which brings me to drama – more generally, the arts. Thank-goodness for arts programs in schools (pay attention, government officials who feel it’s a good idea to cut funding for school arts programs). I certainly found my niche – my community, if you will, in my writing, arts, and photography classes. It’s a great feeling to fit in, and to find something that you like doing and are actually good at.

Of course, drama and theatre also help to foster creativity and broaden imagination (one character was a pickle in the play, folks – a pickle), improve cognitive skills like memory and attention, and teaches life-long skills like public speaking ability and improvisation. It encourages perspective-taking, which we all know is a crucial skill all individuals, communities, and world-leaders should possess in order to empathize and see from others’ point of view (how do you think North Korea would be different if Kim Jong ll had the opportunity to take a drama class?). And as evidenced by the play last night, it can capture the best of what a multicultural country like Canada should be – kids of all different ethnic backgrounds came together to sing and dance the following message to the audience: Although the children in Oliver Handelschmidst’s famous circus come from around the world and dreamed of one day having a family, they come to realize that they are, in fact, each other’s family. As one character (it may have been the Pickle, or perhaps the horn-less unicorns, or my favorite character P-Paya) astutely observes (sings), you aren’t always born with a family, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find your family in the community you wind up in.

Congrats to the kids in the Gateway Academy for the Performing Arts program for an amazing show!