Bookshelf

Jennifer Paquette - Biography

Jennifer discovered her love of storytelling after joining a children's theatre troupe when she was eleven. She went on to act in high school productions and spent the following years studying, teaching theatre (The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts), and touring with a repertory theatre company (Everyman Theatre Co.).

After starting a family Jennifer worked with community theatres across South Western Ontario. She has won multiple regional awards, is a Theatre Ontario award-winning director and designer and a sought-after play polisher.

She is the founder and retired artistic director of CAST Theatre Company (1996 - 2016), an arts program for young people that operated out of the Market Centre Theatre alongside Theatre Woodstock for twenty years. CAST worked with leading area educators, artists, and musicians, producing six productions annually.

About CAST, The London Free Press said: "Some advice for the folk at this week’s Stratford Festival – keep your eyes wide open, there are some supremely talented young people just about 40 kilometres down the road at CAST Theatre Company. Five out of ***** stars, without question."

While at CAST Jennifer and her partner Jason conceived, scripted, and developed the children's theatre productions Move It, Ghost Light, Frickle Monster, Legends, That's Not Funny, and The Lost and Found Pound, while adapting many others.

Jen also offered (along with other educators) preparation to dozens of young artists auditioning to post secondary theatre programs through a MasterClass initiative. Many of her students have gone on to professional careers, with credits across Canada and the US. 

After retiring CAST, Jennifer was nominated for Theatre Ontario's Michael Spence Award , acknowledging her body of work and outstanding contributions over a sustained time to theatre for youth in Ontario.

In 2017, Jennifer added to her list of credits championing young people when she was asked by SPOLC (Suicide Prevention Oxford Leadership Coalition) to work on the year long Community Needs Assessment in response to the youth suicide crisis in Woodstock. She chaired Rainbow Youth Oxford, creating its event - Amplify Yourself - in support of diversity and LGBTQ+ youth and teens. During this time Jennifer also taught creative writing/storytelling through Ontario's SWAC program at Fanshawe College (a collaborative learning environment for disengaged students, providing an opportunity to complete a high school diploma while trying out post-secondary education at a college campus).

She is a grateful recipient of the Woodstock District Chamber of Commerce's Community Service Award.

Since moving to Stratford, Jennifer's focus has shifted primarily to writing.

Her children's book wish - a collaboration with widely exhibited painter and clay artist Shane Norrie - is an eighteen verse poem that encourages its readers to think, dream, and create without boundaries while exposing them to abstract art expressionism. It was published in May, 2019 (BookArt). The book launch held at Shane Norrie Studio in Stratford, Ontario featured an exhibition of eighteen Norrie abstracts that were created for the book.

Jennifer is a prize-winning short story writer (Eden Mills Literary Contest, Stratford Writer's Festival) and credits the community of writer friends she is fortunate to work with regularly for inspiring her. Her creative work has appeared in literary magazines and on teaching platforms.

In early 2020 she collaborated with bestselling author Alison Wearing, adapting Wearing's memoir Moments of Glad Grace into a script/performance piece with music to accompany the book launch. When Covid-19 forced show cancellations the piece was featured in The National Arts Centre's Canada Performs series.

Since its inception in 2021, Jennifer has been a preliminary and second round reader for The International Amy MacRae Award for Memoir.

Her most recent picture book, Iris and Cora - Adventures of the Tall Cousins, illustrated by Krystan Maclean, was published in October, 2021 (Friesen Press). Jennifer is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Jennifer and Jason now co-own and operate jpvoiceovers, working out of their home studio in Stratford, Ontario where Jennifer offers writing, editing, and directorial services. Most recently, she directed the audiobooks Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter and Moments of Glad Grace for ECW Press. 

Jennifer sits on the newly formed board of directors of  SACC (Stratford Arts and Culture Collective). She is the proud mother of three adult children and devoted "Gam" to three beautiful granddaughters.