Spotlights & Interviews

Trilby Cope – Our Mother & A Renaissance Woman

Picture by Susan Teemant

You taught drama for a few years when you first graduated from university.  What are some of your favorite experiences from those days?


Both of my parents were educators, as well as three of my aunts, so I think I always knew deep down inside that I would one day become a teacher. My bachelor’s degree was in Theater Arts/English with a certification to teach secondary education. I not only taught Drama, but also English, Journalism (where I advised the yearbook and newspaper staffs), and Communications. For me, the reward of teaching was seeing students realize, discover and embrace the idea that they had creative gifts and talents to share with others. My favorite experiences were directing the school plays and musicals. It delighted me to find a student’s strengths and incorporate them in any aspect of the production from acting to music to set design, art, costuming and publicity.  The joy always came for me at dress rehearsal, when after months of hard work I could tell the students, “This show is now YOURS to share and I now give it to YOU.” The paycheck for me was always the sound of the applause for the student’s efforts.


You were also an actress and performed in lots of theatrical productions. What was one of your favorite roles?


Being an actress really pulled me out of my comfort zone. I was surprised to realize I am an introvert and many people from my theater days would be surprised by that I think. (During my time at university I was encouraged and pushed by teachers and my peers towards pursuing a Broadway career. But I never got the inward confirmation to take that path.) As an actress I loved taking a character off the printed page, creating and bringing her to life. Whenever I would put on that costume and step onto that stage I was able to leave myself behind and become someone else for a few hours. It was exhilarating to be part of that magic. I don’t really think I have one particular favorite role because in a way each one has been like a sister to me at certain times in my life, if that makes sense. It is hard to favor one over the other. That said, I loved playing Carrie in Carousel, Tessie Tura in Gypsy, Rebecca in Our Town, Anne Bronte in A Voice of my Own, Nellie in South Pacific, and…and…you see what I mean?

Trilby is the third from the left – this is from a 1980 Robert Redford’s Sundance Theater playbill

Do you ever miss being involved in the theater?


In the back of my mind and in a piece of my heart I think I always will. Case in point: Every single time I attend a theatrical event I come home and relive it. I am restless and I go over and over in my mind about how I would have portrayed a certain character or how I would have directed a certain scene. Once you’ve been bit by the bug I don’t think you ever get over the bite.

You keep yourself really busy in the community.  What are some of your favorite things that you’ve participated in?


I have been a private vocal teacher for over 20 years and have enjoyed helping students develop their voices to share in the community. I was an ‘artist-in-residence’ for our school district’s ARTS for KIDS program. It was such a worthwhile experience. There have been many activities that have given me great satisfaction: being a musical director for various community theater productions, serving as a pianist for a local school children’s choir, community councils, district health curriculum committee,  district ‘parent advocate’ volunteer for troubled children, PTA and classroom volunteer, serving in my church, and for the last few years I’ve had a blast working on staff with the Provo Rooftop Concert Series managing the greenroom for bands and musicians such as Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, The Moth & The Flame, Fictionist and Kaskade. Such fun for a middle aged groupie.

With the band Fictionist

What are some creative goals that you have for yourself?


As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to look at creativity as therapy and stress release. I’ve taken up crocheting again after many years and just finished an afghan, and I recently jumped into the adult coloring book craze and find that very soothing. Though I have daughters who are all fine writers, I’ve never considered myself one, but I do have a goal to write my life history and perhaps that will take some creativity on my part:)


How has being a mother opened up doors for creativity in your life?


I believe that the majority of mothers are thrust into a creative mode in order to survive. When my daughters were little I was constantly thinking of ways to entertain and enrich their minds. Encouraging imagination and creative play was foremost in my daily efforts. Reading aloud to each of them was a priority. (And I have to give credit to my incredible husband who excelled in helping these girls explore their own creative gifts.) I taught myself to sew dresses and Halloween costumes and I got pretty good at making Play Dough sculptures.


What are some of your favorite things about being a mother?


I feel deeply blessed to be a mother. I have tried to be a good one. The joy for me has been watching each of my daughters discover their own unique gifts and talents. I didn’t want them to feel they had to follow my life path nor have my same interests. Both my husband and I tried to introduced them to many avenues by offering them lessons and exploratory activities. They have all grown into fine young women with strong creative talents. The arts are a big part of each of their lives.

Trilby with her four daughters – photo by Justin Hackworth

What was some of the best advice you received from your mother?


My mother has always been my biggest cheerleader. In her eyes, I can do not wrong. She sacrificed a lot to provide various lessons for me in ballet, piano, voice, acting and such. Her advice to me was always, “Put yourself out there and let the world enjoy your many talents.”

Trilby as a young girl -she used to direct and perform neighborhood plays on this very porch.

Where have you enjoyed traveling in your life so far?


The first time I flew on a commercial airline was when I was 21 and heading off on a tour with a performing arts troupe from my university. We performed in Romania, Egypt, Greece and New York City. It was such a thrill! I have visited some great cities with my husband in recent years: Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco. I throughly love to get out on my own and walk the city streets while he is at a conference. When my two oldest daughters graduated from university in 2010 we took a celebratory trip together to London. And I fell in love with that city. We returned again in 2013. And if I have my way, we will return again.


If you could spend an afternoon with any woman, (living, fictional, or deceased) who would it be?


Oh, I have a very long list! Here are some:  Malala Yousafzai (courageous champion for women’s rights), Audrey Hepburn (the epitome of grace, class and humanitarian goodness), Ann Romney (admirable wife, mother and MS advocate), Marjorie Pay Hinckley (delightful woman; Google her quotes).  Christa McAuliffe (first American civilian/teacher to go into space on the ill-fated Challenger shuttle). And here’s someone that might surprise those who know me; Dolly Parton. She strikes me as a tender soul with a heart of gold and someone who would be so much fun to hang out with.

With our dad and her husband, Bill – Photo by Emily Susan Kim

What do you love most about being a creative woman?


Interestingly, I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘creative woman,’ but rather one who celebrates other’s creative talents. But I have come to realize that I have given my best to help create a lovely home, lovely daughters, lovely marriage, lovely relationships and a lovely life. If that makes me a creative woman I will embrace that.


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