Monday, 30 November 2015

ONstage Openings for the week of November 30

This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Northeastern Ontario

Dec. 2, The Great Kooshog Lake Hollis McCauley Fishing Derby at Sault Theatre Workshop
(Sault Ste. Marie)

In Northwestern Ontario

Dec. 3, The Book of Everything at Magnus Theatre (Thunder Bay), with previews from Nov. 30

In South Central Ontario

Dec. 3, The Heart as it Lived at Theatre Aurora

In Southwestern Ontario

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
The Grand Theatre (London)'s production of A Christmas Story
Isaak Bailey, Sarah Machin Gale,
Callum Thompson, Matthew Olver
Photo by Claus Andersen
Dec. 3, The Trials of Robin Hood at London Community Players
Dec. 4, It's A Wonderful Life at Theatre Aquarius (Hamilton), with previews from Dec. 2

In Toronto

Nov. 30, P@ndora at Young People's Theatre (Toronto)
Dec. 1, The Addams Family, The Musical at Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts (Toronto) 
Dec. 2, Munsch-O-Mania at George Brown Theatre School 
Dec. 3, A Christmas Carol at Soulpepper Theatre
Dec. 4, Parfumerie at Scarborough Players
Dec. 5, Buster Canfield and His Circus of Amazing Fleas at Solar Stage Children's Theatre
Dec. 5, Tricks at Soulpepper Theatre
Dec. 6, Kim's Convenience at Soulpepper Theatre
Dec. 6, The Last Polar Bears at Solar Stage Children's Theatre

ONstage Now Playing in Central Ontario
The Gift of the Magi at Theatre Orangeville
Mairi Babb, Mark Uhre

In Central Ontario

Dec. 1, A Charlie Brown Christmas at Northumberland Players (Cobourg)
Dec. 3, That December Show: Peter Pan-to at South Simcoe Theatre (Cookstown)
Dec. 4, American Idiot: The Musical at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (Peterborough)
Dec. 4, Miracle on 34th Street, the Play at Northumberland Players (Cobourg)
Dec. 5, Marilyn-After at Baby Gumm Productions (Collingwood)

In Eastern Ontario

Dec. 1, A Christmas Story at Ottawa Little Theatre
Dec. 3, It's a Wonderful Life at Belleville Theatre Guild, with a preview on Dec. 1
Dec. 3, Angel Square at Great Canadian Theatre Company (Ottawa), with previews from Dec. 1
Dec. 3, Puss In Boots at Smiths Falls Community Theatre
Dec. 4, Anne And Gilbert: The Musical at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa), with previews from Dec. 1
Dec. 5, Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr at Seaway Valley Theatre Company (Cornwall)


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.) These are some of the current participants' experiences.

Yunjeong Faline Park is training in theatre administration with Niki Poirier at Roseneath Theatre (Toronto)

(October 30) I began my fifteen weeks of training with Roseneath Theatre, mentored by Niki Poirier, full of expectation and excitement. When I started, there were two unexpected big changes to the company. First, the company’s fall show had been moved from the first half of season to January 2016 due to the possibility of a teachers’ strike. Roseneath is a Theatre for Young Audiences which means its performance schedules and many other areas are directly affected by any job action in the school system. Second, the Production Manager left her position so there is currently a search on for a new Production Manager to begin in later December. In a positive way, this has allowed me to learn and work on projects with more focus and less pressure.

Staff meeting at Roseneath Theatre
Each week I’m with a different department. I started with Managing Director, Natalie Ackers on writing and preparing the Ontario Arts Council touring grant application by filling out forms and making sure everything was put it in the correct order. I also assisted Natalie with preparing a multi-layered and multi-year budget spreadsheets by using my knowledge and skills of the Excel program.

As a charity, Roseneath Theatre has an annual audit which started at the beginning of October. Since they are in transition of hiring a new bookkeeper, I was able to do most of the bookkeeping records including payroll, bank deposit, transaction record etc. by using the knowledge and skills from a bookkeeper class I took as a night course last year. I prepared the audit files and accounting records to make sure they were in accurate order. When the audit started, Niki and I assisted with any requests that the auditor needed. As a result, the audit took less than a week to process.

In the week with Artistic Director Andrew Lamb, I received instructions on how to use the Casting Workbook website and was explained how it works for him and other directors in this field. He gave me a list of actors he wanted to audition, so using the Casting Workbook I set up the audition times and made an audition schedule list for their upcoming January show.
I also attended PAONE meeting (Professional Arts Organizations Network for Education) with Andrew where I networked with people who are working in the Arts Administration.

In my weeks with Production Management I have taken on the responsibility of keeping track of the rehearsal hall rentals. I have also assisted Niki with set restorations for the upcoming performances by speaking with the contracted technicians to see how the set can improve and helping with research on the materials that to be used to do this.

Roseneath introduced an after school drama camp for grade 2 – 5 every Thursday afternoon for eight weeks. This is a new program for the company. I was able to assist the Education and Marketing Manager, Gretel Meyer Odell the first drama camp day to make sure everything ran smoothly.

Roseneath Theatre's booth
I also had the opportunity to attend a marketing conference, held by the Catholic Curriculum Corporation, called “Faith Meets Pedagogy”. I helped set up the booth and explained to educators what Roseneath Theatre does, giving a brief synopsis of plays of this season and how our work effects young audiences.

Working with Niki and watching how she works with multiple departments has given me a good sense of confidence in the work I have done so far and I believe that I will also be able to manage a variety of administrative positions after this placement is complete.

Through the last half of training I will be working with and learning about Social Media, Marketing and Tour Management as well as deeper step into departments that I have already assisted in these past two months. It seemed quite a challenge to switch my career to a completely different field, but I’m seeing good results and can see myself as a good fit with Arts Administration. This training has proven that I can work with confidence, and I strongly believe that I will achieve my goal by the end of this program.

Camila Diaz-Varela will train in digital production management, online community engagement, and digital curation with Sarah Garton Stanley at SpiderWebShow

(November 11) As part of this PTTP cycle, I’m going to be working with the Makers of SpiderWebShow, training in Digital Production Management, Online Community Engagement & Digital Curation. The word ‘online’ and ‘digital’ are important ones here, because the SpiderWebShow is a website that experiments with how Canadian theatre, technology, and the internet can intersect. If you haven’t come across it before, you can check it out here: www.spiderwebshow.ca.

This is a map of where the Makers and collaborators of the
SpiderWebShow are based, generated by the Performance Wiki
I first came across the site when I interned for the Rhubarb Festival 2 years ago – my boss at the time, the amazing Laura Nanni, asked me to look up an artist that the festival was interested in and send her a digital sample of their work, and I found myself stumbling into the rabbit hole that is the SpiderWebShow archive. There are so many projects quietly living and growing on the site that all have the explicit mission of exploring how theatre and the internet can converge to serve each other. I had honestly never seen theatre artists behaving like this before. They were making 30 second audio clips of their own thoughts, writing critical articles on + for their communities, theatre and otherwise, posting mini audio plays to be experienced at home, curating photos of theatre in process. It all felt very much like a playful, authentic grab at something – possibly at communicating their processes as artists, but certainly at playing with a new online theatrical form. 

I was really inspired by it. At that time I’d just graduated from a music theatre performance program and felt like I had been in a music theatre bubble most of my life. I wanted to get inspired by what lay beyond, so I was focusing on getting to know my Toronto theatre community. I was also trying to expand my skill set by learning music production software on the side, and recording and editing my own music. At this point, I thought that these worlds would always be separate, but when I found SpiderWebShow, I saw a living example of how digital and live forms can converge and actually be performative and engaging.

Since then, I’ve been keeping tabs on the site. Watching new projects grow and especially following the #CdnCult mag’s new editions. This summer, I was working on a small project for the SummerWorks festival Conversation Series, and approached one of the founders of the site, Michael Wheeler, about using their PerformanceWiki (www.performancewiki.ca) as a platform for a document I was creating. Since he’s so awesome, he invited me into the fold, and things have snowballed to the point where I now have been offered the opportunity to work with the Makers of the show for the next four months. I am beyond excited about this.

I’m hoping to learn several things – first, how to efficiently work with artists who are not the in the same physical space as me. I have plans to work with artists who live in other countries, and we certainly don’t have the budget to travel for bi-weekly rehearsals. What can our distance provide us as creative fodder, rather than an obstacle? How can we create a nurturing, creative digital space for us to work in? I have a hypothesis that there’s something in the tone and speed of correspondence that affects productivity and creativity, and in turn, the product. Kind of like when you’re working in an office, and the kind of attitude/jargon you use to discuss things affects the vibe of the workplace. The process forms the product, right? I think I can learn a lot about this from the folks at SpiderWebShow, especially since these artists have way more experience with large-scale, long-term collaboration than me. In the few meetings I’ve attended so far, I’ve been surprised with how generous, friendly, and open the ‘bosses’ have been. I expected a much more authoritarian style of leadership, for some reason, but it’s been very nurturing and human. I really like that. I’m hoping to get some clarity on how they manage that, and why.

Another thing I hope to learn is how to curate an engaging, theatrical online space. One of the things I do know coming into this training is that building anything online requires some prerequisite technical knowledge. This can be overwhelming to learn and at times slow going, because sometimes even digital robots don’t want to obey commands. So that has to be taken into account in the curation of any artistic online work, because sometimes you don’t have as much time as you’d like to ponder and edit the piece – you’re just trying to get the link/tool/platform to function in the first place. Sometimes you have a deadline and you assemble the pieces you’ve got, and post them as is. I’m really curious how that process can be less stressful, and how to support the Makers in a meaningful way during the process. I’ve never been a production manager in a live theatre setting, only a creator and performer, so this is gonna be a learning curve I think.

I’m also really excited to connect with what theatre artists are doing across the country. Through SpiderWebShow I’ve already met so many people I’d never get the chance to meet, because I have never been in the same space as them. For example, I haven’t been to Vancouver in 10 years but the other day an incredible artist + person who lives there, Adrienne Wong, taught me how to make ponies ride across my Gmail chats. I know I’ll be learning professionally useful things (not just ponies), but at the core, I think SpiderWebShow is about connecting our Canadian theatre community using the internet, so somehow, I think it applies. 

The intersection of theatre and the internet is cool, because theatre is about sharing stories with other humans in the same space – so, human connection (among other things. I know this is a grand statement. Stay with me here.). And the internet is about sharing and connection too, but sometimes it’s not as human – it can be more data based, and troll-y, and media centered. Since the internet is a very new, growing, Wild West of a form, how can we make it be more human? How can Canadian theatre artists create an online space that is nurturing, and creative, and connecting/ed, and relevant?
I’m really excited to ask these questions with the artists behind SpiderWebShow. I’ll let you all know how it goes.   

Claire Burns is training in general management with Beth Brown at Nightwood Theatre (Toronto)

(November 16) In the past six months the Storefront Theatre has really evolved. We have gone from an ad-hoc rental venue to a theatre with a curated season—this fall we’re hosting six plays between September to December. My mentorship with Beth Brown at Nightwood has proven thus far invaluable in terms of the development of our organizational structure at Storefront.
I sort of slid into the role of Managing Director in late 2014 and to be honest, didn’t have much idea of what that role would encompass. Beth has been a real mentor in that I can talk to her about pretty much anything to do with the organization and she is always patiently guiding my decisions while being completely non-judgemental about some of the issues that we face.

On a more basic level, the internship has helped to develop knowledge around systems like accounting, bookkeeping, fundraising and leadership. As well as working with Beth to learn more about being a managing director I have also been afforded the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals for Diane Flacks’ new play, Unholy, which had its first workshop performance at the Groundswell Festival this October. As an artist/administrator who has written and directed my own plays this was an incredible opportunity to witness how a company like Nightwood works through the development of a script. It was great to be able to be in the room with the actors and great director, Kelly Thornton.

The more I learn about the disparity of female leadership in theatre—vis a vis directors and Artistic Directors, the more I believe that I would like to develop my skills and become an artistic director in the future. I’m excited to see how Nightwood curates their season, what speaks to the leadership of the organization and upon what they ultimately base their programming decisions. As a female artist and a feminist it has been an absolute boon to be working alongside Nightwood in any capacity and to be working with such strong, intelligent women has not only allowed me to grow as an administrator it also comforts and inspires me that a female based theatre company actually exists in Canada. After all - Girls Rule the World!

Michela Sisti will train in directing with Ross Manson at Volcano Theatre

(November 16) One week to go before I officially begin my mentorship with Ross Manson and Volcano Theatre. That exquisite build-up of anticipation that comes with starting a new project is beginning to play itself out inside me. Every now and then I get a little taste of what’s to come when I am cc’d in a email sent by a member of the company about some new aspect of rehearsal preparations.  I feel like I did when I was a kid waiting at my window before a big family event, the excitement rising in me in waves each time a new car pulled up to the driveway.

The big event radiating from the far end of these seven days is Century Song, a stunning piece of interdisciplinary theatre about one person’s journey through time and art and into the present moment.  It is a work inspired in part by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens and it is performed to unearthly effect by the incredible soprano-dancer, Neema Bickersteth.  From a laptop screen in the in the quiet of an empty house I first watched a recorded video of Century Song’s National Arts Centre premier.  Even from a tiny screen the force of Neema’s performance and the story of endurance and vitality that was being told moved me.  It affirmed my obstinate hunch that art has the power bring us a little closer to facing the perplexity of our existence with bravery and with open hearts.  I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to work with Ross and the Volcano Theatre team as assistant director on preparing this show for its 2016 national and international tours.

Century Song is a project that encompasses so many of the questions and challenges that have intrigued me since I began my first stubborn blind stumbles into directing.  It has been helpful for me to think of these questions/challenges as tensions in content, form and process that must be keep taught and vibrant, rather than problems that need to be resolved.

The first of these tensions is between, on the one hand, those rich internal worlds of yearnings and visions that we all have within us, and on the other hand, the objective reality that we are part of a picture that is infinitely bigger than ourselves.  When I first met Ross I shared with him that I wanted to be involved in the creation of theatre that showed human lives within the context of a larger whole.  We are not just ourselves, I had ranted, we are part of a society, part of history, part of a very strange species of big-brained primates, part of the universe.  I think Ross smiled – whatever he did it was disarming – and he said something like, “Century Song, in the end, is about the journey of a person.”  I am going to take that with me into next week’s development period. I’m also going to carry those words into all of my own future directing work.  It’s obvious, but sometimes what is most obvious is what we forget. Theatre in the end is about people; it’s about connection.

The second point of fascination that I’ve flagged as I enter my mentorship with Volcano Theatre is the tension that exists among the multiplicity of art forms that are at work in Century Song.  In addition to Neema Bickersteth’s holistic integration of contemporary dance and operatic singing, Century Song, brings together live instrumental music, visual art from across the 20th century and animations by Germany’s fettFilm.

I see this work as a continued experiment in the layering of meaning. Each choice in movement, music, visuals, narrative, has its own colour, its own frequency. Putting these elements together is like building harmonies in music.  During my mentorship I want to continue honing my instincts for recognizing what precisely these elements are bringing out in each other.  What choices create consonances or dissonances? When are these elements bringing out the best in each other? When are they getting in each other's way?  Though asking these questions again and again I want to move towards ever-greater specificity in making artistic choices and to hone a method of working that contains and channels creative free-flow into lucid moments of theatre.

This brings me to the third tension I want to explore during my mentorship.   It is a tension of process and it exists between discipline and spontaneity in the rehearsal room, between restraint and freedom. During the development week I will be involved in I will have the opportunity to observe how Ross and the team work toward clear artistic goals while remaining open and connected to a creative process that is in essence chaotic and intuitively driven. The choreographic content of Century Song has so far been generated from improvisations and then sculpted into a series of precise actions to be repeated in performance night after night.  How Ross and choreographer Kate Alton work with Neema to prepare a Century Song that is newly and viscerally lived each night is something I am very curious about.

During the next few months Ross will be leading a team of artists who are each specialists in their respective fields.  A huge part of his work as a director will be creating the conditions for everyone to excel at what they do best and guiding these talents to co-operate as one body.  This spirit of complicité, of working together towards something awesome, something that can be shared with other people, is what I am looking forward to the most.

It is Monday November 16th. The sun is shining and people are walking the streets of Toronto with miraculously unzipped coats.  I’m going to join them while it’s bright. 

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2016.


Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

Danny Parkes in "Brother, Brother"
from the 10th Inspirato Festival.
Applications for the Directing Academy are due November 30.
Submissions for the Playwriting Contest are due December 1.
  • Upcoming Ontario Cultural Strategy Town Halls are in Kingston (November 25), Mississauga (December 1) and Windsor (December 3).
  • Deadline to apply for Theatre InspiraTO’s Directing Academy is November 30.
  • Deadline to apply for Native Earth Performing Arts’ Theatre Creators Reserve is December 1.
  • Deadline to apply to Canada Council’s theatre programs (Theatre International, Developmental Support to Aboriginal Theatre Organizations, Theatre Touring and Special Initiatives) is December 1.
  • ArtsBuild Ontario’s Dollars to $ense—Energy Conservation workshop is on December 1.
  • Deadline to enter Theatre InspiraTO’s Playwriting Contest is December 1.
  • Deadline to apply for Great Canadian Theatre Company’s Theatre Creators Reserve is December 4.
  • Deadline to apply for Theatre Aquarius’ Theatre Creators Reserve is December 4.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • The Kick and Push Festival in Kingston invites applications for their 2016 Festival.  The deadline is December 4.
  • Rosebud School of the Arts in Alberta invites applications for the Harvey Residency, studying themes at the intersection of faith and art.  The deadlines are December 15 (for 2016 and 2017) and January 31 (for 2017.)

Check out these items, and other postings from our members of funding opportunities, workshops, calls for submission, awards, and more—on Theatre Ontario’s Bulletin Board on our website

Theatre Ontario individual members can also access auditions and job postings on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Legendary Commitment to Community Theatre

The Michael Spence Award recognizes outstanding contribution, generosity of spirit, involvement, and legendary commitment to community theatre in a region. Originally presented every five years on Theatre Ontario's quinquennial anniversaries, the award is now presented annually within the region that is hosting the Theatre Ontario Festival.

In 2016, the award will be presented to someone in the QUONTA region of Ontario community theatre. The deadline for nominations to be received by Theatre Ontario is January 29.

We caught up with three past recipients of the Michael Spence Award from the QUONTA region to find out how they are currently contributing to theatre in their communities.

Sharon Sproule (Espanola) was awarded the Michael Spence Award in 1997

As one of the initial recipients of the Michael Spence Award I count myself as doubly privileged and honoured. I had the good fortune to meet and get to know Michael at the ‘birthing’ of Theatre Ontario in the early 1970s.To have been able to witness and experience his finely honed love of theatre in general—and of community theatre in particular—plus his outstanding organizational skills and expertise was inspirational indeed. Striving for those ideals became an indelible part of my theatre being. Then it almost goes without saying that to be QUONTA’s first recipient of the Michael Spence Award was a huge huge honour for me. 

Up until this year I have been able to stay physically active in theatre. The last few years I have focused mainly on my Espanola YouTHeatre , and working with kids has been extremely gratifying.

Arthritis and Age have finally caught up with me, and this year I am not able to take an active part in the physicality of theatre. I stay connected though, through the Internet and an Arts/Crafts/Entertainment network I have set up to help spread-the-word!

Harry Houston (Sault Ste. Marie) was awarded the Michael Spence Award in 2002

Boy, time flies when you're having fun. I was honoured with the Michael Spence Award back in 2002. My theatre activities shift back and forth between acting and directing with various local groups. I am currently in rehearsals (directing) for Norm Foster's The Great Kooshog Lake Hollis McCauley Fishing Derby for Sault Theatre Workshop. We open December 2nd for a two week run.

Sault Theatre Workshop, my home theatre, is in their 67th season of community theatre. Each year I co-ordinate the hosting of a non-competitive One Act Festival Workshop. We invite entries from across the QUONTA drama region and it has proved an excellent training event for new and beginning directors. We have been fortunate to have the amazing Richard Howard as our adjudicator/workshop leader for most of these festivals. It is exciting to see some of our former first-time directors blossom and take on major productions.

STW has a rich history, rarely repeating any play and offering a mix of classic and new theatre. I am pleased and proud to be part of an exciting and vibrant group that doesn't shy away from the issues and keeps community theatre relevant. 

Walter Maskel (Gore Bay) was awarded the Michael Spence Award in 2012

I received the award in 2012, and since then have worked on 13 productions for my home group, Gore Bay Theatre, as well as 3 productions for the Espanola Little Theatre (ELT). In 2013, I directed the ELT production of Looking by Norm Foster which received the Elsie at the Theatre Ontario Festival.

Fortunately for Gore Bay Theatre, Andrea Emmerton, a highly respected former Theatre Ontario Community Theatre Co-ordinator with extensive directing and backstage experience moved to Gore Bay. Since I was the only director for the group, (our town has only 800 residents and our group is very small), her arrival has lightened my load and made it possible for me to get back onstage occasionally. We have similar philosophies about theatre and are highly passionate about the art. It is part of our life and we go from production to production (we have worked on 12 shows together to date) and do whatever is necessary in order to stage a production—which means we are both working on the creative, producing, and executive sides of a production.

In the past forty years I have directed over 150 productions, and for the first time I have co-directed productions with Andrea and I highly recommend it. Working as a team facilitates a collaborative learning process that shares and generates ideas and is artistically highly fulfilling because the bottom line is what is in the best interest of the production. Our motto is “four eyes are better than two.”

Currently, we are co-directing three productions together: Dear Santa, by Norm Foster for the Espanola Little Theatre, a QUONTA show for Gore Bay Theatre Kindertransport by Diane Samuels, and a comedy for our summer season. We also continue to work with a youth group for Gore Bay Theatre and produced Murmel, Murmel, Mortimer Munsch, as part of our summer season last year, and will produce another youth production for this summer.

I continue to work on the QUONTA Executive, and although I have served a term as President, feel that it is extremely important to work for the continued success of our Region.

Related Reading

Monday, 23 November 2015

ONstage Openings for the week of November 23

This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Eastern Ontario

Nov. 25, Greater Tuna at Bottle Tree Productions (Kingston)
Nov. 28, Have Yourself a Swinging Little Country Christmas at Upper Canada Playhouse (Morrisburg), with previews from Nov. 26
Nov. 28, Valley Vic and the Christmas Temptations at Stone Fence Theatre (Killaloe / Pembroke / Renfrew)

In Northeastern Ontario

Nov. 25, Mary Poppins at Musical Comedy Guild of Sault Ste. Marie
Nov. 27, A Christmas Carol at Sudbury Theatre Centre, with a preview on Nov. 26

In Southwestern Ontario

Nov. 24, Radio Ridiculous at The Registry Theatre (Kitchener)
Nov. 27, A Christmas Story at The Grand Theatre (London), with previews from Nov. 24
Nov. 27, Beauty and The Beast: A Pantomime at Guelph Little Theatre
Nov. 27, The Christmas Tree at Baby Gumm Productions (Hamilton)
Nov. 27, Collide-O-Scope at Theatre Woodstock

In Toronto

Nov. 23, Unwrapped at The Second City
Nov. 24, Kudelka Meets Ryerson Dances at Ryerson Theatre School
Nov. 26, The Dover Road at Stage Centre Productions
Nov. 26, Lend Me a Tenor at Alexander Showcase Theatre
Nov. 28, Cinderella at Stage Centre Productions
ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Sex Tape Project at fu-GEN Theatre Company
Louisa Zhu, Isabel Kanaan
Nov. 28, The Promise at Dreamtheatre Productions

In Central Ontario

Nov. 24, Snarl'd the Rapunzel Panto at Port Hope Festival Theatre
Nov. 26, The Gift of the Magi at Theatre Orangeville


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Friday, 20 November 2015

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


Migrations


In Case You Missed It



This column is off next week, but returns on December 4.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Upcoming Ontario Cultural Strategy Town Halls are in London (November 19), Toronto (November 23) and Kingston (November 25).
  • Native Earth Performing Arts’ Professional Development Series at the Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival consists of classes, workshops, and a panel aimed at advancing the careers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous theatre artists. The series runs until November 21.
  • Sudbury Theatre Centre’s Intro to Musical Song workshop is on November 22.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Theatre Aquarius invites submissions for their Theatre Creators Reserve.  Funding priority is Hamilton and area (Halton and Niagara) based writers/creators.  The application deadline is December 4.
  • Toronto Arts Council’s Long-Term Project Grants for Theatre and Dance is returning in 2016.  The information session is on December 7 and the application deadline is March 15.
  • Soulpepper invites applications from actors, designers, directors, playwrights, producers, and stage managers for the Soulpepper Academy.  The application deadline is December 20.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members of funding opportunities, workshops, calls for submission, awards, and more—on Theatre Ontario’s Bulletin Board on our website

Theatre Ontario individual members can also access auditions and job postings on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Congratulations to the Fall 2015 Professional Theatre Training Program Recipients

We are pleased to announce the latest recipients of training grants through Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP).  We thank all those who applied to the program.

$37,225 was awarded in total among the following 10 recipients:
  • Keith Barker will train in directing with John Van Burek at Pleiades Theatre
  • Sehar Bhojani will train in directing with Robert Ross Parker at Hope and Hell Theatre
  • Miranda Bouchard will train in design with Ruth Howard at Jumblies Theatre
  • Krista Colosimo will train in artistic direction with Ashlie Corcoran at Thousand Islands Playhouse
  • Lisa Karen Cox will train in directing with Ravi Jain
  • Camila Diaz-Varela will train in digital production management, online community engagement, and digital curation with Sarah Garton Stanley at SpiderWebShow
  • Jessica Lea Fleming will train in artistic producing and programming with Tanja Dixon-Warren and Margo Kane at Full Circle First Nations Performance’s Talking Stick Festival
  • Stephanie Jung will train in artistic producing with Marjorie Chan and Kate Ann Vandermeer at Cahoots Theatre 
  • Michela Sisti will train in directing with Ross Manson at Volcano Theatre
  • Dan Watson will train in artistic direction with Franco Boni at The Theatre Centre
Over $163,300 was requested during this application round.  The next application deadline for this program is March 1, 2016.


This program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Monday, 16 November 2015

ONstage Openings for the week of November 16

This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Central Ontario

Nov. 19, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at VOS Theatre (Cobourg)
Nov. 19, A Christmas Carol at Wasaga Community Theatre (Wasaga Beach)

In Eastern Ontario

ONstage Opening in South Central Ontario
The Heiress at Markham Little Theatre
Nov. 19, The December Man / L'homme de decembre at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa), with previews from Nov. 16
Nov. 20, Anne of Green Gables at Orpheus Musical Theatre Society (Ottawa)

In Northeastern Ontario

Nov. 19, The Dead Mess at Thorneloe University (Sudbury)
Nov. 19, Dear Santa at Take Two Theatre (Timmins)
Nov. 20, Dear Santa at Espanola Little Theatre

In South Central Ontario

Nov. 18, The Heiress at Markham Little Theatre
Nov. 18, Mary Rose at The Oakville Players
Nov. 19, Mary Poppins at Oshawa Little Theatre
Nov. 19, Mary Poppins at Steppin' Out Theatrical Productions (Richmond Hill)
Nov. 19, Robin Hood at Peel Panto Players (Brampton)
Nov. 20, Season's Greetings at The Curtain Club (Richmond Hill), with a preview on Nov. 19*

In Southwestern Ontario

Nov. 18, It's a Wrap at Oh Canada Eh? Productions (Niagara Falls)*
Nov. 18, My Fair Lady at Thistle Theatre (Embro)
Nov. 19, Aladdin: The Panto at Drayton Entertainment: St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, with previews from Nov. 18
Nov. 19, Cinderella: A Pantomime at Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre
Nov. 19, Seussical at Simcoe Little Theatre
Nov. 20, Irving Berlin's White Christmas at Drayton Entertainment: Dunfield Theatre Cambridge, with previews from Nov. 18
Nov. 20, Hansel and Gretel at Century Church Theatre (Hillsburgh)
Nov. 20, Mary Poppins at Theatre Sarnia
Nov. 20, Ned Durango Comes to Big Oak at Elmira Theatre Company
Nov. 20, The Producers at Theatre Ancaster (Hamilton)

In Toronto

Nov. 17, The Road to Paradise at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, currently in previews
Nov. 17, Julie at Canadian Stage*
ONstage Opening in Toronto
Julie at Canadian Stage
Carolina Bruck-Santos
Photo by Alain Legarde
Nov. 18, Nirbhaya at Nightwood Theatre
Nov. 19, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang at Young People's Theatre, with previews from Nov. 16
Nov. 19, Domesticated at Canadian Stage, with previews from Nov. 17*
Nov. 19, The Frog Princess at ACT II Studio Theatre (Toronto)
Nov. 20, Bombay Black at Factory Theatre, with previews from Nov. 18*


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website


Friday, 13 November 2015

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres

The Linda Griffiths Stairwell at Theatre Passe Muraille

Migrations

  • Lindsay Golds is the new Executive Director of ArtsBuilt Ontario.
  • Pierre Nantel will continue to serve as Heritage Critic in the federal New Democratic Party caucus.

TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Welcome Mimi Mekler as Festival 2016 Adjudicator

Theatre Ontario is thrilled to welcome Mimi Mekler as adjudicator for the 2016 Theatre Ontario Festival in North Bay.  Mimi most recently adjudicated the Western Ontario Drama League Festival in 2014, and last adjudicated for Theatre Ontario’s Festival in 1999 in Newmarket.

"The hard work, discoveries, accolades and camaraderie that are the backbone of the Theatre Ontario Festival make it a special event," said Mimi.  "I’m looking forward to being part of the process that goes into creating the most vibrant community theatre possible."

Mimi Mekler’s work as director, actor, dramaturge, writer and adjudicator has taken her from California to Czechoslovakia and Italy to Israel. She is a professor in the Acting Discipline at Sheridan College’s Music Theatre Department. She also teaches for the joint Theatre and Drama Studies programme at Sheridan and University of Toronto at Mississauga, and for the Digital Character programme for Sheridan’s acclaimed Computer Animation.  Her theatre experience is broad and varied. She is probably best known as Maggie in the long-running children’s TV series Crazy Quilt. Other acting highlights include playing a crazed nun in Bella Donna, portraying both Portia and Calpurnia in Julius Caesar, touring children’s shows and interactive plays, dubbing films in Prague, creating segments of R. Murray Schafer’s opera-in-the wilderness And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon, and co-creating a clown-dance piece.  She is a member of Theatre Ontario's Talent Bank of theatre instructors.

Theatre Ontario Festival 2016 will be held in North Bay from May 18 to 22, 2016 and is co-hosted by Theatre Ontario, Gateway Theatre Guild, and QUONTA (the northeastern Ontario community theatre association.)

Related Reading

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Native Earth Performing Arts’ Professional Development Series at the Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival consists of classes, workshops, and a panel aimed at advancing the careers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous theatre artists. The series runs until November 21.
  • Upcoming Ontario Cultural Strategy Town Halls is in London (November 19).
  • Playwrights Canada Press workshop for high school teachers is November 12 in Toronto.
  • Sudbury Theatre Centre’s “Intro to Musical Dance” workshop is November 15.
  • Deadline for Theatre Creators Reserve applications at Carousel Players is November 16.
  • A recent workshop at Carousel Players. The deadline to
    apply for their Theatre Creators Reserve is November 16.
  • Deadline for Ontario Arts Council Northern Arts grants is November 17.
  • ArtsBuild Ontario’s next Learn It | Build It | Manage It workshop is in Orillia on November 17 to 18.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members of funding opportunities, workshops, calls for submission, awards, and more—on Theatre Ontario’s Bulletin Board on our website

Theatre Ontario individual members can also access auditions and job postings on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.) These are some of the current and recent participants' experiences.

Emily Oriold is training in general management with Deb Sholdice at Blyth Festival

(September 28, 2015)  Since December 2014, I have been doing a tremendous amount of research on theatre management and the role a General Manager or Executive Director plays within a theatre organization. The goal of this research has been—alongside Patricia Vanstone and Norm Foster—to found the Norm Foster Theatre Festival with our inaugural season planned for summer 2016. During this time of research, I reached out to many theatre administration professionals who were all very forthcoming with their advice and information. It quickly became clear that a mentorship would be a great asset and a very important learning experience for me in regards to having hands-on experience to discover, on a more practical level, all of the ins and outs of what it means to run a theatre company from a General Manager’s standpoint. One GM in particular has been a tremendous help: Deb Sholdice of the Blyth Festival Theatre. She has already begun to mentor me informally and suggested that perhaps the best course of action would be for me to train with her for six weeks in fall 2015 at which time she will be planning budgets, membership drives, fundraisers, outreach programs, preparing grants, etc. for her following summer season. This way I can work alongside her as she works in conjunction with the Artistic Director, reports to the Board of Directors, and prepares her budget and marketing plan for the coming season. It is a main goal of mine to learn the difference between balancing an operating budget vs. a production budget and to better comprehend the financial savvy it takes to manage a theatre company in Canada.

I have a long history with Blyth. I was a member of their young company for several years, director of their community-player-vignettes in The Outdoor Donnellys, and assistant director to Eric Coates on his production of Queen Milli of Galt. It is beneficial to my training in theatre management to go back to Blyth to continue to learn from a General Manager with whom I have an existing relationship.

My theatre career to date has been mainly in performance and direction, which have taught me a great deal about production. I do also have audience development, small business marketing, and house management experience. However, I lack the training in bookkeeping, accounting, contract negotiation, corporate sponsorship, private fundraising campaigns, and community development. Working alongside Deb in her offices will be an invaluable experience for me. I believe I will gain much more confidence and retention of general management practices by being able to work directly with Deb for a set duration of time and tap into her wealth of knowledge.

From this experience I am eager to learn how to manage and lead an entire season of productions – from hiring and casting, to payroll, to HR management, grant writing, budget creation, and, ultimately, conflict resolution. I also hope to gain a greater understanding of the importance of choosing the right arts marketing/advertising strategy on a limited budget. I seek to further develop my accounting and bookkeeping skills while assisting with audit preparations and, undoubtedly, adapting to unanticipated challenges as they are bound to arise.

I have read theatre management books, marketing documents, articles, and manuals; however, working in an actual theatre office will give me the hands-on training and experience I need in order to make the next step in preparing myself and my team at The Foster Festival as we get ready to launch our inaugural 2016 summer season. I strongly believe this training is essential in solidifying the success of this new Canadian theatre company. It is important for me to go on gaining as much knowledge and practical experience in this field as I can so that I may continue to hone my skills and approach theatre management independently, successfully, and with great confidence.

Furthermore, training in the offices of a theatre that has a common mandate and goal to ensure our Canadian playwrights have a voice will serve me well when learning how to identify the needs surrounding play development, new-play workshops, and production. 

Mary Elizabeth Willcott is training in directing with Kelly Thornton at Nightwood Theatre in Toronto

(October 5, 2015) Currently, I find myself in the thick of research. I want to learn as much as I can about the four faiths the play Unholy deals with: Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, and Atheism. I’ve spent the last little while combing over the script, looking for anything in it that represents a gap in my knowledge surrounding these faiths. There are words and references to scripture and religious practice that I find myself looking up frequently. Google and Wikipedia are my best friends at the moment. The great thing about this play is it focuses a lot on hot topics in the media, most notably the right for a woman to wear the Niqab. The more I research the more excited I am to get in the room and start breaking down this script with the actors. 

This play stirs up a lot of emotions for me. The more I research the more I find myself trying to gain an understanding of women’s roles in a religious community and some of the traditions that surround women and faith. 

Traditions in faith have always been just that: traditions. Why question? But when you start digging to the bottom of why people practice what they practice, you start to reveal a wide range of views on how women should behave in their faith. Diane Flack’s writing reflects this well. Her arguments are clear and you feel like you’re watching a compelling tennis match as the debate unfolds. It inspires excitement and passion for the subject matter, and gives well-formulated thoughts to serve as a launching point for the real script work with everyone in the room.

In addition to Google and online research, I’ve made it a goal to sit down with someone from each faith and have a chat about what it means to be a woman in their religion. I recently visited my family in Newfoundland, and had an opportunity to sit down with my Aunt who is a retired Nun and chat with her about her experience. Her responses were surprising and very progressive. I absolutely loved having the opportunity to chat with her. Active research seems to be a thing I’ve always loved. It’s something I learned to do in theatre school and I find it fun and rewarding. The more you dive into a world and eat, sleep, and drink that world, the more you have to offer in the room. 

What I do find challenging is trying to look at the play as a whole from a director’s standpoint. This is a new skill I am developing and need to remind myself I am still very much a beginner in this process. I’ve been looking forward to sitting down with Kelly and the production team to go over the script and that is happening this week. I hope to gain some insight into what we will need for the production going forward, what I should be looking for specifically as far as the script, and learn about what I should be preparing to do in the weeks ahead.

Tamara Vuckovic is training in directing with Marianne McIsaac at Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto

(October 1, 2015) I have reached the half way point in my PTTP project and have accomplished a great deal since we started. All six shows of George F. Walker’s Suburban Motel are in a good place in the rehearsal process. We were able to have them all do a stumble through of their show this past week. Outside of rehearsal, my mentor Marianne and I have been meeting daily to discuss what I’ve accomplished that day and challenges I faced. We discuss our goals for the upcoming rehearsals, we plan the schedules with the Stage Manager, and we make decisions regarding the technical aspects of the show with the Production Manager. I have been a part of the set and costume meetings as the designs have developed over the past few weeks. As well as the discussions regarding lighting, sound, special effects, and marketing. 

The biggest way my mentorship has evolved from my original training plan, is that I am the Director of two of the six shows, and the Assistant Director of the other four. Originally I was going to be assistant directing all six shows, but Marianne bestowed on me the opportunity to direct on my own. Due to this increase in responsibility, this made for a lot more work, particularly leading up to my mentorship and throughout the first half. For example, besides having to have a very clear vision for my shows, I had to block both plays before we even started rehearsals.

It has been an excellent learning experience so far and Marianne’s guidance and support has been immensely helpful. We have shaped a way for me to take the reins on these two shows, while she is still able to teach me as we go along, and we are able to maintain a positive impact for everyone involved. We work very well together, as a duo directing team and I’m very excited for the second half of the mentorship. We now head into two more weeks of rehearsal, followed by a two week tech week, and six openings in three days.

Emma Mackenzie Hillier trained in dramaturgy with Bob White at the Stratford Festival

(October 7, 2015) I’m broaching the last day of my nine-month internship with Bob White, Director of New Play Development at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on my time here since January. The internship, structured to take in as much of Bob’s duties as possible, was well designed as I’ve had the opportunity to learn about his personal style as a dramaturg, the role of a dramaturg in a large institution and in rehearsals, and how to bring your experience as a dramaturg to a theatre’s particular new play development portfolio.

This experience has been enriching and rewarding. At the time of my application I was looking at a career primarily rooted in freelance dramaturgy, which is a very different position than as a dramaturg for a company. I was very lucky, shortly before my internship began at Stratford, to be invited to join the Storefront Arts Initiative as their Dramaturg. The opportunity couldn’t have been more timely, as my time at Stratford has influenced and informed my position at the Storefront. During my time with Bob he brought me up to date on the plays currently in development with Stratford, I observed rehearsals for The Last Wife by Kate Hennig and a workshop of a new play in development by Rebecca Northan and an amazing group of improvisers, and participated in the preparation and execution of the 2016 Playwrights Retreat. All of these opportunities have influenced and changed my perspective on my role as a dramaturg, as well as my relationship to institutional play development.

Sebastien Heins, Emma Mackenzie Hillier, and Kat Sandler
at the Stratford Playwrights' Retreat.
The last leg of this internship has been focused on the Stratford Playwrights’ Retreat. It’s a three-week period in which eight playwrights are invited to stay in Stratford and work. Work meaning, “whatever you need to do” – I think that playwrights and writers often feel the need to simply sit down and write, even without a direction. Certainly, that is the job… to write a play you have to write. But playwrights aren’t often afforded the time to reflect, to let ideas develop and grow in their mind before putting fingers to keyboard or pen to paper.

The benefit of this retreat is that there are no expectations placed on the playwrights, it’s entirely up to them how they use the time. If they wanted, they could watch Netflix all day, do research, read, or paint their nails it’s entirely up to them. This year’s Playwrights’ Retreat is made up of a wonderful group of artists, who actually did use the time to write, and would often work together in a local coffee shop. As I write this last report I’m also half-watching one of our playwrights pack up her day’s work to head to a collective dinner at the Festival Theatre. Which brings me to the only other requirement of the Retreat: that playwrights eat meals together four times a week. Stratford has hosted the entire group admirably well.

This past year I was charged with beginning a Playwrights’ Unit at the Storefront Arts Initiative. Having been able to experience the Stratford Playwrights’ Retreat gave me many new tools and strategies for bringing together a group of people who are pursuing individual projects in the same field. Perhaps most important was bringing everyone together to break bread, have a meal, drink some wine, and set a convivial tone for conversations that often tackled difficult topics. Perhaps more importantly, I had the opportunity to attend meetings with Bob and the playwrights at the retreat, this was a master class in how to have one-on-one meetings. One of the difficulties of being an emerging dramaturg is having access to sometimes highly sensitive meetings with playwrights. Dramaturg-playwright relationships are forged on trust and mutual respect. The skill required to be in these meetings is forged over time, and without access to these meetings an emerging dramaturg is often left guessing at how to have them.

As an end to my internship with Stratford I would like to thank Bob White at Stratford for accepting me as his mentee, he’s an incredible mentor and anyone working with him should count themselves lucky; the cast, creative and production team of The Last Wife, who graciously allowed me to observe the rehearsal process; Rebecca Northan and her group of improvisers who made me join in their warm-ups and made me the better for it; and the Playwrights’ Retreat, who invited me into their process and gave me much more than they know; the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, which allowed me to join them for much of this season. And most of all I’d like to thank Theatre Ontario and the Ontario Arts Council who made this internship possible. This has been a hugely rewarding experience for me and it would not have been possible without the financial support that the Professional Theatre Training Program offers.

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2016.


Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.


Monday, 9 November 2015

ONstage Openings for the week of November 9

This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Toronto

Nov. 10, Cloud 9 at Theatre@York, currently in previews
Nov. 11, Interview with a Demon at Beech Street Theatre Company, with a preview on Nov. 10
ONstage Opening in Toronto
Interview with a Demon from Beech Street Theatre Company
Alex Clay, John Fitzgerald
Photo by Boyan Stergulc
Nov. 11, Lady Windermere's Fan at George Brown Theatre School
Nov. 11, Weesageechak Begins to Dance 28: Annual Festival of Indigenous Works at Native Earth Performing Arts
Nov. 12, Robin Hood at Amicus Productions
Nov. 12, A Tomb with a View at Theatre Etobicoke
Nov. 13, A Christmas Carol at Curtain Call Players
Nov. 13, Sex Tape Project at fu-GEN Theatre Company
Nov. 14, The Road to Paradise at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, in previews

In Central Ontario

Nov. 11, Ralph + Lina from Edge of the Woods Theatre at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (Peterborough)
Nov. 12, The Odd Couple (Female Version) at Gravenhurst Opera House
Nov. 13, Macbeth at Northumberland Players (Cobourg)

In Eastern Ontario

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Jack of Diamonds at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton
Ian D. Clark, Derek McGrath, Mary Long.
Photo by Banko Media
Nov. 13, No Tell Motel at Seaway Valley Theatre Company (Cornwall)

In South Central Ontario

Nov. 12, Communicating Doors at Whitby Courthouse Theatre
Nov. 12, How to Make Love in a Canoe at Theatre Erindale (Mississauga)


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Friday, 6 November 2015

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


Migrations


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Connecting Theatre Instructors and Community Organizations

Looking to bring your skills as a professional theatre trainer to community theatres and educational organizations? Join Theatre Ontario's roster of skilled theatre trainers and workshop leaders by becoming a member of the Theatre Ontario Talent Bank.

Theatre Ontario's Talent Bank matches organizations (particularly community theatres and educational organizations) with professional theatre teachers and trainers for workshops, adjudications, and short-term consulting contracts.

Talent Bank member Maja Ardal leading "There's No
Such Thing As Writer's Block" at our
2015 Summer Theatre Intensive
The members of our Talent Bank are proficient practitioners, with a demonstrated ability as a teacher/trainer, and sensitivity and familiarity with the needs and concerns of the trainees in the community and educational theatre sector.

Theatre Ontario is committed to connecting a theatre community that craves knowledge and growth with talented professional theatre trainers who can help them achieve their goals.  We believe that our Talent Bank of talented professional trainers can bring innovative, fresh, and energetic expertise to the development and learning of theatre craft for community theatre companies and educational organizations.

The application deadline is January 15, 2016.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Upcoming Ontario Cultural Strategy Town Halls are in Ottawa (November 4), Markham (November 10) and Toronto (November 12).
  • Register to apply for the next Ontario Trillium Foundation Grow Grants deadline by today to guarantee your registration is processed.
  • Burl-Oak Theatre Group’s playwriting workshop for Halton-area secondary school students “Create a scene” is on November 7.
  • ArtsBuild Ontario and TAPA workshop on SpaceFinder’s booking features (for venues that provide rentals) is November 10.
  • Native Earth Performing Arts’ Professional Development Series at the Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival consists of classes, workshops, and a panel aimed at advancing the careers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous theatre artists. The series runs November 11 to 21.
  • Playwrights Canada Press workshop for high school teachers is November 12 in Toronto.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Nominations are now being accepted for the annual Gina Wilkinson Prize, supporting female theatre artists making a shift from one theatre discipline to directing.

Check out these items, and other postings from our members of funding opportunities, workshops, calls for submission, awards, and more—on Theatre Ontario’s Bulletin Board on our website

Theatre Ontario individual members can also access auditions and job postings on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Talking About Adjudication

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Among an adjudicator’s skills, communications—both listening and speaking—is arguably the most important. Adjudicators have to be able to talk knowledgably and effectively with theatre companies about their work. So it’s not surprising when you bring a group of adjudicators together—as Theatre Ontario did at our annual Adjudicators Symposium in September—there is lot of talk, and a lot to talk about.

We talked about the past year of adjudication. Adjudicators saw ambitious programming choices and they saw safe programming choices. They were excited every time they saw enthusiasm for learning at theatres. But we also recognized that many theatres don’t know how to articulate their specific training needs: they just don’t know what they don’t know. Theatre Ontario used to provide “Workshops You Want”, a catalogue of workshops for community theatres, but demand was low—is it time for a revival, or do we need to explore other tools?
From a past Theatre Ontario Adjudicators Symposium. 

We reviewed standards and expectations for adjudications, and discussed tactics for a good adjudication. We talked about how much an adjudicator can know about what happens behind-the-scenes, and the inherent limitations of knowing what challenges a company overcame to bring a production to the stage.

We touched on feedback. As you would hope from anyone who is in the business of providing feedback, adjudicators are interested in receiving it, too. Together we have developed feedback tools, we will try to implement these tools for Theatre Ontario Festival, and we will continue to encourage regional festivals to have a process to gather and provide feedback for adjudicators.

We discussed inclusion and diversity in the pool of adjudicators. As one adjudicator put it, when recruiting adjudicators, we need to find ways to “excite people who may not think they belong.”

We debated awards and “nominations”/honourable mentions, and how that relates to the educational goals of festivals. For some adjudication participants, the outcome of awards can often undermine or de-value the educational component. But awards and recognition can be a valuable part of competitive festivals. While there wasn’t consensus on this topic, there was agreement that a perception of consistency in the process was important.

This year was our sixth symposium since we founded the program in 2010. As always, the opportunity to gather among peers was appreciated—“I haven’t seen you in years!” was frequently heard to start the day. Adjudicators work in isolation, and the value of coming together was reinforced throughout the Symposium.

My favourite comment of the day was that there is a “moral responsibility” in adjudication. Adjudicators encourage excellence through education and recognition. As someone one described it to me, a good adjudicator finds community theatre creators where they are, and with whatever skills and knowledge they have, and gives them the tools to move forward and improve. As we try to answer the question “What’s next?”, we will benefit by continuing to talk about that moral responsibility.

After the Symposium, I travelled to Cobourg for a trial adjudication at Northumberland Players. While it made for a long day, it was an ideal finale for me. Spending time with an adjudicator eager to practice and improve her skills, and observing the interaction between an adjudicator and a company—it reinforced for me that days like our Adjudicator Symposium are important. We should always keep talking about adjudication.

Related Reading