Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Launching Your Career workshop at Theatre Ontario
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline for submissions from playwrights for the Durham Minifest One Act Play Festival is December 31.
  • Deadline for submissions to Odyssey Theatre’s OAC Theatre Creators Reserve is January 3.
  • Deadline for submissions for Theatre by the Bay’s Barrie Theatre Lab is January 5.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Congratulations to the Youth Theatre Training Program Fall 2016 Grant Recipients

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

$20,700 was awarded in total among the following recipients:
  • The AMY Project (Toronto) – Spring Creation Program
  • Essential Collective Theatre (Niagara) – Playwriting for Youth 2017
  • Jumblies Theatre (Toronto) – Fortifications for Self-Actualization
  • Paprika Theatre Festival (Toronto) – Paprika Core Education Programs
  • Shadowpath Theatre Productions (York Region) – Conversations with my Younger Self
Over $55,000 was requested during this application round. The next application deadline for this program is March 15, 2017.


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

Monday, 19 December 2016

ONstage Openings for the weeks of December 19 and 26

ONstage Now Playing in Central Ontario
Miracle at 34th Street at Theatre Orangeville
Hanubae Carlos, Walter Learning
Photo by Pete Paterson
This week and next week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Eastern Ontario

Dec. 27, High School Musical at Kanata Theatre (Ottawa)

In Southwestern Ontario

Dec. 27, Into the Groove at Oh Canada Eh? Productions (Niagara Falls)

In Toronto

Dec. 27, Alligator Pie at Soulpepper Theatre

ICYMI: Check out last week’s openings

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

Friday, 16 December 2016

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


Migrations


In Case You Missed It



Theatre Ontario’s office will be closing December 22nd and re-opening on January 3rd.  Best wishes for the holidays!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

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.)

Today we feature six stories:
The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2017.


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

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Michela Sisti

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Michela Sisti will train in artistic direction with Ross Manson at Volcano Theatre in Toronto

(December 7, 2016)

“It’s called a Baumgartner Stradivarius.”

The words sound hilarious coming out of my mouth. I want prance around chanting them, but I’m on the Dundas Streetcar. 

“I think that means tree-gardener in German. The actual guy—Antonio Stradivari made it himself in Cremona, Italy in like 1689. SIXTEEN EIGHTY-NINE!!! That’s when Isaac Newton was writing about his laws of motion!”

I’m talking to my dad on the phone about Andréa Tyniec's violin. Andréa will be playing it in the remount of Hannah Moscovitch’s Infinity, a play that tells the story about the love between a violinist and a theoretical physicist. The script of Infinity is waiting in my inbox—I’m itching to read it right now, but I have a few things to take care of first.

I volunteered myself for a strange assignment during this first week of my internship in artistic direction with Ross Mansion and Volcano Theatre. I’m going to trace the history of Andréa’s Baumgartner Strad through time and space and find stories about all the people who ever played it, and then I’m going to link those moments to world events, specifically transformations in scientific thought (Red Violin film Volcano-style.) It’s for a fundraiser.

The thing is, when you play a game like this—tracing an object’s journey through time—you inevitably begin to see a picture of the finiteness of human life. You begin to see that we are a continuation of small line of mammals, threading through a something that is staggeringly larger than us. For me, this perspective is always accompanied by the feeling of wonder, which today somehow verges on joy. And that puzzles me. Why shouldn’t I feel frightened? Why shouldn’t I scream or cry? Why do I, in this moment, feel stronger in the face of immensity?

All this week, three things have been running through my mind: love, death and justice.


It’s 2 am. The last day of November. I’m in the back seat of a vehicle on its way Ottawa. Two young artists I’ve met a few hours before are also passengers. Kevin, my friend and fellow theatre-maker, is at the wheel. He’s struggling to see through the wall of fog that surrounds us. The road’s all but gone. In a flash of desperation Kevin tries switching on the high beams and for a moment we’re blasted with white, reflected glare. The lights switch off again. “Ok, bad idea,” he mutters. We all laugh. Then there’s silence.


We’re on our way to stand in solidarity with the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and Clyde River Inuit, who are challenging the government of Canada at the Supreme Court level. The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation are battling to overturn a permit given to Enbridge to expand and reverse the flow of the Line 9 pipeline, which runs through the Chippewa's traditional territory. The pipeline is 40 years old. One of its branches crosses the Thames River, which is a source of drinking water to the people living there.

In Clyde River, Nunavut, a Norwegian conglomerate has been given the ok to do seismic blasting for oil exploration. If they go ahead, these blasts can cause a lot of harm to the marine animals of the area, which the people of Clyde River depend on for food. The decision to allow this blasting was made without Clyde Rivers Inuit’s consent and they are asking the government of Canada to overturn the permit.

With both these cases, the health of the land, the well-being of these communities, and the future of how the government consults with Indigenous groups on energy projects are all hanging the balance.

I look out into the fog and darkness and I feel a familiar mental scratching growing. Is this a responsible use of my time? An all-nighter on the road in the middle of a busy week, followed by another day of travelling—all for two hours of rally. Maybe the trip’s a mistake. Maybe I should be doing other things – theatre things. Like…like… My mind is snowballing: TCRs due this week, emails I haven’t yet responded to, that phone call, my run—sh-t, I’m putting on weight again, your writing practice, laundry, Infinity, more TCRs, infinite TCRs, that research, that blog.

Even before theatre became my religion I’ve lived in a constant state of anxiety that I will not do all I need to do before the end of the day, before the end of the week, before the moment it’s too late and my time is up.


In the cramped commons of an Ottawa community centre people sit in chairs and wait. The Supreme Court hearing, which is being live-streamed to us, has frozen on the screen and the loading wheel is turning. The atmosphere in the room is like that of a wake: hushed, solemn, some moments of cheer in short-lived bursts. People shift in their seats, some get up for the bathroom, some engage in quiet conversation. People have left their daily lives and gathered here from all across the country in order be present for these court proceedings. The morning rally is over and protest signs bearing the words “Water is life” now lean against walls and chairs: Small children run around with slices of pizza. An elderly lady is knitting.


“The good news is that it’s not our connection,” one of the organizers announces, “It’s the government of Canada site. Which is good: it means lots of people are watching.” I see a familiar face in the crowd, a playwright I know from Toronto, and we chat briefly across two rows of heads about lodgings. Finally, the screen stutters and unfreezes. “The relevant law is settled and no question of public importance arises in this case,” the Crown attorney is telling the Justice.


Two days later I’m bawling my eyes out in a pub in Kensington Market. I’m reading the script of Infinity, by Hannah Moscovitch (draft 8.0), in preparation for rehearsals this month, and the thing is knocking the life out of me. “I’m f--ked up about love,” Sarah Jean says at the beginning of the play.

Why is that, Sarah Jean?

The answer comes quietly and in disguise, and when it comes you sit and weep because you know it is the answer.

On my way home I pause at a door that’s open. I check my winter coat and my backpack with a gaunt-bodied woman at the desk and I spend the next hour and a half leaping to electric thuds and pulses in a basement with other humans. At the end of the 90 minutes I collect my belongings and continue walking home.



Volcano’s 2016-2017 Season is centred on three productions, each markedly different from each other in both form and content, and each at different stages of development. Together they present an enticing theatre gym for a director-in-training. Infinity, by Hannah Moscovitch weds heartbreak with theoretical physics and classical music. Assisting on this production will allow me to explore text-work from a directorial perspective and to helping prepare a show for regional touring. A Night in Tunisia, to be co-created by Ross and Tunisian dance/theatre maker, Meher Awachri will give me the opportunity to witness the first development stage of a piece from the ground up. Ross is continuing to look for new platforms to showcase Century Song, which I assisted on last year, and I look forward to furthering my understanding of show pitches by supporting him in this work. All three of these Volcano pieces explore the tension between the individual and the colossal.


I knew very little about Pipeline 9 and the blasting off Baffin Island until Kevin brought both these issues to my attention. When he asked me if I wanted to drive to the solidarity rally with him I struggled for a moment. Over the past year and a half I had become increasingly indifferent to the growing environmental battles being fought against blind progress. It’s hard for me to admit, but basically, I didn’t want to have to deal with it anymore. I wanted to think about other things. So how could I dare to show up at this rally? I wasn’t ready. You haven’t committed yourself to any of the work.

That’s when I knew I had to say yes. 




What are the qualities of an outstanding artistic director? I googled “artistic director job description” and got some of the following results:
Clarity of artistic vision and ambition, with a passion for contemporary theatre that explores and addresses social and political issues as well as theatre that engages and entertains • Strong track record of professional theatre production, direction and developing new work on contemporary issues for the stage • Proven ability to programme and commission new plays combined with an ability to provide dramaturgical support to writers • Proven ability to attract and collaborate with artists of the highest calibre • Strong artistic, strategic planning and resource management skills • An entrepreneurial spirit, commercial acumen and ability to lead [said theatre company’s] fund-raising initiatives • Demonstrable knowledge and understanding of education and community work • Demonstrable knowledge of marketing and audience development • Good knowledge and understanding of the theatre industry and arts funding • Proven ability to work in partnership, connect and collaborate with others both internally and externally • Ability to inspire and motivate others • Ability to delegate, negotiate, resolve conflict, be responsive to others and manage performance • Outstanding analytical, communication, advocacy and presentation skills Qualities • A genuine commitment to the principles of equal opportunity, cultural diversity and broadening access to the arts • Resilience and responsiveness to the changing external environment • A supportive and empowering management style…


What is love? 
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An old friend of mine and very promising artist gave up theatre in order become a doctor. Theatre, in her mind, was not a direct enough way of affecting social change. She wanted to stop talking about problems and get to work. This friend is always on my mind.


The thing about love is that there are too many ways that it behaves. For instance, how can it be both a thing of joy and a thing of pain? How can it be both a feeling and a form of perception? How can it be both a drive and a place of stillness? Anything I write about love today may not be true tomorrow.
I tried to write about love last night. I wrote eight pages. Then I realized that might not be suitable for a Theatre Ontario blog, so I deleted everything.




What do I know?

I know I want to make good art. I ask myself,  “Am I ready to make good art?” and my answer is: do the work.

I want to be a good leader. “Am I ready to be a good leader?” It’s the same thing.

I want to do everything with great love. I realize I am setting myself an impossible task. But someone thought it was possible.

What is happening now with how we respond to fossil fuel extraction and transportation on this continent is a matter of environmental justice, a matter of social justice and ultimately a matter of life and death. It’s also a matter of love—for the land that sustains all of us, for the people in our lives that share it with us, for the future generations who will live here.

Part of me feared I might forget all this, which is why I’ve taken the time to write my blog this way. I will use these thoughts to help me remember.

I need to do a lot of work. I will probably make a lot of mistakes. I am looking to the people in my life—the old friends, family, new faces, people I have yet to meet—and myself to help me to live and make art rigorously, mindfully, justly and with love. I want you to challenge me to do better, and I will in turn challenge you.


The time is earlier this week.  I’ve taken a moment to listen to my roommate who I rarely speak to because we are both so busy with work.   She’s an architect and she’s writing her thesis on imaginary space and time. “I am so full of hope,” she’s telling me.

-Michela Sisti

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2017.


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

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Sebastian Marziali

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Sebastian Marziali trained in scenography with Trevor Schwellnus at Aluna Theatre in Toronto

(December 6, 2016)  Though my PTTP grant is done my exploration into scenography, and what can be conveyed through the environment of performance, has only just begun. Last time I wrote was just before the RUTAS panamericanas Festival. Trevor and I were accommodating all the different shows into our festival plots and preparing for what would be an insanely packed two weeks.

The new  secondary grid
Before going any further I have to acknowledge Charissa Wilcox our Production Manager for the festival. Charissa made it possible for everything to run smoothly and really re-inspired me to always see any challenge as possible until proven otherwise. Also the whole festival team—although this was my third time involved with the RUTAS panamericanas Festival, it was my first time in a new role and having a great team around made that infinitely less terrifying.

Now back to my journey in this madness, although each show is ultimately at the helm of their own show’s design being on top of things as a festival designer really means knowing the space and possibilities inside and out so that when things don’t plot out as they did on paper (and they will!) one is able to visualize and problem solve within a tight timeframe to make everything work out for touring companies. It was really rewarding to be able to put the learning I’ve been doing to the test in both languages having to be on the ball in both Spanish and English. Though my focus during the festival was to be mainly on lights I ended up taking charge in problem solving a lot of set and rigging particularly for our giant dance puppet show from New York’s Loco7. It was really satisfying to see things up and running after having to make repairs or adjustments on the fly just hours and sometimes minutes beforehand. It was a completely new experience of the festival and I noticed myself both their and lately at other shows walking into the space and immediately looking up into the grid or at each set element surmising its construction.

Sebastian's footlight units in action
Although I thought things after the festival would get calmer it’s been anything but; Trev and I have been working on a few different projects all at different phases of development. I feel spoiled being able to work in Aluna’s studio where there is a decent setup and the possibility to really experiment with lights and projection right from the beginning of a project. Just recently for a piece that has been in development for some time and is just starting to bring in design questions, Trevor and I built a whole secondary grid in a night at Aluna to test out a concept the next day. It was amazing to see the excitement and play from the actor/collaborators the next day. As I write this I am also working on my first fully solo design for a show called the White Light Follies happening at Revival Bar and I built myself a nice pair of footlight units that I am excited to use for many things.

I am looking forward to all the new discoveries and explorations that are coming my way and I want to say thank you to Theatre Ontario for helping me start this new chapter in my artistic journey.

- Sebastian Marziali

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2017.


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

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Erin Gerofsky

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Erin Gerofsky will train in set and costume design with Judith Bowden

(December 5, 2016) In a windy Tim Horton's parking lot, over a half full cup of hot chocolate and a box of tiny furniture, Judith Bowden first mentioned applying for the Professional Theatre Training Program with me as a way to further develop my skills and network as an emerging designer. Three years later, we're finally making good on that idea! I'm beyond ready to follow Judith around for our six month long program focusing on Set and Costume Design.

Judith and I first met back in 2011 when I started as the Design Assistant at the Shaw Festival. I recall seeing her work on stage in My Fair Lady when I came to interview with The Shaw and feeling immediately connected to the way her costumes used texture, colour and period elements in such a playful way. Over my two years assisting at The Shaw I had a few opportunities to work with—or at least in close proximity to—Judith, and we kept in touch after I moved on from the festival. Due to our past shared experience and my time assisting at The Shaw, Judith and I felt moved to design a program of study to follow that would see my role less as an assistant designer, and more like a scholar; using the real productions Judith is working on as a basis of study of the practice of theatre making as a whole.

We have developed a plan of study that centres around the topics of idea creation, the director-designer relationship, and the influences that evolve a design through the creative/build process. Judith will be bringing me up to speed on the shows she has on her roster in whatever state they are in at this time: two, six or seven months away from opening, so that we can examine the process in (and on!) a variety of stages and see the effects that different environments and people have on the process.

Through our six months together I hope to further develop my skills in researching, communication, budgeting and time management, as well as of course learning all I can about Judith's creative process and practice. In return I hope to provide a sounding board, a second set of eyes, an extra pair of hands and an eagerness to help and learn all I can. I'm looking forward to further developing my skills—even the boring ones—through this incredible opportunity, and using this experience to broaden my horizons as a designer. Thank you again to Theatre Ontario and the Professional Theatre Training Program for making this possible.

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2017.


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

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Jennifer Stewart

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Jennifer Stewart will train in directing classical theatre with Jeannette Lambermont-Morey at Talk is Free Theatre in Barrie


The Libertine: A Modern Adaptation Focusing on the Female Gaze

(December 3, 2016) The Libertine by Thomas Shadwell was written and performed in 1704 in London, England. Originally based on the story of the Spanish lover Don Juan, the play featured romance, intrigue, sword fighting, violence and divine retribution. Talk Is Free Theatre is producing this classical play in January 2017, using the classical verse as text, but our director Jeannette Lambermont-Morey has adapted the play to focus on the female gaze. In Shadwell’s version of the story Don Juan has been portrayed as a cad, a womanizer and an all-round unsavory chauvinistic male. During preliminary conversations with Jeannette about her vision for the play she stressed the importance of connecting this story to a contemporary audience. She wanted to tell this story from the perspective of the females whom Don Juan encountered. She also wanted to tell the stories using only eight actors who would play multiple roles throughout.

Jeannette Lambermont-Morey has been a director for the past twenty-five years and is also an instructor at George Brown Theatre School, where she teaches the period study class. Her knowledge and expertise in the classical repertoire is astounding. I chose Jeannette as my mentor for this assistant directorship because she has specialized in directing, researching and teaching classical text.

This apprenticeship will allow me to work with Jeannette on breaking down the text, along with the actors, for a clear understanding of the story and poetry of the writing. As a professional actor my background is in music theatre but I have my MFA in Theatre Directing, where I chose to focus on Shakespeare and British Contemporary Theatre. This mentorship will allow me the opportunity to work with professional artists on a classical play that will be produced for a paying audience upon completion of the rehearsal process. I am also interested in working with a female director who has a clear female vision for a very masculine play. I want to watch and learn from Jeannette’s process as a director, as every director has a different approach to working with the text, guiding the actors through rehearsal and giving notes. I want to learn from Jeannette to see how she continues to push the actors to dig deeper to create characters that are rich in depth, inner turmoil and believability.

Recently, I had the opportunity to assist Chris Abraham on a new Canadian play entitled The Wedding Party by Kristen Thomson. Now I will be working with Jeannette on The Libertine with an all-female creative team. I have known Jeannette for almost thirty years but have never had the chance to work with her in a professional capacity. Her passion, excitement and willingness to mentor an emerging director in a professional environment is incredible and I look forward to assisting her every step of the way.

The three goals of this mentorship, from my perspective, are to learn how Jeannette breaks down and works with classical text, how she approaches the text with her actors and how she continues to extract the best possible work from them. Every director has a different way of approaching the work and I feel that with the passion that Jeannette brings every day to the rehearsal room, her directing process with be unique and extremely beneficial to my own trajectory as a director.

Jeannette is an ambitious director and has a large vision for The Libertine. She wants to incorporate music, dance and sword fighting into the action of the story and we have a limited amount of rehearsal time to do so. She hopes to have two rehearsal spaces running every day. She has communicated to me that she wants us to be working together in the mornings and then in the afternoons I will be running the secondary room to rehearse and review the music, dances and fights with the actors who are available to do so. She would like me to act as a second pair of eyes, to bring perspective to her work as well as taking notes for her during the tech and preview period. My job during our prep week is to research the period of the play, assist her with organizing the schedule and sending preliminary information out to the cast as well as prepping for the flamenco dance workshop that we will be hosting during the first week of rehearsals.

This classical direction mentorship with Jeannette is an extremely worthwhile and exciting opportunity for my work as an emerging theatre director. I would like to sincerely thank the Professional Theatre Training Program at Theatre Ontario for believing in this project, and my role in this process. Talk Is Free Theatre continues to program and support very unique and often controversial productions that would not necessarily find a stage to play on otherwise, and since this play has not been produced anywhere in Canada before, I believe The Libertine is such a play.

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2017.


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

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Michael O’Brien

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Michael O’Brien will train in theatrical/digital media creation and directing with Sarah Garton Stanley at SpiderWebShow Performance

(November 26, 2016) I am a well-established, hard-working, busy Canadian playwright/dramatist. A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, for many years I’ve enjoyed constant employment, considerable acclaim and a great degree of fulfillment. I’ve specialized in big stories, often using classic plays or novels—Shakespeare, Dickens, Margaret Atwood, etc—reinvigorating them for today’s audiences.

These past few years, however, I began to feel myself at a turning point. From the beginning, my career plan has been “great leaps forward.” At this stage, so many of my goals have been achieved. What now? It was time for something to change. I knew I needed, and wanted to, soon diversify/transform my career. What perfect timing then, for me, in Summer 2016, to hear about Theatre Ontario’s PTTP program.

But diversify/transform how? I knew the answer to this too. This past decade, we’ve all seen our world changed by new media (the internet and social media). In many ways, these years have changed my consciousness. This was the career horizon that spoke to me—to the explorer, the discoverer, the adventurer I’ve always strived to be. And when I thought of people leading Canadian Theatre towards this horizon, I thought first of my friend and colleague Sarah Garton Stanley—previously merely a theatre director, now turned multi-talented, multi-disciplinary artist, doing some of the most innovative work in Canada, as co-creator and artistic director of Canada’s “virtual theatre”, SpiderWebShow Performance.

So, with the kind support of Sarah and the SpiderWebShow team, I applied to Theatre Ontario’s PTTP. In November, I was granted a 12-week mentorship! Now (thank you!) my great opportunity begins. During this time, I will closely observe/study with Sarah in her work as co-creator and artistic director of SpiderWebShow. This mentorship will take place, in part, at Queen’s University (Kingston) as SpiderWebShow conducts a residency. But much mentorship will also be experienced from my home in Toronto, as I continue to collaborate, and train, online during a crucial phase of this company’s progress.

First Post! “Pre-beginning” phase. Introduction/hello to the SpiderWebShow team happened last week in cyberspace as I sat in my Toronto home/office. On Skype, I met with Sarah and co-creator/associate Michael Wheeler and they tutored me in several online platforms. Quickly, I learned the virtual ropes at online platforms Slack, Trello and Google Hangouts—alien places to me. Later, I found myself part of a large weekly online SpiderWebShow company meeting—a team of innovators at locations from coast to coast, communicating face to face, smoothly and effectively. From all locations, the team welcomed me and offered me all the support I need. Plans are now in place to truly begin. Next: all focus is on my visit to Queen’s University later this week to assist with a “Beta Test” of CdnStudio, SpiderWebShow’s “virtual rehearsal hall.” On December 2nd, artists, technicians and students in separate locations will experiment with ways of creating/performing theatre online, “in real time” together.

This whole week, I expect to be in a flurry—working online, reviewing everything SpiderWebShow has done. This includes organization/administration: I’ll be looking over company files, grant applications etc. Creatively, I’ll also be looking deep into CdnTimes content and thinking of ways I might contribute in future weeks as guest artist and apprentice curator. But mostly, I’ll be getting ready for Thursday/Friday. Dec 2nd will be a marathon work day in Kingston. I’ll be thrown right into it. It seems, on the day, they want me to operate a web camera! (Them: “Can you operate a camera?” Me: “I can, if you show me how!”) That night, SpiderWebShow and Queens University will launch their experiment, and make it available to the world. Honestly, I don’t know what to expect. I feel like a novice sailor joining a band of adventurers—but I plan to pull my weight, learn a few things, and try not capsize the boat. I’m predicting this week will be grand sailing and new worlds shall be discovered! I shall tell you all. This post, I speak to you as a land-lubber and land-liner; next post, I’m certain I’ll report as an intrepid new-media sailor. Now, back to my preparations. Thanks to all. Let the SpiderWebbing begin! 

--Michael O’Brien

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2017.


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

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Thom Allison

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Thom Allison trained in directing with Allen MacInnis at the Grand Theatre in London

(November 14, 2016) Well, Joni Mitchell: River has opened at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario. And I have to say I could not have asked for a better experience.  I got exactly what I wanted out of it. Allen MacInnis was an incredibly generous mentor. Every morning we would discuss what he hoped to accomplish that day—be it working through the text analysis of a song or finding a way to re-stage a number in a way that tells the story better.

I got to be in my first production meeting in the first week which I’ve never done. I’ve had a general sense of what happened but it was just great to actually be a part of it. I loved it. You really get to see what it means to be working with your creative team. The production manager leads the meeting and you go around the table and each department head shares where their department is—what’s done, what needs to be done, how it’s going to get done, when it should be done.  Then people ask questions they need answered from the other departments. It’s all very efficient. You really get to see how “it takes a village” . . . a high-tech, multi functioning village. By the time the meeting was over, it was clear what state the show was in from all angles and everyone knew what they needed to do in regard to their own business and what anyone/everyone else needed from them. It was great. It also allowed me to see that a director is only as good as their ideas and the team they’ve got to realize them. Whew! Note taken.

Then it was about the work in the room. What was infinitely valuable was watching Allen’s care of and way of adaptively working with everyone in the rehearsal hall. We had three very different actors who worked in three different ways and who also had three different skill sets. That was freakin’ cool. What would work for one was not going to work for another. Watching Allen with our performers was a masterclass in respect, encouragement and firmness of vision. He was never rude or mean or dismissive or impatient. If someone wasn’t getting what he wanted, he would simply find another way to express it. And the greatest lesson of all for me was Allen’s willingness to let go of how he was thinking of a song interpretation in his idea of the character’s arc, to allow the actor more room to bring whatever they were bringing to the table. And then he would still find a way to weave that interpretation into the fabric. I will not go into more detail about people’s performances in rehearsal as the rehearsal room is as sacred as a confessional.

The other thing I was really interested in was the technical aspects: how to navigate the lighting level sessions, making choices with the sound designer, continuing to create set and costumes with the designer, Dana.  By the time we started rehearsals, (as I think I said in my last blog) the set was in its final design. So now we got to see it up in the theatre and it was beautiful—so simple but so elegant. There is always that adjustment that happens when you see the set in real space and some things seem bigger or smaller or closer or further. We decided to make some adjustments (i.e. moving the whole set back, away from the audience, about a foot.)

Then we got to costumes. Because the show is happening in the “now”, it was modern dress and we wanted to dress our actors in versions of clothes they would wear. Allen was completely generous about asking my opinion about colour choices, styles for each actor and how they fit together. He also knows I have a pretty good eye so it was easy to give my opinion.

At one point, Allen asked me to choreograph a guitar change in Act 1. Because of Joni Mitchell's wildly unique guitar tunings, we had to have 18 guitars in the show (you can see all the cases lined up in the pic) but they would not all fit onstage so we created a guitar change in the middle of Act 1. So he asked me to create it. That was fun. And it stayed! Woohoo "... and I helped."

Eventually we go onstage and I was able to be a part of the discussions/notes with sound, lights, musical director, stage management and stage crew – “Can that cue take a beat longer?”, “Could that light be brighter and more red?”, “Could we put a sound effect on his voice at the end to make it slightly echo?” If there was ever a request I didn’t understand I was always welcome to ask Allen why. Although there weren’t a lot of those because we would discuss so much as we went along, I would usually know what he was going for.

As we were doing runs of the show, Allen encouraged me to take my own notes and would always check in with me and incorporate anything I found that he didn’t take note of.  I tried to anticipate the things he was looking at so I didn’t repeat anything and then find things I knew he was too busy to make note of.  It was a very symbiotic relationship.  Speaking for myself, I think it flowed really well. 

Finally, there was a point nearing opening when Allen chatted with me about the process of giving the cast the reigns in the last couple of days. It’s a delicate thing to still be encouraging people to keep growing, to maintain the right path for the show after opening while empowering them to own their own process going into the run-proper. It’s about balancing helpful direction with constructive praise.

I couldn’t have had a better, more generous mentor than Allen MacInnis. We laughed and I learned a ton. He has the qualities I want as a director: smart, loving, generous, endlessly inventive, passionate. And he freely shared all of those qualities with me. I’m so grateful to him.

And I’m so grateful to Theatre Ontario and the Professional Theatre Training Program.  This grant really did allow me to have a masterclass with one of Canada’s finest directors and he shared everything at his disposal. It was invaluable.

And two days after we opened Joni Mitchell: River I started rehearsal as the director for Seussical the musical at Young People’s Theatre. Now I will be able to put everything I’ve learned into my own process.

Infinite thanks to you, Theatre Ontario...and Allen.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2017.


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

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

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

  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Grow Grants is today.
  • Deadline for nominations for Gina’s Prize, for female artists transitioning from one theatre discipline into directing is December 15.
  • Deadline to register for Singing Studio of Douglas Rice’s “Songs and Arias Vocal Masterclass” is December 18.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline for submissions from playwrights for the Durham Minifest One Act Play Festival is December 31.
  • The Canadian Arts Summit invites expression of interest from Next Gen Arts and Culture Leaders to attend the 20th Annual Summit in May 2017 in Charlottetown. Applications are due January 16.
  • Young People’s Theatre is holding Artist-Educator Training on February 2 and 3—registration deadline is January 20.
  • Anne Marie Scheffler’s next One-Person Show workshop begins January 21, five-week master class begins January 23.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Join Us at Theatre Ontario Next Generation Showcase 2017

When: Sunday, January 15th & Monday, January 16th, 2017
Where: Young Centre for the Performing Arts 
Michael Young Theatre
50 Tank House Lane, Toronto

We warmly invite Directors, Artistic Directors, Producers, Casting Directors, Agents (EIC signed or TAMAC members), and other Industry Professionals to join us for our annual showcase of graduating student talent.

As in previous years, we will have electronic school kits hosted on Casting Workbook, which will be accessible on tablets, laptops, and smart phones before, during, and after the Showcase event (Wi-Fi is available in the venue.) 

In the days prior to the Showcase, all attending industry professionals will receive an email with links to each school’s page, containing the headshots and CVs of each performing student. (Having a Casting Workbook account is not required to view these links.)

As we are still transitioning to electronic kits, we will still have the traditional hardcopy school kits available at the event for those who want them. You will also still receive a hardcopy one-pager from each school with a listing of the students’ performance pieces, in order of presentation.

Any feedback or questions can be directed to
Rachel Kennedy, Professional Theatre and Education Manager
416-408-4556 x.12

R.S.V.P. for Next Generation Showcase Required by filling in the form HERE (please insert link) or contacting Rachel directly by Wednesday January 11, 2017

Please specify whether you will be attending on Sunday, Monday, or both days when you RSVP

Join the conversation at #TOshowcase

Schedule of Events – Approximate Times
Lunch and Refreshments Provided

Sunday, January 15, 2017
  • 9:00am - Industry Check-in
  • 9:30am - George Brown Theatre School
  • 10:45am - Sheridan / University of Toronto Mississauga
  • 12:05pm - National Theatre School of Canada
  • 12:45pm - York University (BFA)
  • 1:05pm - Lunch
  • 2:00pm - York University (MFA)
  • 2:55pm - University of Windsor
  • 3:45pm - Humber College
  • 5:00pm - Ryerson University
  • 6:00pm - Networking Party
  • 7:30pm - Panel Discussion

Monday, January 16, 2017
  • 9:30am - Industry Check-In
  • 10:00am - New Faces, University of Toronto, Thorneloe/Laurentian University
  • 11:05am - Canadore College
  • 11:45am - University of Alberta, Centre for Indigenous Theatre, London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art
  • 12:20pm - St. Clair College
  • 1:00pm - St. Lawrence College
  • 1:30pm - Lunch
  • 2:15pm - Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts
  • 3:35pm - Sheridan Institute: Musical Theatre (Part I)
  • 4:40pm - Sheridan Institute: Musical Theatre (Part II)
  • 5:45pm - Networking Party
  • 7:15pm - Industry Fair

Monday, 12 December 2016

ONstage Openings for the week of December 12

ONstage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
Miracle on 34th Street at Upper Canada Playhouse
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Toronto

Dec. 15, It's a Wonderful Life at Soulpepper Theatre, currently in previews
Dec. 17, What the Elf?!? at The Second City

In Eastern Ontario

Dec. 15, Cinderella / Tinderfella at Bottle Tree Productions (Kingston)
Dec. 16, A Christmas Carol at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa), with previews from Dec. 13

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Seussical at Young People's Theatre

In Southwestern Ontario

Dec. 13, A Christmas Carol at The Grand Theatre (London)

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

Friday, 9 December 2016

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Introducing our Winter and Spring Career Stream and Creator Stream Workshops

Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops at Theatre Ontario
We have an exciting line-up of workshops coming up in our Career Stream and Creator Stream workshop series.

The Career Stream is for those who want to learn and harness the basic tools and resources needed to thrive in the profession.

Workshops include:
  • Launching Your Career, with Rachel Kennedy and guests
  • Taxes for Theatre Artists, with Sam Marinucci
  • Getting Cast Auditioning Masterclass, with Anna Migliarisi

The Creator Stream is for anyone looking to produce their own work or start their own theatre company.

Workshops include:
  • Ready, Set, Show!: Foundations of Indie Producing, with Rachel Kennedy and guests
  • Grant Writing Information Webinars, with Pat Bradley of the Ontario Arts Council
  • Bring Your Show to Schools Webinar, with Patty Jarvis of Prologue
  • Dramaturgy for Everyone and Dramaturgy for New Plays, with Matt McGeachy

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Seeking course proposals for our Summer Theatre Intensive

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario


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

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board


  • Deadline to apply for Festival Players of Prince Edward County’s Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators Reserve is December 9.
  • Deadline to apply for The MT Space’s Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators Reserve is December 9.
  • Deadline for submissions from playwrights for Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar 24 is December 9.
  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Grow Grants is December 14.
  • Deadline for nominations for Gina’s Prize, for female artists transitioning from one theatre discipline into directing is December 15.

New on The Bulletin Board


  • Alumnae Theatre is seeking volunteer stage managers for the 2017 New Ideas Festival.
  • ArtsBuild Ontario’s next free webinar is on Energy Efficient Lighting for Performing Arts Facilities, on January 25.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Seeking "New Faces" to Participate in Theatre Ontario's Next Generation Showcase 2017

Theatre Ontario’s 23rd annual Next Generation Showcase, presented in partnership with Soulpepper Theatre Company, will take place on January 15th and 16th at the Young Centre for Performing Arts in Toronto’s historic Distillery District.

This unique two-day event provides graduating theatre students the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of industry professionals, including casting directors, artistic directors, independent directors, producers, and agents. Many of the top theatre training programs from Ontario and beyond participate annually, and each year we also provide an opportunity for recent grads from other training programs wishing to pursue their performing careers in Ontario in our NEW FACES category.

To be eligible to apply to "New Faces", you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • You are graduating or have graduated from a full-time theatre training program within the last 3 years;
  • You currently reside, or plan to reside, in Ontario and are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
  • You presently do not have an agent;

Please note: If you have already participated in the Next Generation Showcase in the past, you are not eligible for NEW FACES participation.

If selected, you agree to upload your headshot and resume to Dropbox (via a provided link) by Wednesday, January 4th at 5pm, and to submit 50 hardcopies of your photo and resume by Wednesday, January 11th to the Theatre Ontario office by mail or in person.

There are a very limited number of New Faces placements available.  If the number of eligible applications that are received exceeds the number of slots available, Theatre Ontario reserves the right to decide who will be selected.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: Friday, December 16th at 12:00noon

COST: If selected to participate, the cost is $55.00 for Showcase Participation only, or $75.00 for Showcase plus a one-year Theatre Ontario membership ($25.00 discount on regular student price.)

To be considered, please send your headshot and theatre resume to Rachel Kennedy, Professional Theatre and Education Manager at programs@theatreontario.org

Monday, 5 December 2016

ONstage Openings for the week of December 5

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Black Boys at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Toronto

Dec. 9, It's a Wonderful Life at Soulpepper Theatre, in previews

In Central Ontario

Dec. 8, The Reluctant Dragon at Peterborough Theatre Guild

In Eastern Ontario

Dec. 8, Murder by the Book at Studio Theatre Perth

In Northwestern Ontario

Dec. 8, The Jungle Book at Magnus Theatre (Thunder Bay), with previews from Dec. 5


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

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Building Community in Ontario Summer Theatre

by Rachel Kennedy, Professional Theatre and Education Manager

Theatre Ontario Executive Director Bruce Pitkin and I hit the road on November 10th and headed to Bobcaygeon for this year’s Ontario Summer Theatre (OST) Annual General Meeting.

We decided to avoid the hustle and bustle of major highway traffic and opted for the scenic route instead. What a great choice! The ride from Toronto was only about two hours and treated us to incredible views of the last colours of autumn falling along rolling hillsides and small town streets. We even managed a quick stop in Lindsay for breakfast at Jane’s Kountry Kitchen (arguably the best bagel I’ve ever had) and were then on our way to Globus Theatre’s Lakeview Arts Barn (LAB) to begin day one of the festivities. We were greeted upon arrival by our hosts from the Globus team, Artistic Director Sarah Quick and Artistic Producer James Barrett along with a spread of baked goods and refreshments. After a quick round of coffee and “hello”s we took our seats at the roundtable and so began our 2016 AGM!

Sophie Andreou presents at the OST Annual General Meeting
Ontario Summer Theatre (OST - formerly ASTRO), was founded in 1985 and acts as a network of professional theatres throughout the province which are committed to cultivating and celebrating great summer theatre. The companies gather for an AGM each year to foster partnerships, develop collaborative marketing strategies, and share the successes and challenges of their summer seasons with other member theatres. This year the group decided to take this meeting and expand it to a 2-day event so that we could invite speakers to come and give presentations on topics of mutual interest to all of our members. We had Dustyn Wales start the morning off with a presentation from the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, followed by Sophie Andreou who spoke about the use of social media as a low-cost marketing and branding tool for theatre companies, and after lunch we had Sara Meurling and David Nairn discuss the different types of PACT memberships and their benefits. Each speaker was engaging and touched on a lot of tips and tricks that OST members can use to help protect and promote their shows while bringing new audiences to their communities.

Knickers at Globus Theatre in the Summer of 2016.
Photo by Sam Tweedle, Kawartha Now
After the presentations were finished we were treated to a surprise performance of selected scenes from Sarah Quick’s play Sunshine Express and when we returned to our conference space the Lakeview Arts Barn transformed once again as staff began to roll out plate after plate of delicious dinners! Needless to say, if you haven’t done dinner and a show at Globus Theatre yet, you have been missing out. Over our meals we discussed how everyone’s year went, shared a few laughs and really got the chance to get to know each other in person (a rare opportunity these days with so much digital communication)! This was truly an invaluable experience for everyone around the table as it allowed professionals from different regions to get together and create a sense of community with one another.

This feeling carried over into the next morning and our meeting was filled with lively discussion about new possibilities, fueled by the presentations and conversations from the day before. Bruce and I headed back to Toronto after the meeting adjourned and enjoyed another beautiful drive through the countryside, still talking excitedly about what was to come for the 2017 summer theatre season. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

We are seeking Summer Theatre Intensive course
proposals from prospective instructors
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Alumnae Theatre’s Fireworks Writers’ Intensive with Diane Flacks begins November 30 in Toronto.
  • Shadowpath Theatre is hosting Femme Operative on November 30 in Aurora, a forum for female creative leaders to connect, support and inspire through artistic collaboration, information sharing and like-minded learning.
  • ArtsBuild Ontario is hosting a free webinar on Marketing Your Rental Spaces on November 30.
  • Deadline to apply for Cahoots Theatre’s Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators Reserve is December 1.
  • Deadline to apply for the Canada Council’s Theatre International and Theatre Touring and Special Initiatives Funds is December 1.
  • Deadline to apply for Great Canadian Theatre Company’s Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators Reserve is December 2.
  • Deadline to apply for Buddies In Bad Times’ Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators Reserve is December 2.
  • The MT Space in Kitchener is hosting an Advanced Acting Training and Theatre Creation workshop with Fadhel Jaibi, beginning December 5.
  • Deadline to apply for Theatre Aquarius’ Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators Reserve is December 5.
  • Deadline to apply for Festival Players of Prince Edward County’s Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators Reserve is December 9.
  • Deadline to apply for The MT Space’s Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators Reserve is December 9.
  • Deadline for submissions from playwrights for Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar 24 is December 9.

New on The Bulletin Board


  • Theatre by the Bay has launched the Barrie Theatre Lab for playwrights and actors to gather, read new works-in-progress, and network. The first submission deadline is January 5.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website