Friday, 29 July 2016

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters

Ontario Summer Theatre's Gravenhurst Opera House
production of Thumbs.
Robin Clipsham, Jane Miller

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Youth Advisory Committee Presents Play Date!

Monday, September 12, 2016, 8-10 PM
The Central, 603 Markham Street, Toronto (19+)

When was the last time you had a play date? This may be your first in a while, and we’re willing to bet it’ll be your first in a bar.

Join us at the Central in the Annex on Monday, September 12, 2016 at 8:00 to have a couple drinks, play some games, and talk about plays. Come out to meet and mingle with your future castmates, coworkers, and theatre creators!

We’ll have a play exchange, dive into some weird and wonderful plays we promise you’ve never heard of, and have so much fun we’ll all forget we’re networking. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Playwright-in-Person Mark Crawford

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

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

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Register your Ontario Culture Days event by July 31 to be entered in a draw to win a free online ad.
  • Deadline to apply for Native Earth Performing Arts and Buddies in Bad Times Weesageechak 2-Spirit Cabaret is August 1.
  • Deadline to apply for Nightwood Theatre’s Young Innovators program for emerging theatre artists 18 to 26 is August 1.
  • Deadline to apply for the York Region Arts Council “Artrepreneur” program is August 1.
  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Arts Council Theatre Project grants is August 3.
  • Deadline to apply to direct for the NAGs Players Fall production of The Swan Song, a Study in Terror (volunteer) is August 5.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Canada Council invites submissions for the John Hobday Awards in Arts Management—the deadline is September 30.
  • Save the date for the Symposium for Performing Arts in Rural Communities: October 27 to 30 in Haliburton.
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, 26 July 2016

Funding Professional Theatre Mentorships

Do you need financial support for professional development or a "change of direction" in your career?

We are now inviting applications for the October 3, 2016 deadline for our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP).

PTTP offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.) You can apply for professional development in your own discipline, or a "change of direction" in a career.

Please contact Rachel Kennedy, Professional Theatre and Education Manager with any questions, especially if you are a first time applicant.

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

Monday, 25 July 2016

ONstage Openings for the week of July 25

ONstage Now Playing in Central Ontario
Dean & Jerry... What Might Have Been at Orillia Opera House
Derek Marshall, Nicolas Arnold
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Central Ontario

Jul. 27, Knickers! A Brief Comedy at Globus Theatre (Bobcaygeon)

In Southwestern Ontario

Jul. 28, This One at Port Stanley Festival Theatre, with previews from Jul. 27
Jul. 29, If Truth Be Told at Blyth Festival, with previews from Jul. 27
Jul. 29, Bunny at Stratford Festival, in previews
Jul. 30, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake), currently in previews

In Toronto

Jul. 25, Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts I, II, III) at Soulpepper Theatre, in previews
Jul. 27, A Doll's House at Soulpepper Theatre, currently in previews


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

Friday, 22 July 2016

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


The team from The Last 15 Seconds from the MT Space.
Majdi Bou-Matar and Pam Patel are in the centre.

Migrations


In Case You Missed It


You can also receive news from Theatre Ontario every month by email. Our archives are online and the July issue is now available.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Everything You Wanted to Know About Acting
with Tom Diamond at our Summer Theatre Intensive
  • Spaces are still available in our Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive courses for actors, directors, and stage managers, but registrations must be in by July 22. Treat yourself to a unique learning adventure August 7 to 13 in Peterborough.
  • Members save 50% on E-learning courses from WorkInCulture. One of the six courses available is Project Management—Come in on time and on budget! You can save time (and a lot of headaches) by learning and implementing the tools, techniques, terminology and processes of project management.
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline to apply for Cahoots Theatre’s Crossing Gibraltar free youth program has been extended to July 22.
  • Artscape Youngplace's free Youth Playwriting workshop is on July 25.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • York Region Arts Council invites applications for their “Artrepreneur” program for independent artists, arts administrators and creative entrepreneurs—the application deadline is August 1.
  • Alumnae Theatre invites submissions for the 2017 New Ideas Festival—the deadline for public submissions is September 5.
  • Helen Donnelly’s “Discover Your Clown” workshop starts on September 9 in Toronto.
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, 19 July 2016

Dark Nights in Toronto

by Jocelyn MacNeil, Theatre Ontario Youth Advisory Committee

How do you spend every other Monday night? Is it watching the Raptors game? Maybe if you’re like me, you’re watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo. This past Monday, I found myself sitting in a group made up of friends and strangers talking about what it means to be an artist under 30. It really speaks to my artistic dedication that I found myself at the Theatre Centre and not down the street at the Gladstone watching the season finale of RPDR. When I did sprint there immediately following the conversation, I had some new company in tow.

The event is called Dark Nights. The experience? Unlike any other you’re going to find in the city. Dark Nights was co-founded by Luke Reece and Wayne Burns, two lovely gentlemen determined to bring together and learn from leading artists under the age of 30 who may work in any manner of discipline.

I’ve been to Dark Nights a few times before, and I had even met Jeff Ho (the evening’s guest artist) previously at a panel I moderated the week before. Right from the beginning there was a cheerful energy to the group. Myself and my new friend seated next to me giggled through the entire oath (did I mention you take an oath? Don’t worry no blood sacrifice is required, not your first time anyway). I had a cliff notes understanding of some of his career experiences and was even lucky enough to have had a few of my questions answered already. I say cliff notes, but in actuality I had only encountered the tip of the iceberg that is Jeff Ho.
Jeff Ho

Jeff was born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada in the early 2000s with his mother and brother. The apartment they lived in was tiny, the adjustment described as “a gigantic upheaval in my life.” Jeff explains that in China, the academic expectations are set at an incredibly young age; for example, it isn’t unlikely for toddlers to set their sights on Harvard. There was no shortage of giving up aspects of his identity to further adapt to the North American culture. He recalls a time in his childhood where he and his brother, Eric, looked through the phone book to find North American names for themselves; an event so significant that it made it into his latest show, TRACE.

Jeff goes on to explain how he was raised in a tiny apartment with his grandmother, mother and brother in Woodbridge, Ontario. His mother put him in piano because she believed the practice of the instrument would improve his math skills. (I’d like to point out that my parents started me in piano at 3 years old for the same reason and to this day I have no idea how long division works.)

Lucky for us, the piano turned out to be somewhat of a gateway drug to other art forms for Jeff, and he would eventually make the very scary decision to leave his new Canadian friends to transfer to an arts high school in Markham. It was this choice that affirmed his suspicions that he was meant to dedicate his life to the arts.

The discovery would drive a wedge between he and his mother, and it was halfway through grade twelve when Jeff ran away from home to audition for Concordia University. His mother issued an ultimatum, and it became clear that if he was going to pursue the career of an artist, he was going without familial support.

Hearing Jeff speak about these formative years, my heart hurt for his 17-year-old self, but I also felt moved by the bravery and stubbornness of a boy who knew what he exactly what he wanted. “When I’ve decided to go after something, there is absolutely nothing that will stand in my way” he declares.

If the transition from Hong Kong to Canada was tough, I can only imagine how hard the journey from Markham to Montreal was. Jeff talks about how he supported himself by playing the piano at weddings and gallery openings while surviving on tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He speaks to his deep love for Montreal and its people, and when referencing the theatre scene, he describes the French Canadian’s indifference to naturalism. “They don’t really give a f--k about it. To them, the theatre is an arena for symbolism.” When asked about his overall relationship to the city, he glows as he recalls how it felt like home for him, “The city informed so much of my taste, and living there helped me grow tremendously as an artist.”

It is around this time that Wayne asks Jeff when he decided to transition from Concordia to NTS (the National Theatre School of Canada). His answer? “When Sandra Oh won [the award].” He credits her as one of the reasons he went into acting in the first place. Later in the conversation, I ask him if he ever experienced some of the same struggles that the Grey’s Anatomy star did, for instance being told that she was too ethnic and essentially not cast-able. “I have a lot of anger”, he explains, “and like Sandra, that fuels my work.” He clarifies that his anger can get away from him sometimes, and it has the ability to hurt the people closest to him. That said, he has learned to accept it and even to incorporate it into his artistic instrument as opposed to suppressing it.

This is the first time that Jeff references how a strong woman has influenced himself and his work, but it definitely isn’t the last: enter Yaël Farber. For those of you who aren’t familiar with her, Farber is an award-winning director and playwright. She almost exclusively works with people of colour in her plays and has never had less than a 5-star review. Jeff describes how experiencing one of her shows will leave you confronted with a physical sensation. He recalls one of her most insightful quotes about theatre. “There are shows that are like anesthesia, and then there are shows that really wake you up.” Another quality Jeff admires about Farber is her inclination towards hiring someone based on their energy rather than their resume. He notes the time when she hired someone who had no previous acting experience, but the energy he brought with him into the room caught her attention.

After singing Farber’s praises that Jeff admitted that he doesn’t have many male role models; practically all of them are women. I don’t know why this struck a chord with me as intimately as it did—perhaps it was the fact that I haven’t encountered a lot of males in my life who are primarily occupied by the woman’s perspective, and in a non-patronizing way. Coming from a family populated by two brothers and dozens of male cousins, I was raised to equate a “woman’s intuition” with care-giving. It certainly didn’t encompass the thoughts and opinions of someone who might be considered a leader. And how does he recognize his interest in female sources of inspiration? Citing his mother, he describes how in spite of the fact that there is a lot of pain in that relationship, she prepared him for the world and he owes her so much. He explains that another aspect of his magnetism towards female heroes is his admiration for the strength of underdogs; he finds himself drifting towards the most unheard voice in the room.

By now you know a lot about where Jeff came from and what drives him, but I haven’t done a very good job of explaining his actual work as an artist in 2016. Don’t get me wrong, I find the former fascinating, and I could go on—but you’re probably wondering why Jeff is in the room in the first place.

Enter: Playwriting.

Jeff was trained as an actor at NTS but he admits that, as far as actors go, he can be pretty difficult in the rehearsal room. He confesses that he can never let go of his writer’s voice, and that causes him to disagree with directors from time to time. Playwriting wasn’t always on Jeff's radar, but when he was assigned a final project that required him to write a 20-minute solo show, he seized the opportunity.

“I loved the fact that it could be about anything I wanted, and no one could tell me I was wrong,” he explains. He ended up writing a show called Mary Queen of Scots, in part so he could dye his hair red. It ended up being more of a cabaret, lacking much of a narrative, but it was what helped him discover his appetite for writing. He recalls the parallels he felt between his own life and that of the Queen, who was exiled from her home. He felt a connection to her through his own experiences as a gay Asian male, an identity that often rendered him more of a fetish object than a person.

So where would this new path lead him? After graduation Jeff relocated to Toronto and booked Murderers Confess at Christmastime, which would win him an Emerging Artist Award at the 2013 Summerworks Festival. He quickly followed that up with a guest spot on Orphan Black. It was during this post-graduation success period that he remembers thinking, “wow, TV, film and theatre are going really well for me!” He hasn't booked a TV spot since.

It was during the six-to-seven-month post-graduation period of unemployment that Iris Turcott approached him about a script that was given to her by one of Jeff’s former teachers. This collaboration would result in a weekly one-on-one writing master class that would prove to be incredibly beneficial to Jeff.

As his passion for playwriting soared, Jeff admits to uttering perhaps the least familiar statement in the arts community: “I really consider acting to be more of my Joe Job now…” Cut to me audibly choking back my jealousy. He insists that treating the rehearsal process like working under a boss that you might not necessarily agree with but cooperate with in order to pick up a paycheck has really helped his process. It also brings renewed love for writing when he does get back to his own work. 

Another aspect of his unconventional workday is the time Jeff spends writing grants. He explains that he spends his 9-5 workday writing and applying for funding as I try to pick my jaw up off the floor. “They’re the motivation to survive,” he says. (Meanwhile, I punch out three tweets in a row and I’m exhausted.) He also acknowledges that grants really help him warm up to the idea he’s pursuing and that asking the questions the grant application requires encourages him to identify the specific intentions of his project.

I know Jeff may be coming across as a guy with an endless supply of patience—his simultaneously calm and engaging demeanor definitely convinced me as much—but he declares he has none at all. 

Case in point:
Wayne: “What does patience mean to you?”
Jeff: “NOTHING. I have ZERO patience.”
Pierre* (Jeff’s fiancé) chimes in: “Absolutely none.”

*A short haiku about Pierre:
He makes Jeff pasta
Everyone needs a Pierre
He transcends this poem

Jeff attributes this trait in part to the Hong Kong culture, a city of efficiency with glass partitions that prevent anxious subway riders from pushing other riders onto the tracks. The unspoken motto of the city, he says, is “If you’re slow, you die.”

It is during the discussion of various cities he’s lived in that Wayne seeks an answer to whether Jeff will ever return to Montreal, the place he identifies as his true home.

“I love how Toronto is closer to the ideal of inter-culturalism; Montreal did not do it for me. Chinatown was literally a street in Montreal. I also feel less aware of my ethnicity in Toronto, but if I become successful enough as a playwright and I could create from a distance, I would like to return some day."

At this point in the discussion I can feel myself attempting to write down every single word that’s said, as though if I could somehow bottle the inspiration I feel right now, I could channel it into my own work. The conversation flows on: Wayne asks Jeff about the status of his relationship with his mother and he explains the gradual process of mending a parental bond.

Two things that have really stuck with me (even now, which is days after the fact) are Jeff’s explanation of why he writes female characters, and how Cantonese influences more than just his language.

As men, there is certain gravitation towards writing stories about women—or so it has been told to me by two of the male writers in the room. In Jeff's case, he was brought up exclusively by females, and seeing their struggles so intimately left him feeling that it is his responsibility to dismantle the obstacles they face in society.

“I tell stories about real life situations. Things that happened to a woman, gender expectations, I want to talk about them, but I don’t want to identify with or say that I assume I know the experiences of women.”

When it comes to the influence that Cantonese has had on Jeff's work, you first have to understand that in this particular language, every sound can have up nine different inflections. Every word that is said, however short, can mean almost any number of things. The prime example of this happens to be Jeff’s favorite word. I will spare myself the embarrassment of trying to write it out phonetically, but know that it roughly translates to “heart so dear that is my life.” This imperative to identify the driving force of a conversation has led Jeff to describe himself as more of a poet than a playwright. "I don’t write a lot, and I’ve come to know the meaning in the minimal." Cantonese, he explains, does a great job of getting to the point of what you’re really saying in the least amount of words possible. 

It is also this rich tie to his culture that leaves Jeff fiercely opposed to explaining himself. Jeff believes that he doesn’t need to provide a window into what Asian culture is about in his work—he just wants to drop into that environment and let the audience discover it at their own pace. He continues, “White people don’t feel the need to explain their world, so why should I? We ask in the theatre for empathy, and not feeling the need to explain my culture is a great practice in that.”

The most magical thing about Dark Nights in my opinion is that you walk away feeling like you yourself have had an intimate conversation with the artist, when in reality the experience wouldn’t have been possible without co-directors Luke Reece and Wayne Burns. We were incredibly lucky on this night to have Wayne interviewing Jeff and Luke documenting the most inspirational quotes for the Twitterverse.

It was through this dialogue that I realized what I still need to define in terms of what I myself want to create. Do I want to make something that ignites fire or do I want to provide an artistic anesthetic? How will I use my voice to bring representation to voices that aren’t often heard? Also it’s clear that I need to find myself a Pierre—we ALL do.

I'm also coming to terms with the fact that I've now spent nearly three thousand words describing an essential event for artists when I really only needed two.

Dark Nights. 

Go, you must.

Dark Nights is a biweekly conversation series that was started by YAC 2015 alumni Luke Reece and Wayne Burns. You can visit their website www.darknights.ca to get more information on upcoming conversations.

Monday, 18 July 2016

ONstage Openings for the week of July 18

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
All's Well That Ends Well at Canadian Stage
Marvin Ishmael, Frank Cox O'Connell, Kyle McWatters,
Kaleb Alexander, Rose Tuong
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Toronto

Jul. 18, A Doll's House at Soulpepper Theatre, in previews
Jul. 21, The 39 Steps at Soulpepper Theatre, in previews

In Central Ontario

Jul. 18, Old Love at Highlands Summer Festival (Haliburton)
Jul. 20, Dean & Jerry...What Might Have Been at Orillia Opera House
Jul. 24, Judgment of Paris at Highlands Summer Festival (Haliburton)

In Eastern Ontario

Jul. 20, Beneath Springhill: The Maurice Ruddick Story at Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque), with a preview on Jul. 19
Jul. 20, soloFest at Festival Players of Prince Edward County
Jul. 21, The Servant of Two Masters at Odyssey Theatre (Ottawa)
Jul. 22, Rumors at Seaway Valley Theatre Company (Cornwall)
Jul. 23, Arms and the Man at Classic Theatre Festival (Perth), with previews from Jul. 22
Jul. 23, Into the Woods at Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque), with a preview on Jul. 22

In South Central Ontario

Jul. 21, The Play's the Thing at Theatre 3x60 (Port Perry)

In Southwestern Ontario

Jul. 21, Perfect Wedding at Lighthouse Festival Theatre (Port Dover), with previews from Jul. 20
Jul. 21, It Runs in the Family at Drayton Entertainment: Drayton Festival Theatre, with previews from Jul. 20
Jul. 22, "Master Harold" ... and the Boys at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake), currently in previews
ONstage Now Playing in Central Ontario
Thumbs at Gravenhurst Opera House
Jul. 22, Legends... of Rock 'n' Roll at Drayton Entertainment: Dunfield Theatre Cambridge, with previews from Jul. 20
Jul. 23, The Dance of Death at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake), currently in previews 
Jul. 24, Anything Goes at Drayton Entertainment: Huron Country Playhouse (Grand Bend), with previews from Jul. 21


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

Friday, 15 July 2016

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres

Driftwood Theatre's The Taming of the Shrew
Siobhan Richardson, Geoffrey Armour
Photo by Dahlia Katz

In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Introducing our Fall Career Stream and Creator Stream Workshops

We have an exciting line-up this Fall in our Career Stream and Creator Stream workshop series.

Voice Over workshop, with Elley-Ray
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
  • Voice-Over, with Elley-Ray
  • Ask an Agent, with Alicia Jeffery
  • Building Your Brand as an Artist, with Edward Power
  • Act Bravely: Practical Strategies to Conquer Stage Fright, with Jorie Morrow

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 Webinar, with Pat Bradley (Ontario Arts Council)
  • Bring Your Show to Schools Webinar, with Patty Jarvis (Prologue)
  • Playwright's Guide to Getting Produced, with David S. Craig
  • Crowdfunding, with Nancy Kenny
  • Health & Safety for Independent and Community Theatres, with Janet Sellery
  • Sight Un-Scene: Adapted Theatre Techniques for Blind or Low Vision Actors, with Murray Powell

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

  • Spaces are still available in our Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive courses for actors, directors, and stage managers, but registrations must be in by July 22. Treat yourself to a unique learning adventure August 7 to 13 in Peterborough.
  • Members save 50% on E-learning courses from WorkInCulture. One of the six courses available is Project Management—Come in on time and on budget! You can save time (and a lot of headaches) by learning and implementing the tools, techniques, terminology and processes of project management.
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Crossing Gibraltar at Cahoots Theatre

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline for applications by youth 16 to 22 for Cahoots Theatre’s “Crossing Gibraltar” free outreach program is July 15.
  • Deadline for nominations for the Prix Siminovitch Prize, recognizing directors, is July 15.
  • Deadline for submissions to Write on Readings for their Summer Showcase is July 15.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Native Earth Performing Arts and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre invites submissions for the Weesageechak 2-Spirit Cabaret, an evening of spoken word and performance by 2-Spirit, Trans and Queer-identified Indigenous artists. The submission deadline is August 1.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport has announced the Ontario150 grant opportunities, featuring the Community Capital Program (deadline of September 14), Partnership Program (deadline of September 30), and Community Celebration program (deadline of September 2.)
  • Applications are now open for the InspiraTO Playwriting Contest, for ten-minute plays on the theme of “Grow Up.”  The submission deadline is November 20.

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, 12 July 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 five stories:
The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 2016.


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: Deanna Choi

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

Deanna Choi trained in sound design with Thomas Ryder Payne (TRP) at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto and the Stratford Festival.

Episode III: Return of the Techie

Gustav at the Stratford Festival
(May 30, 2016) I have now come to the end of my mentorship with TRP, stumbling into everything and bumping into everyone along the way like a drunk baby giraffe. After seven weeks of this, I’ve come to realize that the most important things I learned had very little to do with sound design at all.

The first lesson is Zen. 

“Zen you have. Sword shwing you make.”
(Note: “shwing” is a very technical term used by TRP to describe the sound of the arc of a metal blade. Try to say it five times fast without sounding like a character from Austin Powers.)

When everything is falling to pieces in tech week, how does one, as a designer, stay cool and collected yet be able to change cues at the drop of a hat? When the clock is ticking away, and though a 10-out-of-12 day is called, it seems like there simply is never enough time to get all the cues done. Some say, expect 20-30% of your cues to change during tech week. And lo and behold, out of the blue the director might ask you to create the sound of a train arriving, or an eerie wind that sounds ambiguously like leaves or ashes falling to the ground.

Keep calm, and grab your headphones and your external hard drive. Observe how the scene plays out, and what works given the rest of the aesthetic of the show. There are innumerable tricks of the trade as to how to EQ or mix sounds to give them the illusion of approaching or leaving, to make them emotionally neutral yet dynamic, to give the audience the impression of unresolved conflict yet closure to the play. But having a huge sample library to draw from is what buys you a lot of time during tech week.

In many ways, being a designer seems similar to being a playwright. The cardinal rule is: never get precious about your work. You might have a brilliant idea that gets tried once and never sees the light of day again. You might spend half your time in rehearsal setting up microphones, testing them out, hearing how the actors sound in an aside sequence, adjusting the gain balance so that their footsteps echo eerily in a blackout, call an early break to change the microphone placement, and re-jig everything, ONLY to have ALL the microphone cues cut by the next rehearsal. This never happened in a tech rehearsal for Incident at Vichy at Soulpepper, and Alan Dilworth would never dream of doing such a thing.

It happens. And as it turns out, the scene played out way better the second time around.

The second lesson: don’t be a [starts with the letter D, rhymes with whooshbag].

Gustav and TRP
It’s all about the little things. In an industry where everyone knows everyone, and gigs are often attained through word of mouth, you cannot get by on talent alone. The first thing I universally hear when speaking to other directors, designers, and actors about my mentor is, “Oh, he’s the nicest person.” It really hammered home for me a relatively simple concept that is surprisingly difficult to come by: being nice gets you very far in this line of work. Ultimately, when you’re spending 12-hour days with the same group of people, you want to surround yourself with individuals who are easy to get along with and work well under stress. Being nice in no way means compromising artistic integrity, or lacking vision and creative drive. Being nice means you are willing to make concessions, compromise, and eschew your own ego in favour of allowing the production to flourish. TRP said, when getting into artistic conflicts between members of a creative team, ultimately as a designer you need to have full trust and confidence in your director. If you trust that your director knows what they are talking about, then allow them to call the final shots. It gets particularly murky when said shots might seem to conflict with what the script calls for or what the playwright intended but such is the nature of collaboration.

Speaking of collaboration, that reminds me of the third lesson. Perhaps it takes a village to raise a child, in which case it takes a company to raise an apprentice. I was able to witness how a community collaborates on a show, and how each element affects another. Although a lot of dialogue happened between TRP and his directors, there was a great deal of cross-talk across the production table between sound and lighting, sound and set, and sound and the stage management team. For instance, the pre-show fades of lighting and music can be timed to synchronize together; if a prop gun fails to go off in a show, a gunshot sound cue can be put on standby to make sure the narrative still makes sense; if a set change has numerous elements, a sound cue can be used to accentuate the theatricality of the set change and also to help muffle the sounds of stagehands dragging furniture off-stage. Creating sound cues that are intuitive for a stage manager to call is also imperative, and knowing where the cues should land (or peak) is just as critical.

These are but a few snapshots of the past seven weeks. As an apprentice, I’m another set of ears in the house, another pair of hands and feet. And then I slowly realize, I am not Luke Skywalker. I am Arya Stark. A girl is no one. A girl watches, a girl listens, and a girl waits. A girl watches as cursors blink, knobs are turned, faders are adjusted, cables are run. A girl listens as thunder crashes, rain pours, a guitar riffs, a bell tolls, an owl screeches, a town burns to the ground, and a man dies while his son escapes. A girl waits her turn in the shadows as the house lights go dark. The stage manager calls, “Sound cue fifty-six: Go.”

--Deanna Choi

Theatre Ontario Professional Theatre Training Program 2016

Sound design with Thomas Ryder Payne

Macbeth at the Stratford Festival, Incident at Vichy at Soulpepper.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 2016.


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: Krista Colosimo

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

Krista Colosimo is training in artistic direction with Ashlie Corcoran at Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque.

(May 27, 2016)  Two weeks down, four more to go!

I have just completed my first stretch at the Thousand Islands Playhouse where I have been working with Artistic Director, Ashlie Corcoran. I set out to expand my knowledge of artistic leadership and season programming and these first few weeks have been a fantastic introduction.

Thousand Islands Playhouse
Once I arrived in Gananoque I set to work on connecting with the heads of department, scheduling mini-meetings where I could learn more about each position in the office and the vital role they play at TIP. Theatre is a collaborative art form. The creation of a successful season begins far before any actor hits the stage and I knew that it was important to speak with the people who lay this foundation. Some of the folks I spoke with include: Richard Van Dusen (General Manager), Emily McMahon (Head of Marketing), Amanda Henderson (Outreach Officer) and Rob Kempson (Associate Artistic Director.)

Rob, in particular, has been a great source of information and inspiration. My first week we spoke at length and in great detail about the process of developing and presenting the 2015/2016 season. He provided me with a number of resources, examples of budgets, and presentation packages that were prepared last year for the season.

I have also been reading many plays! Searching for the right material to include in the 2016/2017 season that will both engage and resonate with the TIP audience. This task is a heavy one. After reading each play I create a document including a breakdown and summary which I then share with Ashlie and Rob for their records and consideration.

Along with my experiences in the office, I have also been exposed to the social duties expected of an Artistic Director attending numerous events within the community alongside Ashlie.

Overall it has been an extremely informative few weeks and I look forward to the learning yet to come.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 2016.


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: Stephanie Jung

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

Stephanie Jung trained in artistic producing with Marjorie Chan and Kate Ann Vandermeer at Cahoots Theatre.

(June 26, 2016)  I finished my mentorship in Artistic Producing with Cahoots Theatre last week. It feels weird to not have gone into the office in the last week since its been such a huge part of my life these past couple of months. I am in awe of what Marjorie Chan (Artistic Director) and Kate Ann Vandermeer (General Manager) and the rest of their small team. They are one of the hardest and most dedicated teams I know. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to be taught by them. Kate Ann’s preciseness and dedication to detail (she saw things I wouldn’t have thought to look for) and Marjorie’s energy and creative ideas to problem-solving were great examples from me to learn from.
   
When the three of us came up with our training schedule for my mentorship, we structured it so that I would learn the majority of my skills during the production process of Ultrasound. I would then apply that new knowledge to being the lead producer on the Lift Off! Festival, Cahoots’ festival of new works in June. It was the best possible way for me apply my new skills and learn of a few others in the process, from planning to execution. Festival programming was already in place when I was handed the festival in May but I had to make sure all the details of executing the festival happened. This involved: securing Equity actors and drafting up Equity contracts, soliciting food or any other in-kind donation, adhering to a budget (and reallocating funds to different categories depending on arising needs), drafting up a social media calendar and the accompanying posts, scheduling a printing deadline for all festival paper collateral, creating/sending invites to the Season End party, hiring festival help and drafting up letters of agreement, coordinating technical logistics with relevant people, creating a master checklist and schedule for all Cahoots staff, and delegating any tasks that I wasn’t able to handle on my own. Kate Ann went on maternity leave in mid-May but I feel that she had more than adequately prepared me to producing Lift Off! Marjorie and the Interim GM were happy to offer any tips and advice when I needed it. In actuality, the majority of my questions during the last few weeks of producing the festival was for Marjorie: artistically (casting, programming, etc) and marketing (best angle to promote our little festival during a very busy time in Toronto’s social calendar). The Lift Off! Festival was successful. We had great attendance for our play readings and our two workshops, and everything went off without a major catastrophe. The artists were pleased and the audiences seemed to be happy.

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to apply my new skills practically. Now that I’ve gone through the all the tasks needed to produce something, I feel much more confident in my ability to be an Artistic Producer. That’s not to say that I’m done learning but I feel that Marjorie, Kate Ann, and Cahoots has provided me a very solid base in which to grow from. I’ve developed knowledge in utilizing social media marketing, contracts and letters of agreements for artists and staff, how to successfully solicit donations, scheduling, and budgeting. I now have a better idea of where to focus any new learnings: Wordpress, design, and a little more knowledge in building a budget. At the moment, I do feel confident that I would be able to successfully produce a small-scale project. And this excites me, because I’m now in a stronger position to make steps towards shaping the diversity on Canadian stages.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 2016.


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: Michelle Suzanne

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

Michelle Suzanne is training in choral conducting and music direction with Hilary Donaldson in Toronto.

(May 19, 2016)  Now that half of my mentorship with Hilary Donaldson is behind me, I see how much I have grown in skill and confidence. Knowing this, I look forward to what else is possible by the time my mentorship period is over.

I have learned that the preparation of a piece is crucial to teaching it to an ensemble. With that in mind Hilary taught me how to do a pedagogical analysis of music. It takes at least a good hour, and it is well worth the time. It forces the conductor to zero in on where problematic issues in the piece may crop up—be they tempo, text, vocal range, diction. It allows the conductor to troubleshoot before rehearsal, so as to maximize everyone’s time and energy.

My first pedagogical analysis was for a fabulous gospel number by Charles Albert Tindley, called “The Storm Is Passing Over.” I will make use of this analysis as I conduct the Eastminster United Church Choir singing “The Storm Is Passing Over” in this evening’s rehearsal.

Along with preparation, I have learned how to help develop a choir’s sense of musicality by drilling problematic music passages. This has happened with using pentatonic and diatonic scales to form purer vowels (no diphthongs!) with vocalizing on an applicable vowel, and by “count-singing.” In fact, Hilary and I agreed that there is opportunity for me to assist the choir in the Fall with vocal and rhythmic drills.

A conductor must also be able to work effectively with the accompanist. Hilary and I had a discussion about the kind of terms often used between a conductor and pianist: words like “chording along” with the choir (but not playing the actual accompaniment), or “shadowing” a section. We also discussed the benefit of establishing with the accompanist ahead of time, the desired tempo.

I have also learned where a conductor goes for sheet music (beyond the basic but limited digital outlets I was sourcing). I now know about the Choral Public Domain Library and the International Music Scores Library Project.

Of course, in the midst of all of the reading, analyzing, listening and discussing, I’ve been learning the choral gestures—the most visible part of a conductor’s work. When I first began studying under Hilary I was greener than the buds popping up this Spring. I was concerned that the choral conducting gestures were not going to “get into my body.” Four-and-a-half weeks later I have those gestures down! It’s so exciting to feel the progress.

What is most interesting about what I’ve learned of conducting, so far, is that it’s the entry into the piece that is fraught with pitfalls. Once you actually show that first downbeat, the most difficult part is done—for me, at least. I discovered this as I tried to bring the choir of Eastminster United Church in on an a capella piece by Pepper Choplin, called “We Are Not Alone.” The piece is in 2/2 time which is, for me, the most challenging time signature to conduct. That’s because, with only two beats to every bar there is very little time to convey information to the choir.

So there we were, at our most recent choir rehearsal, and I was tasked with conducting this seemingly easy piece, for which I had practiced in my own time. It took several attempts before I could successfully bring the choir in, and maintain the gestures. (I will add that conducting is pretty straightforward without all those singers staring at you!) Finally, I was able to bring in the choir, the soloist, and keep the tempo, all the while demonstrating dynamics.

Still to come for me, is getting really comfortable adding my left arm—when required—for cues, for shaping and dynamics, and for held notes. Right now my left arm feels like a bizarre appendage that threatens to destabilize the good work of my right arm. I know this too shall improve with continued practice.

I am planning the music for Eastminster United’s church service on the final Sunday of June. One piece that I have chosen, and will conduct, is “A Song of Paul,” composed by Alfred V. Fedak. The piece is in 6/8, and conducted in two—my nemesis. But it’s amazing what can happen in these final four weeks. New learning gets integrated, old challenges seem simple, and suddenly you have a new skill.

I’m so excited by this mentorship period. I’m half-way through, and it still feels like the beginning. Conducting is something one can’t cram. It takes time to really integrate the elements, and to feel quite comfortable with the gestures. I’m so grateful that, as I enter the second half of this phase I feel well-armed with what I need to know in order to step confidently into more music leadership. Thank you so much for this, Theatre Ontario. 

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 2016.


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: Deborah Lim

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

Deborah Lim is training in production management with sandra Henderson at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

(June 6, 2016) This is the end of week seven for me in my fourteen-week training at the Toronto Fringe. My experience has been really positive thus far. As soon as I joined the Fringe team, I was quickly made acquainted with the main venue and site-specific productions in this year’s Fringe Festival. I have proofed schedules, attended meetings, sat in on interviews, led a stage management seminar, been in conversation with production companies about safety concerns and their technical requirements, and gone on venue walk-throughs to familiarize myself and the production companies with Fringe policies and their spaces. I have met and talked to so many people in the past few weeks about their shows and ideas.

The training plan my mentor, sandra, and I originally created together was based around the Fringe schedule and what can be learned from the day-to-day events and tasks that need to be accomplished in order for the festival to run smoothly. We have this plan sitting on our desk and we refer to it occasionally, but we have also adjusted to address the needs of the festival and production companies as they come up.

I really enjoy working with sandra and the rest of the Fringe staff in the office. While the Fringe festival spans across a very large part of the city, our home base is located at the Fringe office. It is an open-concept office with an environment that promotes collaboration. In this office, we are able to easily have conversations across the room to help each other solve problems and feed off each others’ energy and ideas. sandra has been a great mentor in supporting me and showing me the ropes but has also allowed me to take the lead on many projects and opportunities. With the festival only a few weeks away, things are getting busier and the excitement grows.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 2016.


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

Monday, 11 July 2016

ONstage Openings for the week of July 11

ONstage Opening in Southwestern Ontario
Much Ado about Nothing at
Elora Community Theatre
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Southwestern Ontario

Jul. 13, The Dance of Death at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake), in previews
Jul. 14, Hilda's Yard at Drayton Entertainment: Huron Country Playhouse (Grand Bend), with a matinee preview
Jul. 15, The Men's Foursome at Drayton Entertainment: St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, with previews from Jul. 13
Jul. 15, Much Ado about Nothing at Elora Community Theatre
Jul. 17, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake), in previews

In Toronto

Jul. 14, Hamlet at Canadian Stage, currently in previews
Jul. 15, All’s Well That Ends Well at Canadian Stage, currently in previews

In Central Ontario

ONstage Now Playing in Central Ontario
The Hero of Hunter Street at 4th Line Theatre (Millbrook)
Monica Dottor, Ryan Hollyman
Photo by Wayne Eardley Brookside Studio
Jul. 12, Any Dream Will Do at Theatre Collingwood
Jul. 12, Sweet Dreams at Globus Theatre (Bobcaygeon)
Jul. 17, Mamma Mia! at Drayton Entertainment: King's Wharf Theatre (Penetanguishene), with previews from Jul. 14

In Eastern Ontario

Jul. 12, Barefoot in the Park at Ottawa Little Theatre
Jul. 15, The Storefront Theatre Festival at Theatre Kingston

In South Central Ontario

Jul. 15, All for Nun... the 2nd Coming at Beaverton Town Hall Players


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

Friday, 8 July 2016

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres

Murray Finn receiving the Michael Spence Award for
his contribution to community theatre from Bruce Pitkin
at Theatre Ontario Festival 2016 in North Bay.

TO Toasts

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Introducing Personal Health Insurance Created Exclusively for the Artistic Community for Theatre Ontario Members

As a Theatre Ontario individual member—or a staff or volunteer member of a Theatre Ontario organization member—you are eligible to access benefits through the Arts & Entertainment Plan®.

The Arts & Entertainment Plan® is a national health insurance plan offered through a not-for-profit insurer (AFBS*) that’s easy to understand and simple to join. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Theatre Ontario's Summer Theatre Intensive

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

  • Spaces are still available in our Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive courses for actors, directors, and stage managers, but registrations must be in by July 22. Treat yourself to a unique learning adventure August 7 to 13 in Peterborough.
  • Members save 50% on E-learning courses from WorkInCulture. One of the six courses available is Project Management—Come in on time and on budget! You can save time (and a lot of headaches) by learning and implementing the tools, techniques, terminology and processes of project management.
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline for Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grants for organizations seeking funding for new idea is today.
  • John Strasberg’s Organic Creative Process course for actors, directors, and acting teachers, starts July 11.
  • Deadline for nominations for the Prix Siminovitch Prize, recognizing directors, is July 15.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • The Stratford Festival invites applications from emerging to mid-career directors for the Michael Langham Workshop for Classic Direction. The application deadline is August 8.
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, 5 July 2016

Spaces Still Available at Our Summer Theatre Intensive

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Acting
at Theatre Ontario's Summer Theatre Intensive
We still have spaces available in four courses at this year’s Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive in Peterborough:
  • For performers – Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Acting...and then some! with Tom Diamond
  • For new directors – Directions on Directing: From Page to Stage, with Andrew Lamb
  • For established directors – Whose text is it, anyway? Adventurous approaches to directing, with John P. Kelly
  • For stage managers – PLACES PLEASE! Stage Management and the Creative Process from Pre-Production to End of Run with Maria Popoff
Your Summer Theatre Intensive course package includes…
  • Buffet-style meals daily (including vegetarian fare)
  • A single air-conditioned room in Trent’s Gzowski College Residence—just steps away from the banks of the Otonabee River
  • A night of play readings and Q&A with Playwright-in-Person Mark Crawford
  • The option to attend a performance of The Bad Luck Bank Robbers at 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook
  • The opportunity to share your enthusiasm, experience, and passion for theatre, while meeting other like-minded, talented, and creative people
Our Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive runs August 7 to 13 in Peterborough.  Registrations must be in by July 22.


Related Reading