by Rachel Kennedy, Professional Theatre and Education Manager
Over the past few months I have been working alongside the rest of the staff here at Theatre Ontario to organize and prepare for the 2017 Next Generation Showcase. This event is a big one—with nearly 250 early-career performers making their audition debut for an audience of experienced directors, producers, agents, casting directors and artistic directors. Needless to say, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts was buzzing with excitement for the entire two-day event.
From January 15-16th, nearly 200 industry professionals took their seats in the Michael Young Theatre and had the pleasure of meeting the bright-eyed, talented performers in this year’s Showcase. The featured actors came from schools and training programs all across Ontario, as well as groups from Quebec, Alberta and even London, UK.
|Staff preparing packages for industry audience|
As our industry guests filed out of the Michael Young Theatre they were greeted with a cocktail reception and had the opportunity to meet many of the students whom they had seen audition throughout the day, as well as those who were yet to take the stage on Monday. Our networking event had begun! After a bit of mixing and mingling Derek Boyes, Resident Artist at Soulpepper Theatre Company, and Bruce Pitkin, Executive Director here at Theatre Ontario, made brief speeches thanking the volunteers, industry guests, and of course the sponsor of the night, Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. In addition to cocktails and chats in the Atrium, Soulpepper had also arranged a “Trade Show” in the TD Studio where students could chat about opportunities for early-career actors with representatives from the Stratford Festival, Theatre By The Bay, Factory Theatre, Toronto Association of Acting Studios, Howland Theatre and Pleiades Theatre.
At 7:30, the crowd worked their way back into the Michael Young Theatre for a panel discussion about “The Business of Casting” moderated by Elley-Ray. Joining Elley-Ray on stage were panelists Natalie Ackers, David Connolly, Emma Laird, Marjorie Chan and Millie Tom. I was lucky enough to catch the entire discussion, which featured stories about their most memorable auditions, what work they find inspiring, and the need to ensure that diverse stories and voices are being heard across the industry. There was an overarching message of support, assuring the emerging actors that the people they audition for are on their side, or as Elley-Ray so eloquently summed it up, “We want you to win. We need you to win.” Natalie Ackers even quipped, “I am the silent cheerleader—I love watching people audition!” The discussion was honest, candid, and from the heart. I cannot think of a better way to have ended our first day of auditions. To hear more about this fantastic event, I encourage you to check out our blog post by Haley Dwolinsky, Showcase participant and recent graduate from Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts (see link below.)
|Students warming-up for their Showcase auditions|
COMMENTS FROM ATTENDEES:
"The talk back after the audition was great! I loved that you took the time to answer our questions and give more insight to the industry." - Participant
"The opportunity to see so many young actors in a single day is the most valuable aspect of the showcase. As an Artistic Director whose company is based outside of the GTA, the Next Generation Showcase is a great tool to assist with casting and to learn about the quality of emerging theatre artists who are graduating from training programs." - Industry Attendee
- Catch up on all of the tweets from Theatre Ontario Next Generation Showcase on Twitter Moments
- We Are the Next Generation by Haley Dwolinski
- Learn more about Theatre Ontario Next Generation Showcase
If you missed the 2017 Next Generation Showcase but want to get involved next year, please contact Rachel Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org