Friday, 31 March 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters

  • For World Theatre Day last Monday, our Youth Advisory Committee celebrated the day by inviting conversation on three ideas: “Youth voices are essential because…”, “The biggest challenge for young artists is…”, “We support our young artists by…”  We have shared some of the tweets in Twitter Moments, and the youth of The Grand Theatre in London even made a video.
  • Torquil Campbell sent out a series of World Theatre Day tweets “discouraging a career in theatre whatsoever… until it banishes unions, stops charging outrageous prices, and starts changing its arcane culture.”  Joshua Hind responded observing “If theatre has a problem, it’s definitely not that some people are paid too well.
  • Is our problem in Ontario that we’ve spent too little time articulating any of the benefits of the arts? Jini Stolk examines the question in “The scope of our impact” on the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Creative Trust Research Fellowship site.

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


In Case You Missed It


Thursday, 30 March 2017

Join us at “Improv for Actors” at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 in Ottawa

Theatre Ontario will be hosting a free “Improv for Actors” workshop with Laura Hall as part of Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 for participants eager to enhance their skills.

Laura Hall's workshop helps you learn improv fundamentals and apply various techniques to grow into a confident actor who can make interesting choices in an instant. We'll work on minimizing nerves and learning to be present, finding "the truth", building strong characters, and building and working within your script environment (especially useful for cold reads.) The best part? The class will be geared towards whart you need! Specific exercises will depend on the overall experience and desires of the workshop participants.

Theatre Ontario Festival is a showcase of outstanding community theatre productions, a classroom for passionate, dedicated community theatre artists, a celebration of excellence in community theatre, and a destination bringing together theatre lovers from across the province. Festival 2017 runs May 19 to 23 in Ottawa Bay.

Join us at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

  • Preparing an OAC application? Get the inside scoop at our Grant Writing Information pre-recorded webinar with Pat Bradley of the Ontario Arts Council on April 11.
  • Thinking of producing a show or starting a theatre company? Join us at our Ready, Set, Show! Foundations of Indie Producing workshop with Rachel Kennedy and guest TBA on April 19 in Toronto.
  • The ability of directors and dramaturges to work together to help shape meaningful and entertaining theatre is a crucial part of any production process. Learn more at our “Director-Dramaturge Collaborations” workshop with Matt McGeachy on April 24 in Toronto.
  • Need help developing your long-term career goals? Join us at our “Propel Your Professional Career Forward” workshop with Vera N. Held on April 29 in Toronto.
  • Want to improve your tech skills? Camp Tech offers beginner-friendly, hands-on workshops for adults like you who want to learn to use the latest applications and platforms. Taught by leading professionals, upcoming beginner-level workshops at Camp Tech include –HTML and CSS for Beginners (Apr 2); Social Media Basics (Apr 27); Wordpress for Beginners (May 7); Photoshop for Beginners (May 18); Intro to Google Analytics (May 23); Adobe Illustrator for Beginners (May 30); and Intro to Search Engine Marketing with Google AdWords (May 30). Learn more about Theatre Ontario member discounts at CampTech.
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline for applications from producers, directors, and designers for South Simcoe Theatre community theatre’s 2017/18 season is March 31.
  • Deadline for nominations for the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts’ Dora Ancillary Awards is April 1.
  • Deadline for applications to Ontario Arts Council’s Arts Service Project grants is April 6.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Young People’s Theatre is hosting a free “training social” for post-secondary theatre students on April 24.
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, 28 March 2017

Join Us at our Summer Theatre Intensive

Theatre Ontario is thrilled to be introducing our new Summer Theatre Intensive, partnering with Off the Wall, Stratford Artist Alliance. Through this exciting new collaboration we will join Off The Wall in their home at Factory 163 in the heart of Stratford, Ontario.

This year we will be offering intensives over a two-week period as listed below.

WEEK ONE (Sunday August 6 – Friday August 11th):
  • Sharpening your Actor’s Tool Kit with Tom Diamond
  • Directing for Beginners (or how do I make this play happen?) with Thom Currie
  • Freeing the Body & Imagination - An Introduction to Mask in Performance with Peggy Coffey
WEEK TWO (Sunday August 13 – Friday August 18th):
  • Who the Heck Are YOU?! Creating “Character” with Liza Balkan
  • Building your own Directing Process with Philip Akin
  • How to Tell An “Important” Story with Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
This year we are embracing a brand new, choose-your-own-adventure approach to the Summer Theatre Intensive; pick your week, pick your course, pick your digs!

By covering each participant’s course fees, course materials, lunch and dinner only, we hope to allow more flexibility for our guests to choose their own accommodations.

Participants will enjoy catered lunches and dinners as well as other planned theatrical events throughout the week’s evenings in the hometown of North America’s largest Shakespeare Festival.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, 27 March 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of March 27

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
STUPIDHEAD! at Theatre Passe Muraille
Photo by Michael Cooper
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Toronto

Mar. 28, Crawlspace at Soulpepper Theatre [currently in previews]
Mar. 28, Our Town at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre [currently in previews]
Mar. 29, Spotlight Australia at Canadian Stage
Mar. 30, Niimi'iwe: Indigenous Dance Double Bill: light breaking broken / the NDN way at Native Earth Performing Arts
Mar. 30, Kiss at Canadian Stage [with previews from Mar. 28] 
Mar. 31, Adult Entertainment at Marion Abbott Productions
Mar. 31, Spoon River at Soulpepper Theatre

In Central Ontario

Mar. 30, An Act of the Imagination at Owen Sound Little Theatre
Mar. 30, Waiting for the Parade at Northumberland Players (Cobourg)

In Eastern Ontario

Mar. 28, The Melville Boys at Kanata Theatre (Ottawa) 
Mar. 30, Pride and Prejudice at Belleville Theatre Guild [with a preview on Mar. 28]
Mar. 31, Vigilante at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa) [with previews from Mar. 29]

In South Central Ontario

ONstage Now Playing in South Central Ontario
Toronto, Mississippi at Theatre 3x60
Mar. 30, The Little Mermaid at Brampton Music Theatre
Mar. 30, Old Love at Theatre Aurora
Mar. 31, Missing at The Curtain Club (Richmond Hill) [with a preview on Mar. 30]
Apr. 1, Halo at Ovation! Performing Arts Academy (Markham)

In Southwestern Ontario

Mar. 31, The 39 Steps at Theatre Sarnia
Mar. 31, Willow Quartet at Theatre Woodstock

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

Friday, 24 March 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


Migrations


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

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

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Celebrate World Theatre Day with Our Youth Advisory Committee

We are Laura, Alex, Julia, Jason, Davinder, Lara, Sophie and Norah, and we are Theatre Ontario’s 2017 Youth Advisory Committee. 

The YAC is committed to positioning young artists as active decision-makers at theatres across Ontario. We believe in outreach programming designed by youth, for youth. We want to hear from our peers across the province: what do you need to succeed as an artist in your community?

Imagine “network” not as something you do, but as something you have. With the support of Theatre Ontario, the YAC will spend this year activating a network of young creators across Ontario. We want to draw attention to the great work happening in your community.

Do you want to have a career in theatre?  We can help you find entry points into professional work. We believe in youth-led outreach programming that helps connect emerging and established voices. By creating collaborative events, we hope to bridge the gap and create mentorship opportunities to help you navigate the industry. We want to hear from you, learn from you, and see you shine on stage.

Youth are at the centre of our process. We’re planning events that make space for young artists to share and collaborate. We’re crowdsourcing our events based on what you want to learn, and what you want to share with your peers.

To kick off our year of initiatives to unite young theatre artists across the province, we invite you to join us in celebrating World Theatre Day on Monday, March 27. Print out and a post a photo of you with one of our #WorldTheatreDay cards to get involved and join the conversation on Twitter at @theatreontario or on our Facebook page.

If posting on social media is not your thing, we invite you to email us the answers to these questions so we can post on your behalf. We hope to use the answers we collect on #WorldTheatreDay to begin to develop a stronger understanding of how we can support you and your community moving forward. This will be crucial in the next steps for our work as the Youth Advisory Committee.

We hope you will consider joining us on #WorldTheatreDay to kick off our year of empowering and engaging youth in arts across Ontario.

Related Reading

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Our 2017 Online Auction in Celebration of World Theatre Day has now opened! Start your bids and Immerse Yourself in Theatre. Visit our official restaurant partner Milagro Cantinas during the campaign week, mention us or World Theatre Day and – a percentage of your meal’s total will be donated to our campaign!

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

"Ready, Set, Show! Foundations of Indie Producing" workshop
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Ottawa Little Theatre’s “Practical Playwriting” talk with Daniel MacIvor is March 25.
  • ArtsBuild Ontario’s “Space Management 101: Keys to Success” free webinar for venues is March 29.
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, 21 March 2017

Welcome Ghost Light Players and Sault Theatre Workshop to Theatre Ontario Festival 2017

Theatre Ontario is thrilled to welcome the first two productions that will perform at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 in Ottawa. These productions are chosen from Ontario’s regional community theatre festivals, and are a showcase of outstanding community theatre from across the province.

On Thursday, May 18, Ghost Light Players from Windsor will present George F. Walker’s Better Living, representing the Western Ontario Drama League. This will be Ghost Light’s first time at Theatre Ontario Festival, and were chosen as Best Production in Festival at WODL Festival in Guelph by adjudicator Bea Quarrie.

On Saturday, May 20, Sault Theatre Workshop from Sault Ste. Marie will represent QUONTA (the northeastern Ontario community theatre association) with their production of Lucy by Damien Atkins. Sault Theatre Workshop returns to Festival for the twelfth time as QUONTA representative, but the first time since 1998. Lucy was awarded Outstanding Production by adjudicator Karen Rickers at QUONTA Festival in Timmins.

As previously announced, Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 will feature detailed adjudications with Annette G. Procunier, Playwright-in-Person readings with Erin Shields, and awards and parties celebrating community theatre in Ontario.

The annual Theatre Ontario Festival is a showcase of outstanding community theatre productions; a classroom for passionate, dedicated community theatre artists; a celebration of excellence in community theatre; and a destination bringing together theatre lovers from across the province. Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 runs May 17 to 21, and is co-hosted with Ottawa Little Theatre and the Eastern Ontario Drama League.

Monday, 20 March 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of March 20

This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Southwestern Ontario

Mar. 23, The Odd Couple (Female Version) at Goderich Little Theatre
Mar. 24, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams at The Grand Theatre (London) [with previews from Mar. 21]
Mar. 24, Singin' in the Rain at Drayton Entertainment: St. Jacobs Country Playhouse [with previews from Mar. 22]
Mar. 24, Don't Dress for Dinner at Cambridge Community Players
Mar. 24, Fame the Musical at Theatre Ancaster (Hamilton)

In Toronto

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Powers and Gloriaat The Village Players, Bloor West Village
Douglas Tindal, Shai Tannyan
Photo by Salma Dharsee
Mar. 21, Cage at Soulpepper Theatre [currently in previews]
Mar. 21, Stupidhead! at Theatre Passe Muraille [currently in the previews]
Mar. 21, Stage Door at Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts
Mar. 22, Everything Is Great Again at The Second City [currently in previews]
Mar. 23, Boys with Cars at Young People's Theatre
Mar. 23, Crawlspace at Soulpepper Theatre [in previews]
Mar. 26, Our Town at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre [in previews]

In Central Ontario

Mar. 24, A Bench in the Sun at Blackhorse Village Players (Tottenham) [with a preview on Mar. 22]
Mar. 24, The Gentleman Clothier at Theatre Orangeville [with a preview on Mar. 23]

In Eastern Ontario

Mar. 22, Marion Bridge at Ottawa Little Theatre

In South Central Ontario

Mar. 24, Toronto, Mississippi at Theatre 3x60 (Durham Region)
Mar. 24, Dead Metaphor at Durham Shoestring Performers (Oshawa)


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

Monday, 13 March 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of March 13

This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages
ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
James and the Giant Peach at Young People's Theatre
Jennifer Villaverde, Amir Haidar, Bruce Dow,
Robert Markus, Matt Nethersole and Shruti Kothari
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

In South Central Ontario

Mar. 16, The Importance of Being Earnest at Theatre Erindale (Mississauga)
Mar. 17, Oklahoma! at City Centre Musical Productions (Mississauga)

In Southwestern Ontario

Mar. 13, WODL Festival 2017 hosted by Guelph Little Theatre
Mar. 17, The Murder Room at Century Church Theatre (Hillsburgh)

In Toronto

Mar. 14, A Dream Play at Theatre@York
Mar. 16, Stepping Out at Stage Centre Productions
Mar. 16, Stupidhead! at Theatre Passe Muraille [in previews]

ONstage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
Catch Me If You Can at Orpheus Musical Theatre
Photo by Alan Dean Photography

In Northeastern Ontario

Mar. 16, QUONTA Festival 2017 hosted by Take Two Theatre (Timmins)

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, 10 March 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


In Case You Missed It

I will be on the road next week at the Western Ontario Drama League Festival in Guelph and the QUONTA Festival in Timmins.  This column will return on March 24.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

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 four stories:
The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 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 trained in digital media creation and directing with Sarah Garton Stanley at SpiderWebShow

(February 27, 2017) Hello Theatre Ontario! Here’s to Spring! (soon, yes?) I’m writing to you as I wind up my winter mentorship with Sarah Garton Stanley and SpiderWebShow Performance. It has truly been a season spent at the cutting edge, full of discovery and exploration. This is my third and closing report.

The first half of my mentorship was about learning the “who/what/how” of SpiderWebShow. These questions are connected. They are a diverse team of artists, technicians and arts administrators based at points all across the country. The company they run together is an evolving series of online theatre and “theatre-based” projects. Their aim is to keep developing a virtual/digital meeting/performance place where Canadian theatre people can explore media, arts, social progress and cultural change, and their instrument/stage is “new media”—the internet—which is what drew me to them in the first place.

My first phase, through late 2016, was about learning to use various types of online media. I participated in an amazing experiment—helping create “CdnStudio”, a virtual live-performance event at Queen’s University in Kingston. There, we had actors perform pieces online “together” from diverse locations. Later, through the year-end, I also spent time exploring/curating SpiderWebShow’s web magazine/archives, CdnTimes. And by the New Year, I was ready to begin a unique contribution of my own—an interactive, social media column/stage called SpiderWire! There, I began to create a new (for me) type of “performance”—a multimedia, hyperlink-enhanced “sideshow” in which I “spoke” both on behalf of myself and my mentors.

SpiderWire #1 was called “WORDS/SPEECH”. Here, I expressed my increasing frustration with words as a mode of communication and my wish/aim to begin speaking with pictures, sound, video and hyperlinks.

SpiderWire #2 was called “FAITH” and I addressed the theme of the current edition of CdnTimes, “Keeping the Faith”. Writers there were speaking of their faith being tested by the nature of their profession, by personal challenges, and/or by political/social developments in Canada/USA/World. I tried to treat the theme of “keeping the faith” with empathy and whimsy; and, as I put the piece together, I think I crystallized the essence of my own personal/social faith. “Let’s be each others’ lucky stars!” is my new motto.

SpiderWire #3 was called “BEING THERE ... OR NOT”. It reflected my December experience helping CdnStudio. As I watched those student actors in different rooms play scenes together in cyberspace, I thought of the many possibilities in making “absent” performers “present”. I thought of all different kinds of “absence” and “presence”. And now, speaking in a language of images and links, I explored both “light” and “dark” implications of this new power. As I created this post, I had an epiphany about new media: this power is not negating or overruling our humanity—it’s revealing it, in a new light!

(*By now, I was really enjoying creating these columns, and I found myself devoting more time and care to each post, seeking out just the right interactive enhancement to each point I made.)

SpiderWire #4 was called “RESIST? COMPLY? ESCAPE?” because by now I began feeling politics in the USA taking a frightening turn. A race/gender-baiting autocracy seemed to be on the rise and it made me think of the predictions/decisions that German artists had to make, back in the 1930s. I thought specifically of the brilliant filmmaker couple/team Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou, whose relationship ended abruptly in 1934 over exactly these issues. I researched their stories/careers and then interpreted them with images, hyperlinks and video—and words too! I hope this offered an “experience” for readers, as they discovered their story, then explored the stories within their story—all strung together, like a spider web.

SpiderWire #5 – This time, I stepped side-stage, to use my column to amplify a colleague’s message: a message that I and SpiderWebShow want to support/champion. So, I lent my “stage” to Brian Quirt, Director of the Banff Playwrights Colony. I reframed his recent column for the Banff Centre website, in which he described all he is doing to advance equity and diversity in Canadian New Play Development. 

SpiderWire #6 was called “HOW NOW IS SOON?” and again I addressed these uncertain times. I spoke now as a contemporary playwright who recently tried to speculate about the near future. I illustrated how even the best writers will always get the future wrong. I offered illustrations—of poorly timed warnings and of tragedies unforeseen by storytellers. And/but as I wrote, another epiphany, which I shared!—Don’t try predicting the future—use your Art to make your audience make the future! 

SpiderWire #7 – A guest-post again. This time, it was a 90-minute SoundCloud audiocast. This was a symposium/event recorded in Edmonton in November called “Particle Collisions: The Small Scale Theatre Experiment”, hosted by my SpiderWeb mentor Sarah Garton Stanley. Here, again, I amplified a message. I provided/expanded a “space” for small theatre creators to discuss the unique role that small theatre plays in Canada’s national culture. (I love audiocasts, and I hope to make my own someday!)

SpiderWire #8 (most recent) is all mine again, called “IF ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE, wtfxz INTERNET?” -- I asked this because I found myself wanting to sum up recent discoveries, insights and lessons. I tried to connect the current “internet revolution” to ages past, and to basic facts about human nature and expression. Is the internet age an unprecedented event in human history? I asked, and speculated wildly. Here, I think I really found the balance I want to strike as a “web presence”—a playful blend of wisdom and mischief. As I mapped out my train of thought, I planted a few “surprises” in the hyperlinks—and made evermore hyperbolic predictions—before coming round to my (I hope?) lucid conclusion. 

AND DURING ALL THIS, (Jan/Feb) other SpiderWebShow action moved forward and I was mentored in all that too. The team kept up its weekly cross-Canada company meetings: as many as eleven people at once in online face-to-face time on Google Hangouts. In early January, Michael Wheeler stepped up to become full-time company Artistic Director while Sarah Garton Stanley shifted to “Creative Consultant”; so, Michael became something of a mentor to me too. At that time, Michael and I “met” online (with Digital Production Manager Camila Diaz-Varela) and we developed/expanded/clarified a company vision of “social media presence” for SpiderWebShow. (Social media, we all know by now, is “Performance”!) We strategized a daily/weekly online presence for SpiderWebShow—not too little, not too much, but steady—a balance of both new and previous CdnTimes content, keeping SpiderWebShow visible, current, relevant, insightful and provocative (without being too aggressive/persistent, as some online entities do!) My own column SpiderWire was very much a part of this plan; and we hope this Jan/Feb strategy will stand as a model of how the company will keep growing in 2017.

AND SO! This brings us to today. My mentorship weeks are basically done; but I don’t want them to end! As I segue into my own (personal) next project, I hope to do a few more things. I want to post at least one more column—SpiderWire #9—and round off the series with a flourish! I also plan to participate/ appear in a company fundraising video campaign, and to research possibilities towards a possible political/satirical “Twitter drama” this company might launch later in the year. I’m also very interested in learning more about “Revolutions”, SpiderWebShow’s continuing series of interviews with performing arts “elders”. I also really want to know what Sarah and Michael have planned for the next phase of CdnStudio at Queen University! So, I hope to remain in their inside loop in months to come.

That’s a wrap, for now; but really (I hope) not. A good, new relationship has been built between me and SpiderWebShow. Most thrilling, I’ve found a new creative outlet/passion/voice for myself, and I crave more! I’ve a feeling in the next few weeks we might discuss my possible future contribution to the company. I do hope so. I’ve had a terrific winter; I’ve heard it was one of the most sunless winters for Toronto in years, but I didn’t notice, because my discoveries with SpiderWebShow shone so bright!

Thank you, mentor Sarah Garton Stanley. Thank you, Michael Wheeler. Thank you, SpiderWebShow Performance for sharing your knowledge, vision and time with me. And thank you so much to you, Theatre Ontario, for this PTTP opportunity, and for all that you do in helping build a vital, dynamic, great artistic community! The world needs us! Onward, all. Here’s to 2017!

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 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: Lisa Van Oorschot

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

Lisa Van Oorschot is training in lighting design with Kimberly Purtell

(February 22, 2017) The past seven weeks have been a whirlwind of rehearsals, meetings, tech times and opening nights. I feel so lucky to be participating in this program, and am so thankful to Kim and to Theatre Ontario for all of the experiences I have had so far.

The first day of January was my first official day of the program, and I jumped right into observing the lighting focus for The Wedding Party at Streetcar Crowsnest (Crow's brand new space). After a busy week of tech, we moved on to the Baillie Theatre for Soulpepper's production of The Last Wife, where I was able to observe from the lighting focus all the way up to opening night. Next, we moved on to the Studio 180/Mirvish production of My Night With Reg, starting with rehearsals in the rehearsal hall, then moving to the Panasonic for tech, previews and opening. To cap off this first part of the program, I was able to visit the Shaw Festival for two days, and sit in on some of the preparation for lighting at the Royal George Theatre in the upcoming season.

Getting to see several different productions in different spaces has been incredibly valuable to my education as an emerging designer. All of these productions were extremely different in tone and style, and had various challenges. Seeing the similarities and differences was extremely interesting (for example, working with a fly system vs. a catwalk, and creating a plot from scratch vs. starting with a rep plot.) I really appreciated having so much time to observe, take notes and ask questions, picking up a lot of vocabulary and tips along the way.

It has also been great to have time for hands-on projects to improve my practical skills (such as creating magic sheets for the productions, and trying my hand at creating my own design based on the real-life needs of one of the shows.) Kim's feedback on my work has been invaluable in improving my skills and understanding. I have really appreciated her generosity with her time, and her patience in answering my questions.

It has also been an amazing opportunity to meet other theatre professionals, and see how things really work behind the scenes. I am so grateful that people have been so welcoming, and I am constantly inspired by getting to spend time with people who are so passionate about what they do.

I feel so lucky to be participating in this program, and have really appreciated the financial support and flexibility it has provided. Overall I feel that I've been progressing well on the goals I set for myself; however, being immersed in a professional environment has shown me just how much I still have to learn. I am looking forward to even more opportunities in the remaining weeks! 


Fun with drafting—above, a section of a magic sheet in progress (sort of like a cheat sheet, which shows you your design at a glance). Below, a section of my own theoretical design (with lots of changes still be made based on Kim's feedback).


Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 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: Norah Paton

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

Norah Paton will train in production management with Kevin Waghorn at the Ottawa Fringe Festival

(March 2, 2017) Over 12 weeks from February to May, I am excited to be working at Arts Court Theatre here in Ottawa, learning some new skills in production management and technical direction. 

In the weeks leading up to the beginning of my training, I’ve been working in the Arts Court Theatre as a performer at the undercurrents festival. As a result, I’ve been spending loads of time in the theatre, and working already with my future mentor. Walking in to start my mentorship next week means walking into a familiar space in an unfamiliar role. 

From theatre and dance to music and film, the spaces at Arts Court accommodate all kinds of shows. It’s also used for corporate events, meetings and even dance parties. It’s a huge variety of clients and needs, with a couple festivals peppered throughout—so I’ll also have the chance to see a couple larger operations from beginning to end. 

As a performer, I’ve worked with production managers from the other side of the table. As a theatre maker, I’ve picked up ‘ad hoc’ (read: very basic) skills in some technical disciplines. As person who needs to buy food and pay rent, I’ve spent lots of time in administrative roles, most recently for the federal government. This mentorship promises to be a chance to combine all of these experiences and build some real, marketable, tangible skills. 

My motivation going into this mentorship is undoubtedly varied. On the one hand, I’m hoping to learn skills that will make me (more) employable in the future. Arts Court Theatre works with rentals of all sorts of art forms, as well as conferences and meetings etc. Working in production management opens you up to opportunities far outside the theatre. It’s also a way to put the administrative, organizational, quasi-controlling parts of myself to work where my passion lies - in the arts. 

After working in theatres, or bars set up as theatres, or converted galleries, or, etc. I’m used to figuring out on the fly how to wire that PA, change that monitor mix, focus lights and program lighting boards. I’m particularly excited over the coming months to actually learn what I’m doing in these situations. Even more, to have the time to learn a bit of the theory of why and how these things work. It’s a really different feeling to be able to say “I know how to do that”, rather than “oh, I’ve done that once.”

As a theatre creator, I think it’s essential for me to learn these technical, or behind-the-scenes parts of my work in order to be able to do my job well. It’s honestly mystifying to me that more people don’t see it this way. I don’t mean you need to be an expert at everything; that’s not realistic, nor would it be efficient. We will always have our specializations.

You do, however, generally need to speak the same language as your co-workers, if you’re hoping to work together well. We don’t all need to be perfectly bilingual, but enough to understand each other and collaborate. Just like bilingualism, skills both on and off stage make you a more indispensable employee, gives you more tools to work with, and I’m pretty sure it’s also been proven to make you smarter.

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 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: Kevin Matthew Wong

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

Kevin Matthew Wong is training in artistic direction with Marjorie Chan at Cahoots Theatre in Toronto

(February 27, 2017)
“The grace is abundant in my country,
and the generosity is fluttering high,
my wish is to see it in peace…
We want to live with dignity
We want to live with dignity. ”
- Translation by Ahmed Barakat of Baladi from John & Waleed
John & Waleed. Photo by Michael Cooper
There is an understated power in John & Waleed, the final production of Cahoots’ 30th anniversary season, a music and storytelling experience performed by the virtuosic titular duo. When Marjorie and I first spoke about the PTTP neither of us could have predicted today’s political climate and the timeliness of this production in making space for conversations on diversity and understanding difference. John & Waleed asks us to build bridges rather than walls, to pursue harmony in spite of hardship, and to open hearts, doors and borders.

---

PTTP training has been intensive and each week has brought forward its own unique learnings. I’ve been organizing my Cahoots files in folders that are categorized and sorted chronologically by week.

They’ve ended up looking like this: 
  1. Supporting Diverse Artists / Cahoots Company Future
  2. Hot House / Audio Description Training
  3. Theatre Ontario Showcase / Next Generation Artists 
  4. Translation Research / John & Waleed
  5. Grants, grants, grants!
  6. John & Waleed Opening / Project Parkdale Read
  7. Cahoots 30 Gala 
  8. Audio Interpreted Performance 
We’ve managed to stick mostly to plan, but some pleasant surprises have happened along the way. 

---

Audience Access

Pursuing a mandate of diversity today means being inclusive beyond considerations of cultural diversity. Diversity in performance ought to also consider gender, age, size and ability. During my second week at Cahoots I was able to learn about audio-described performances from Mala Naraine and Margot Whitfield from Ryerson’s Inclusive Media and Design Centre. Theatre Passe Muraille and Cahoots have recently been guided by Mala and Margot in exploring the “integrated” approach to audio-description. This approach involves the audio-interpreter integrating the feel and style of the show into the delivery of their audio-description. This Sunday Marjorie will be providing an integrated audio description of John & Waleed that is also an “open-description,” meaning that all audience members will be able to hear and experience audio-description that is typically heard only by select audience members over headset.

Project Parkdale Read

King Street outside Project Parkdale Read. An
organization for adult literacy in Toronto.
An incredibly meaningful part of my PTTP took place two weeks ago and was only three hours long. I had the privilege to visit and take part in Project Parkdale Read’s (PPR) adult literacy class. Although I was ostensibly there to capture video footage for John & Waleed, I tried to integrate fully into the class and, because of that, had a wonderful time meeting and befriending PPR’s participants and facilitators, including Cahoots playwright-in-residence Jo Simalaya Alcampo. Images of the PPR class appears at the end of John & Waleed during a montage of the faces of Toronto. I find that the images of PPR are particularly potent because, like Cahoots, PPR actively serves a diverse and often overlooked community. I am thrilled that PPR and Cahoots have found partners in one another. 
I left Parkdale inspired, motivated and changed. 

---

Personal Development

Next week John & Waleed will have closed. Marjorie and I will be discussing personal development and learning to be done in the weeks ahead. There will be cookies.
CAHOOTS: Cookies Are How Our Operating Team Subsists.

---

I began my first entry with gratitude, and I want to reiterate my appreciation for Marjorie’s guidance, for Theatre Ontario’s trust, and for our indigenous peoples and land and water protectors. However, I want to end this entry a little more boldly: I am proud to be part of Cahoots. To take part in even a small part of the conversation and action necessary for greater inclusivity in Canadian Theatre. I am proud to let people know about what we do, about the projects we mount, and the artists we support, and for that I am again grateful.

Related Reading:

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


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

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

  • Seeking financial support for programs that deliver accessible training to young people (age 14 to 21), led by professional theatre artists? Apply for our Youth Theatre Training Program grants. The application deadline is March 15.
  • Want to know the secrets to a successful voice acting career? Join us at our Voice Over workshop with Elley-Ray on March 18 in Toronto.
  • Answers to your FAQs about the business of acting: Join us at our Launching Your Career workshop with Rachel Kennedy and guest TBA on March 20 in Toronto.
  • Learn a deeper understanding of the art of stage management and their role as a creative participant in the world of theatre. Join us at our Places Please! Stage Management and the Creative Process from Pre-Production to End of Run weekend intensive with Maria Popoff on March 25 and 26 in Kingston.
  • Want to improve your tech skills? Camp Tech offers beginner-friendly, hands-on workshops for adults like you who want to learn to use the latest applications and platforms. Taught by leading professionals, upcoming beginner-level workshops at Camp Tech include – Photoshop for Beginners (Mar 9 and May 18); Intro to Podcasting (Mar 26); Intro to Google Analytics (Mar 28 and May 23); HTML and CSS for Beginners (Apr 2); Social Media Basics (Apr 27); Wordpress for Beginners (May 7); Adobe Illustrator for Beginners (May 30); and Intro to Search Engine Marketing with Google AdWords (May 30). Learn more about Theatre Ontario member discounts at CampTech.
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline to apply to direct at Theatre Aurora community theatre is today.
  • Deadline for nominations for the Ottawa Arts Council awards, including the Young Artist Award, is March 10.
  • Deadline for applications to the Theatre Kingston Storefront Fringe Festival is March 13.
    Theatre Kingston's Storefront Fringe Festival
    application deadline is March 13
  • Deadline for applications for York Region Arts Council’s Artrepreneur program is March 13.
  • Deadline for applications for the Hamilton Fringe Festival ALERT: Arts Education Initiative for emerging artistic leaders is March 15.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Shaw Festival is launching “Scene Study Sundays”, new workshop-style classes for adults. The sessions are on the last Sunday of the month, with the first session on April 30.
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, 7 March 2017

YAC 2016 Youth Festival Series: Kingston’s Juvenis Festival

by Jocelyn MacNeil (2016 Youth Advisory Committee)

The two-part youth festival series aims to introduce readers to the inner workings of the major youth-run theatre festivals across Ontario.

In this segment, Jocelyn MacNeil interviews Michael Sheppard and Jane Karges of Kingston’s Blue Canoe Theatre Productions about how they got their new youth festival, Juvenis, off the ground.

It can feel like the arts has taken a back seat in the lives and education of many young people. But in Kingston, Blue Canoe has managed to breathe new life into the city’s theatre community by putting youth first. With no shortage of effort and passion, Artistic Producer Michael Sheppard and his team have done something invaluable for Kingston’s artistic community: they have gotten people to believe in it again. 

Blue Canoe was formed as a youth-led and youth-focused theatre company in 2006. One of its major achievements has been the creation of the Juvenis Festival. Now in its second year, Juvenis (named for the Latin word meaning “youth” or “youthful”) is a youth-led arts festival that aims to inspire involvement in the arts across all levels and disciplines for people aged 13-30. 

Mike tells me that the idea for the festival started six years after he founded Blue Canoe. Around 2012, he noticed a lack of summer theatre programs in the city. He had been toying with the idea of a youth-run theatre festival but was met with skepticism. By this point, Blue Canoe had proved itself to be a viable and successful organization. But Mike was also discovering that the impact it was having on Kingston youth was greater than anticipated; participants in Blue Canoe productions were not only actively engaging in the work they were staging, they were also building relationships within the company and the greater community. Mike ventured that a youth theatre festival that acted as part showcase, part professional development would be the perfect way to keep this dynamic going. He explains that given Kingston’s size and status as a university town, the opportunity for professional development in theatre has historically been somewhat limited. He felt the demand was there, and set out to use Blue Canoe to create the first blueprint for what would eventually become the Juvenis Festival. 

So: how do you organize a project whose main goal is to involve youth as leaders at every step of the way? Mike first looked to timing. National Youth Week takes place annually at the beginning of May and seemed to be the perfect platform to generate interest and involvement. It was decided that the festival would coincide with that week each year.

Mike teamed up with Jane Karges, a recent Queens Drama graduate, and they moved to secure funding and support. As they went about trying to transform dreams into reality, they were prepared for push-back, but Jane tells me she did not anticipate that the point of reluctance would stem from a fundamental lack of faith in the age group. When they told one school official that the festival would be geared towards people aged 13-30, the administrator simply said, “good luck with that.” Jane explains that the woman believed this age group would be too difficult to engage, and that this kind of project would be better suited to elementary school ages. Jane was shocked that she had to defend an idea designed to benefit youth to a school administrator. A veteran of dealing with skepticism from the community after years spent advocating for Blue Canoe, Mike was not at all surprised. Both were delighted to find that many arts groups and businesses eventually decided to help them, in what felt at the time like a 180-degree shift.

Mike, Jane, and their army of enthusiastic young volunteers had to be strategic. Juvenis needed to forge partnerships with local organizations so that the festival’s impact could be furthered through those networks. They were lucky enough to find friendship in organizations such as the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre, Reelout Arts Project, Kingston Canadian Film Festival, Kingston Writer’s Fest, Boys and Girls Club Kingston, Youth to Kingston Strategy Group, and the Kingston-Frontenac Public Library (with whom Blue Canoe had partnered previously for their storytelling coffee house, 
VIVA VOCE).

As plans progressed, the team was very careful to avoid a structure that would be in any way restricting. “Structure” can sound like a four-letter word to many in the arts, and staying true to a format that best promoted youth engagement was the primary goal. To that end, they organized themselves according to the seasons. Fall was for developing youth engagement: visiting local high schools, St. Lawrence College and Queens University, and finding out what the youth of the city wanted the festival to look like. Winter was for project submissions: reviewing applications and selecting from a wide range of content, ages and disciplines. As the snow melted and spring arrived, their next and final task was promotion. 

The team also had to consider who they were making the festival for. “The festival is for everyone, and I say that knowing it’s a cliché, but let me explain…” Mike tells me that Juvenis’ mandate is to create an environment where every artistic endeavour is possible. So if you are brand new to theatre? There are workshops designed for beginners to help cultivate creativity, network with other artists in the community, and build connections for future festivals. Whether you are 13 and have never tried anything “artsy” before, 16 and the lead in your school musical, or 21 and have always wanted to produce a concert or art show, there is a place for you at Juvenis. 

Mike and Jane tell me they have both witnessed first-hand that the high quality of the work comes from people having fun. “We haven’t found that introducing the youth to the arts under the notion of working tirelessly, isolating yourself and avoiding the playfulness of the arts has worked. When we have a fun atmosphere and people connect with one another, good art comes out of that.” And given that every event at the festival ticketed, the statement to the community is clear: there is value in what youth produce.

While funding cuts seem to be taking place left, right and centre in almost every school board in Ontario, youth-led, youth-empowering initiatives cannot help but be a source of hope. I can tell you that it is especially heartwarming to get to talk to such an inspirational team, one that is creating meaningful opportunities for youth and that genuinely wants every young artist to believe that the sky is the limit.

The plan is for Juvenis to be entirely youth-run within the next five years. Obviously this is not something that can happen overnight, but it is Mike’s hope that the festival will be an opportunity for students fresh out of post-secondary to gain practical experience in what they have been studying at school. It is clear that whoever succeeds these two will have big shoes to fill, but if this interview has left me with anything, it is a feeling of confidence in what young people can achieve.

The Juvenis Festival will run in Kingston as part of National Youth Week from April 30-May 7, 2017.

Related Reading

Monday, 6 March 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of March 6

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
7 Stories at Hart House Theatre
Brian Haight
Photo by Scott Gorman
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In South Central Ontario

Mar. 8, Picasso at the Lapin Agile at The Oakville Players

In Toronto

Mar. 8, New Ideas Festival at Alumnae Theatre Company
Mar. 10, Tartuffe at Scarborough Theatre Guild
Mar. 11, Cage at Soulpepper Theatre, in preview

In Eastern Ontario

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Picasso at the Lapin Agile at East Side Players
Steve Ness, Scott Murdoch, Julie Cloutier, Declan Ryan
Photo by Vince Berns
Mar. 9, The Drawer Boy at Brockville Theatre Guild
Mar. 10, Catch Me If You Can at Orpheus Musical Theatre Society (Ottawa)

In Northeastern Ontario

Mar. 10, Greek at Thorneloe University (Sudbury)
Mar. 11, The Melville Boys at Take Two Theatre (Timmins)

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, 3 March 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


In Case You Missed It


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Welcome to Erin Shields as Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 Playwright-in-Person

Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 is excited to welcome Erin Shields as “Playwright-in-Person” at this year’s Festival in Ottawa. Erin will be reading from her work on Friday, May 19 at 1:30pm at Ottawa Little Theatre.

Erin Shields is a playwright and actor who trained at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in London, England. She is a founding member of Groundwater Productions through which she creates, develops, and produces much of her work. Her Governor General’s Literary Award winning play If We Were Birds was produced by Tarragon Theatre in 2010 and won two Dora Mavor Moore Awards. It also earned the 2008 Summerworks Festival’s Outstanding Production Award and has been translated into German as part of The German Theatre Exchange. Her other plays include Montparnasse, winner of the Alberta Theatre Projects’ Enbridge playRites Award, the Dora-nominated The Unfortunate Misadventures of Masha Galinski, and The Epic of Gilgamesh (Groundwater/ Summerworks). Erin is currently developing plays for Tarragon, The Shaw Festival, Nightwood Theatre, Suitcase in Point, and Groundwater Productions. Her most recent play, The Millennial Malcontent, premiered this year.

Playwright-in-Person has been part of Theatre Ontario Festival since 1999. The program brings professional playwrights to Festival communities for script readings, Q&A, and more. Playwright-in-Person is made possible by a grant from the Playwrights Guild of Canada, funded by the Canada Council.

Theatre Ontario Festival is our annual celebration of community theatre in the province. It’s a showcase of outstanding community theatre productions, a classroom for passionate and dedicated community theatre artists, a celebration of excellence in community theatre, and a destination bringing together theatre lovers from across the province. Festival 2017 is hosted by Ottawa Little Theatre, in partnership with Theatre Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Drama League.