Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Be the Voice of Youth in Theatre Today

We are currently seeking new members for our Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) for 2018.

The YAC will be responsible for establishing and implementing a plan of action for the next twelve months with the aim of creating greater accessibility to youth interested in a career in theatre and/or youth passionate about fostering the next generation of theatre artists. The YAC will act as ambassadors for Theatre Ontario and for youth engaged with theatre across Ontario. In 2017 the YAC focused on assembling and increasing accessibility to resources for emerging artists as well as on the power of peer-to-peer networking. What do you think the YAC could focus on in 2018?

Monday, 30 October 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of October 30

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools at Buddies in Bad Times
Theatre (venue) / Theatre Passe Muraille
Evalyn Parry, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory
Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In South Central Ontario

Nov. 3, Hilda's Yard at Georgetown Little Theatre

In Southwestern Ontario

Nov. 3, Dancing in Poppies at London Community Players [with a preview on Nov. 2]
Nov. 3, Dial “M” for Murder at Elmira Theatre Company

In Toronto

Nov. 1, The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? at Soulpepper Theatre [in previews]
Nov. 2, The Ashes of Forgotten Rain / This Is a Play at NAGs Players
Nov. 2, The John Candy Box Series at The Second City
Nov. 3, Backbone at Canadian Stage [with a preview on Nov. 2]
Nov. 3, Evita at Scarborough Music Theatre [with a preview on Nov. 2]
Nov. 3, Evelyn Strange at The Village Players, Bloor West Village
Nov. 3, Men’s Circle at REAson d’etre dance productions [with a preview on Nov. 2]

In Central Ontario

Nov. 1, We Must Have More Men! Barrie and the Great War at Theatre By The Bay (Barrie)
Nov. 2, Fiddler on the Roof at South Simcoe Theatre (Cookstown)
Nov. 3, The Drowning Girls at Peterborough Theatre Guild
ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
The Valley at East Side Players

In Eastern Ontario

Nov. 2, Ordinary Days at Great Canadian Theatre Company (Ottawa) [with previews from Oct. 31]
Nov. 3, EODL One-Act Festival 2017 hosted by Rural Root Theatre Company (Constance Bay)


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

Friday, 27 October 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres

Tom Hendry is heading out to his namesake awards
from Playwrights Guild of Canada

Migrations


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 26 October 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 six stories:
The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2018.


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: Ali Berkok

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

Ali Berkok trained in sound design with Debashis Sinha and Verne Good at the Stratford Festival and Blyth Festival


(September 19, 2017) I’ve finished the final leg of my PTTP training and it is time to launch out on my own.

In August I visited rehearsal for the Blyth Festival’s production of The Pigeon King, once again under the wing of sound designer Verne Good. The company collectively created The Pigeon King without an overriding script, so Verne had to be ready to create and change content as needed. Witnessing this readiness and spontaneity left me eager to continue my education in the tools and technology of the trade so that I too might be ready when requests are made on-the-fly.

Another key way in which this production differed from others I witnessed during the training is that the underscoring came from live players right on the stage (including the great George Meanwell.) This meant that much of Verne’s work was in balancing live sound, and enabling access to the right sound equipment. This overlaps with my own experience of playing live music in the city, and is something I’ll have to keep in mind as most of my starting work is likely to be in smaller venues (even spaces that won’t be dedicated theatre spaces.)
The company of The Pigeon King at Blyth Festival
Photo by Terry Manzo

Stratford, as a large festival with complicated resource allocation, leaves less breathing room in rehearsals to try things out, especially as a sound designer. Blyth is a much smaller town, company and festival than Stratford, so the company and crew work more closely together—no less professionally but certainly more informally. In this environment, Verne requested more stops in the flow of rehearsal to adjust cues, reminding me once again about those soft skills of reading the room and accepted work flow in a community. One example I witnessed saw Verne replace one sound cue with two, to better represent a barn full of pigeons being set free. Another content change Verne had to make was to take a cue representing pigeons flying around a barn several times and make it into one, slower fly-around. This was required to make the timing of a scene work. I am thrilled to take on creative problem solving such as this.

The support of the PTTP and mentors Verne Good and Debashis Sinha have given me the confidence and emerging skillset to take on my first gig. I’ll be doing both sound design and composition duties on the Alumnae Theatre (Toronto) production of Carol Shields’s 13 Hands, opening at the end of October.

Because 13 Hands is my first show, every challenge is new: selection and timing of sound effects, imagining my sound design in the theatre space, communication with the rest of the creative team, and in this show’s case, anticipating the needs of the cast around singing (three songs in the script required a musical setting provided by me.) This morning I am working on a backing track to underscore one song (“It’s Not A Sin”.)

I am finding this first experience very satisfying. It is thrilling to come to the table with an offering of what the sound and music will be. This is probably the most difficult thing to write about—that sense of offering your ideas that comes along with a willingness to change and modify (sometimes very quickly) depending on the needs of the show. This strength and flexibility, and straight-up caring deeply about what’s being made, is a thing I observed in my mentors and all the fantastic professionals I witnessed over the course of the PTTP.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2018.


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: Kelly Wolf

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

Kelly Wolf is training in creation/dramaturgy with Richard Greenblatt at Tapesty Opera in Toronto


(August 22, 2017) So much has happened!  I have had a busy summer so I am a bit late in getting this blog post out.  I would say that I am approximately 2/3rds of the way through my project at this point.

The first part of my proposal was to work with Richard Greenblatt observing his dramaturgical process with a new work. He was working with Tom Allen to develop a play with music The Missing Pages about a fictionalised encounter between Beethoven and Canadian composer Theodore Molt.  Over the course of five sessions approximately three hours long, I was a fly on the wall, listening and observing Richard’s approach to new play development.  There were four rehearsals with the cast and the piece was presented on four different occasions; University of Waterloo, Toronto, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Parry Sound. I was able to attend the first performance and the last one which took place approximately a month later.  

Richard has also been consulting with me on a project that I directed and produced at the Hamilton Fringe Festival. I called upon Richard to review the script. Based upon my observations with The Missing Pages along with Richard’s suggestions I was able to continue to work with the playwright to develop a script that was clear in its storytelling. I am grateful that Richard was able to make it out to Hamilton to see our production of Normal Shmormal and I will be meeting with him soon to hear his feedback.

We are still working together on one more project: Hook Up (previously known as Selfie.) It is a new contemporary opera in development, set on campus during the first year of university. With this project I am observing Richard’s method for extracting the story as well as the way in which music can underscore a piece, removing the need for excessive exposition. The intention is that by the beginning of October we will have a complete libretto to present to Tapestry. Earlier in the process librettist Julie Tepperman and Richard met to establish their outline with a series of cue cards. They broke the script down into the essential actions that drive the story forward. This process enabled them to establish the structure of the piece and to develop the spine of the story. I have endeavored to use this strategy as I worked with the playwright of Normal Shmormal.

In terms of my progress, am I achieving what I set out to do? Yes. What I have learned to be essential so far: clarity in storytelling, precision, brevity and specificity, ask questions to reveal the story. Richard and I have also been meeting individually to talk about the process of making theatre and he has shared with me a few of his techniques for developing devised projects. I know that I will be working on creating a devised piece of theatre for the upcoming Hamilton FrostBites in February 2018 and I know that I will be able to put some of these techniques into practice.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2018.


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: Victoria Stacey

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

Victoria Stacey is training in directing with Thomas Morgan Jones at Theatre New Brunswick in Fredericton NB


Victoria Stacey at Theatre New Brunswick
(September 27, 2017) Here I am in Fredericton, New Brunswick! I have been here for one week and a day but from the amount I have learned and the people I have met it feels like I have been here for one month and a day. I am feeling so grateful for the opportunity granted to me by Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) to focus all of my energy on this one project, Fortune of Wolves by Ryan Griffith. Without the PTTP I would not have had the opportunity to work with such experienced, intelligent, and inspiring artists at this early point in my career.

Ryan Griffith is, in my opinion, the next great Canadian playwright. I could read his play a hundred times and continue to find nuance and new details; every monologue is a mini play. The characters he has created feel like real Canadians, I can attach them to people I have met in my life and when they speak, their entire world appears around them.

From day one the actors have been showcasing the intense specificity with which they approach their work. The unique and unexpected choices they have made for each of their 20+ characters are incredible. Thom and I have both said that we wouldn’t have been able to stage this production in this condensed, three and a half week, rehearsal process without their expertise and refined craft. 

Deanna Choi, sound designer for Fortune of Wolves and former PTTP recipient, has been very eager to share her experiences and advice with me. Her artistry and professionalism were really brought into view when the concept that she and Thom had thought up for the production was tested out on day one and it just didn’t work. In a very short amount of time, through just a few conversations, she and Thom were able to get back on track and figure out an approach to the sound design that worked beautifully. This learning moment gave me a deeper understanding of how directors should aim to communicate with designers. The best part about this was that none of the work they had done prior to the rehearsal process was thrown out. Those designs ended up being reworked and added to the second act of the play. I feel very lucky to have been able to witness the development of the sound design.

Thomas Morgan Jones, director of Fortune of Wolves and my mentor, creates an environment where everyone involved in the project feels that their voice and contributions are valued. One moment that really stands out to me is when Thom invited our stage manager Tammy, one of the teachers from the theatre school Sharisse, and myself up onto the set along with him to explore the space before the actors. This gave the actors the opportunity to see how bodies look in this space and to watch how stories can be formed by bodies in this space before adding text. The exercise ensured that the actors were eager to get up and play and try things! The exercise also provided real examples to refer back to later on in the process and helped the entire team develop a shared language. In this moment the Viewpoints training that Thom and I participated in together in June became very integral to the process. 

Fortune of Wolves. Photo by Matt Carter
I am feeling excited and challenged by my relationship with my mentor. The entire team on the project checks in daily about what is front of mind. This can be anything but generally we speak about what we are struggling with, what we learned, or what we are curious or excited about. Thom and I also have moments to check in separate from the group. Sometimes I have burning questions, which he always takes the time to answer in detail. Sometimes there are big lessons for me to learn, based on what just happened in rehearsal, that we need to break down together. Sometimes we share what stories are coming to mind after watching the pictures come together on stage. Thom is always very clear that these are his choices, interests, and ways of thinking that define who he is as an artist. He never makes me feel that his choices are the only choices but this is the way he chooses to frame his work. Based on these conversations I know that moving forward in my career I need to figure out what my specific lines of inquiry are. 

Back to the play…

 Fortune of Wolves takes place over 13 months (81 monologues/scenes) and we have made it through six months and 42 monologues in six days. Thom established a formula or a way of working that has allowed us to give each piece and transition it’s time without losing sight of the big picture. From this, I have learned about working within extreme time constraints and that one job of the director is time management.

Fortune of Wolves. Photo by Matt Carter
Thom began building the world and rules or conventions of the play within which the ensemble can create the moment rehearsals began. Now that these things are established the ensemble can make physical choices to compliment or contrast each monologue as it is delivered without pulling focus in a disruptive way. As we begin to approach the climax of the play next week I am looking forward to seeing when and how these rules for physicality and movement can be broken or altered to comment on where we are in the plot. As Thom says, the rules can always change!

One major thing I have learned about physicality and movement while working on this play is that we can get trapped by our own unconscious habits, the need to make big choices, or the ‘right’ choice. Through our explorations on this play I have seen that the smallest shift in the position of the feet or angle of the head or alignment of the hips can clarify or establish an entire character. I have also seen how simple movements like one performer turning their back while the others remain facing out can explode with story, or build tension, or any number of infinite things. From my previous training with Viewpoints I knew that this could happen in improvisations but I have never seen it work so successfully in the staging of a professional play. 

In my original training plan for this mentorship I focused a lot of my attention on exploring physicality and learning how Thom would tackle all of the different locations and transitions required by the play. None of that has changed. In my proposal I did briefly mention the fact that this play is a new Canadian play and a world premiere. I did not realize then how big of an impact this would have on the process. It is really exciting to witness and participate in new play development and dramaturgy. We are always asking really tough questions of our script because this is the first time the play is being put on stage. We are in constant contact with the playwright; in fact a new draft of a scene and an entirely new monologue were delivered to us at the end of this week of rehearsal. This is the first time this play is being tackled and so we get the supreme pleasure of seeing what is possible. 

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2018.


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: Naomi Duvall

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

Naomi Duvall is training in puppet design, building and manipulation with Brad Brackenridge at the Nervous System in Peterborough


It Begins

(August 21, 2017)  One of the first assignments Brad gave me was to write a report. He asked that it describe how I see my past, present and future involvement in Puppetry. “Sure,” I said. Piece of cake, right? It was at first, I simply listed all my past puppet exploits, what I'm up to now and a few of the things I would like to do with it someday.

There was another stipulation though, I had to talk about WHY I did it, what my personal connection is to the art form, what it is that makes me passionate about it and how do I see those feelings shaping what I do as they drive me forward. I have to admit that I am slow when it comes to properly expressing myself in writing. I deeply appreciate words and language so I take great care in choosing the right phrase. This makes the task laborious at times until I get a flow of inspiration. My struggle with answering Brad’s question is that I don't pause often enough to consider why I do something. I follow an instinct or a good feeling and act upon it. It is safe to say that reflection and asking myself hard questions is important for me and this assignment has spurred me to gaze backwards and locate my first impulse to animate the inanimate.

It turned up in a bathtub full of cucumbers, I was 7 and it was my Dad's way of making vegetable washing fun. It was canning season and each cuke had its own name, character and strategy for how to avoid becoming a pickle. It was an utterly mundane task transformed to the magical: characters could fly, breathe underwater, flip, jump, hurl imagined objects. I found it entrancing then and I do now. If I can bring half as much joy and wonder to an audience as those moments gave and give to me I would consider myself a success. That is what drives me, creating and sharing things of value, importance and meaning, truth and nonsensical fun or bitter sadness. I have this need to tell stories and puppetry is one of my favorite ways to do it.

Hitting the books

Brad is able to tell stories really well through his craft, it was a huge factor in my choosing him as a mentor. He has provided me with a number of books that he finds useful and I have spent a great deal of this first half of the mentorship poring over them. They have helped me explore some History, different styles of puppet design and construction and I even found some old images of a production of The Pied Piper! The piece I am to help design and build for the Peterborough ArtsWORK Festival in November will be an adaptation of this story.

I have been looking at different versions online and if I wasn't already fascinated by the story, my exposure to the first draft that Kate Story is adapting has me hooked! The creative team for the Peterborough ArtsWORK Festival met in July for a reading of the newborn script. Happily, the assembled crew  are also performers and lots of ideas and interpretations flew around the table giving our writer something to work with as she tackles the next draft. One of the vivid ideas mentioned that stuck in my brain is for the Mayor to emerge from a giant Rat suit at one point, I'm excited to see how that idea will evolve. I’m also quite enthused with the choice to set the story locally; I still feel new to Peterborough despite having been born in the hospital there and living here the past few years. I’m curious to see how the setting can affect an audience's connection to the story.

Getting My Hands Dirty

The original training plan had me doing hands-on work much sooner than I actually did. It was ambitious perhaps to think that I could absorb that much information so quickly, I didn't take into account my slower learning style. Luckily the month of August is unformatted so there is plenty of time to play catch up and be on track for September. Brad has given me plenty of space for independent study and made it clear that he is available to answer any questions or concerns I should have. I have been thrown a curveball by my Dad becoming ill in July and needing my assistance. My attention has been divided between learning and taking care of him but despite that challenge I like to think I have managed as well as possible in my mentorship pursuit, all things considered. I feel fully supported and understood by my Mentor. Brad and I share a common trait, a love of laughter. We had a quick but good talk when we encountered each other on the bike path the other day. I appreciate his attitude towards difficult situations, rather than be too solemn he looks at the issue with humorous glint while still being sensitive to its gravity. It helps me to stay positive about the future and makes tough times easier to deal with. I think spending time together during production won't be a chore.

When I eventually did get down to starting some hands on awesomeness I was provided with plasticine and sculpting tools by Master Brackenridge and told to create a face. Drawing from the piece we are working on for inspiration and using household pets as models I decided to do a rat face.

It was slow going  figuring out what tools would do what I wanted them to, and I had to start from scratch a few times but I came up with something I a) liked, b) Didn't want to mush up into a formless ball again, and C) kinda looks like a Rat. Brad indicated that the next step is to do a layer of papier maché, cut it in half, rejoin it and attach it to a body (which I will sew together)

Moving Forward

Looking ahead to the final stage of my mentorship, I foresee a busy planning, design and build period in September/October. I am particularly excited about learning how to construct and manipulate a marionette as I find the concept intimidating. The completion and study of the script in the next few weeks will get things moving. This will be a time to keep my eye on how a project comes together. I will observe the elements that make it cook so I can stash the info away for when it's time to originate my own work. I'm coming to understand that something like this doesn't just happen, there is so much that needs to be taken into account. Watching Kate run our meetings, take minutes, keeping in touch with everyone via e-mail, applying to grants, writing the script, scheduling and keeping on top of the team to make sure things are running smoothly has opened my eyes. I will be watching her, Brad and the rest of the team like a Hawk to be able to absorb all I can of this experience.

Related Reading:


The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2018.


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: Rose Hopkins

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

Rose Hopkins will train in directing with Marilo Nunez at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton


(September 25, 2017) Over the past several months, I’ve been struggling with who I am as an artist. I like to think that I’m a jack of all trades—but unfortunately, the ‘master of none’ part still applies. While my formal education is in acting, since graduating I had tried my hand at playwriting, collective creation, directing, and producing. And while I’ve loved all of these experiences for different reasons, being spread out across so many disciplines means that I haven’t had enough time to really develop a process or framework for creating and directing that works for me. That is why I’m so thrilled to be mentoring with Marilo Nunez on La Reunion which will be presented at Theatre Aquarius as part of their studio series at the end of October.

Like me, Marilo is multi-passionate. We met when she was working at the Hamilton Fringe Festival, but before her time there, she worked as an actor, director, ran her own company, and now, she’s completing her MFA in Creative Writing at Guelph University. She wrote La Reunion and directed it when it was part of RISER Project in 2016. I’m so excited to see how she brings this unique perspective as playwright to her role as director and to work with her through this process from start to finish. Oftentimes, it feels like I’m reinventing the wheel each time I start working on a new project, so I hope this experience will give me some insight on how to develop my own framework that can make me feel more secure in my work and to give me more focus as I move forward in my career. 

There is also something so special about being able to have this experience in Hamilton, my home. While I hope that my career takes me to all sorts of places, this city means a lot to me. It has been the place I’ve grown up, found a supportive network, and started to become the kind of artist I want to be. However, there are very few opportunities for young artists like myself to receive the kind of professional level training that will help me grow. So, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Theatre Ontario, Ontario Arts Council, and Marilo for the opportunity. I can’t wait to get started!

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2018.


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

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Michela Sisti

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

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


Theatre for the Living

(September 23, 2017)

Odile Gakire Katese, known to the people who meet her as “Kikki”, is a professional dreamer. She is creating something called The Book of Life, a global artwork of letters written across 100 countries worldwide. These letters are written by living people to the dead. 

The reason why Kikki is creating The Book of Life is so that she can help her country Rwanda heal from the 1994 genocide. In Rwanda she has written letters to the dead alongside people who lost family members, neighbors, colleagues and lovers to horrific violent deaths. She has also written letters to the dead alongside the people who slaughtered and killed their neighbors, friends and fellow countrymen.

I met Kikki when she came to Toronto last spring to write letters to the dead with people of this country through an initiative by Volcano Theatre called Theatre of Upheaval. For reasons we the participants never found out, Kikki chose to call her workshop, “Theatre for the Living/Theatre of Dreams.” It began this way:
“Write a letter to your dead. You have twenty minutes. You can start.”
Immediately, hands flew up like condos on the lakeshore and Kikki was introduced to the Canadian tendency to need to qualify and receive approval for everything.
“How do you want us to write the letter?”
“It doesn’t matter to me. You can write it however you want.”
“Does it have to be someone I was close to? Or can it be someone in my family I never knew?”
“The person can be whoever you want it to be.”
“But nobody in my family died violently. They had very privileged lives.”
“All death is death.” 
“I’m not a playwright, I’m an actor.”
“You do not have to be a writer or an actor for this. Just speak in your voice.”
“Kikki, I don’t think I’ve found my voice yet.”
“Your voice is your voice.”
We wrote our letters. Then we sat in a circle and read them to each other. After that Kikki taught us a song in Rwandan, which we sang in faint hesitant voices. (“Don’t be so scared of the words. Sing them!”) Then Kikki told us we’d be putting the reading of our letters and the singing of songs together to create a performance that the public would view on the evening of our fourth day.
“What’s your plan for us? How will we do it?”
“There is no plan. We will figure it out.”
“Figuring it out” was a shock to our systems.  We came in on the second day with our letters, some songs and some instruments and promptly turned to Kikki for instruction. She merely said, “Ok, you can go.” What followed was Kikki sitting on her chair and patiently watching us as we struggled to find coherence among our group.

Most of us were strangers to each other. There was a small core of Torontonians among us who recognized someone from “that audition” or “that workshop we did last year”, but many people had traveled here from other parts of the province and other parts of the country. We were each from widely differing cultural backgrounds and life experiences. We related to death and spirituality in completely different ways. Perhaps if we had been creating a performance about kittens or crazy things we had read on the stalls of public washrooms the process would not have been so fraught or so painful. But we were reading letters to our dead. And there is nothing, as we soon realized, that can bring out divisions and differences in a group of well-meaning people like the way we understand and honour the dead.

We didn’t know what we were building. A performance, a ritual, a place of mourning? Were we trying to heal wounds or rip them open? Did we owe something to this group of strangers we had just met? Were they people who could help us, strengthen us? Or was the group a trap, a snare that would ask us to compromise our sense of who we are in this world and where our loyalties lie?

We soon found ourselves in varying states of frustration, mistrust and panic. There were also moments of intense connection, compassion and solidarity. Some of us found leaders to rally around in moments of difficulty, or became leaders, or decided we needed to go at it alone. Some of us shut down; we needed to. Others bravely insisted we soldier on. Some of us poured out our souls in great gushes, others held our letters protectively to our chests and surveyed the room with fearful eyes. There were accusations made that some of us weren’t showing proper respect or taking this seriously. There were counteraccusations: “How dare you say that we aren’t taking this seriously? Is your way the only way that’s allowed to exist?” There was holding hands, drawing in deep breaths as a group and collapsing into giggles like shy children who had decided to become friends again. There was, “Can we cut out this touchy feely bullshit and get to work? We’re going to have an audience in one day.” People went quiet for hours. People lay down on the floor and held each other. People walked out of the room in the middle of a discussion to pray for guidance. Some people left and never returned. Many of us cried, or laughed for no apparent reason, or were overwhelmed with great surges of love for everyone in the room and then moments later doubted that they had ever felt such a thing. None of us could escape being human and vulnerable.

From the moment Kikki let us loose, it took a matter of hours for all the politeness, the formalities, the professional codes that had been inculcated in us throughout our lives to be uprooted like stiches from a wound. These social codes could not serve us here where everything was too real, too raw, too close to the heart. And so we strove and strove to find new ways, authentic ways, to meet each other eye to eye, to listen, to understand. Except, we were in a true state of anarchy, and it wasn’t the leftist utopia many artists dream of. It was shit. It was going through the shit of the pain of ourselves, and the pain of this country and all of its dead. I spoke to my Catholic great grandmother with the sign of the cross, knowing that’s how she would have wanted to be reached in her heaven from Earth, while beside me stood someone who prayed to her ancestor who had suffered in a residential school. It seemed impossible that this room could contain all of us, the incongruities of all of our pasts compressed together, without blowing up like some chemical explosion. All the while Kikki stood there quietly watching us. At one point she shook her head and said, “I wouldn’t have expected this from Canada.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the group’s frustration eventually turned toward Kikki herself: 
“Kikki, we’ve had enough. We need you to step in and lead us.” 
“You asked us to do this. We don’t feel safe. When are you actually going to direct us?”
“We’re lost. Show us what to do. Show us the method you used in Rwanda.”
Kikki was silent for a moment. I don’t know what she was thinking. Then she sighed and said, “There is no method. There is only you guys.”
Those of us who chose to remain—most of us did—found a form for our performance and, along with the songs we had taught each other, offered up our letters together in front of a public audience in the Canadian Stage rehearsal hall on Thursday evening. It was incredible what we had achieved. In spite of all the legitimate reasons to step away and say, “I don’t want any more of this,” we chose to do the seemingly impossible: to see things through to the end so that we could be there for each other as we spoke to our dead.

I wasn’t there at the end. There was a poet from out of the country who would be performing that evening, whose words meant a lot to me, and who I had committed see months earlier. By Thursday I realized I was faced with a genuine dilemma. If I left before the evening I wouldn’t simply be missing out on the final part of a theatre workshop I would be leaving behind all the people whose ghosts I had held, and who had held mine.

Then I did something that came as a surprise to me, because I had never done anything like it before. I asked the group for their permission to go see this person. I told them it was important to me that I went to see her, but if they’d rather that I stayed here for the final presentation I’d respect their wishes.  It wasn’t a rule we had collectively decided on, to ask permission of a group like this, but I realized it didn’t need to be a rule in order for it to be necessary.  In four days we had built a community out of chaos, and acts of respect as well as our expectations of each other had not yet been codified. There was no rule one could assume for what was acceptable and what was not acceptable, for what would hurt someone, what would make someone smile, what could tear us apart all over again, or what would make us strong. All of these things needed to be understood live and anew in that space. Everything came out of the most basic, naked person-to-person relation in the moment. It was a constant negotiation between souls. And it was exhausting. Though, perhaps the world would be a better place if we chose to be this way with each other more often.

So I asked, and the group granted me permission to see Kate Tempest.

Before I left, on the afternoon of our group’s performance, Kikki decided we were ready for her to share with us letters that had been written by both survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. I think I had expected some kind of pathos from them, some elevated wisdom that comes with living through one of the most tragic events in human history and finding the words to speak about it. The letters Kikki read to us were the voices of people, just people, who had been through a lot of pain and who were trying to understand.

That night I dreamed something that I no longer remember. In the morning I lay alone in my bed and then wrote down the following notes:

The thing that happens between people

The thing that happens between people. It is an event, a negotiation between souls. It is the building block, the atom, the seed of everything that happens on a larger scale: community, a city, a country, the planet. 
I have it for granted, but it is so fundamental and so powerful and it is the consequence of so much. 
How we do it is a choice. 
We can relate to each other through a system of protocols, transactions and codes. Or we can truly see that person. 
Am I wearing a mask today? 

The strange thing that is a group

It breathes.  It vibrates.  It needs the time it needs for everyone to be seen and listened to.
If all the members of a group are truly listening to each other, the group can accommodate the needs of everyone without anyone scarifying their integrity. 
There are spaces within spaces. 
There is choice. 
See yourself. See the group. Never lose sight of either. 

Time

Time is also a choice. (As long as you are in it.) 
We can choose to be governed by the clock, by deadlines, by the end of the workday, by the weekdays and weekends, by the numbers on the calendar. Or we can choose to take the time that is needed. 
How do I know how to be in time?
Look deep into yourself.  Look into the faces of people.
Look to the dead. 

The Dead

Kikki describes them as an army standing behind you.  Do I choose to see them? 
Are they in my blood?  Does it matter? 
Dare I speak to them?  Dare I relate to someone from the past, someone outside my time? 
If I do, might they dare me to cast my mind to generations in the future?
If I do, might my actions suddenly have consequences?  Might I see that I am part of a larger picture, that I am part of a whole?





Related Reading:


The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2018.


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

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Upcoming opportunities for theatre artists from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

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

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Trillium Foundation “Capital Grants” program is today.
  • Deadline for submissions for Ottawa Little Theatre’s National One-Act Playwriting Competition is October 31.
  • Deadline for proposals for SPARC’s Symposium for Performing Arts in Rural Communities is October 31.
  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Arts Council’s Chalmers Professional Development Projects; Compass; Indigenous Culture Fund Project Grants for Organizations; Indigenous Culture Fund Project Grants for Individuals, Youth Councils, Collectives, and Ad Hoc Groups; National and International Residency Projects; and Theatre Organizations: Operating (summer theatres only) is November 1.

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, 24 October 2017

Emergence: Inspiring the Next Generation of Theatre-Makers in Ontario

By Laura Philipps, 2017 Youth Advisory Committee Co-Chair

Speed Ideating
Photo by Jason Carlos
Emergence at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre on September 24 brought together over 60 artists under 30 years old to engage in round-table discussions and practical workshops about succeeding as a professional theatre artist.

It was important for us to have artists of the same generation sharing career advice specific to today’s social and economic climate. Creating leadership roles for young artists was our way of designing an event that prioritized youth voices on all sides of the conversation. For our mentors and participants alike, Emergence demonstrated that our peers are the very people who can help us achieve our goals.
It was invaluable hearing and learning from our peers, who I also realized yesterday are not only "future theatre creators" but our own cohort of artists to grow with—a big realization for me during the Open Space! - Kevin Matthew Wong, Emergence Mentor
Technical and stage management skills lab
Photo by Sophie Mercer
We know from experience that industry events can be intimidating for young people, fraught with feeling that you must ask the right question, or organically start a conversation with an admired artist. We designed Emergence to foster active connections between artists at different career stages. Our icebreaker facilitated ten conversation starters people could pick up on later. The small group practical labs had an average mentor-participant ratio of 1:5, so participants could get hands on experience and make personal connections. By the time the Open Space discussion activity came at the end, we had participants and mentors leading conversations together.
I just wanted to tip my hat to you guys for the workshop today. It was very well-organized, the workshops were mostly useful, felt super appropriate to the demographic + informative and the vibes were welcoming (which does not always happen in this industry's settings!). Thank you for it! - Sarah Katz, Emergence participant
The Youth Advisory Committee
Photo by Rachel Kennedy
We are grateful to Theatre Ontario for giving members of The Youth Advisory Committee the opportunity to gain practical experience coordinating a large-scale event. Our relationship with the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre taught us about the logistics of renting and managing a large venue. Our selection of workshops and mentors taught us how to curate around a theme and build a network of peers. By advertising and fundraising for our event, we learned about outreach and audience development. Altogether, we each learned a new skill to bring to our professional lives. 

We’re looking forward to finishing off the year and passing on our knowledge to the next generation of the Youth Advisory Committee. Check out photos from the day, and keep up with our developments, on the YAC Facebook page.

Related Reading

Monday, 23 October 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of October 23

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Death of a Salesman at Drayton Entertainment (St. Jacobs)
Jeffrey Wetsch, George Wendt, Skye Brandon
Marti Maraden, Director; Allan Wilbee, Set Designer;
Kimberly Catton, Costume Designer; Kevin Fraser, Lighting Designer.
Photographer: Hilary Gauld Camilleri
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Eastern Ontario

Oct. 24, Rockin' All Night at Upper Canada Playhouse (Morrisburg)
Oct. 25, Arsenic and Old Lace at Ottawa Little Theatre
Oct. 26, An Evening of One-Acts at Studio Theatre Perth
Oct. 27, King of the Yees at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa) [with previews from Oct. 25]
Oct. 29, An Evening of Short Plays at Rural Root Theatre Company (Constance Bay)

In Northeastern Ontario

Oct. 25, Wyrd Sisters at Sault Theatre Workshop (Sault Ste. Marie)

In Northwestern Ontario

Oct. 27, Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth at Magnus Theatre (Thunder Bay) [with a preview on Oct. 26]

In South Central Ontario

Oct. 26, Pine Grove Plots: History to Die For at Theatre 3x60 (Port Perry)
Oct. 27, Jitters at Beaverton Town Hall Players
Oct. 28, Happy Haunted Town at Shadowpath Theatre Productions (Richmond Hill)

In Southwestern Ontario

Oct. 23, The Daisy Theatre at The Grand Theatre (London)
Oct. 27, On a First Name Basis at Theatre Aquarius (Hamilton) [with previews from Oct. 25]
Oct. 27, Man of La Mancha at St. Marys Community Players [with a preview on Oct. 26]
Oct. 27, The Rocky Horror Show at Oh Canada Eh? Productions (Niagara Falls)

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Other Side of the Game at Cahoots Theatre
Photo by Dahlia Katz

In Toronto

Oct. 26, Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (venue) + Theatre Passe Muraille [with previews from Oct. 24]
Oct. 28, Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) at Nightwood Theatre [with previews from Oct. 25]

In Central Ontario

Oct. 24, Parents Night at Peterborough Theatre Guild

ICYMI: Check out last week’s openings

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

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Upcoming opportunities for theatre artists from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

"Ask an Agent" workshop with Alicia Jeffery, part of our
"Take Control of Your Career" boot camp
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Great Canadian Theatre Company’s next “The Hive @ GCTC” workshop for students is on “Lighting Design” today in Ottawa.
  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Trillium Foundation “Capital Grants” program is October 25.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Submissions are now open for the Ellen Ross Stuart Award, for playwrights 21-30 with some production credits who have graduated from post-secondary training or outgrown other programs that nurture young artists. The deadline is December 15.

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

Monday, 16 October 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of October 16

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Bello at Young People's Theatre
Morgan Yamada, Gabriel Gagnon, Nicole St. Martin
Production Design by Patrick Beagan
Photo by Ali Sultani.
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Central Ontario

Oct. 20, Sugar Road at Theatre Orangeville [with a preview on Oct. 19]
Oct. 20, The 39 Steps at Northumberland Players (Cobourg)

In Eastern Ontario

Oct. 19, On Golden Pond at Domino Theatre (Kingston)
Oct. 20, Fight the Moonlight at Tweed & Company Theatre

In South Central Ontario

Oct. 19, Death of a Salesman at Theatre Aurora
Oct. 20, South Pacific at Etobicoke Musical Productions (Mississauga)

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
The Gondoliers at Guelph Little Theatre
Ben Wallace, Arthur Harkins
Photo by Dean Palmer

In Southwestern Ontario

Oct. 20, Once at The Grand Theatre (London) [with previews from Oct. 17]
Oct. 20, Outside Mullingar at Aylmer Community Theatre [with a preview on Oct. 19]
Oct. 20, Death of a Salesman at Drayton Entertainment: St. Jacobs Country Playhouse [with previews from Oct. 18]
Oct. 20, The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Theatre Sarnia

In Toronto

Oct. 16, Huff at Soulpepper Theatre
Oct. 19, Other Side of the Game at Cahoots Theatre [currently in previews]
Oct. 20, Thirteen Hands at Alumnae Theatre Company
Oct. 20, The Valley at East Side Players


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

Friday, 13 October 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres

Lighthouse Festival Theatre is giving away seats

Migrations


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Stories from the Summer Theatre Intensive: Sharpening Your Actor’s Tool Kit

by Michelle Cho

As a newbie, I was nervous about registering for “Sharpening Your Actor’s Tool Kit.” It was a course pitched to experienced actors and frankly, I had no ‘tool kit’ so nothing to sharpen. But after some back and forth with the lovely Rachel Kennedy, she convinced me that Tom Diamond was well-equipped to work with actors of varying levels. I was still a bit skeptical but when I learned it was going to be a small class, I decided to stick to my guns and just go for it. I'm so glad I did.

Tom asked his participants to come prepared to do a couple monologues. I admit, when I stood up to do mine I really had no clue what I was doing. I was shaking in my boots. I spewed out lines that I memorized. I didn’t know where to look…the wall, the audience? I never really thought about whom I was talking to.  What fourth wall?

By the end of Day 1, I learned that acting isn’t about memorizing lines. It’s about ideas, notions and investigating them. Asking questions like: Who am I? Where am I? What’s going on? What do I want? Or what’s my intention?

"Sharpening Your Actor's Tool Kit"
Over the course of the week, Tom helped the six of us explore those ideas through scene study work, improvisation, script analysis and working and re-working our monologues. Of course an honest day’s work didn’t begin without a good game of Twizzle (another great reason to take Tom’s course!)

It's now been more than a month since taking Tom’s workshop and I want to say that everything I learned in his class stuck with me, but I’d be lying. 

Do I always remember to act as though everything’s happening right now? No. Will I remember what I said that had my classmates laughing in an improv scene? Probably not. How ever did I pull off that southern accent while playing Mrs. Wire in Tennessee Williams’ The Lady of Larkspur Lotion? Dunno.

What has stuck and is something I find incredibly useful—not just in acting but in my every day life—is the ability to re-frame the idea of nervousness. Tom encouraged us to learn to embrace our ‘butterflies’, putting a positive spin on it. He calls this ‘life force’ and told us to make it work for you. Don't try to run from it or get rid of it. Use it. Become acquainted with that energy. Be its friend. That 'life force' can be so vibrant and alive.

The other day I could feel the butterflies starting to well up in my belly before an audition. I looked down at my stomach and said, “Oh, there you are” and smiled.

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