Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Ensemble Mystique

By Rachel Peake

Ensemble is a word we often use in the theatre with varying degrees of depth attached to it.  Truly committed Ensemble is a defining feature of the Shaw Festival, and learning its application has been one of my greatest lessons as a part of the Neil Munro Intern Directors Project this season.  There is, of course, the ensemble of actors, which goes beyond the actors performing in the current season. However the Ensemble of the Shaw Festival extends far beyond its actors. It includes electricians, assistant designers, changeover crew, voice instructors, accountants, wardrobe builders… the list goes on. The festival has a reputation as “Camp Shaw”—a place where people not only work together but also do yoga, play board games, devise Saturday-night cabarets, meet at the local pub on Thursday nights. There are people celebrating thirty years of working and living at Shaw, and the mystique of that ensemble existence is inextricably linked to the festival’s success.

Alana Hibbert and Kevin Hanchard in The Mountaintop
Photo by David Cooper
Coming to the Directors Project as a freelance director, I saw the internship as an opportunity to expand my knowledge of directing classical text, working with artists who had been focusing on this period of theatre for many years. However, what I hadn’t realized was that a large part of my lesson would be the art of creating within the Ensemble, along with the art of creating ensemble. Within the larger context of the Ensemble of the festival is the need for individual ensemble-building on each production. Over the last four months I have assistant directed on three projects: The Mountaintop with Toronto’s Philip Akin, The Philanderer with American director Lisa Peterson, and The Philadelphia Story with Calgary-based Dennis Garnhum.  These were three wildly different pieces and each director had a different approach to working with the ensemble. More importantly, the ensemble reacted differently inside each of these unique containers, and that experience has been fascinating to watch and to learn from.

I am writing this entry during the bridge time between assistant-directing the main stage shows and beginning to direct Rosalind by J.M. Barrie for my Director’s Project. I am pondering these lessons both in terms of how they pertain to shifting over to my own directing work within the context of the Festival, and to how I can take what I have learned here on to my work in other arenas. Acting in the Directors’ Project is on a volunteer basis, and the actors who agree to it do so on top of their already full show schedule, classes, auditions, and personal commitments.  Yet somehow every year some of the best actors in Canada undertake this additional work.  Part of the reason for choosing to do so is because actors are creators: hungry to invent and explore.  Yet additionally this willingness seems to come from belonging to something they believe in; from knowing that the Ensemble works best when they buy in, give what they can, say yes, play, commit.

Moya O’Connell in The Philadelphia Story
Photo by David Cooper
I have felt extremely welcome this season at the Shaw Festival.  I have felt a part of this Ensemble and I have worked hard for it. I have witnessed what comes of everyone diving in to play the same game at the same time. I am not referring to feel-good productions where everyone involved loves it but onstage it falls flat. I am referring to the value of creating a shared goal and crafting a team that is pursuing that goal with their diverse and complimentary strengths. The lesson of the larger Ensemble of the Shaw Festival may only be applicable in certain specific settings, but the lesson of belonging to a community is relevant everywhere.  Ultimately, the ability of a director to create an ensemble feels to me to be the lynchpin of a successful execution of directorial concept.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”
- George Bernard Shaw
http://www.rachelpeake.com

Find out more about the Neil Munro Intern Directors Project at the Shaw Festival

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Browsing The Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario
Check out all of our upcoming courses and workshops, including our Adjudicators Symposium

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board
  • Deadline to apply for Alameda Theatre Company’s Nueva Voz for Latino youth 14 to 25 is today
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre’s Acting ABC’s with D. Morton is on July 30
  • Deadline to apply for undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream with the Ottawa Fringe Festival is August 1
  • Deadline to apply for the Ontario Arts Council’s Theatre Projects grant is August 1
  • Stratford Festival’s Queen’s Company Residential Camp for grades 7 and 8, and King’s Company Musical Theatre Residential Camp for grades 9 to 12 both start August 3
  • Register your Ontario Culture Days event by August 5 and you could be featured in the full-page Culture Days ad in the Globe and Mail
  • The next Shaw Seminar on “Otherness” begins August 7
  • Canadian Stage invites submissions for Company in Residence for their RBC Emerging Artist Program; the deadline is August 8
Check out these items, and other postings from our members of funding opportunities, workshops, calls for submission, awards, and more—on Theatre Ontario’s Bulletin Board on our website

Theatre Ontario individual members can also access auditions, job postings, and volunteer opportunities on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Monday, 28 July 2014

ONstage Openings for the week of July 28

In South Central Ontario
Aug. 1, Romeo and What's-Their-Names at Beaverton Town Hall Players

In Southwestern Ontario
Jul. 29, Christina, The Girl King at Stratford Festival, in previews*
Jul. 30, The Fixer Upper at Port Stanley Festival Theatre
Jul. 31, Trying at Lighthouse Festival Theatre (Port Dover), with a preview on Jul. 30
Jul. 31, The Beaux' Stratagem at Stratford Festival, in previews*
Aug. 1, Stag and Doe at Blyth Festival, with previews from Jul. 30*
Aug. 3, Antony and Cleopatra at Stratford Festival, in previews*

In Toronto
Jul. 30, No Visible Scars at Promise Productions
Jul. 31, Into the Woods at Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts
Aug. 1, Ward's Island Fire Parade at Shadowland Theatre

In Central Ontario
Jul. 28, I Hate Hamlet at Highlands Summer Festival (Haliburton)
Jul. 29, Vegas Knights at Orillia Opera House*

In Eastern Ontario
Aug. 2, Lend Me a Tenor at Upper Canada Playhouse (Morrisburg), with previews from Jul. 31
Aug. 2, Globe To Globe Hamlet at St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival (Prescott)

ONstage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
The Financier at Odyssey Theatre in Ottawa
Check out last week’s openings

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

Theatre Ontario individual members can access discount ticket offers for shows marked with an * asterisk

Read more about our discount tickets program

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Announcing Bruce Pitkin as Full-Time Executive Director

Bruce Pitkin
Theatre Ontario is pleased to announce that Bruce Pitkin has been hired as Executive Director; he has been serving as interim Executive Director since March 2014.

“We are very excited to enter this new phase with Bruce Pitkin,” said Joanne Williams, Member-at-Large on the Board of Directors, and a member of the Search Committee. “We are encouraged by Bruce’s determination to bring new initiatives to Theatre Ontario and his attention to the organization’s viability for years to come. With his unique background, he is someone who will strengthen our place in the many vibrant theatrical communities across the province.”

Bruce has been a member of the Theatre Ontario staff since February 2013. He is a trained theatre artist who has performed, directed, produced, and taught in Japan, Germany, the United States, and Canada. Since earning an MFA in Performance from York University, he has worked with the Tadashi Suzuki Company (Japan) and Shakespeare & Company (Boston). He was the Artistic Director at both the Acting Academy (Munich) and the International Michael Chekhov School of Acting (Munich), and taught Shakespeare and Scene Study at the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts in Toronto since 2007. In 2013, he was named in NOW Magazine’s Top Ten Artists to Watch for his directing work.

In addition to his extensive theatre background, his business experience in marketing and digital media has included working with such organizations as TeleFilm Canada, Canada Media Fund, Capital C Communications, Adeo Communications, Digital Media Studios, alleswirdgut—Agency for Creative Direction (Munich), Schaeffler und Partner Multimedia (Munich), BioID AG (Berlin) and Dialog Communication Systems (Taiwan).

“I am thrilled and honoured for the opportunity to lead Theatre Ontario as we continue to serve our existing members, as well as reaching out to new ones,” Bruce said.  “Delivering timely, top quality programs, which are accessible to theatre’s diverse practitioners and aficionados across the province, is a priority and I welcome the valuable input from all. I look forward to continue working with our incomparable staff and talented Board of Directors in keeping Theatre Ontario top of mind.”

Theatre Ontario develops and supports theatre practitioners across the province by providing resources, networking, training and advocacy.  We are a charitable, not-for-profit association serving community, educational and professional theatre organizations and individuals through a range of programs and services.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Browsing The Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Last call! Spaces are still available in our Summer Theatre Intensive for performers and directors, starting August 10:
Upcoming on The Bulletin Board
  • Cut-off for applications for Carousel Players’ Shaw Acting Intensive for youth 10 to 13 in St. Catharines is today
  • Canadian Stage's "Make It Yours" workshop with Adam Seelig for emerging directors, writers, and writer-directors is on July 28; application deadline is July 24
  • The Shaw Festival’s Shaw Symposium begins July 25
  • Shadowland Theatre’s Ward’s Island Fire Parade community workshops start July 27
  • Oakville’s West End Studio Theatre’s next Half Day (for ages 4 to 6) and Full Day (for ages 7 to 16) Summer Camps start July 28
  • Deadline to apply for Alameda Theatre Company’s Nueva Voz for Latino Canadian youth 14 to 25 is July 30
    Alameda Theatre Company's Nueva Voz
    for Latino Canadian youth 14 to 25
    Photo by Valentina Saavedra
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre’s Acting ABC’s with D. Morton is on July 30
  • Deadline to apply for undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream with the Ottawa Fringe Festival is August 1
  • Deadline to apply for the Ontario Arts Council’s Theatre Projects grant is August 1
New on The Bulletin Board
  • Register your Ontario Culture Days event by August 5 and you could be featured in the full-page Culture Days ad in the Globe and Mail
  • Ottawa Little Theatre’s next workshop for youth 13 to 17: Adventures in Clowning with Sarah McVie starts August 11
  • Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is inviting applications from queer-identified artists age 25 and under for their Young Creators Unit; deadline is September 5
Check out these items, and other postings from our members of funding opportunities, workshops, calls for submission, awards, and more—on Theatre Ontario’s Bulletin Board on our website

Theatre Ontario individual members can also access auditions, job postings, and volunteer opportunities on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Browse for summer training opportunities for youth from our members