Friday, 30 January 2015

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Communications Coordinator

Conversation Starters
 Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres
In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Showcase of Approaches to Post-Secondary Theatre Training

By Erin Keating, Program Coordinator

Theatre Ontario’s annual Next Generation Showcase turned 20 this year, marking two decades of thousands of graduating theatre school students getting their first introduction to the professional career they will be embarking upon.

This year, over 275 young performers from around the province, country, and world, took the stage in the Michael Young Theatre at the Young Centre for Performing Arts for a crowded audience of industry professionals – casting directors, agents, theatre directors, producers, artistic directors – to showcase their talents.

It was mostly focused on the many theatre schools around Ontario, but we also had representation from the National Theatre School in Montreal, the University of Alberta in Edmonton, the Canadian graduates of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) in the UK, and the New Faces – the independent artists who recently graduated from schools around the world not officially participating in the event.
Next Generation Showcase warm-ups

Although I was rather busy behind the scenes ensuring that the two-day event ran as smoothly as possible, I tried to take time during each of the 18 schools (and New Faces) to pop into the auditorium to watch a few of the auditions. I was impressed by the level and diversity of talent that these students had, and also fascinated by the difference of approach each school had.

No two schools’ training approaches are the same – some are classical theatre training, some more contemporary, some musical theatre, or triple threat, or some combination of all of the above. Seeing the difference in approach to these auditions provided a snapshot of the difference in training all these students must have received over their time at that institution, while ultimately pursuing the same goal – to be a performer. It reiterated for me the countless paths one can take, and the countless opportunities for creative expression it allows.

Next Generation Showcase participants
at The Business of Casting panel
Aside from the auditions, the students also had other professional development opportunities, including networking parties both nights of the Showcase, talkbacks with the Resident Artists of Soulpepper Theatre, a Theatre Trade Show on Sunday evening, where students could speak personally with Artistic Directors of theatre companies, including Factory and Theatre Passe Muraille, and a lively panel discussion on The Business of Casting, with a set of panelists with complementary backgrounds – Agent Kish Iqbal, Casting Director Susan Forrest, AD of independent theatre company Why Not Theatre Ravi Jain, and Associate Director at the Shaw Festival Eda Holmes, all moderated by the personable Glenn Holmes from Casting Workbook.

I’d like to say a warm thank you for our sponsors for their support – financially, in vision, and enthusiasm – Casting Workbook, Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, Sheridan College, and Soulpepper Theatre, particularly Resident Artist Derek Boyes for organizing both the talkbacks, and the theatre tradeshow.

All of the aspects, on and off the stage, offered practical and applicable information and connections as these graduating students head off into the performance world, which is ultimately the goal of the Showcase.

Some comments from the Showcase participants:
"On behalf of our grad class, I want to tell you that it was an amazing, rewarding, and fulfilling experience for everyone, including myself as their professor and coach… We are also very proud of how our students represented themselves and our program. We've had some very positive feedback so everyone is feeling very good about the experience… Loved the entire weekend. Looking forward to next year."
Next Generation Showcase Networking Party
"The opportunity for our students to showcase their current skills in front of industry folks is absolutely invaluable, and a capstone feature of our curriculum. Students (and often the parents of the undergraduates) consistently ask of our program, "How does what you teach prepare us for the profession to which we aspire?". The Next Generation Showcase provides an amazing platform for industry contact, not only at the auditions themselves, but at the Soulpepper discussion, the Networking Party, and the Panel. Our students also have a unique chance to meet peers in their cohort who have trained at other institutions, and with whom they will be rubbing shoulders. That it takes place at a venerable downtown theatre institution kind enough to host the event, and is run so superbly by the Theatre Ontario folks have made this a watershed moment for many of our participants. The work of Erin Keating on the front line for the organizing and Lynette Blanchard stage managing on the day were a powerful one-two punch. We are deeply grateful to Soulpepper and its involvement in this process, especially the generosity of the company members who participated in the discussion after our audition. Having Casting Workbook on board was a stroke of genius, and really helped our students feel in control of what was presented online."

Read all the Next Generation Showcase tweets on Storify

Find out more about Next Generation Showcase on the Theatre Ontario website

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board
Inspirato Festival 2014
  • Deadline for applications for directors for the Inspirato Festival of 10-Minute plays is today
  • Deadline for nominations for the Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts from the Ontario Arts Council is January 30
  • Deadline for Ontario Arts Council grants for arts service organizations and theatre projects is February 3
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 and job postings on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

PTTP Profiles: Exploring Projects Funded by the Professional Theatre Training Program

Eight individuals were chosen as recipients of Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program grants during our Fall 2014 application round.  We check-in with three of the projects.

Julia Hune-Brown is training in Artistic Direction with Ruth Howard at Jumblies Theatre (Toronto)

Community-engaged theatre at Jumblies Theatre
I am super excited about this winter at Jumblies Theatre and to dive deeper into community-engaged theatre work under the mentorship of Jumblies’ artistic director, Ruth Howard. I first learned about Jumblies Theatre while studying Theatre Development at Concordia University and have been inspired by their work ever since. Prior to starting to work at Jumblies, I facilitated theatre and movement workshops with diverse communities here in Toronto as well as in England and Asia. Now, my goal is to lead a community-engaged theatre project of my own and I cannot think of a better opportunity to further my professional development than with Ruth Howard at Jumblies Theatre. In addition to building my art-practice, I hope that by shadowing Ruth I will learn more of the logistical parts of running a long term artistic residency; including the processes of artistic and community collaboration, the financial and logistical planning for project development, and longer-range planning in community-engaged art.

My first week of 2015 has been a busy one; prepping for workshops, learning about Jumblies’ offshoot companies, and meeting visiting artists from Northern Ontario and Vienna. There is a real collaborative spirit here at the Ground Floor, Jumblies’ current project location. The artists share skills, ideas and experiences. This sense of collaboration is one of the things that most attracted me to Jumblies. The diversity of artists— from different disciplines, generations and parts of the country— that come through the Ground Floor, even just this week alone, has been inspiring and educational.

In addition to starting my own project, I am looking forward to working on Train Payanam, an intergenerational play working with community members from the Scarborough community they are homed in. This play was originally produced by the Community Arts Guild (an offshoot of Jumblies) in November of 2013 and is now being remounted this spring. A particularly exciting part of this remount will be a short run at the Young People’s Theatre.

Alexis Scott is training in Artistic Producing with David Whiteley at Plosive Productions (Ottawa)

I am thrilled to soon be starting my mentorship with Plosive member and jack of all trades David Whiteley.  Even though David and I have a strong rapport because he mentors me informally whenever I have questions, I am eager to learn from him. David directed the inaugural production of The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine for Vacant House Theatre – a company which I co-founded last year. Ever since thrusting myself into the action last year, I’m really passionate about my company and want to keep it running. I’ve become curious about the most efficient and effective ways to capture an audience.

Since David and I have worked together quite extensively, he has a strong understanding of what my skills are and where I would like to grow.  It’s also really perfect that he has been involved in my budding theatre company (after he directed our inaugural production he then took on role of co-producer for a summer remount) because he understands how I can apply the skills of a producer to my own practise. I’m excited for where this will take us.

As Co-Artistic Director of Plosive Productions, David is very involved in producing at The Gladstone Theatre here in Ottawa. There is so much happening at this theatre, and so much for me to learn! I will be working with David twice a week, for about five hours a session and then on my own twice a week as well. I will have a chance to learn a bit of everything – starting with helping to write grants for the City of Ottawa and assisting in rehearsals for two upcoming productions Bankrupt! and Venus in Fur.  It will be really interesting for me to see how someone communicates most effectively to such a large group of people with so many different goals and timelines happening. I know there will be a lot to juggle, and this challenge excites me.

Peter Pasyk is training in Artistic Direction with Chris Abraham at Crow’s Theatre (Toronto)

I’m writing this update a day after the opening night performance of The Seagull at Canadian Stage. The last few days leading up to opening have been full throttle activity. As a part of the creative team I watched tech and preview performances daily over the last week and provided my notes to Chris and the technical team.

Prior to the beginning of rehearsals, together with Chris Abraham, I prepared the background research for The Seagull, and wrote an exhaustive history of the characters prior to the beginning of the play, as well as what happens between each act of the play. I also broke down the script into significant “events” in the story, and I identified the intentions of each character throughout each scene. My notes were used as the cornerstone of our work around the table with the cast in the first days of rehearsal.

The Seagull from Crow's Theatre at Canadian Stage
Eric Peterson and Philip Riccio
In tandem with the rehearsal process I was executing the various elements of the social media campaign for The Seagull that I created at the beginning of my internship. The social media campaign consisted of creative Twitter and Facebook content and contests to encourage engagement with potential audiences. One of my most significant tasks during my residency has been to write and produce the two promotional videos associated with The Seagull. I worked collaboratively with a filmmaker from Montreal and Chris Abraham to create the two videos, as well as another promotional video for an upcoming Crow’s Theatre production.

Outside of the immediate production support work I have been doing, I have also helped organize and host a fundraising event for Crow’s, as well as escorting donors and community members through the construction site of the future permanent performance space and home of Crow’s Theatre. I have been learning about the nature of co-production agreements and my own company surface/underground theatre has already benefitted from this newly gained experience.

In the final weeks of my internship I will be focusing on two major tasks: assessing the Theatre Creators Reserve Grants that have been submitted to Crow’s Theatre, and beginning work with Chris to write the Crow’s Theatre Operating Grant applications.

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 2, 2015.

Read more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

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

Monday, 26 January 2015

ONstage Openings for the week of January 26

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Who's Crazy Now at
Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre
In Eastern Ontario
Jan. 29, Elizabeth-Darcy at Theatre Kingston

In Northwestern Ontario
Jan. 30, Driving Miss Daisy at Magnus Theatre (Thunder Bay), with a preview on Jan. 29

In Southwestern Ontario
Jan. 29, The Incredible Speediness of Jamie Cavanaugh at Carousel Players (St. Catharines)
Jan. 29, Glengarry Glen Ross at Mississauga Players

In Toronto
Jan. 29, Accidental Death of an Anarchist at Soulpepper Theatre, in previews
Jan. 29, Sabrina Fair at Amicus Productions
Jan. 31, Twisted at Factory Theatre, in previews*

ICYMI: Check out last week’s openings

For 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 Theatre Ontario’s Discount Tickets program