Thursday, 29 September 2016

Stories from the Youth Theatre Training Program: Thinking Rock Community Arts

By Christine Rankin, Education Assistant 

Our Youth Theatre Training Program (YTTP) offers financial support to programs that deliver accessible training to young people (age 14 to 21), led by professional artists in skills such as technical production and design; theatre administration and producing; and performance skills and play creation. 

Thinking Rock Community Arts was supported for their program The Rivers Speak that took place in the rural communities of Algoma during the summer of 2015. 

Thinking Rock Community Arts fosters spaces where people of all backgrounds and abilities feel free to create art. They submitted The Rivers Speak for YTTP as their first major project to begin a series of projects embracing multi-disciplinary art over three years. The Rivers Speak began in the summer of 2015 in the rural communities of Algoma - Blind River, Mississauga First Nation, Serpent River First Nation, and Elliot Lake – and focused on cross cultural collaboration between Settler and First Nation communities. The program drew on the nature of the area as inspiration for art: stories about the rivers and water-ways were shared both orally and visually by the community members through a variety of art media. The participants were guided by a team of professional artists with mentorship from Jumblies Theatre and other professional arts organizations from Ontario and across the nation. The final product of these workshops was a performance that incorporated how each person reflected on their home, its geography and its history, and the cultural community they belong to. Thinking Rock stated:
“This project represents an opportunity to bring these youth participants, communities and artists along with us on this learning journey, which we believe will be a step toward creating more inclusive, liveable, accepting communities” 

The Rivers Speak included four training workshops of 10 to 40 youths per session. The youths explored the exciting fields of stilt walking, mask making, puppet making and puppetry, as well as movement and theatre design. As one might expect, the participants were ecstatic throughout all the sessions, describing how wonderful it was to engage with such amazing artists and to learn skills that one would not have the opportunity to learn otherwise. Participants praised the value of learning from experienced community arts professionals, with one participant even expressing the desire to make their own stilts by hand!

The youths were the heart of the program. They brought their voices into the conversation as well as incredible energy and joy to each new skill. Coming from Francophone, Anglophone and Indigenous backgrounds, the participants were extremely pleased to be exposed to each other’s’ cultures. In response to being asked what their favourite part of the training program was, participants responded with comments such as:
“seeing the convergence of different people, cultures, and communities”
“amazing people, good energy: they are very welcoming” 
“it kept me engaged and inspired”
“I had such an amazing time putting lots of different art forms together with so many amazing artists”
Participants were blown away by the openness and collaborative nature of the people involved.  The young artists were unbelievably grateful to receive the chance to learn aspects of artistry that could be applied to their future projects. Script development, performance and musical collaboration were all headliners of the program schedule that not only influenced these young artists but also inspired those who were new to the art-world. 

Thinking Rock Community Arts is the first community arts organization in Algoma. The fun activities planned by Thinking Rock were embraced by the youth in the program, their contagious enthusiasm clearly apparent. Throughout the discussions regarding the link of geography to story, how each person connects to one another, and what art can be, the youth led and provided fresh perspectives that were seen in their final performance. Through The Rivers Speak, Thinking Rock has created a positive space for people of different backgrounds and generations to work together and make art that is representative of their members. 

Thank you Thinking Rock Community Arts for your astounding work for The Rivers Speak!

The next application deadline for the Youth Theatre Training Program is October 17, 2016. 

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

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

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

  • Deadline to apply for Ontario150 Grants Partnership Program for engaging, enabling, and empowering youth is September 30.
  • Deadline for nominations for the Canada Council’s John Hobday Awards in Arts Management is September 30.
  • Deadline to sign-up for Acting Up Stage Company’s One Song Glory (free musical theatre intensive for youth 13 to 19) pre-intensive workshops is September 30.
  • Deadline for submissions for Thousand Islands Playhouse’s Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators Reserve is October 1.
    The deadline to apply for the Theatre Creators Reserve at
    Thousand Islansd Playhouse is October 1.
  • Anne Marie Scheffler’s One Person Show Workshop runs October 1 to 2 in Toronto.
  • Deadline for applications for the Toronto Arts Council Artists in the Library program is October 3.
  • Deadline for applications for directors (non-paying) at the NAGs Players annual pantomime is October 3.
  • Deadline for applications for the Ontario Arts Council’s grants for Artist(s) in the Community / Workplace, Arts Education Projects and National and International Residency is October 4.
  • Deadline for applications for Paprika Festival’s 16/17 programming is October 7.
  • Deadline for applications for a tenancy at Artscape Youngplace is October 7.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Toronto Irish Players invites applications to direct The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down (non-paying community theatre production.) The application deadline is October 8.
  • Theatre 3x60 is hosting Open House Information Sessions on October 11 and 18 for their free youth theatre collective, for Durham youth 14 to 21.
  • Great Canadian Theatre Company invites applications for their OAC Theatre Creators’ Reserve program. Their funding priority is for playwrights and collectives based in, or who originate from, Ottawa and the National Capital Region. The application deadline is December 2.
  • Festival Players of Prince Edward County invites applications for their OAC Theatre Creators’ Reserve program. Their funding priority is work that concerns itself with rural and/or epic themes, musicals, work for young audiences, and work by local playwrights from their community. The application deadline is December 9.
  • The Village Players of Bloor West Village are seeking Costume Coordinators for Powers and Gloria and The Melville Boys (non-paying community theatre productions.)

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, 27 September 2016

Stories from the Summer Theatre Intensive: "How I Spent My Summer Vacation, or, 'Drop! And give me twenty (lines)!'"

I'm Sean, a middle-aged community theatre actor/director/playwright from Kitchener, Ontario. This summer, like last summer, I spent a week in Theatre Ontario's Summer Workshop Intensive program. You could also call it theatre boot camp.

Last year I took Andrew Lamb's "Directions on Directing"—a brilliant course that filled my head with much knowledge useful not only as a director but on-stage as an actor. 

This year, I chose to focus on my acting skills and signed up for Brenda Kamino's "Hot Scenes." I had no idea what I was getting into.

Not exactly true. I knew I'd be in for five days of almost constant intense focus not only in class, but in collaboration with my peers. Classmates, all of whom were people like me, taking a week out of their regular lives in dedication to improving their theatre craft.

But what would my class be like? I was told to prepare a new monologue for presentation. And to have read Death of a Salesman so we could discuss it in class. And that we would be assigned scenes to work on based on our needs and desires as actors.

The first day we did some warm-ups then delivered our monologues. I don't know if I've ever seen a more intent observer in Brenda Kamino. Not so much pinning one to the wall as being very aware of everything one is doing. After a brief bit of feedback we were sent off to lunch and told upon our return we'd be assigned specific scenes and partners that would expose and exercise our acting gaps.

When we came back, we got our assignments; several pages each of our doom. For when one is weak in an area, one must exercise that area, right where one is weak. 

My scene had me playing completely against type, in situations I would never choose, expressing emotions I found personally revolting. But I am an actor, yes? I should be able to act! 

I can do this thing, this is why I am here, to grow and learn, to become better at my craft, though it will eventually lead me to weep on stage, to shout violently, to profess undying love, to forgive, and to beg forgiveness.

And not just me. Each of us, receiving scenes and characters that challenged us, made us fight our habits, forced us to examine and confront our own personal truths within the characters we became.

And then Brenda asked us to perform. And then she said, "you can do better." And when we didn't know how, she showed us how. By observing so carefully, she saw what was missing, and by working with us in minute detail, she gave us the tools to become better.

It was emotionally exhausting. And astonishingly rewarding. In a week I learned new techniques to not just be a better actor myself, but how to be a better actor for my fellow actors on stage. To be more open to them, and to respond to their own openness. To make  it real for ourselves, and for the audience.

That's what I did on my summer vacation. Maybe you want to do it too?

--Sean Puckett (Kitchener, ON)

Related Reading:

Monday, 26 September 2016

ONstage Openings for the week of September 26

This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages
ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Trying at Players Guild of Hamilton
Andrea Adcock, Steve O'Brien
Photo by Lynne Jamieson

In Northeastern Ontario

Sep. 30, Armstrong's War at Sudbury Theatre Centre, with a preview on Sep. 29

In South Central Ontario

Sep. 29, The Underpants at Oshawa Little Theatre

In Southwestern Ontario

Sep. 30, Prelude to a Kiss at London Community Players, with a preview on Sep. 29

In Toronto

ONstage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
Over the River and Through the Woods at Studio Theatre Perth
Norma Cummings, Rob Glas, Jennifer Jasiak,
Connor Williamson, David Wright, Sheila Jasiak
Sep. 27, Hosanna at Soulpepper Theatre, currently in previews
Sep. 29, Noises Off at Soulpepper Theatre, currently in previews
Sep. 29, Brave New World at Theatre Passe Muraille, with previews from Sep. 27
Sep. 29, Entertaining Angels at Stage Centre Productions

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

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres

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 September issue is now available.