Friday, 30 May 2014

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Discovering Great Truths: Intern Directing at The Shaw

by Alistair Newton

As I write this, spring has—at last!—come to Niagara-on-the-Lake and summer feels not terribly far behind.  Never having been an especially summery person—nor an especially large fan of airborne allergens—I greet this news nonetheless with a great sense of relief and joy; this past season’s endless cold-and-grey was worthy of Camus; his line, “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer” sprang to mind when it snowed in April...three times...

Peter Hinton’s magnificent production of Cabaret that I had the great fortune to work on as assistant director is up and running, and I am deep into rehearsals with Jackie Maxwell on O’Casey’s Irish Civil War era family drama Juno and the Paycock—a wonderful opportunity to be exposed to two directors at the height of their powers with divergent aesthetics, sensibilities, and approaches.  One of the many unique gifts that working at The Shaw rewards one with, is the chance to work on (and patronize) many productions set in a similar time period.  As such, I’ve sometimes imagined O’Casey’s tenement-dwelling Boyle family fleeing impoverished Dublin for Weimar Berlin and a night at the Kit Kat Klub...

Aside from assisting on Cabaret and Juno, I have also just begun a scene study exploring Tom Waits and Robert Wilson’s musical version of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck with members of the ensemble.  The experience of delving into one of my very favourite pieces of theatre—one I’ve directed twice before—with actors of the intelligence and generosity of spirit of the Shaw ensemble is proving as enriching as I’d hoped.  At our next session, Tara Litvack (our fabulous Metcalf Foundation music intern) will be leading the company through the vocal score.  These scene studies are part of the great work of the Shaw Festival Academy which offers the ensemble classes in dialect, singing, and many other aspects of the mandate.  My fellow intern director Rachel Peake will be exploring how translation can inform the building of character through an exploration of the work of Ibsen next month.

As I prepare to select my top three choices for the Directors Project presentations which will complete my internship at Shaw, my time is being filled with reading plays and copious ancillary research on the the socio-cultural milieu that informs The Shaw’s mandate.  I remember first being sold on the importance of the Festival’s period by Associate Director Eda Holmes who explained to me that the mandate (1856 - 1950) covers both the birth of the Modernist imagination and engages with the fuel that ignited the political catastrophes of the Twentieth Century. 

My other primary activity this past two months has been speaking about the world of Cabaret with the many student groups that visit The Shaw; I have had many moments enriched by a feeling of wonderful perspective upon receiving the reminder that an institution is paying me to spend hours and hours speaking about the Weimar Republic...something I would gladly do for free.  I must admit that my first interactions with the students were ever-so-slightly intimidating, but after I quickly realized that no one was going to attack me for a half-hour chat involving statistics on sex work, the history of the birth of Sexology, or the fact that a young Christopher Isherwood came to Berlin to meet boys, the experience has become a joy...and I feel all of my thirty years whenever I stop to marvel at how attitudes towards queerness have changed since I was a high school student; shall I just say that Campbell River BC in the late nineties was no Weimar Berlin?

As I move forward into the second half of my time at Shaw, I keep the words of the Festival’s namesake which appeared on the season poster of Jackie Maxwell’s inaugural season as Artistic Director in the front of my mind: “All great truths begin as blasphemies.”  Onwards and upwards and I hope to see you in Niagara-on-the-Lake...

a handshake of thought,
Alistair Newton
May, 20, 2014

Apply for the 2015 Neil Munro Intern Directors Project at the Shaw Festival. The deadline is June 20.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Browsing The Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario
Check out all of our upcoming courses and workshops

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board
  • Deadline to apply for Canadian Stage’s Awakening the Connections workshop with Melinda Little is May 30
  • Deadline for nominations for Business for the Arts’ Canadian Arts and Business Awards for Corporate Champions, Cultural Champions (corporate and arts leadership), and Community Impact, is May 30
  • Canadian Arts Marketing, Development and Ticketing Conference starts May 30
  • Shaw Festival Theatre Make-up workshop for teens is May 31
  • Deadline to apply for Canada Council Theatre Grants—Visiting Foreign Artists Program is June 2
  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Arts Council Chalmers Professional Development is June 2
  • Upcoming Spring Voice Workshops with Meredith Scott are Voice Workout (June 2) and Accent and Dialogue Workshop (June 4)
New on The Bulletin Board
  • Shadowland Theatre is holding two workshops on puppet, mask-building, stilt-walking, and parade techniques, June 13 to 15 and June 28 to 30 in Kingston
  • Ottawa Little Theatre is holding a Props Building and Design Workshop with Michael Caluori, Head Props Master at the National Arts Centre, on June 14
  • Native Earth Performing Arts invites applications from Indigenous artists for Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27; deadline is June 30
  • The Ottawa Fringe Festival invites applications for undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream from Ottawa-based and national companies of original, innovative works; deadline is August 1
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 summer training opportunities for youth from our members

Also, you are invited to an information session for professional artists regarding a new mentorship opportunity,  hosted by the Canadian Senior Artist Resource Network (CSARN) and supported by Theatre Ontario.  The mentorship program brings together established artists with emerging artists working in a range of disciplines.  Mentors and mentees who are matched through the program benefit mutually from a rich exchange of ideas, practical knowledge, and experience.  Under the program, each mentor will be paid for their time and mentees will be covered for expenses. For more information, please visit  At the information session as a young professional artist, you will be provided with information on being a mentee – benefiting from the knowledge and wisdom of a senior in the industry.  If you are a senior living in Toronto, you can also benefit from the program – sharing what you know as a mentor.  A large portion of the event is dedicated to your questions, comments and concerns.  Join us on June 5th between 6:00 and 8:00 PM for this important gathering. Located on the Esplanade at 110 the Performing Arts Lodge in Toronto, you can RSVP to Refreshments will be provided. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Summer Theatre Intensive: “The Best Way I Can Think of Spending a Week of My Vacation”

By Murray Tilson

Nolan Cox and Murray Tilson in
A Christmas Carol at Take Two Theatre
This year will be my third time attending Theatre Ontario’s Summer Theatre Intensive.  The knowledge that the courses have given me has been so valuable, as well as the knowledge I bring back to my theatre company. The wonderful friends I have met and the memories will always be some of my most fond in theatre. The instructors give us so much, and still manage to keep it at a level that the bridge between professionals and amateurs feels equal.

The course I am taking at the Summer Theatre Intensive this year is “Reviewing your Revue: Creating a Musical Theatre Performance” with David Gale and Randy Vancourt. My community theatre company, Take Two Theatre in Timmins, usually puts on a musical production every second season, and as a director and performer, I feel this course will add so much to enhance our productions. The musicals always do well at the box office for us and brings in many new members, not only on stage, but in production crews and community support from the media and local businesses. As a musician, I would like to be able to understand better the use of solo, harmony, and accompanying vocals.

Class picture from our 2011 Summer Theatre Intensive;
Murray took "When I Am On Stage... Who Am I?" with Terry Tweed
Summer Intensive is the best way I can think of spending a week of my vacation.  You learn so much, and meet some wonderful people. The "Field Trip" evening to Stratford to see a show is one of the highlights of the week. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, and every community theatre group should try to send one member every summer to this invaluable theatre experience.

I am hoping that next fall I can direct Take Two Theatre’s fall musical production and this course, I am sure, will help me bring our show that "edge" that will make it an experience for all the company, on and off the stage, and an enjoyable evening for our audience.

Community Theatre is alive and well in Northern Ontario!

Find out more about Theatre Ontario's Summer Theatre Intensive

Monday, 26 May 2014

ONstage Openings for the week of May 26

In South Central Ontario
May 29, Barefoot in the Park at Mississauga Players
May 30, Nunsense at The Curtain Club (Richmond Hill), with a preview on May 29

In Southwestern Ontario
May 26, King Lear at Stratford Festival, currently in previews*
May 27, Country Jukebox: The Best of Country Duets at Port Stanley Festival Theatre
ONstage Opening in Southwestern Ontario
Country Jukebox: The Best of Country Duets
at Port Stanley Festival Theatre
Aaron Solomon and Leisa Way
May 27, Crazy For You at Stratford Festival, currently in previews
May 28, King John at Stratford Festival, currently in previews*
May 28, Hay Fever at Stratford Festival, in previews*
May 29, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens at Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre
May 29, Man of La Mancha at Stratford Festival, currently in previews
May 30, Mother Courage and Her Children at Stratford Festival, currently in previews*
May 31, Alice Through the Looking-Glass at Stratford Festival, currently in previews*
May 31, A Midsummer Night's Dream at Stratford Festival, currently in previews*

In Toronto
May 29, The 9th Annual InspiraTO Ten-Minute Play Festival at Theatre Inspirato
May 30, Rumors at Scarborough Players
May 31, Queer Pride 2014 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

In Central Ontario
May 27, Queen Milli of Galt at Theatre Collingwood
May 28, 18 Wheels at Owen Sound Little Theatre

In Eastern Ontario
May 30, 9 to 5: The Musical at Orpheus Musical Theatre Society (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

Friday, 23 May 2014

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Communications Coordinator

Conversation Starters
From The Wire
Behind The Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres
    Beth Kates' maquette for The Road to Mecca at Soulpepper
  • Beth Kates, Set and Lighting Designer on the Soulpepper Theatre production of The Road to Mecca shares her approach to the show’s design
  • Classic Theatre Festival in Perth has launched a new youth theatre project “Perth Through the Ages”, a theatrical historical walking tour, “animating the town core, re-creating key characters and events in the town’s storied 200-year history”, made possible from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s Celebrate Ontario program, along with the valuable assistance of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, and the Perth and District Community Foundation

In Case You Missed It

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

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Save the Date for Theatre Ontario Festival 2015 in Oshawa

Theatre Ontario Festival is a destination for theatre-lovers from across the province.  Mark your calendar now to join us on May 13 to 17, 2015 in Oshawa for Theatre Ontario Festival 2015, co-hosted by Theatre Ontario, Oshawa Little Theatre, and the Association of Community Theatres—Central Ontario.

Festival 2014 lived up to its billing as a showcase of outstanding community theatre productions, and was described by one frequent attendee as “the most solid, thought-provoking, challenging, and artistic Theatre Ontario Festivals I’ve ever been to.”  Festival continues to celebrate excellence—honouring outstanding achievements in community theatre since 1973.

With thought-provoking detailed adjudications open to all attendees, workshops focusing on artistic and administrative needs at community theatres, and play readings bringing together Canadian playwrights and communities, Festival is also a classroom for passionate and dedicated community theatre artists.

Find out more about the Theatre Ontario Festival experience:
See you in 2015!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Browsing The Bulletin Board

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

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board
Play by Play at the Shaw Festival
Photo by Cosmo Condina Photography
  • The Shaw Festival’s first Play by Play event for theatre lovers wanting to go behind the scenes starts May 28—with the next session beginning July 16
  • Deadline to apply for Canadian Stage’s Awakening the Connections workshop with Melinda Little is May 30
  • Deadline for nominations for Business for the Arts’ Canadian Arts and Business Awards for Corporate Champions, Cultural Champions (corporate and arts leadership), and Community Impact, is May 30
  • Canadian Arts Marketing, Development and Ticketing Conference starts May 30

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

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

ONstage Openings for the week of May 20

In South Central Ontario
May 23, Entertaining Shorts 2014 at Burl-Oak Theatre Group (Oakville)

In Southwestern Ontario
May 21, King John at Stratford Festival, in previews
May 22, The Foursome at Lighthouse Festival Theatre (Port Dover), with previews from May 21
May 23, Spring Awakening at Theatre Woodstock

In Toronto
May 21, Skin and Quicksand at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
May 21, Ranevskaya and the Seamstress (staged reading) at Theatre Double Take
May 25, The Company We Keep Cabaret at Theatre 20

ONstage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
Inherit the Wind at Kanata Theatre
In Central Ontario
May 23, I'll Be Back Before Midnight at Huronia Players (Midland)
May 23, Miss Caledonia at Talk Is Free Theatre (Barrie)

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.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Congratulations to Peterborough Theatre Guild

Alex Saul and Patricia Young in
Peterborough Theatre Guild's The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Photo by Theresa James
Congratulations to Peterborough Theatre Guild, whose production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh was awarded the Elsie as Outstanding Production at Theatre Ontario Festival 2014 in Sarnia.  The production received three awards and ten nominations at the Festival Brunch from adjudicator Bea Quarrie.

Peterborough Theatre Guild most recently won the Elsie in 2012 for their production of The Mouse House, and it is the fourth time they have won the Elsie since 2006.

Read the full list of Theatre Ontario Festival 2014 Award Winners and Nominees on the Theatre Ontario website and check out the transcript of the Theatre Ontario Festival Awards Brunch Live-Blog

Highlights of the Adjudication of Peterborough Theatre Guild's The Beauty Queen of Leenane

by Brandon Moore, Communications Coordinator

Notes from the adjudication by Bea Quarrie of Peterborough Theatre Guild's production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh.  (Spoilers ahead)
  • Bea began by explaining that Peterborough is her home community, and Peterborough Theatre Guild is the theatre where she works; she has not spoken with members of the company since it entered the Eastern Ontario Drama League Festival; she saw the show in Peterborough, but is responding only to what she saw last night
  • Questions for actors and director
  • Mag: Are you mentally ill, senile, malevolent? Why so angry inside?
  • Maureen: How addicted is she to dysfunctional mother and dysfunction about her? Where did you go after burning Mag’s hand? What keeps you from leaving? Why do you turn on Pato when he tells you to put your clothes on?
    Alex Saul and Patricia Young in
    Peterborough Theatre Guild's The Beauty Queen of Leenane
    Photo by Theresa James
  • Pato: What attracted you to her? What was the key to the character for you?
  • Ray: What is the string-ball about? Are you from the shallow end of the gene pool, or are you the product of Irish poverty? Why so loutish?
  • Director: Why this play, why now, what drew you to it?
  • Martin McDonagh has written a play that has us shifting our sympathies; he doesn’t spare anything in his work, has a savage violence, exposes us and leaves us bare, no mercy in it
  • Set: Time and place is an Ireland cottage, did it feel oppressive enough? It was run down, but was it still too charming?
  • Avoided play’s traps: If Mag has no redeeming qualities, we would have no empathy
  • Mag is like Ireland itself: loathe to let her children go; she plays the victim in spite of actually being one
  • Ray has the potential to rely on yelling and broad gestures; actor avoided that trap so that we saw exasperation and frustration
  • Director had wanted to do Lieutenant of Inishmore first, tech demands had him shying away from it; someone told him about a violent play you laugh all the way through, and he wanted to read that – he connected to the humanity in it
  • Mag isn’t mentally ill, she’s a victim, abandoned and not well-parented herself, rescued Maureen from the loony bin because no one else would; she exemplifies tyranny of the weak, getting what she wants through her weaknesses
  • Maureen: Failed in England, stuck now in Ireland; turns on Pato because he is going to leave anyway; what she’s learned is how to cope by burying herself in drudgery; she is addicted to dysfunction and will do all sorts of things to get at her
  • Mag is seeking respectability: says she is waiting for the news while watching terrible soap operas
  • Pato responds to her mystery; wondered why he invites her – because she is unavailable; character offers Maureen and audience hope that someone will get out of this situation; actor didn’t play role as attractive cypher with an idealized look
  • Beautiful transition of Pato writing letter to Ray waiting at the table to deliver it
  • Blackouts in scene changes gave us breathing room, but “gremlins in black” changing the set takes us out of the action; difficulty is that text demands particular changes and sometimes they cannot be avoided
  • Mag’s wig: Looked Flintstones or Norman Bates’ Mother; they weren’t happy with it but they couldn’t find a better one; it wasn’t large for the makeup effect when she is killed, but they justified it as the character letting her hair go (what about a wig that looks like Maureen cuts her hair?)
  • Poker – introduction creates expectation that it will be used
  • Deceptively simple storytelling; there are significant subtle revelations
  • Play is part of confrontational theatre tradition: in your face, provocative, doesn’t hold back, more of a European theatre tradition
  • Took courage to do this show – wouldn’t sell well; they performed twice this week as a pre-Festival warm-up, “audience was small but they both enjoyed it”
  • Ray: He’s a lot of talk; Pato is his father figure, will do anything for him; doesn’t know any better because he has no experience with better behaviour; will do anything but doesn’t mean he will do it well
  • Ray had an incredible physical presence on stage, movement with poker was always unpredictable action, a visual symbol of threat of violence; he is a product of his environment, rooted in ignorance
  • He sees himself as inoffensive, even if he is the most offensive person in the play; doesn’t see the need to change
  • Maureen: What would have happened if she received the letter? There could have been a happy ending; Believes that she did get to the station, since he wasn’t there she went into a fugue
Bea closed the adjudication by reflecting on all four shows – she was heartened by this week’s company: theatre is thriving with graciousness, class, and integrity

ONstage Today at Festival: Awards Brunch

Sunday at noon, you can join Bruce Pitkin and Anne Mooney at our Festival Awards Live Blog as adjudicator Bea Quarrie presents the awards for Theatre Ontario Festival 2014, including the Elsie for Outstanding Production in Festival.


Community Theatre Forums - A Year In Review

Carol Beauchamp, former Executive Director of Theatre Ontario, presented the highlights of the past year's Community Theatre Forums, on Saturday afternoon at Theatre Ontario Festival 2014 in Sarnia.

Theatre Ontario Community Theatre Forum in Sault Ste. Marie
Forums were held in ten Ontario communities: Aurora, Collingwood, Georgetown, Kingston, London, Merrickville, North Bay, Oshawa, Peterborough, and Sault Ste. Marie, exploring the same question: What challenges can we identify that we can collectively address to work towards a successful future?

While there were unique issues in each community, twelve challenges emerged as common themes throughout the forums:
  • Develop skilled talent: training and mentorship
  • Developing balanced/engaging seasons
  • Attract dedicated volunteers
  • Develop funding resources
  • Build loyal/sustainable audiences
  • Improve inter-group communication and collaboration – sharing best practices
  • Increase (public) community awareness/recognition
  • Attract contributing members/increase membership
  • Promoting/marketing theatre
  • Nurture youth involvement
  • Finding affordable venues/facilities
  • Developing strong leadership and succession plan
Best practices were shared in many of these areas at our presentation in Sarnia.

This is not the end of the process.  First, there is an interest for more forums in other communities.  Second, Theatre Ontario is now exploring how we can most effectively share the best practices with a wider audience.

Read more about Theatre Ontario's Community Theatre Forums

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Highlights of the Adjudication of Gateway Theatre Guild's Glengarry Glen Ross

by Brandon Moore, Communications Coordinator

Notes from the adjudication by Bea Quarrie of Gateway Theatre Guild's production of Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet.  (Spoilers ahead)
  • This play is dedicated to Harold Pinter, reflects the influence on Mamet's work and the language rhythms in the play
    John Hewiit, Rod Carley, Mitch Belanger, Morgan Bedard in
    Gateway Theatre Guild's Glengarry Glen Ross
    Photo by Ed Regan Photography
  • Not a comfortable play to watch, not intended to be comfortable to watch
  • Questions posed to each actor and director:
  • Levene: What is your relationship to daughter? What keeps you from being a complete loser? What kind of parent are you if you use your daughter as a bargaining chip?
  • Williamson: How long have you had the job? What is your life like outside of the office?
  • Moss: What is the source of your rage? Given the actor's age - what does 50 look like for this character?
  • Aaronow: What is the cause of his paralysis? Why did Mamet put you in the play at all? What is he saying about this world?
  • Roma: Is he an Ayn Rand hero?
  • Lingk: Why did you take the bait? Why do you apologize? What did Roma say that was so attractive?
  • Baylen: What did you find in the script that was useful for building the character? What helped you maintain consistency?
  • The cops: What mood do you serve? What objective do you have?
  • Director: What is the significance of the daughter in the show? Where does today's Bay Street / Wall Street fit into our understanding of this world? What impact does the play have today? Was the curtain call ironic?
  • The play is a terrific vehicle: always choose a play that is articulate, otherwise you will be hampered
  • Set: Environment of Chinese restaurant (particularly North American Chinese) was immediately recognizable; Act 2 showed that they had reached the absolute nadir of decrepitude - did it go too far? Did there need to be some vestige of business, some attempt at respectability?
  • Sound: Music suggested Rat Pack world of sexism, racism, cues in between scenes in Act 1 were from Roland website of digital samples demonstrating equipment capabilities; sounded like ad jingles and reinforced "selling, selling, selling"
  • Scenes had constant rain underneath - trying to give an audio sense of location; elevated train would have been too distracting, good urban wind sound couldn't be found, rain suggests "40 days and 40 nights" and November rain - cold and ice is going to come.  Does rain suggest cleansing, rejuvenation?  Effect itself was well-executed: one audience member believed it was raining in Sarnia, passing fire trucks sounded real
  • The curtain call of actors dancing: Director juxtaposed what we have seen, we can leave this world behind now, find some semblance of fun; but dangerous as we have seen actors creating a believable world, and now we see them celebrating: "Aren't we the cock of the walk?" or even worse, is the Director celebrating the people we have seen?
  • Does this play have relevance today? The rise of the 1% makes the play timely, the people in Glengarry Glen Ross are dangerous, this play is a cautionary tale.  This production opened up that conversation.  Not much has changed since 1983 (the techniques have, but the pitch hasn't.)
  • They wanted to use the famous speech from Alec Baldwin from the film, but Mamet doesn't allow it in stage versions.  (Apparently, some community theatres have done it anyway and illegally - BOO!)
  • Danger in this play is playing the major keys of emotion, neglecting the minor keys
  • Anger and rage are easily accessible emotions, but if the play is about nothing but anger, it becomes hard to watch
  • Act 1 can lend itself to static staging: "park and bark" with two characters at a table talking; Levene/Williamson, Roma/Lingk both were enhanced with action, could Aaronow/Moss power struggle have been enhanced with movement?
  • Act 2 becomes a whirlwind of constant turmoil - did it have room to breathe?
  • Brought their original floor of chessboard squares - hard to see in the Imperial Theatre, would they have benefited from being larger?
  • Baylen: Comes from a world of respect as a police detective, but is not respected in this scene; actor is a strong active listener, no-nonsense observer
  • Discussed language warning, impact of racial language (lighting technician was actually named Patel), but must keep as is, must be ready to defend; (ED: For me, it's always about shining a light on this kind of character to make audience think about their own behaviour)
  • Similar warnings around smoking: they used herbal rather than electric cigarettes, which is useful for the smoke swirl
  • Concern about need to soften things for audiences.  Someday will we need a warning: "The relationships in this play will not end happily. Sorry."  Let's hope not.
  • Moss: Rage comes from always being told what to do, plumbing depths of back story. By casting a younger actor, you lose the desperation of an older man who is going down; but you gain something by seeing the grasping need to compete
  • Aaronow: Lacks self-confidence, insecure people can gravitate towards things like sales - and acting. We forgave Aaronow for what he does because of his humanity.
  • Levene: Doesn't see himself as someone who is using his daughter. He is trying to redeem himself for past mistakes. Where do we find the empathy for this character? The choice to have him physically grovelling was strong.
  • Williamson: He is the newbie expecting respect from the veterans - who may have wanted his job. He needs to leave work behind, but they won't let him - Levene shows up at the restaurant when Williamson wants to be alone.  When does he know that Levene is guilty?  He wants him to be guilty, he hopes he is guilty, but he doesn't know it until "How do you know I made it up"
  • Lingk: He is on stage a lot without saying much. He is seeking some control in his life and he regrets hurting someone else's life (Roma).  His empathy makes him his target.  An active listener, waiting for approval.
  • Roma: Back story of influence of immigrant parents, racism, he wasn't going to have that life and made up a new identity for himself and a new image, denying self, he becomes whatever he needs to be for the role, finding Lingk's weakness is his way in
  • Lighting: He didn't want to get in the actors way, self-restraint to cut down 135 cues to be perfunctory and functional; Act Two was a single look, with no colour, except for the final look (highlighting the sales board with Levene's name erased), and the designer even wondered if that was "too arch"
  • Aaronow's line "Oh, God, I hate this job" is one of the spines of the play
  • Thinking about the first line / last line: I'll be in the restaurant, circling back to where the play begins in an endless circle
  • This play IS relevant today
  • Company expressed gratitude for the drive of their first-time producer
  • Fundraising to bring the show to Sarnia: T-shirts are available for purchase. Always be closing.

ONstage Tonight at Festival: Peterborough Theatre Guild

Our final performance at Theatre Ontario Festival 2014 is a play seen at Festival back in 2001.  The theatre company that hosted that 2001 Festival is now the producer of the 2014 production, as Peterborough Theatre Guild presents Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane, representing the Eastern Ontario Drama League (EODL).

Peterborough Theatre Guild began in 1965, purchasing and renovating an old church that had been gutted by a fire.  They have hosted our Theatre Ontario Festival three times, in 1980, 1993, and 2001.  Peterborough Theatre Guild has represented EODL many times at Festival—most recently in Sault Ste. Marie in 2012 with the original script The Mouse House by Robert Ainsworth, which won Peterborough their third Elsie Award for Outstanding Production (following wins in 2006 in Sarnia for Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, and in 2008 in North Bay for Proof.)

The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Peterborough Theatre Guild
Alex Saul, Scott Drummond, Patricia Young
Photo by Theresa James
Set in the village of Leenane, Connemara, Ireland in the early 1990s, the play centers on Maureen Folan, an emotionally-taut, middle-aged spinster and her relationship with her malevolent mother, Mag, who manipulates and exploits her daughter to keep her psychologically enslaved as a caregiver. Into this scenario of domestic toxicity comes Pato Dooley, a gentle, long-time admirer of Maureen who is leaving to work in the U.S.A. and wants Maureen to come with him. It’s a last chance opportunity for Maureen to escape her prison and Mag quickly recognizes the threat to her own selfish comforts.

At the 2014 EODL Festival, Peterborough Theatre Guild won the Leslie M. Frost Award for Best Production, Best Actress in a Major Role (Alex Saul as Maureen Folan), and Acting Excellence—Male (Scott Drummond as Pato Dooley), with honourable mentions for Best Director (Jerry Allen), Actor in a Major Role (Luke Foster as Ray Dooley), Ensemble, Set Design (Al Tye), and Use of Speech (Sharon Guildea, Dialect Coach).

Read more about Theatre Ontario Festival 2014 on our website

Director's Vision: Highlights of Bea Quarrie's Festival Adjudicator's Workshop

Bea Quarrie's "Director's Vision" Workshop
by Brandon Moore, Communications Coordinator
  • Bea reads a play seven times before she tries to say anything about it, and to see if still holds power
  • Her most recent production was Shrek: The Musical, which she initially thought seemed unlikely
  • She connected with exploring the differences between fables, fairy tales, myths - and how these stories are now access more via Disney's adaptations
  • She wanted to make the characters more like original folk tales, and ended up focusing on a distinct visual style of Russian folk tales (Shrek must look like Shrek, but Humpty Dumpty initially was conceived to look more like a Faberge egg, the Bears looked like Russian bears, the castle looked like a Russian character)
  • Breaks down each scene for atmosphere and environment, relationships, action, plot, design needs; she does this on large sheets of paper which are not shared with the cast
  • When she directed Vern Thiessen's Vimy, her way into the play was exploring the First World War "from the other side" (As shared at the morning adjudication, Bea was raised and learned about the war in Hungary)
  • Because of the poetry of the text, every rehearsal started with a reading of war poetry; cast was instructed to bring in letters or photographs to heighten their personal connection
  • Workshop participants were invited to share their own approaches to finding and articulating vision
  • Also discussed variation in vision, illustrated in the National Theatre of England's Five Truths exhibition
  • She talked about wanting to direct an adaptation of Hedda Gabler; worked hard to find an adaptation she liked before settling on Judith Thompson's
  • Discussed challenge of distilling vision of a play down to one line: demands precision, thoughtfulness, clarity

Friday, 16 May 2014

Highlights of the Adjudication of The Curtain Club's Lenin's Embalmers

by Bruce Pitkin, Executive Director
  • Bea began by singing in Russian and tells of her own experiences of Stalinism in her native Hungary when she was a child in 1953
  • Bravo, everyone, it is a risky choice. Risky because of title, content and style. Risky to take to Festival, since it is reliant on split-second timing and has high technical challenges. A lot of preparation is required by the technicians and actors to make sure everything works.
  • Bea posed questions to each actor
  • Lenin: What do you think the author wanted to do with this role? Do you think your character changes during the show?
  • Boris/Vlad: What is your central motivation and how are you different from each other
    Mark Hayward and Phil Dionne in
    The Curtain Club's Lenin's Embalmers
    Photo by Davis Strong

  • Nadia: What were the challenges in your three roles?
  • Stalin: What is the core of the character? Are you an evil clown?
  • Krasin: How did you develop this character and the physicality? What was the key to your character?
  • Agent 1 / 2: What were the distinct characteristics of each role? How did you keep them different?
  • Question for the Director, why this play and why now?
  • You are trying to create pretty heavy duty stuff. The audience is not aware of this story or these characters. How do you take them into this world? How are they reacting to it? The audience was absorbed and they were also puzzled. This play provokes them and does not answer all the questions. It is an inconclusive world.
  • Lighting crew was quite a large one. The Curtain Club talked about everyone who was involved, how smoothly they functioned together and how much fun it was. It is a demanding show for lights and sound. Were the footlights fully operational all the time? The lighting designer said, not all the time as a design choice. Audience commented that they could not read the sign boards as they traveled across the stage. Lighting the sign boards presented a challenge in the new space. The audience missed some of the content, but Bea appreciated the concept of titling the settings.
  • What happened at the top of the show with Lenin’s first entrance? Lenin seemed not to realize that he was not in his light. After that, things went smoothly, although it does have a ripple effect on the rest to try harder.
  • Fabulous work on the precision of the physicality. Very difficult to execute and maintain. You have to be able to do the pattern with speed. It sets up a nice contrast to the larger than life aspect of the characters, such as Stalin.
  • When reading the script, there is so much openness and room for interpretation, which is not easy to develop and keep a progression going.
  • Vodka plays a large role in the show and it was interesting to watch the pattern of the drinking in the show, which was well executed. Nice alacrity in the use of props. Director explained her choices with the props and set pieces, in order to keep a simplicity in the style. Bea talks about how that sets up a convention and being consistent throughout. Audience then experiences the shifts more readily.
  • First time for Bea to see a cadaver being operated on onstage. Even though there was a gruesome aspect to it, the audience stayed with you via comedy. Bea would have liked more clarity during the guard sequence, as the lighting was murky. That was a technical issue rather than a design choice.
  • Who chose the music? The sound designer did well in choosing many different kinds of music, which were quite evocative and captured the moments well. Music heightens the sense of survival, since it is all you have left and preserves your sanity in difficult times.
  • Through all of the farce in the play, the audience must still feel the reality of the pain. How do you do that when the main protagonists can be unlikeable? What is the difference between the two characters?
  • How did the director get the cast and crew to buy into her vision? Director talked about how she connected with everyone involved in the production and created the unity of the vision.
  • Does Stalin dip into madness? What is his journey? What was your actor’s journey? Stalin talked about exploring the bi-polar nature of the character and making his mood changes very fast.
  • Who do we rely on to get information? What version of history will stand? Who do you trust in this play? Author knows of the price that the ordinary person pays living under a dictatorship. And then how do you make a comedy about it?
  • What was the author doing in creating the role of Lenin? It is really hard to play an idea or be a symbol. The through-line for Lenin is tricky, in not being just a symbol, you need to play him as a man.
  • Nadia, which role gave you the most challenge - Nadia 1, 2 or 3? Nadia talked about the differences in the three characters and constantly seeking. A good actor keeps seeking to find and refine their process. Cameo roles can be difficult, due to the specificity and quickness of the development time on stage. Be aware of not playing the resolution of the character, keep seeking.
  • Stalin is also still questing to the very end of the play, so he doesn’t play the resolution.
  • How did you create the physicality of the Krasin character? Krasin spoke of his process in discovering how he got into the head of the character. What was achieved with Krasin, was that he evoked pity from the audience, which is essential for the audience to care about the character. Gave this subservient character some dignity. ‘A man caught in the middle,’ is how the author describes the character, he is stretched to the extremes.
  • Agent 1 and 2, what were the distinct characteristics that defined you? Agent 2 and 1, talked about the motivations of their characters. The rewards of power are important.
  • How romantic was the kiss over the cadaver
  • Bea half-seriously expected to see some dancing onstage, due to the boisterous energy of the music.
  • Nice playing of the pauses in the script. Good delivery of the lines. There was a really nice progression in the vodka drinking sequences. Nice timing on ‘A job for life.’ Great build to ‘Trust me.’
  • Discussed if could have parked Lenin in one place or in the same place, for greater effect.
  • First appearance of Stalin in his white jacket is stunning, because of the stark contrast to the beiges and greys, beforehand.
  • Bea had difficulty hearing some of the actors onstage at the very beginning. Not sure if it was only a lack of adjustment to the space. Be aware of projecting and articulating in the larger space.
  • Finally, it’s great to celebrate the work, and the insanity too, that goes into taking on a new challenge. You are good risk takers.

ONstage Tonight at Festival: Gateway Theatre Guild

Our second Pulitzer-Prize winning script of the week is on the stage tonight, as Gateway Theatre Guild presents David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, representing QUONTA and northeastern Ontario community theatre at Theatre Ontario Festival 2014.

Gateway Theatre Guild is the oldest of the four theatre companies, and have been producing theatre in North Bay since 1948.  Hosts of Theatre Ontario Festival in 2008, they last represented QUONTA at Festival in 2010 in London, winning the Elsie for Outstanding Festival Production for Waiting For Godot.  They also won the Festival’s Outstanding Production award in 1974 for their production of David French’s Leaving Home.

Glengarry Glen Ross
Gateway Theatre Guild
Verlyn Plowman and Morgan Bedard
Photo by Ed Regan Photography
Glengarry Glen Ross won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1984.  It is a scorching examination of Reagan-era America, as a group of real estate salesmen try to lie, cheat and steal their way to the top, clawing over anyone who crosses their path.

At the 2014 QUONTA Festival in Sault Ste. Marie, Gateway Theatre Guild won Outstanding Production, Outstanding Director (Joshua Bainbridge), and Outstanding Visual Presentation, with two nominations each for Outstanding Supporting Actor (Morgan Bedard as John Williamson and Brad Carr as Dave Moss), and Newcomer Actor (Shawn Parker and Zachary Smithers).

Read more about Theatre Ontario Festival 2014 on our website

In Conversation with David S. Craig

by Bruce Pitkin, Executive Director

David is quite happy to be here at the 2014 Festival.  His play Having Hope at Home, set in a farmhouse in Blyth, has had nineteen productions, been produced in Germany, as well as a production by some of today’s attendees.

Let’s look back, thousands of years ago, to the discovery and control of fire. With fire, nightlife was born. So, what did people do with this nightlife? They made music and then told stories. Stories about their own successes and tragedies. Storytelling was created, then people told stories directly to other people, or their public.

In 400 BC, a change occurred, where instead of one storyteller, different people assumed roles in the story and faced each other. Storytelling begat performance. The Greeks then created rules about performance and this new art form. Greek style theatres existed all over the Mediterranean, and later, all over the world. This was the beginning of the fourth wall in performance.

David, at eight years old, sat in a theatre in Montreal, looking at everything around him on and off the stage. He asked his mother, “How did they get up there?” “Shhh!” said his mother, however, his curiosity kept growing. At boarding school, he auditioned for the school play and got a lead role. At his very first curtain call, the applause gave him such a rush, that it converted him to the theatre. That moment he fell in love with the theatre, and of course, all theatre people have this moment. And this very same moment, connects all of us to the discovery of theatre by the ancients.

David went to study at Queen’s University and he saw a performance from British troupe who told a contemporary story, in a bare room, with few props. Another revelation. “How did they get up there?” At that moment, he decided to leave university to pursue theatre training, cutting all strings to conventional life, to take the risk of creating theatre.

To while the time until success arrived, David’s created a kid’s show and that led to another and another, and eventually to a thirty year career writing for the theatre.

He eschewed political theatre for realism, until one day he heard a report on CBC Radio about child homelessness. He began to research about children who become homeless in order to write a story to about them. This led to Danny, King of the Basement, his most produced play here and abroad. He then read excerpts from the play. Afterward, he talked about how kids in the audience related to the plight of the kids in the play. Danny, King of the Basement struck a chord with youth audiences and educators alike, leading to productions across North America. Theatre CAN change people’s attitudes and feelings, subsequently changing their mindset over time.

David did focus groups in high schools to see how to connect with the students there, which led to a series of plays by Roseneath Theatre. They worked at creating theatre for schools, which would perform at the schools themselves. The idea was not very well received, either ideologically or financially. So, they went to the Health Departments within the schools to look for support, then created plays with health related themes, which were well received. The plays, and the issues raised in them, connected well with the high school students. He read an excerpt from one of these plays.

The kids who waited for a message play, were impressed that there wasn’t a neat or ‘happy’ conclusion and that they could finish the story themselves. However, American educators did not like the ending and wanted one where the issues were resolved at the end. That didn’t happen and they play has been David’s most widely produced play. Even as far away as in Turkey, where it appealed to that audience’s strong sense of family.

David met with an American producer, who said that while she liked his plays, she couldn’t produce them, since they did not appeal to the American narrative of redemption. However, she did ask him to ‘pitch her a title’, something that would be familiar to her audiences. That led to David’s choice to do a stage adaption of The Neverending Story. He read an excerpt.

The difference between trying to find prospective producers for Danny, King of the Basement or Having Hope at Home and The Neverending Story, is that people came to him because of the familiarity of Story. This has furthered his work as an adapter, which also gives him the perspective of a producer, in understanding how the play will be produced and received. So working on adaptations has become an important facet of David’s work.

He has also created radio dramas for CBC Radio, although not lately since that department no longer exists. Once he was approached to write a radio special and David responded with the spontaneous idea of retelling the birth of Christ, which then became The First Christmas. He read an excerpt from his ninety minute radio play, which he has adapted for the stage.

David then shared with us the gestation of Having Hope at Home. It came from a reflection on how different generations have differences in their expectations. He had wanted to be there at the birth of his child and decided to have the birth at home. His wife and he hired a midwife who spent time with them and advised them on the birth process. During that time the midwife shared stories of child birth and David decided to write with midwifery as the subject of a play. He eventually wrote about the relationships and personal crisis of the mother to those around her, to make the story more universal. The response to his first submission to the Blyth Festival was not well received. It sat in his bottom drawer until he decided to send it out again to be read. Later, he tried Blyth once more, but was again rebuffed. After a while, and a few artistic directors later, he submitted it one last time and third time lucky, it was produced to wonderful acclaim. He read an excerpt.

David is pleased to have been able to write works that are considered part of the literary canon. In writing, he has discovered that there are rules, hidden rules, which although sometimes challenging, give his work a richness that he cherishes.

Canadian story telling is on the ascendancy. And although Canadians don’t have the same polarization in society as Americans, which makes for very different kind of dramatic work, we still love telling and hearing our own stories. They tell us who we are.

Playwright-in-Person is made possible by a grant from the Playwrights Guild of Canada, funded by the Canada Council.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Highlights of the Adjudication of Theatre Kent's Doubt, A Parable

By Anne Mooney, Community Theatre Coordinator

This morning, the cast and crew of Theatre Kent’s production of Doubt, A Parable under the leadership of Director Norm McLeod and Stage Manager Gina Paradis had a lively conversation about the production with adjudicator Bea Quarrie.
Zoe Burbank and Audrey Hummelen in
Theatre Kent's Doubt, A Parable
Photo by Cheshire Media

Bea began by asking the cast and director each a question which she wanted them to answer at the end of the adjudication.  Then she spoke about what she saw, making sure to dialogue with each cast and crew member and addressing each department.

The following are the highlights of the session as I noted them.
  • The set and costume choices enhanced the play’s hierarchical structure - clergy, nuns and laity.  The priest was centred and higher on the stage when giving sermons, Sister Aloysius’ office was on a low riser and packed with furniture making it a confined space in which to live and work.  The nuns were in drab serviceable habits, the priest had luxurious robes and Mrs. Muller arrived in her Sunday best prepared to battle for her son.  In a scene where the priest and nun could not be in a room together without another person present, the door to Sister Aloysius’ office became another character dividing the two, much like a confessional until the arrival of Sister James.  
  • The cast were asked about their characters and suggestions were made to be as specific as possible about their character – age, times in which they lived, as finding the reality of their situations helps to inform their performances. 
  • Bea was also impressed with the many great moments and silences the cast and director found in the play.  She had suggestions to more fully strengthen and clarify some of these moments.
  • Bea and Norm (director) had an informative discussion out Norm’s choice to use black outs between scenes.  Bea felt that the blackouts broke the tension developed by the scene and created an additional hurdle for the actors to overcome (in this case successfully) to draw the audience back into the story.  Both Bea and Norm came up with ways to make these transitions between scenes much more fluid.
The adjudication was forthright, honest and collaborative.

ONstage Tonight at Festival: The Curtain Club

Tonight we see the only Canadian play at Theatre Ontario Festival 2014, as The Curtain Club presents Lenin’s Embalmers by Vern Thiessen, representing ACT-CO, the Association of Community Theatres—Central Ontario.

The Curtain Club was founded in Richmond Hill in 1954; Cicely Thomson, one of the theatre’s co-founders was also a founding member of Theatre Ontario.  Hosts of Theatre Ontario Festival 2011, The Curtain Club last represented ACT-CO at our 2012 Festival in Sault Ste. Marie, presenting Colleen Murphy’s The December Man / L’homme de décembre.  The Curtain Club has twice won the Elsie Award for Outstanding Festival Production, first in 2004 for their production of Staff Room (written and directed by Joan Burrows, who is the director of Lenin’s Embalmers) and again in 2005 for their production of Marvin’s Room.

Lenin's Embalmers
The Curtain Club
Brian J. Moore and Tamara Van Bakel
Photo by Davis Strong
Lenin’s Embalmers was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama in 2011.  Russia, 1924. Two scientists are assigned an impossible task: make Vladimir Ilyich Lenin live forever, or face death. This is a darkly comic imagination of the true tale of two Jewish scientists who were roped into preserving the body of Lenin by his communist comrades.

At the 2014 ACT-CO Festival, The Curtain Club won Best Production of a Comedy, Best Performance by a Male in a Leading Role (Phil Dionne as Boris Zbarsky), and Best Sound Design (John Hunter) with nominations for Best Director (Joan Burrows), Best Stage Manager (Sharon Dykstra), Best Performance by a Male in a Supporting Role (Fabian Levy-Hara as Stalin), Best Performance by a Female in a Supporting Role (Tamara Van Bakel as Nadia, 1, 2 and 3), Best Lighting Design (Mary Jane Boon and David Rhodes) and Best Set Design (Wayne Milliner and Alice Torrance).

Read more about Theatre Ontario Festival 2014 on our website

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

ONstage Tonight at Festival: Theatre Kent

Theatre Ontario Festival 2014 opens tonight at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia, as Theatre Kent takes the stage to perform John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, A Parable, representing the Western Ontario Drama League (WODL).

This is Theatre Kent’s debut at Theatre Ontario Festival.  Founded in 1978, Theatre Kent is located in Chatham-Kent and is the youngest of this year’s four participating companies.  Each year, they produce a minimum of three productions ranging from musicals and comedies to mysteries and drama.

Doubt, A Parable
Theatre Kent
Neil Wood
Photo by Cheshire Media

Doubt, A Parable, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is a battle of wills between a Catholic school principal and a priest. A charismatic priest, Father Flynn, is trying to upend the school’s strict customs, which have long been fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius, who believes in the power of fear and discipline. Her suspicion of him leads her on a personal crusade to unearth the truth and rid Flynn from the school.

At the 2014 WODL Festival in Windsor, Theatre Kent won the D. Park Jamieson Memorial Award for Outstanding Production, Outstanding Direction (Norm McLeod), Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Major Role (Neil Wood as Father Flynn) and Best Visual Production, with nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Major Role (Audrey Hummelen as Sister Aloysius), Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Tracy Schillemore-Morton as Sister James), Outstanding Technical Achievement (Gregg Oliver, Lighting), and Outstanding Ensemble Work.  They also won In or Out of Festival Awards for Best Newcomer (Neil Wood), Best Visually Co-ordinated Costumes of a Non-Rental Nature (Barb Masse and Dava Robichaud), and Outstanding Lighting Design and Execution (Gregg Oliver), with a nomination for Best Sound Design (Eric Bristow).

Read more about Theatre Ontario Festival 2014 on our website

Browsing The Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario
Check out all of our upcoming courses and workshops, including our Culture Days Information Session webinar, and our Summer Theatre Intensive

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board
  • Deadline to apply to the Toronto Fringe Festival’s T.E.N.T. (the Theatre Entrepreneurs’ Network & Training), a free immersive summer program for emerging artists 19 to 24 is today
  • Deadline to apply for the Ontario Arts Council Northern Arts program is May 15
  • Deadline to apply for the Toronto Fringe Festival’s Next Stage Festival is May 16
  • Deadline for nominations for the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Tom Hendry Awards is May 16
New on The Bulletin Board
  • The Canadian Arts Marketing, Development and Ticketing Conference opens May 30 in Toronto: discount registrations available to Theatre Ontario members
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

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

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 Spring 2014 application round.  Each month, we want to share some of these projects with you.

Madeleine Donohue is training in Producing and General Management with Monica Esteves and Eric Goldstein at Crow’s Theatre (Toronto)

While I have done a fair bit of self-producing in the past with my own indie theatre company, this will be a totally new work environment for me, and I'm looking forward to what promises to be a busy, exciting time with these generous, ambitious folks.
Madeleine Donohue

I met with Monica and Eric this week to plan our detailed schedule, and to discuss my goals and interests. I have known Monica for several years, so this meeting also served as an introduction for Eric and myself, and a chance for us to fill one another in on our backgrounds and current projects. I was unsure of how much one-on-one time the two of them would be able to give me, and also how many of their upcoming projects I would be directly involved in, so I was pleased to discover that they've given my placement within their office a great deal of thought, and that their past experiences with interns and trainees has prepared them for the process of integrating new artists into their working environment. 

I will be working at the Crow's office Monday to Friday, for roughly five hours each afternoon. During the first part of my training I will be assisting with the running of the East End Performance Crawl, from the office and also on site.  As the company prepares for a series of new play workshops over the course of the next five months, I trust that I will also be able to contribute to the process of contract preparation and relations with CAEA; I have enough experience in this area to be able to confidently assist Eric, while also learning about a wider array of contract and agreement types than I am currently familiar with. I also hope to expand my knowledge regarding tour planning, and in the fall I will be assisting with the preparations for their 2015 Montreal production. Again, I trust that my own experience with touring will serve Crow's well throughout this process, but I know that the scale of their project will allow me to embrace new challenges, including budget preparation and the facilitating of travel and accommodation arrangements for artists from around the country.

One of my primary goals for my training is to gain a better understanding of the general manager and producer's roles within a larger organization, and to learn about board management and corporate sponsorship. Monica and Eric have invited me to attend all budgeting and board meetings, and they have offered to schedule one-on-one time with me to answer my questions regarding their own work, their company's position within the wider theatre community, and the general day-to-day running of the company.  As the founder of an indie theatre company, this will help me to plan for the next stage in my own company's development, and it will also provide me with invaluable information as I contemplate my long-term career prospects as a producer.

I can't wait to get started. A little bit nervous, definitely, but confident that this opportunity is coming at exactly the right time for me, both personally and professionally. Feeling lucky and excited, and grateful that the PTTP exists for artists like myself!

Kat Horzempa is training in General Management and Tour Coordination with Natalie Ackers at Roseneath Theatre (Toronto)

As I prepare for this exciting mentorship, I feel truly honoured to have been selected to participate in the Professional Theatre Training Program. The privilege of learning General Management and Tour Coordination from Natalie Ackers, the Managing Director of Roseneath Theatre, is one I hope to fully take advantage of. At the outset of this venture, I anticipate gaining the necessary skills required to successfully manage a Canadian theatre company and direction on how to apply those skills in the appropriate circumstance. Working with Natalie uniquely affords me the added advantage of learning how to manage a company that tours nationally and internationally, which is something I look forward to being able to apply in my future endeavours.
Kat Horzempa

The fact that I get to learn from Natalie Ackers is one of the most exciting parts of this opportunity. Natalie and I come from not just a similar theatre background, but the very same theatre background. We both had our start in the same small-town community theatre up in Caledon, Ontario. Seeing that Natalie took what she learned there, continued to build upon that foundation elsewhere, and is now the Managing Director for Ontario’s largest touring theatre company is inspiring for me. Natalie has the experience necessary to guide me in properly applying the skills I developed in community theatre to the business of professional theatre. In addition to all this, Natalie is someone with whom I feel comfortable asking questions, discussing my doubts, and troubleshooting hypotheticals. We have a natural rapport that I have no doubt will make for a great mentor-mentee relationship.

From this experience I am eager to learn how to manage and lead an entire production – from hiring and casting to payroll, HR management, grant writing, budget creation and management, conflict resolution and troubleshooting. I look forward to testing my troubleshooting skills in addressing tour complications; fine-tuning my “grant speak” in helping to prepare high-level grant applications and reports; understanding the importance of choosing the right arts marketing events on a limited budget; developing my accounting skills while assisting with audit preparations; and undoubtedly, adapting to unanticipated curveballs as are bound to arise.

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.  Read more about the Professional Theatre Training Program on our website.

Monday, 12 May 2014

ONstage Openings for the week of May 12

In Eastern Ontario
May 13, Inherit the Wind at Kanata Theatre (Ottawa)
May 16, Oil and Water at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa), with previews from May 14
May 16, Driving Miss Daisy at Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque)

In Northeastern Ontario
May 15, Shrek: The Musical at Theatre Cambrian (Sudbury)

In South Central Ontario
May 15, Goody Two Shoes at Class Productions Theatre Society (Mississauga)

In Southwestern Ontario
May 14, Theatre Ontario Festival in Sarnia
May 14, South Pacific at Drayton Entertainment: Drayton Festival Theatre
May 15, Mother Courage and Her Children at Stratford Festival, in previews
May 15, The Philadelphia Story at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake), in previews*
May 16, Queen Milli of Galt at London Community Players, with a preview on May 15
May 16, A Midsummer Night's Dream at Stratford Festival, in previews

In Toronto
May 12, WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years at Theatre Direct Canada
May 13, A Spring Showcase at Scarborough Music Theatre
May 16, Spring Into Song: Selections From Broadway's Best at Etobicoke Musical Productions

In Central Ontario
May 12, The Beauty Queen of Leenane at Peterborough Theatre Guild

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
The Road to Mecca at Soulpepper Theatre
Diana Leblanc
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
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