Tuesday, 17 June 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. Two more projects started in the past month, and we check in with a project now halfway complete.

Rob Kempson is training in Directing with Ashlie Corcoran at Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque

Rob Kempson
I’m heading to Gananoque in only a few days to learn from Ashlie Corcoran, and I couldn’t be more excited. Growing up in Kingston, I visited the Thousand Islands Playhouse nearly every summer. Much of the first theatre I saw was at the Playhouse, and so it has always held a very special place in my heart. It’s a pretty magical setting for a summer theatre—along the banks of the St. Lawrence River—and the people who make it all happen are pretty special as well.

She Loves Me is a particularly interesting piece for me to work on, as my professional experience lies firmly in musical theatre (as a writer and performer) and in ensemble work with students/community members (as a facilitator and director). This particular piece of musical theatre requires a highly skilled ensemble cast to carry out the very busy action of the play. I have already learned a great deal from Ashlie about how to organize the pathways of that many people on stage.

Over the last few weeks, Ashlie has begun looping me into all of her notes and emails with the production team. I’ve been seeing Production Schedules, Scene Breakdowns, Wardrobe Notes, and much more fly through her e-desk in order to prep for next week well in advance. In and amongst those notes, I have completed some research for the show, a mini-glossary, some fact-checking, and other small rehearsal prep duties. I know that I will need to hit the ground running when I arrive in town next week and I am eager to soak up the next phase of production as we kick off our first week of rehearsal.

This mentorship will mean many things for me—a rare opportunity to learn from a vibrant and passionate artist like Ashlie, a chance to spend time working in a theatre that means a lot to me, an adventure in how to stage a musical with a relatively large cast (by Canadian standards), and the time and space to soak it all in. The support I’ve received from Theatre Ontario is allowing me to take this new step in my career and work beyond my comfort zone. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Joseph Recinos is training in Producing with Marilo Nunez at Alameda Theatre Company in Toronto

Joseph Recinos
My mentorship with Marilo Nunez, Artistic Director of Alameda Theatre Company begins in great timing. After a few months of life throwing curve balls at me (I never struck out but damn was it hard to keep swinging) I am finally at a place where I can start to reflect on all of the lessons learned. And with that, comes questions.

Aside from my excitement to begin to tap into the Hispanic community, build on my Spanish-speaking skills, help produce a show for SummerWorks…I am stoked to learn about balancing one’s personal life with trying to do it all. No easy feat but the guidance will surely be appreciated. To be able to learn these small life lessons from Marilo I feel will make my transition from emerging artist to professional much more seamless as the reservations or ‘intimidation’ that stems from working so closely with an established artist and Artistic Director of a company doesn’t really exist. Our initial meeting many years before when I first volunteered with Alameda saw to that, now I feel like it will be asking advice from a friend. Which will help because at this point in my career I need some guidance from someone I trust on how to stay afloat in this crazy business and not burn out.

Aside from the tasks laid out in the work plan, I hope to establish a meaningful relationship with members of the Latin-Canadian community, foster relationships with other emerging artists, and help implement kickass ideas and initiatives that will hopefully strengthen Alameda’s current relationships and that will hopefully aid in the longevity of the company. It is my hope that my ideas and passions will contribute positively and will help secure Alameda’s position as a leader in the diverse community of artists.

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

I can’t believe I've already reached the halfway mark; how quickly the time passes! The past seven weeks have been as unpredictable as they've been educational. In planning for this mentorship, my mentor Natalie Ackers and I sketched an outline of what areas we should touch on and when, and very quickly, the reality of managing a theatre company while planning for cross-country tours taught me the importance of being flexible within a well-made plan.
Roseneath Theatre's annual fundraiser

Since embarking on this journey, I've participated in the preparation, execution and reconciliation of Roseneath Theatre’s annual fundraiser, aided with bookings for the final leg of two simultaneous school tours, and put together the itinerary for the international portion of one of next season’s school tours. Most recently I completed a draft for a sponsorship and fund-matching grant application. The application was the perfect exercise for researching potential sponsors, understanding what makes the right match between a corporation and a theatre company, creating an attractive proposal, and finally, meeting necessary deadlines.

One of my more interesting undertakings has been routing—and re-routing—one of next season’s province-wide school tours. The tour has been commissioned by an outside producer, who provided us with the areas the tour would travel. The routing I put together has evolved a few times, from a general proposal I put together based on the areas we need to reach, to a more detailed schedule that takes into account preferred dates for some key schools. For each revision, I've needed to take into account Equity rules, travel time, possible weather issues, budgets, school and holiday schedules, and finally, what will make the most sense for keeping a cast and crew happy over the course of a ten-week tour.

The value of seeing the routing project through from start to finish has meant that some of the initial marketing and sales aspects of our original plan have been reevaluated and postponed for a later time. Additionally, the annual fundraiser brought to our attention a previously unplanned opportunity for development: stewardship. Natalie and I agree that I would benefit from spending some time following-up with those who came out and supported Roseneath Theatre, seeing stewardship through from the initial thank-you and tax receipt to keeping supporters informed about how their contribution contributes to the success of the company.

As I begin the final seven weeks, I want to again thank Theatre Ontario and the Ontario Arts Council for the opportunity to learn from Natalie. The accomplishments I've made in this mentorship program have had much to do with Natalie’s commitment to my success. As a mentor, she has been open to my numerous questions and willing to take a stab at answering as many as she can. I appreciate her forthrightness when we are discussing expectations for any given project, and her willingness to expose me to some of the less obvious, less glamourous responsibilities that come along with the role I aspire to have in this industry. I continue to be grateful for this opportunity, and look forward to making the most of these final few weeks.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment