Tuesday, 8 July 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.  This month we feature three of the projects.

Pam Patel is training in Artistic Direction with Majdi Bou-Matar at MT Space (Kitchener)

Pam Patel
It was April of 2008. I had just completed my undergraduate studies in the music program at Wilfrid Laurier University. I could now call myself a classically trained vocalist. A sense of utter relief and pride came over me, along with a sense of utter fear. What was I to do now that I had officially entered “the real world”?

My good fortune led me to a good friend who was working for a local theatre company as a composer and musician. He suggested that I connect with this company, as they focus on creating and producing interdisciplinary and intercultural work, two ideas that greatly interested me throughout university.

Deciding that I had nothing to lose, I tagged along with my composer colleague to an opening performance and reception to meet the artistic director of this local theatre company called MT Space.

The day I met Majdi Bou-Matar is still quite clear in my memory. I walked into the theatre lobby and saw this Lebanese man in a beret with a presence that reverberated to the walls. While I felt somewhat intimidated, I was eager to meet Majdi face to face. When I was finally introduced to him after the performance, I mentioned that I was interested in working with him and his company. He took a look at me and said, “Can you act?” I could only reply, “I can try.”

Now, six years later, I find myself immersed in a world of theatre, combining my skills as a vocalist and actor with my experiences as a woman and culturally-diverse artist. I can now call myself a professional actor and theatre creator. Over the years, Majdi and I organically developed a relationship of mentor and mentee, and I am so excited to be able to train with Majdi as an apprentice artistic director.

Although I have been nurtured by MT Space and had opportunities to play various roles within the company, I look forward to being with Majdi and learning his craft, running a theatre company that has the potential to instigate social change. I look forward to learning how I can produce a theatre piece that speaks to my political issues, to learning how I can bring incredible art from around the globe to mingle with the incredible local arts community we have in Kitchener, to learning how I can make a presenting series happen after running an international theatre festival without missing the crucial details, all while helping to build arts and culture in the Waterloo region. We all have our vision of seeing art happen, but we seldom get the chance to sit with one of the trendsetters in Canadian theatre and pursue our dreams with proper guidance and the occasional safety net. I look forward to being the Robin to Majdi’s Batman!

MT Space helped to make me the theatre artist that I am now, and for that, I am deeply loyal and invested in the company. I have already made up a list of things to do for my first day in the office! I won’t reveal what’s on it now, but it does include embarking on some new relationships within Kitchener that I think may benefit MT Space. We’ll see how it goes… For now, I’ll keep my feet on the ground and brace myself for my new adventures at MT Space, changing the world one show at a time.

Thank you so much for enabling this apprenticeship, Theatre Ontario!

Rachel Penny is training in Producing with Aislinn Rose (Toronto)

After months of planning, discussion and waiting, I’m now very close to beginning my mentorship in theatre producing with Aislinn Rose at the start of July.

Rachel Penny
Aislinn and I decided to work on this project together because I had an interest in producing, and skills that she felt were a good fit for the job, but I needed to gain further experience in order to begin working on my own. Through our mentorship I’m looking forward to learning concrete skills and processes, such as contracting, budgeting, and time and project management within the context of independent theatre production. I feel especially aware that the most important pieces of learning are often things that you are not expecting, and so I will be careful over the upcoming months to remain open to new perspectives and to keep asking questions and taking risks.

I’m keen to add specific skills and competencies to my roster, but I know that my learning will not stop there. Much of the work of any professional in the creative field can’t be learned in a classroom. The beauty of the mentorship is being able to spend time with a professional on the job, learning not only the hard skills they need to do their job, but also the critical thinking, communication skills and relationship-building that make them excel.

The more I learn about the projects we will be working on, the more excited I feel about the mentorship. With Individual Desire by Susanna Fournier will be performed as a workshop production at the New Groundswell Festival at Nightwood Theatre in the fall. I’m looking forward to working in a festival environment, and observing a new work as it grows through its development. After one initial meeting with the team in late May, I feel lucky to be working with such a positive and collaborative group of people. My second project with Aislinn, The Art of Building A Bunker, will be presented as a part of Factory Theatre’s 2014-2015 season. Through this project I will be able to observe the work of a larger general theatre, and the ways in which independent theatre companies can work together with these larger companies to find new audiences for their work. The projects that we will be working on are quite distinct from one another, each with their own unique quirks and challenges.  I am looking forward not only to learning about managing each project individually, but how to balance multiple projects and obligations.

One exciting development since Aislinn and I initially planned our mentorship program is that Aislinn has been appointed as the General Manager of the new Theatre Centre. One of the elements that made me most interested in working with Aislinn is the diversity of environments in which she has worked. The Theatre Centre is yet another wonderful addition to this panoply of unique theatrical environments, and I look forward to being exposed through my work with Aislinn to the many artists and projects using this new and exciting space. A key element of our planned mentorship is the process of building networks and professional relationships for me that will allow me to continue doing fruitful work in producing once our mentorship is completed. I look forward to exploring new possibilities through The Theatre Centre connection.

I’m truly looking forward to getting started on my work with Aislinn. I’m sure the next few months will be full of learning, new challenges, and new relationships. I can’t wait to dive in. Nerves and apprehension are always a part of beginning a new project, and this is no exception. But I feel secure going into this project working with Aislinn. Since I met her while working together at the Luminato Festival last year, I’ve always been impressed by her ability to remain calm and professional while juggling a truly baffling number of projects. With Aislinn as my mentor and model, I feel confident that I can take on this challenge and push myself to succeed as a new producer.

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

Entrando la oficina de Alameda, me encuentro en un ambiente que me pertenece—estoy en un barrio, una comunidad que me da confianza, motivación, coraje para practicar español y adoptar completamente la cultura de mi patria y también quien soy—Guatemalteco y Canadiense.

Aquí no hay barreras, Marilo y yo nos estamos comunicando y transformando nuestra relación. Ayude con la Crowdfunding video y ahora voy a tener más impacto y participación con la producción: Paradise Red by Bruce Gibbons. En asociación con Cocodrilo Triste, vamos a presentar esta obra en SummerWorks en agosto. Con una pandilla muy creativa Paradise Red se trata de una telenovela, en estilo blanco y negro, durante los 1970s bajo la dictadura en Chile. Un cuento que se concentra en un hijo que regresa a la casa de su madre después de la muerte de su padre un General. Un cuento de una familia con secretos obscuros.

Alameda Theatre Company filming
their crowdfunding video
Estoy estático para empezar los ensayos (en dos semanas) con los actores: Carmen Aguirre, Alex Muir Contreras, y Rosa Laborde. Hablando y soñando con todas las posibilidades que pueden pasar cuando se está jugando y haciendo arte.

¡Hasta luego y nos vemos pronto!

Entering the Alameda office, I find myself in the right environment—I’m in a neighbourhood, a community that gives me confidence, motivation, and courage to practice my Spanish and completely adopt the culture of my ancestry and of who I am—a Guatemalan-Canadian.

There are no barriers here—Marilo and I are communicating and transforming our relationship. I helped on set with the crowdfunding video  and I’m now going to be having more of an impact and participation with the production: Paradise Red by Bruce Gibbons. The production, in association with Cocodrilo Triste, is going to be presented in SummerWorks this August. With a very creative team, Paradise Red is set as a black and white Latin American soap opera, that takes place in the 1970s, in the days of Chile’s dictatorship, where a powerful military family has run amok. It’s a story of repressed sexual desire and political violence during a melodramatic weekend in the home of a mysteriously deceased General. His suspicious, estranged son returns to his alcoholic mother and Catholic sister, and their dark sordid secrets.

I’m super excited to be starting rehearsals (in two weeks) with the actors: Carmen Aguirre, Alex Muir Contreras, and Rosa Laborde. Thinking and dreaming of the possibilities that can only happen when your playing and creating art!

Until then!

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.

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