Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Viktor Lukawski

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Viktor Lukawski of Milton is training in directing with Andrea Donaldson and Joel Greenberg at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto

(February 25, 2016) At the halfway point of my Professional Theatre Training Program in directing at the Tarragon, I am between two projects: the first, where I assisted Andrea Donaldson in directing Within the Glass, has just recently opened; the second, where I will be assisting Joel Greenberg in directing You Will Remember Me, is about to begin.

This grant has provided me with a unique training experience, allowing me to train with two separate mentors. This wider range of exploration gives me the opportunity to observe how different directors approach their material, as well as how they work with all the creative individuals in the room, both from the artistic and technical side of the production. To follow one mentor only provides you with one vision, but to have two mentors allows for a broader exploration of the craft. As such, I am able to ask the same questions to both mentors and get two distinct points of view, which in turn shape my own exploration as a director.

The work with Andrea was an incredible experience that has taught me a lot about myself as an artist. Andrea gave me the space to observe for the first week or so. I took notes for myself about Andrea’s process, and it allowed me to take in things that interested me, and to put aside the things that I felt I would do differently.

Once the groundwork of the show was established over the first two weeks, and we started to run through the show as a whole, Andrea informed me that she was ready to start receiving my notes. Sometimes she’d let me know what she was looking for exactly, and other times, I was offering feedback on the show in its entirety.

Slowly, within this process, I felt that Andrea and I merged our two worlds together, and it was great to see how many things were on the same wavelength, as well as the certain notes that she didn’t find useful, or felt that it was too soon in the rehearsals to focus on specific details.

It was incredibly inspiring to see how Andrea had arranged an environment of collaboration, which involved everyone in some capacity. With this show, we had the playwright, Anna Chatterton, in the room with us, and it was great to see how a director and playwright interact, while arranging, cutting, editing the script throughout the process. I was able to observe all the meetings Andrea had with the technical team, such as a brainstorming session about song choices with the sound designer, Michael Rinaldi, as well as all the important debrief meetings with Anna, as they both discussed the script and the show’s evolution.

During previews, I was spending a lot of time watching the run and taking notes from various positions in the room, seeing the show from all angles. I felt I was able to reinforce Andrea’s vision and what she and Anna were trying to achieve with this production.

On the night of opening, I realized that the show was just as much a part of me as it was a part of anyone else on the creative team. It felt like a very personal project, one that I had connected to on a deeper level than I had expected, and I felt incredibly grateful to Andrea that she was so generous and open with me throughout this process. Not only was I learning about the director’s craft, but I was also learning about IVF in great detail. It was incredibly fascinating to research how these scientific advancements work and how the specific laws surrounding IVF are still in development.

In the upcoming second half of my mentorship, while working on You Will Remember Me, I am interested not only in the way two different directors work, but also how two different themes and styles affect the rehearsal process.

There will be an entirely new group of people that I will be working with, but I won’t be completely new to the position of assistant director. I will be able to implement what I learned in the last production and start off my process a bit differently, with a newer set of goals in my research.

I have already met with director Joel Greenberg several times, and feel that this project will be just as collaborative, but in a different way. I am excited to develop this new working relationship and to discover how my training in the last show will be reinforced and challenged during this new production.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2016.

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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