Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Stephanie Jung

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

Stephanie Jung trained in artistic producing with Marjorie Chan and Kate Ann Vandermeer at Cahoots Theatre.

(June 26, 2016)  I finished my mentorship in Artistic Producing with Cahoots Theatre last week. It feels weird to not have gone into the office in the last week since its been such a huge part of my life these past couple of months. I am in awe of what Marjorie Chan (Artistic Director) and Kate Ann Vandermeer (General Manager) and the rest of their small team. They are one of the hardest and most dedicated teams I know. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to be taught by them. Kate Ann’s preciseness and dedication to detail (she saw things I wouldn’t have thought to look for) and Marjorie’s energy and creative ideas to problem-solving were great examples from me to learn from.
When the three of us came up with our training schedule for my mentorship, we structured it so that I would learn the majority of my skills during the production process of Ultrasound. I would then apply that new knowledge to being the lead producer on the Lift Off! Festival, Cahoots’ festival of new works in June. It was the best possible way for me apply my new skills and learn of a few others in the process, from planning to execution. Festival programming was already in place when I was handed the festival in May but I had to make sure all the details of executing the festival happened. This involved: securing Equity actors and drafting up Equity contracts, soliciting food or any other in-kind donation, adhering to a budget (and reallocating funds to different categories depending on arising needs), drafting up a social media calendar and the accompanying posts, scheduling a printing deadline for all festival paper collateral, creating/sending invites to the Season End party, hiring festival help and drafting up letters of agreement, coordinating technical logistics with relevant people, creating a master checklist and schedule for all Cahoots staff, and delegating any tasks that I wasn’t able to handle on my own. Kate Ann went on maternity leave in mid-May but I feel that she had more than adequately prepared me to producing Lift Off! Marjorie and the Interim GM were happy to offer any tips and advice when I needed it. In actuality, the majority of my questions during the last few weeks of producing the festival was for Marjorie: artistically (casting, programming, etc) and marketing (best angle to promote our little festival during a very busy time in Toronto’s social calendar). The Lift Off! Festival was successful. We had great attendance for our play readings and our two workshops, and everything went off without a major catastrophe. The artists were pleased and the audiences seemed to be happy.

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to apply my new skills practically. Now that I’ve gone through the all the tasks needed to produce something, I feel much more confident in my ability to be an Artistic Producer. That’s not to say that I’m done learning but I feel that Marjorie, Kate Ann, and Cahoots has provided me a very solid base in which to grow from. I’ve developed knowledge in utilizing social media marketing, contracts and letters of agreements for artists and staff, how to successfully solicit donations, scheduling, and budgeting. I now have a better idea of where to focus any new learnings: Wordpress, design, and a little more knowledge in building a budget. At the moment, I do feel confident that I would be able to successfully produce a small-scale project. And this excites me, because I’m now in a stronger position to make steps towards shaping the diversity on Canadian stages.

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The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 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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