Thursday, 20 October 2016

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Sebastian Marziali

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

Sebastian Marziali is training in scenography with Trevor Schwellnus at Aluna Theatre in Toronto.

(September 28, 2016)  I am now halfway through my scenography residency with Trevor Schwellnus and already I am shifting the way I look and talk about the stage. I’m noticing new details in the work I see and making a different set of considerations when building new work. I feel humbled as I am challenged to learn to work in a new way with a new set of tools.

So far we’ve spent a great deal of time looking at/ discussing lights and how they interact with the actors and elements on stage. Exploring the balancing act required in building festival plots for RUTAS panamericanas, trying to meet the needs of multiple shows and events happening in three spaces simultaneously. The biggest challenge so far is facilitating two very tech and rigging heavy shows sharing the same space and performing  on the same night with only a couple of hours to completely switch over the space. Thankfully between Trevor and our super star PM Charissa Wilcox the festival and companies are in the most capable hands, their ability to find solutions the moment the problem arises is incredible. There is a tremendous amount of work that is put into satisfying the needs of established touring shows whilst finding effective ways of sharing equipment and space. There’s only so much room in the grid, for hanging both lights and rigging, and only so many fixtures available within a budget. It’s a game of visualising and interpreting intentions to be able to achieve the vision of each show and have the companies walk into a space that is ready to house that vision within a limited amount of time. 

I’m also coming to appreciate further the work that it takes to make technical adjustments. When an actor, writer or director wants to change the business on stage it is a matter of playing in the moment and finding a simple solution but when it comes to the space itself one has to have the forethought to build in contingencies where possible because you can only adjust so much once the tech actually comes in. This is especially true in indie theatre where we can’t always just pick up another light or spend another hour on hang and focus. We have to be more that much more prepared from the outset when we don’t have a grid full of moving lights and a massive budget. 

I am super thankful for the opportunity to be doing this work with Trevor and expanding my theatrical scope. I am understanding the stage in new ways and it is incredibly refreshing. With the festival only a week away I am super excited but also nervous as hell walking into a total trial by fire. We’ll see what more I will have learned when I come out the other side.

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The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2017.

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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