By Valerie Bogan (Ottawa, Ontario)
As I walked into the classroom at Trent University on a hot August morning, John P. Kelly sat casually with a twinkle in his eye. He was waiting for his five eager students to arrive to begin his Advanced Directing Course. John had given us a list of playwrights to study and we arrived with paper in hand ready to start the day.
“Arrogance,” was the first thing he said. “To be a good director, you must have a certain degree of arrogance.” Then a wide smile spread across his face and I realized he was serious. Yikes! And so began one of the greatest learning experiences of my theatre career.
|The 2016 Advanced Directing class|
During our week we learned that although arrogance is an asset, there are many more qualities needed to be a good—or even great—director. I admit that I had at least one day where I thought to myself “I do not belong here.” John was quick to quiet that little crisis of self-confidence. We all very much belonged there and he proved it to us by the end of the week.
The course consisted of analysing scripts, working on pace, style and realism, creating effective acting spaces, interacting with actors, designers and directing staff, and so much more. We covered pretty much every genre of play possible. Having admitted to John that I was not a huge fan of farce, he assured me that by the end of the week I would be converted. I am!
|"100 most important" plays ever written exercise|
In the evenings students from all four courses would gather in the common area on an empty floor (you can imagine the racket a bunch of theatre people can make) and talked theatre over a well-deserved libation. We were all pretty excited to share the insights from the day. Many folks knew each other, having either worked together on community projects or having met at previous courses. The out-of-classroom learning was often just as valuable.
|Birthday boy Mark Crawford reading at the Summer Courses|
Our time in Peterborough was made complete with the wonderful programming offered by the staff of Theatre Ontario and Trent University. Our rooms were comfortable and clean, the food kept us fueled for the day, and people were very welcoming. Our dear Rachel Kennedy even spent time with us in class subbing in as an actor as we stumbled through scene work—a real trooper that one!
Theatre Ontario is a great place to learn, both from amazing course conductors and from each other. I wouldn’t change a thing, and look forward to another wonderful week to come!
- Part One: Anne Evanoff on "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Acting... and then some!" with Tom Diamond
- Part Two: Ironda Campbell on “Directions on Directing” with Andrew Lamb
- Part Three: Sean Puckett’s "How I Spent My Summer Vacation, or, 'Drop! And give me twenty (lines)!'" -- “Hot Scenes: Building Your Acting Technique” with Brenda Kamino
- Learn more about Theatre Ontario's annual Summer Theatre Intensive