Thursday, 15 December 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 trained in scenography with Trevor Schwellnus at Aluna Theatre in Toronto

(December 6, 2016)  Though my PTTP grant is done my exploration into scenography, and what can be conveyed through the environment of performance, has only just begun. Last time I wrote was just before the RUTAS panamericanas Festival. Trevor and I were accommodating all the different shows into our festival plots and preparing for what would be an insanely packed two weeks.

The new  secondary grid
Before going any further I have to acknowledge Charissa Wilcox our Production Manager for the festival. Charissa made it possible for everything to run smoothly and really re-inspired me to always see any challenge as possible until proven otherwise. Also the whole festival team—although this was my third time involved with the RUTAS panamericanas Festival, it was my first time in a new role and having a great team around made that infinitely less terrifying.

Now back to my journey in this madness, although each show is ultimately at the helm of their own show’s design being on top of things as a festival designer really means knowing the space and possibilities inside and out so that when things don’t plot out as they did on paper (and they will!) one is able to visualize and problem solve within a tight timeframe to make everything work out for touring companies. It was really rewarding to be able to put the learning I’ve been doing to the test in both languages having to be on the ball in both Spanish and English. Though my focus during the festival was to be mainly on lights I ended up taking charge in problem solving a lot of set and rigging particularly for our giant dance puppet show from New York’s Loco7. It was really satisfying to see things up and running after having to make repairs or adjustments on the fly just hours and sometimes minutes beforehand. It was a completely new experience of the festival and I noticed myself both their and lately at other shows walking into the space and immediately looking up into the grid or at each set element surmising its construction.

Sebastian's footlight units in action
Although I thought things after the festival would get calmer it’s been anything but; Trev and I have been working on a few different projects all at different phases of development. I feel spoiled being able to work in Aluna’s studio where there is a decent setup and the possibility to really experiment with lights and projection right from the beginning of a project. Just recently for a piece that has been in development for some time and is just starting to bring in design questions, Trevor and I built a whole secondary grid in a night at Aluna to test out a concept the next day. It was amazing to see the excitement and play from the actor/collaborators the next day. As I write this I am also working on my first fully solo design for a show called the White Light Follies happening at Revival Bar and I built myself a nice pair of footlight units that I am excited to use for many things.

I am looking forward to all the new discoveries and explorations that are coming my way and I want to say thank you to Theatre Ontario for helping me start this new chapter in my artistic journey.

- Sebastian Marziali

Related Reading:

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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