Thursday, 26 January 2017

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Jane Spence

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

Jane Spence trained in artistic direction with David Nairn at Theatre Orangeville

(December 22, 2016)  I am so incredibly grateful to Theatre Ontario and David Nairn for this phenomenal opportunity. I have a new understanding and appreciation for what it takes to make possible five professional productions a year, run a thriving education program, as well as nurture new play development initiatives. I have always known theatre is a collaborative art form but for the first time I have a true sense of how many people contribute to make it all possible. To bring their vision to fruition requires an Artistic Director with the ability to inspire and empower this team. To be a successful AD one needs to be creative, exceptionally good with people and have an astute business sense. Mr. Nairn embodies these qualities and seems to work ceaselessly in his position with great joy and passion. While shadowing him on one ordinary day I attended a staff meeting before rehearsal, then a full-day rehearsal, then a committee meeting for the fundraiser, ending with a public engagement. I expected a busy schedule but his weekly agenda surpassed my expectations.

Miracle on 34th Street at Theatre Orangeville
Hanubae Carlos, Walter Learning
Photo by Pete Paterson
Being a leader puts you in a position where your words can have a lot of impact. I was reminded of this during the youth auditions for Miracle on 34th Street. Time is a valuable commodity in a schedule this full but Mr. Nairn made the time to invest in every young actor that came out. Regardless if they were right for the part, he used the opportunity to build their confidence and make it a positive experience. I know first-hand what a difference, professionally and personally, this kind of investment can make.

I really enjoyed assisting on Miracle. It was so informative working with such a brilliant design team as they took their ideas from conception to reality, making adjustments where needed during rehearsal. The cast was superb and reached their full potential under Mr. Nairn’s gentle guidance, always steering in the direction of the heart, integrity and magic of the piece. He would generously give me opportunities to take the reins and contribute ideas. It was wonderful to get the chance to put into practice some of what I had been learning. 

This Professional Theatre Training Program has been an incredible opportunity, giving me new tools, changing my process and enhancing my skills as a director. I am infinitely thankful for the time Mr. Nairn has invested in me to help build my foundation as an Artistic Director and I am eager and excited to begin the next phase of my development. I know I have a lot more to learn and I feel so very fortunate that he has offered to continue this mentorship. Thank you Theatre Ontario for helping me open this door.

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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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