Thursday, 20 April 2017

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Ali Berkok

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

Ali Berkok will train in sound design with Debashis Sinha and Verne Good at the Stratford Festival

(April 13, 2017) I was thrilled to receive the call, last Thursday, informing me that my PTTP application was accepted. I am humbled, as a greener-than-green aspiring sound designer, to be invited into the ranks, both by Theatre Ontario and my mentors.

Earlier this year, I was encouraged by someone very dear to me to apply for funds to get my feet wet in the world of sound design under the mentorship of Debashis Sinha and Verne Good (on their respective sound designs for The Changeling and Romeo and Juliet at the Stratford Festival.) I’m a jazz pianist and composer with a compositions, performances and recordings under my belt, but I longed to see if there was another audience for my work out there somewhere. Over the last few years I became much more familiar with the theatre world as an audience member. Eventually I became interested in the music and sound surrounding all the action on stage and thought “maybe I could do that.”

I am hoping that the choice to enter sound design will afford me the chance to create in concert with others on a production team, creating work in dialogue with a script, a set, a director and actors and ultimately, a theatre-going audience. More specifically, in this time with Deb and Verne, I hope to supplement my musical knowledge with knowledge of how to create necessary soundscapes in specific spaces, how music and sound ideas are molded and communicated among the creative team, and how the sound product is delivered to the sound technicians who ultimately press the buttons in production. At the end of it all, I am hoping to be ready to take on a whole sound design by myself when that opportunity announces itself.

I can’t express how supportive Deb and Verne have been, and the training hasn’t even started yet! Throughout the weeks of putting my application together, they were extremely generous, emailing back-and-forth at lightning speed, being extremely patient with requests for details and documents. I hope they feel as generous towards me after all the terrible puns I’ll likely make in the car on the way to and from Stratford and Blyth.

This far along in production schedules on the shows in question, and as a shadow to Deb and Verne, I don’t expect there to be much room for creative contributions: those will already have been set. I will, however, be as ready as I can to field any questions or help with any tasks. Perhaps a set of fresh eyes and more importantly, ears, will come in handy, and I’ll provide those.

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 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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