Friday, 30 June 2017

Ontario Off Stage

401 Richmond
by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

From Theatre Ontario


Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


Migrations


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It


Theatre Ontario begins our Summer schedule today, with the office open from 9am and closing at 1pm on Fridays.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program

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

Today we feature six stories:
The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 2017.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Kevin Matthew Wong

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

Kevin Matthew Wong trained in artistic direction with Marjorie Chan at Cahoots Theatre in Toronto


It’s early May and raining outside the Cahoots studio

The playwrights have all left.

We’ve just wrapped up the final Hot House meeting of the year, reading and unpacking three plays in development from the creation unit. Marjorie and I tidy the space and lock up the studio for the evening.

As we part, Marjorie turns to me and reflects, “To be doing what we do… we are so lucky."

We hug and part ways.

Diversity and Resilience

In my final few weeks learning from Marjorie at Cahoots, I’ve started to think about the links between diversity and resilience.

In Canadian theatre, our conversations around diversity on and off stage often include the idea that developing diverse artists and audiences is an essential part of ensuring the future vitality of our art form. I agree.

Likewise, in conversations on environmentalism, diversity—namely biodiversity—is recognized as playing an essential part in sustaining of our planet.

Within the environmental movement, the fight for diversity and a resilient planet has included advocacy, protest, direct action, decentralized leadership and the inclusion of many voices, in particular those of the Indigenous peoples.

Through my time at Cahoots, I’ve realized that meaningful progress on diversity in theatre requires similar action. If the theatre is to become truly open, accessible, diverse and resilient we will need strong advocacy and advocates, we will need to enact, share and replicate best practices, we will need decentralized leadership, open dialogue, will power and a multiplicity of voices.

Hot House to Broadleaf Creators Unit

Mentorship with Marjorie has impacted how I hope to run my own company, Broadleaf Theatre, which focuses on creating works based on environmental issues.

One of the unexpected overlaps in our training was the creation of a Broadleaf creators unit. Being able to sneak in on Cahoots’ Hot House meetings allowed me to better consider the needs and structure for Broadleaf’s own environmentally-focused creators unit.

The Broadleaf unit connects environmentally-focused playwrights and creators in the collective dramaturging of new works. Just as Hot House benefits from the diversity of its creators and their multiplicity of experiences and voices, the diverse styles and issues present within the Broadleaf Creators Unit enriches the work.

Social Amnesia

Recently I got to sit in on a design jam with the team of Cahoots and Obsidian’s upcoming co-production Other Side of the Game. During the design jam, director Nigel Shawn Williams discussed one of playwright Amanda Parris’ goals in the play: to explore cultural amnesia.

I came to recognise that a substantial amount of Cahoots’ work is about recognizing and counteracting social and cultural amnesia. Cahoots’ body of work includes numerous plays highlighting historic injustices and imbalances, as well as the mistakes and triumphs of both our friends and forebears.

Cahoots’ works remind me that when we forget our hard-won fights and the work of those who came before us, we risk repeating the mistakes of the past.    

Thinking about cultural amnesia and Cahoots, I then came to appreciate that a large part of Marjorie’s vision as an artistic director involves preparation for the future. These preparations have included the creation of Crossing Gibraltar, Cahoots’ newcomer and refugee outreach program, and recently the DATT, Deaf Artists and Theatre Toolkit. For Cahoots 30th anniversary, considerations for the future included creating the 30 for 30, a list of 30 diverse emerging artists who promise to make major impacts in Canadian theatre. She hopes that artistic leaders and companies nationwide will see them, recognize them, and importantly, engage them.

Inevitable to Incredible

30 years of Cahoots artistic leadership on stage at the Cahoots
30th Anniversary Gala.
These past 5 months I’ve been continuously learning about Cahoots’ 30-year history and the people that have carried the organization to this landmark. That learning culminated on May 8th when we celebrated Cahoots’ 30th anniversary with a gala at the 519 Community Centre.

For a moment, standing in a room full of artists and fellow “Cahooters” who have sustained and supported the company, this anniversary seemed like a natural and inevitable part Cahoots’ story.

But after a second, and a second thought—a thought about the hard-won and hard-fought battles diverse artists have been through and continue to face—the significance of a 30 year legacy began to sink in.

This was a moment truly worth celebrating.

Artifacts

During my final week of PTTP training I took part in the reading of a play from the 49—a list of 49 exceptional and under-produced works by diverse female playwrights which artistic directors everywhere can program tomorrow.

Coincidentally, the play we read was Marjorie’s a nanking winter—a powerful work inspired by the criticism and harassment of Chinese-American writer Iris Chang over her book The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, and by true stories from the rape of Nanking itself.

It was a profound few hours, jumping into such a rich text, written by my mentor, and then to discuss the work with her and my peers.

We discussed the role of the playwright as the audience’s perceived purveyor of truth, and the responsibilities that stem from that assumed role. Marjorie shared her own experiences receiving scorn on the street for her plays, which re-examine Chinese history.

Marjorie also spoke with us about personal change. She reminisced that “This play is an artefact of the artist I was at the time.”

I thought about that a lot and about how this report acts as an artefact of my own artistry.

I then thought about diversity of practice in the development of an individual artist.

Over the years, Marjorie’s artistic practice has morphed into a multi-hyphenated individuality.
I imagine she might be described as something like an artistic director-playwright-librettist-actor-mentor-teacher-professional ass-kicker (or something like that), and I’m sure she would agree that her work is stronger because of the diversity of her experiences.

I think that’s what PTTP is all about.

George Luscombe Award

Yes, I did get to learn from this year’s George Luscombe Award-winning mentor Marjorie Chan.

A final thank you to Theatre Ontario:

So this is goodbye to the PTTP blog (for now?), to Cahoots (for now), to seeing my mentor twice a week (for now), and to an incredibly formative and fortuitous time in my artistic life.

I want to take this moment to once more give thanks. Thank you endlessly to Theatre Ontario, Cahoots Theatre, Generator, Katie and Michael, and Banuta for making these past few months possible.

Thank you, Liza and Indrit, for being so welcoming, supportive, and for being such important parts of this mentorship and my learning.

And, of course, to Marjorie—thanks for taking me under your wing, for trusting me with being part of the incredible thing that is Cahoots, for being so gracious with your time, energy and care, for being a mentor, friend and champion of so many, and for realizing before I did that this experience would make a world of difference for me as an artist and a person. Thank you endlessly.

To close off, a final, a video send off from Cahoots:

Related Reading:


The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 2017.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Jessie Fraser

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

Jessie Fraser will train in digital communications and archival processes with Adam Barrett at VideoCabaret in Toronto


(May 13, 2017) Six months ago I started a part-time gig doing administrative work for VideoCabaret; their office, the second floor of The Cameron House, a collision of colour, kitsch, props, propaganda and the most spectacular collection of every type of video and sound formatting that has come in and out of existence over the past muffle-cough-cough years. I was offered the work by a new acquaintance, producer/video designer, Adam Barrett.

Over the fall months, as I sat in that room with Adam, we talked theatre and he began to share with me his own introduction to VideoCabaret. Adam’s first role in the company was that of archivist; attempting the enormous task of transferring and categorizing materials ranging from production stills, videos and promotional materials along with a wealth of surprises ranging from familiar faces, established artists in their formative years and a treasure trove of video capturing Toronto, the city, in transit and action.

VideoCabaret is known for its punk, avant-garde live video theatre from the 1982 runner-up Mayoral campaign, Art vs Art by The Hummer Sisters to the multi-media cabarets at the Cameron House. Then, as now, VideoCabaret exists as a living archive constantly adding to its treasure trove. One can occasionally find some of Alice Norton’s wigs or Astrid Jansen’s costumes in a gallery collection and there are publications of Michael Hollingsworth’s epic series of plays, The History of the Village of Small Huts and the plays and essays of Deanne Taylor; where one best experiences forty years of curation and creation is live onstage, surrounded by the magic of Shadowland’s endless supply of newspapers, trick candles and fly-swatting bovine scene-stealers.

As I write this from my little corner in our pop-up rehearsal space I am surrounded by the whir of sewing machines adjusting and remaking costumes and the smell of glue guns, new and updated wigs (the oldest used in this production is the spectacular fifteen year old wig made for the character of Louis Papineau, worn in this production by Greg Campbell) while through the walls I hear the roar of war and the sounds of Brent Snyder’s original tracks remastered by Richard Feren.

It is a privilege to be welcomed as warmly into this company as I have already been and I am so excited to be allowed to wander through the various departments in action as they marry the past with the surprises of each new day.

Adam Barrett and Jessie Fraser
As VideoCabaret storms towards the openings for Confederation Parts I and II, I will spend my time exploring the ways in which we can update and make accessible the company’s vast archive; at the same time, with Adam’s support and guidance, I will be able to greatly enhance my technique and knowledge of a variety of communication supporting programs (photo, video, audio editing).

Back to last fall, I started taking little admin breaks poking my nose around in the archives to humorous and potentially job-endangering discoveries - one must be careful when one’s father spent time as a theatre critic—I found myself thinking about lost materials, about keeping a hand on the past while living in the present working towards the future.

The knowledge I am able to gain through the generous support of Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is already causing positive ripple effects in my own work and in the confidence to broaden my creative horizons. I’m excited for the discoveries to be made in dusty boxes and crumbling film and for the exploration of experimenting with methods of sharing them at home, work and play.

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 2017.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Thom Marriott

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

Thom Marriott will train in artistic direction with Andorlie Hillstrom at Yellow Door Theatre Project in Virgil


(May 19, 2017) Being a theatre practitioner in any capacity is a challenge in itself. The courage it takes to commit to a life of collaboration and creation is one that few people outside of the arts fully understand—even those that support us in our endeavours. Even those of us that are successful in scraping out a career as an artist will question and doubt the choices we have made on a daily basis. It is a constant struggle—internally and externally! So when an artist attempts to redefine who they are within their community, it is a new form of bravery. One that should be applauded and supported. Thankfully, for a few of us, there is the Professional Theatre Training Program through Theatre Ontario.

I have been extremely fortunate as a performer in Ontario. After completing my Fine Arts degree at York University, I joined the acting company at the Stratford Festival, performing in eight consecutive seasons before joining the Shaw Festival ensemble for nine seasons. Throughout this time, I also had the opportunity to travel the country, acting on some of Canada’s finest stages and working with some of our greatest artists. And while I hope to continue performing, I was always curious enough to peek behind another curtain.

Creating theatre from the ground up has always been an interest of mine. But I wanted to do it right (Is there such a thing?) That is, I wanted to have a proper education in what it takes to build a company and carve out a niche in a very crowded world of theatre companies. To this end, I studied part-time at the University of Toronto to gain knowledge of certain business practices—public relations and publicity, marketing, web business. All of this was interesting and very helpful, but I needed more specificity. And the only way to get what I wanted was through a mentorship program with a theatre company. Enter the Yellow Door Theatre Projects.

Yellow Door Theatre Projects is a relatively new company operating in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Artistic Director Andorlie Hillstrom created a program for children and young adults to take arts education classes—musical theatre, acting, dance—which would culminate in a professional production of a musical at the year’s end. The students work with a professional director, stage manager, choreographer and actors. This creates a mentorship program within a show setting, while allowing the kids an opportunity to perform in a real theatre. It’s a great system, and I wanted to be a part of it.

I approached Andorlie with the idea that I could shadow her and learn about how to pull all of the elements together—managing the rehearsal facility, producing a show, and organizing the educational elements. She was very welcoming, but as a new company (it’s only in its third year of existence) she did not have the resources to bring on any new staff. It was only through the PTTP at Theatre Ontario that allows me to spend this summer working with Andorlie and the children to create, manage, educate, and grow as an artist and as a theatre creator. I am very excited to begin, but also a little nervous. There is much to do over the next couple months, but I will screw my courage to the sticking place and jump in with both feet. After all, that is what theatre artists do, right?

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 2017.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Helen Monroe

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

Helen Monroe will train in directing with Richard Rose and Esther Jun at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto 


(May 8, 2017)

Hi there!

Helen Monroe here. I am a Toronto-based Theatre Director and this is my first blog post regarding my PTTP mentorship grant with Theatre Ontario. Let me tell you a little about myself and a little about this project I am undertaking with Tarragon Theatre.

I moved to Toronto four years ago after graduating with a BA in Theatre from Bishops. I started working with indie theatre companies and immersing myself in the Toronto theatre scene. Over the last four years I’ve worked as a director and designer in the indie scene and seen my skills as an artist grow and my place in this community solidify. About a year ago I took a directing workshop at Tarragon Theatre with Artistic Director, Richard Rose. Through the workshop, I formed a working relationship with Richard and the theatre and spent a few months this past winter volunteering on two shows in their 2017 season. I learned many things as a volunteer at Tarragon, but the most important thing I took away from the experience was the desire to keep working with companies like them. I was in awe of the dedication and expertise of my colleagues and how wonderfully the machine of this iconic company ran itself year by year. I felt very comfortable there, but as a volunteer, I was not able to fully commit myself to spending the amount of time I wanted or needed in the building. I was particularly interested in learning about how Richard Rose split his time and energy amongst responsibilities as a director and artistic director of the company and so Richard suggested I apply for this grant to learn from him as a mentor.

With Richard and Esther Jun, Associate Artistic Director of Tarragon, we crafted this application to allow me to shadow them both as assistant director on two shows next season. Then, in a culmination of what I learn during that time, I will direct a small show in one of their studio rooms. This is an amazing opportunity for me to really experience the role of a director in a major theatre company like Tarragon. I am so grateful for Theatre Ontario’s support and I am excited to keep you all posted on my journey.

This week I am starting prep work on the first show I will be doing next season, Hamlet. Of course, as a theatre artist, this is not a play I am unfamiliar with. I must have read and seen it at least ten times in my life, but Hamlet has the unparalleled ability to feel completely new each time I experience it. My prep work starts with an exploration of the many texts of Hamlet. Richard has me reading both the Q2 and the F1 in the old English spelling and then I cross reference with my Norton Anthology based on the Oxford edition for the modern spelling and footnotes. It’s a laborious and time consuming process, but it is the only way to create for myself a complete and comprehensive knowledge of the play.

The other thing we are doing in preparation is meeting with our Hamlet, Noah Reid, and examining the text together in a more live way. We meet in 4 hour blocks of time and go over bit by bit the language, motives and style of our Hamlet. This includes making cuts as needed as we start to shape the line of the play. At the end of each session, I will take our edits and notes and compile them into a Mastercopy of the script that will be sent to the rest of the team. All the previous drafts of the piece will be saved separately for reference later. Again, it is a time-consuming process, but with Hamlet, organization is key. A clear, concise and accurate text will allow us and the actors a more efficient rehearsal period.

Thanks again Theatre Ontario for this opportunity. I’ll be sending updates as I go along, so keep tuning in. I’m off now to read some more Hamlet!

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 2017.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Stephanie Graham

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

Stephanie Graham will train in artistic direction with Mitchell Marcus at The Musical Stage Company in Toronto


(May 15, 2017)  The Musical Stage Company (formerly Acting Up Stage Company) is Canada’s foremost company for producing independent musicals. Musicals have always been a part of my life and where most my work has been, either as a performer or being a part of a creative team.

I have observed Mitchell Marcus, Artistic and Managing Director, build the company from a one-project-per-season company to an established one that is now doubling their operating budget and programming events that run all year long. I have worked with their One Song Glory youth program and choreographed two main stage productions for them. I highly value the work that is done at Musical Stage and have wanted to work with Mitchell more in depth for quite a while. What Mitchell does well is maintain his artistic practise while being an arts administrator. I hope to gain some insight into this incredible talent while working by his side.
Mitchell Marcus and Stephanie Graham

I hope to accomplish many things during this mentorship. I will get to observe the day-to-day responsibilities of an Artistic Director. My own work as a producer has always been project based so I have not had staff to work with nor had to answer to a board of directors. I will be able to attend weekly staff meetings and be privy to long term strategic planning and budget meetings, fundraising, marketing and artistic planning when putting together a future season. I do not have a lot of experience in these areas and am hoping to gain knowledge in these aspects of Artistic Direction.

As an indie producer, there was always a beginning, middle and end to the projects I have worked on. The challenges of juggling many balls at once, that an Artistic Director has, is relentless and is something I need to learn how to manage. I will also get to observe Mitchell as a non-directing Artistic Director and the role that he plays in overseeing the artistic direction of the organization on a specific production, the Canadian premiere of FUN HOME. Co-producing between a not-for-profit and a commercial producer will, no doubt, have some beautiful intricacies. I look forward to being a part of this process.

Mitchell and I have always had a mutual respect. I have worked at many companies of various sizes on both large and small scale musicals. I think I can bring some of this experience to the conversations at Musical Stage. Mitchell and I have already looked at the calendar and marked out some important dates where he sees I can be an essential part of the company. We will have weekly check-ins so I am able to ask questions and have conversations about where I see my artistic direction practise heading.

Thank you to everyone on the selection committee that felt this was a worthwhile mentorship to support. I am so very excited to get working with Musical Stage starting in early July!

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 2017.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program


Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Heather Davies

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

Heather Davies is training in artistic direction with Gil Garratt at Blyth Festival

On Going, New Chapters: PTTP experience at the Blyth Festival


(May 29, 2017)  The last few months have zoomed past and I’m thrilled to be back at Blyth and continuing with the work plan for my PTTP grant in Artistic Direction (including writing time) with AD Gil Garratt.

Part One of my time here was incredibly enriching. I’ve had on going conversations with Gil and Senior Management about a myriad of subjects including Development, regional Tourism and Culture, Board Management, the OAC and Canada Council applications and Audience Development, to name a few. I was present in the build up to the season launch, involved in casting searches, learned about the extensive renovation of Blyth Memorial Hall and the Philips Studio, attended lunches at the Legion and the weekly Stockpot Staff lunch and continued to research and write my adaptation of the Canadian novel, Judith, (original novel by Aritha Van Herk).

Being at Blyth is brilliant for the research that I need to do for Judith. I reached out to the agriculture community and explored many of the current industry themes by meeting with female farmers. After one of these conversations I was invited to a high bio-security farrowing farm nearby, a rare opportunity. Visiting a 1300 sow farm that produces nearly 45000 piglets a year is a world away from the novel that I’m adapting (where the new pig farmer has 10 sows) however, experiencing the realities of industrial pork production was amazing. These conversations and experiences are adding immense depth to the draft of Judith I’m currently writing.

With all of these strands of exploration going on it was a big jump to immerse myself in my own directing project, Colours in the Storm, at The Grand Theatre in London. The production went extremely well and I was thrilled that Blyth Senior Management was there for the opening night!

Since receiving the PTTP, I’ve been asked to become the Artistic Director of an emerging arts festival in Summerland, BC, The Ryga Festival. So, just after the opening of Colours, I flew to Summerland, BC to meet with the board and community stakeholders. I’m thrilled that I have the chance to apply all of the skills I’m learning during the PTTP to create a ‘professionally-led, community-engaged’ festival! It will run for nearly five days over the Labour Day weekend and is inspired by Canadian playwright, George Ryga. (His play, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe opened the National Arts Centre). Inspired by this spirited, pioneering playwright and author, the festival will include theatre, spoken-word, literature and music.

Blyth Memorial Hall - Opening Day!
After these adventures, I returned to Blyth in time for an exciting new chapter of history here, the grand re-opening of Blyth Memorial Hall. Gil took me on a tour and I marvelled at all the changes. This massive renovation improves the Blyth experience for both patrons and theatre makers and these updates are totally in keeping with the original spirit of the building.

The opening day about 250 people turned out for the opening ceremony. After the national anthem, flag-raising and speeches from Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier of Ontario, and representatives from the County, the Legion and others, it was wonderful to witness so many people excited about touring this wonderful building, seeing it refreshed and ready to go for the upcoming season. Congratulations to all involved in making this vision a reality.

Jacob Zimmer leading an Open Space workshop at
PACTcon 2017 in Charlottetown
(Photo courtesy of Boomer Stacey)
Yesterday I returned from another ‘new chapter’ that the PTTP has allowed me to pursue. I attended my first annual conference of PACT members (the professional association of Canadian theatres). I attended under ‘the wing’ of Blyth, as well as my incoming role as AD at the Ryga Festival. The conference was nearly five days of incredible workshops, panel sessions and late night conversations about all things theatre and beyond, all held at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown. I’m already reflecting on this event and look forward to continuing the enriching, diverse and challenging conversations started there with arts leaders from across the country.

For the next few weeks I’ll be diving back into writing, rehearsing with Gil and continuing to expand my Artistic Directing skills while immersed at Blyth. Having started this PTTP grant time during the winter with the small yet mighty Blyth staff, I’m looking forward to the actors, stage managers and creative teams arriving to add their energy and talents to the 2017 season. I’m also looking forward to blogging about the learning curves, both anticipated and unexpected, that will emerge here. Based on my adventures so far, I’ll be bursting with updates.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 2017.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

  • Spaces still available in our Summer Theatre Intensive 2017. Week-long courses starting August 6 and August 13 for performers, directors, and playwrights, in partnership with Off the Wall Stratford Artists Alliance.
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Trillium Foundation “Grow Grants” is today.
  • Deadline for submissions for Ottawa Fringe Festival’s undercurrents is June 30.
  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Arts Council’s “Compass” grant is July 5.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Spaces Still Available at Our Summer Theatre Intensive

Spaces are still available in our Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive courses for actors, directors, and playwrights, but registrations must be in by July 21. Treat yourself to a unique learning adventure August 6 to 11, or 13 to 18 in beautiful Stratford, Ontario.

Participants at the Summer Theatre Intensive will have the chance to see Bakkhai (week 1, August 9th) or The Changeling (week 2, August 16) at the Stratford Festival’s Tom Patterson Theatre for just $30.00 plus HST!

WEEK ONE (Sunday August 6 – Friday August 11th):


WEEK TWO (Sunday August 13 – Friday August 18th):

Learn more about Theatre Ontario’s Summer Theatre Intensive

Related Reading

Monday, 26 June 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of June 26


This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Southwestern Ontario

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Screwball Comedy at the Foster Festival (St. Catharines)
Cosette Derome, Kevin Hare
Jun. 27, The Virgin Trial at Stratford Festival
Jun. 28, Jonas and Barry in the Home at Drayton Entertainment: Huron Country Playhouse (Grand Bend) [with a matinee preview]
Jun. 30, Mr. New Year's Eve: A Night with Guy Lombardo at Blyth Festival [with previews from Jun. 28]
Jul. 2, All Shook Up at Drayton Entertainment: Huron Country Playhouse (Grand Bend) [with previews from Jun. 28]

In Toronto

Jun. 29, Vimy at Soulpepper Theatre [in previews]
Jun. 29, VideoCabaret's Confederation Part II: Scandal and Rebellion at Soulpepper Theatre
Jun. 30, Deathtrap at Scarborough Players
Jul. 1, Billy Bishop Goes to War at Soulpepper Theatre [in previews]

In Central Ontario

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Office Hours at Drayton Entertainment (Drayton)
Neil Foster, Kevin Kruchkywich, Lorna Wilson
Photo by Gary Moon
Jun. 28, Real Estate at Globus Theatre (Bobcaygeon)
Jul. 3, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Highlands Summer Festival (Haliburton)

In Eastern Ontario

Jun. 28, Hastings! A New Musical at Tweed and Company Theatre
Jun. 29, The Lonely Ghosts Walk at Classic Theatre Festival (Perth)

ICYMI: Check out last week’s openings

For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Save the Date for Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 in London

Theatre Ontario Festival is a destination for theatre-lovers from across the province.  Mark your calendar now to join us on May 16 to 20, 2018 as we travel to London for Theatre Ontario Festival 2018.

Co-hosted by Theatre Ontario, London Community Players, and the Western Ontario Drama League, the Festival will be a return to the community that last hosted our Festival in 2010.

Theatre Ontario Festival showcases outstanding community theatre productions from across the province, and celebrates outstanding achievements in community theatre with artistic awards, and the Michael Spence Award for Outstanding Contribution to Community Theatre.

With thought-provoking detailed adjudications open to all attendees, workshops, and play readings bringing together Canadian playwrights and communities, Festival is also a symposium for passionate and dedicated community theatre artists.




Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

We are at the halfway point in our Double Your Donation challenge, and I am asking you to go the distance!  Theatre Ontario’s Board of Directors has challenged supporters like yourself to help us raise $4,500 by June 26th.

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Theatre Ontario's Summer Theatre Intensive
  • Register by June 23 to secure your spot in our Summer Theatre Intensive 2017.  Week-long courses starting August 6 and August 13 for performers, directors, and playwrights, in partnership with Off the Wall Stratford Artists Alliance.
  • We invite youth across the province to apply for a scholarship to the 2017 Summer Theatre Intensive. Our Board of Directors has announced a matching campaign aimed at sending a youth artist in Ontario to train at one of our Summer Courses free of charge for one lucky participant between the ages of 16-26.
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Arts Council’s Touring grant is Jun. 22.
  • Upcoming Shaw Festival “Stage Skills for Adults” workshop is “Dance and Movement” (Jun. 25) and “Scene Study Sunday” is June 25.
  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Trillium Foundation “Grow Grants” is Jun. 28.
  • Deadline for submissions for Ottawa Fringe Festival’s undercurrents is Jun. 30.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Save the Date for the Theatre Ontario Adjudicators Symposium

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Mark your calendars!  We've booked the date for our next Theatre Ontario Adjudicators Symposium – it will be Saturday, October 14, 2017, from 10:00am to 3:30pm at the Theatre Ontario office in Toronto.

Registration will open in July, and I will be soliciting proposed topics for both the "Techniques Roundtable" (where adjudicators discuss approaches and strategies they use in public and detailed adjudications) and “Issues in Adjudication” conversation starters for breakout sessions. Adjudicators also discuss their experiences during the past year.

Monday, 19 June 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of June 19

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Legally Blonde: The Musical
at Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre
Photo by Angela Clayfield
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Southwestern Ontario

Jun. 23, Dancing at Lughnasa at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake)
Jun. 23, Screwball Comedy at The Foster Festival (St. Catharines) [with previews from Jun. 21]
Jun. 24, Wilde Tales at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake)
Jun. 24, Androcles and the Lion at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake)

In Toronto

Jun. 23, VideoCabaret's Confederation Part II: Scandal and Rebellion at Soulpepper Theatre [in previews]
Jun. 25, Confidential Theatre Project at Marion Abbott Productions

In Central Ontario

ONstage Now Playing in Central Ontario
Old Wives' Tales at Gravenhurst Opera House
Allie Dunbar, Robin Clipsham
Jun. 22, Million Dollar Quartet at Drayton Entertainment: King's Wharf Theatre (Penetanguishene) [with previews from Jun. 21]

In Eastern Ontario

Jun. 21, Perth through the Ages at Classic Theatre Festival (Perth)
Jun. 24, Same Time, Next Year at Classic Theatre Festival (Perth), with a preview on Jun. 23


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Friday, 16 June 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

From Theatre Ontario


Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


Migrations


TO Toasts

  • ... to the recipients of the Hamilton Arts Awards: Claire Calnan (Executive Director of the Hamilton Fringe) who won the Arts Innovation Award, Anna Chatteron who won the Theatre Award (with Rex Emerson Jackson selected as Emerging Artist.)

In Case You Missed It

  • The Importance of Supporting Youth—Youth Advisory Committee member Julia Vodarek Hunter profiles The AMY Project (Artists Mentoring Youth).
  • Browsing Our Bulletin Board featuring opportunities across the province including Ontario workshops on grant writing and voice-over, our Summer Theatre Intensive and a youth scholarship, and grant deadlines.
  • ONstage Openings this week in Stratford, Port Dover, Drayton, Toronto, Gravenhurst, Smiths Falls, Cornwall, Gananoque, and Sault Ste. Marie.

You can also receive news from Theatre Ontario every month by email. Our archives are online and the June issue is now available.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The AMY (Artists Mentoring Youth) Project - the Importance of Supporting Youth

Theatre Ontario Youth Advisory Committee member Julia Vodarek Hunter works with The AMY (Artists Mentoring Youth) Project, a barrier free arts mentorship program for women and non-binary youth with a shared interest in creating theatre.  The AMY Project has received funding from Theatre Ontario’s Youth Theatre Training Program (funded by the Ontario Arts Council) on numerous occasions. The AMY Project was founded in 2005 By Claire Calnan and Pasha Mckenley, and in 2015 Nikki Shaffeeullah became the artistic director.  

Julia Vodarek Hunter
Julia Vodarek Hunter (JVH): I came to AMY as a participant in 2015 and it was the first time I felt like I had a space to express myself through my personal stories. The AMY Project was, and still is, for me, a platform and catalyst for the type of art and theatre I am making now. This year I have been working with AMY as an assistant director and script coordinator as well as an AMY Alumni Program Coordinator. Last month The AMY Project became the recipient of the 2017 Toronto Arts Foundation Youth For Arts Award. I sat down with Nikki Shaffeeullah, the artistic director and current session co-director to talk about the importance of supporting youth, the impact of AMY, and the challenges youth face when trying to access theatre.

JVH: How did you come to find the AMY Project?

Nikki Shaffeeullah
Nikki Shaffeeullah (NS): Honestly, I just found a posting on Work in Culture for the Artistic Director position, and I applied. At the time I was living in Edmonton - I had done an MFA there, at the University of Alberta, in community-engaged theatre direction and facilitation, and after working there for a bit after, I was looking to move back to my home city of Toronto. A friend and colleague in Edmonton had previously been one of the session directors for AMY and had told me about it and was like “you know, if you ever move back to Toronto, you should work with AMY.” I remembered that when I saw it posted on Work in Culture, and I applied and got it. It was in line with what I had been doing for the past several years, leading devised community-engaged theatre projects around themes of gender, culture, social issues. I had definitely worked with youth a lot but not exclusively, actually moreso with adults (particularly work with women of colour) and intergenerationally.

JVH: Did you have things like AMY project when you were growing up?

AMY 2017 session launch with mentors. (Photo by Rachel Penny)
NS: I was involved in theatre from a young age, and I was lucky to have some access to opportunities. In my elementary school in northeast Scarborough, I remember there was an announcement about auditions for a playI couldn’t believe it. My family loves music and the arts but I didn’t know any industry professional performing artist growing up and it was all very elusive. I don’t know that I had seen a play before but I had this sense of what it was, that you could stand on stage, sort of like being in a movie but live. I was deeply fascinated with the prospect that I could possibly participate in such an opportunity. You know, probably nothing in my adult life will ever compare to, the excitement of then at 8 years old, thinking I could possibly be in a play. So anyway I auditioned for this play about talking animals in a wacky zoo, and it changed my life.

My family later moved to Whitby, I was in school plays, and and I did a youth musical theatre training program at the local community theatre for three years. In retrospect I realize there were issues embedded into many of those school and community contexts that at the time I hadn’t fully identifiedI was probably too naive and just grateful and excited to be there (microaggressions and internalized racism, amirite?) These were predominantly white spaces and I remember other young folks, both of-colour and white, actually, pointing out to me some of the ways my participation was contained in racialized ways, but I mostly shrugged it off. Anyway, I did have access to some performance and training opportunities, particularly music theatre type stuff. But I definitely never had any arts training that asked me what stories I myself might want to craft and tell. I was in The Wizard of Oz twice but there was nothing like AMY Project to validate that stories by and about people like me, whatever that means, could be on stage. 

In high school, I did a lot of theatre, and I was also really invested in social justice. My friend’s big sister got me involved in anti-racism work, which was really formative for me. In grade 12, one of the drama teachers was going on mat leave and asked me if I wanted to select and direct a show for our school’s entry into the Sears Drama Festival. It was the first time I got to curate something. I was determined to pick a show that I saw as politically important as it was artistically interesting, and I landed on This is For You, Anna. It did well, going  to the top level of the competition. My lovely drama teachers encouraged me to apply for this scholarship offered by the festival, but in order to be eligible you had to be planning to study theatre post-secondary. So, at the interview, [for Ken Watts Scholarship] the committee asked “why do you want to study theatre?” and I basically confessed, “Honestly? I like theatre, it’d be cool to pursue it, but really, I want to do social justice work.” Someone on the committee replied, “Well you know, there are ways you can use theatre to do your social justice work,” like in ways beyond programming and directing political plays written by professional playwrights. That moment was a bit of a turning pointokay, I can pursue performing arts, and I can do it in ways that are rooted in social justice and community work. I’m so grateful for that series of events, it’s how I first got thinking about the intersections between theatre and community work! 

JVH: How has working with youth influenced you and what you do?

AMY 2016 Quiet Revolution. (Photo by Vita Cooper)
NS: Working with AMY has foregrounded the youth part of the work! I had previously been creating devised theatre, facilitating and directing around socially engaged themes with people from different communities. AMY has allowed me to really think about how youth fits into the wider picture of arts, storytelling, equity and access. With AMY, the fact that it’s youth that we work with is paramount, but it’s also not paramount—it’s more than just youth, it’s that we are working with young people who face barriers to arts training and telling their own stories. That’s what AMY is doing. We are filling gaps left by other institutions, filling gaps left by schools, filling gaps left by the government, by the way the city’s built, by the way resources are distributed. It has a youth-based focus because youth are often the ones in learning roles, and it’s so important to invest time and creative energy and love in them! I really enjoy working with youththeir artistic vulnerability, ideas, creativity, honesty, and I think there’s something valuable about creating with a cohorts of peers. 

JVH: What’s the biggest change you see in participants as they go through AMY?

NS: When the scales start growing and wings start popping out and they all turn into dragons 

JVH: with AMY tattooed on them

NS: and they fly into the night! But also: the biggest thing is when they have the realization that they have the ability to write and perform. It’s kind of obvious but it’s actually a humongous thingto not just write, but to write about themselves. I hear it every year from AMY participants “I have a story to tell and it’s worth while and I want people to hear it.” The kind of personal storytelling is amazing at all levels, when people who have the power to tell their own stories in strong and unapologetic, nuanced ways. I learn from witnessing that, I learn so much. Seeing that every year, how people go through the process of sharing their vulnerability, sharing their visions, it’s quite a transformative thing to experience.

JVH: What do you think the biggest challenge is for youth, if they have an interest in theatre and the arts?

NS: I think there are, unfortunately, many reasons for people to think the arts are not for them or not possible for them. There’s so many things like, you don’t feel good enough, or that your body’s not small enough or your skin’s not light enough or your gender is not normative enough, or whatever it is. You don’t have to be anywhere near the performing arts industry to know that it’s a competitive place where all kinds of success factors that have nothing to do with skill, creativity, or talent are privilegedeveryone knows that, and I think it’s alienating. I think a lot of people don’t know where to begin, how to access it. It can be this elusive thing. Theatres aren’t usually spaces that are authentic community spaces. A lot of theatres are working to be, but c'monthey’re not like parks, they’re not like shopping malls. Most theatres are culturally inaccessible to many people for more reasons than we can enumerate right now. I do admire how some theatres are working hard to change thatlike The Theatre Centre is a good example of a place that’s really playing with the idea of what a theatre can be. If theatres want to be accessible to youth who aren’t already in their immediate networks, they have to do some intentional work. The status quo insists that it won’t happen incidentally.

JVH: What are ways you think that more established artists can help youth feel less intimidated to accessing theatre? Do you think there is a solution to fixing that daunting feeling that only a certain type of person can access the performing arts?

2017 AMY Participants
NS: I would first want to pose that question to people who shepherd institutions, before posing it do individual artists. I do have a lot of respect for artists who invest their time into mentorship, I think it’s really important. I have so much respect for all the artists who work with AMY, as well as for Watah and Paprika and other mentorship programs who are creating those kinds of connections. Mentorship can be a very transformative thing if it’s done well. It’s easy to think that you don’t have a lot to give, that you don’t have a lot to teach or a lot to say. I see some folks being timid about engaging in mentorship. But when you engage in mentorship it’s not egotistic, like ” ooh I’m so smart, I can mentor”it’s actually the opposite, you have a responsibility to share your skills and I don’t care if you are still young yourself. Understand what you have left to learn, but also, understand the access you have and the knowledge you have to giveand give it. Give it because that’s how people learn. It’s a really messy field where there’s not enough paid opportunities for training and growth. Even for people who’ve accessed institutional training, theatre schools take people in and spit them out and there’s not enough work. Young and emerging artists need mentorship, they need opportunities to grow, they need opportunities to test things out. 

Own your power, step into your light doesn’t have mean that you’re an expert. I’m not that old, when I started working at AMY I was like four years older than the oldest participantya, you!but I had something to share . Half of being a mentor is simply committing the care and time and thoughtfulness to mentor. It includes transmission of knowledge, but is also also about relationship building and letting people into your practice and creating spaces for other people to learn, and there’s mutual support that is done through that.

Nikki and Julia

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Theatre Ontario's Voice Over workshop with Elley-Ray

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

  • Want to know the secrets to a successful voice acting career? Join us at our Voice Over workshop with Elley-Ray on June 17 in Toronto.
  • Register by June 23 to secure your spot in our Summer Theatre Intensive 2017.  Week-long courses starting August 6 and August 13 for performers, directors, and playwrights, in partnership with Off the Wall Stratford Artists Alliance.
  • We invite youth across the province to apply for a scholarship to the 2017 Summer Theatre Intensive. Our Board of Directors has announced a matching campaign aimed at sending ayouth artist in Ontario to train at one of our Summer Courses free of charge, for one lucky participant between the ages of 16-26.
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Upcoming Ontario Arts Council grant deadlines include Chalmers Arts Fellowships (Jun. 15), Artists in Communities and Schools Projects (Jun. 20), and Touring (Jun. 22).
  • Upcoming Shaw Festival “Beyond the Stage” workshop for teens is “Playing with Props” (June 17) in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
  • The Musical Stage Company is hosting “Showtunes Karaoke” on June 19.
  • Upcoming Shaw Festival “Stage Skills for Adults” workshop is “Dance and Movement” (Jun. 25).
Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Our Board of Directors would like to Challenge You Again!

Helps us raise $4,500 by June 26th and our board will match every dollar, up to $4,500, Do the math – together we can turn $4,500 into $9,000! 

Join our Members and Donors in funding these initiatives:

Every donation made from the beginning of this campaign, will also help Theatre Ontario qualify to WIN $10,000 as part of this year’s Great Canadian Giving Challenge taking place during the month of June.

Our Double Your Donation campaign will start on Friday, June 16th and ending on Monday, June 26th. Join Theatre Ontario and help some very special youths Live their Dreams!

Support our Campaign