Thursday, 17 August 2017

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.)

Thomas Marriott is training in artistic direction with Andorlie Hillstrom at Yellow Door Theatre Project in Virgil

(July 19, 2017) It’s amazing how fast the time is flying by in my PTTP internship!  It seems like just yesterday that our group of Theatre Ontario interns were sharing our excitement through stories and plans, and now those plans are in full swing.

It has been a busy time for me at Yellow Door Theatre. With our major annual production happening in December, there is so much to do in June. The audition call went out, updates to our social media and website, and our marketing campaign needed to be finalized and put into action.

Andorlie, our Artistic Director, and I discussed the approach to announcing and holding auditions for our production of Wind in the Willows. The major brainstorming centred around how to entice new artists to apply. The kids involved with our previous productions were eager to take part again, but it is vital to constantly encourage new children to join the program, so Yellow Door can continue to grow. We contacted the schools and had flyers sent home with the students, as well as newspaper ads and social media updates to spread the word. It worked. We had over sixty young people between the ages of 8 and 18 audition over two days, with some incredible talent shining through.  My task was to keep the days running smoothly—making sure we keep on time (and to keep the stage moms and stage dads calm in the waiting room.)

Auditions at Yellow Door Theatre
Once that was done, we quickly turned our attention to our summer camp program. Two sessions, each two weeks long, were fast approaching. (As I write this, one session has just finished, and the other starts in a week.) Lining up coaches, organizing materials and teaching aids, and keeping on top of communication with campers was part of my job, as well as designing the program for our end of camp production, Willy Wonka Kids. All in all, a very busy time! But the kids (and the parents who came to see the show) had an amazing experience. We’re looking forward to round two!

Between camp weeks, Andorlie took the opportunity to take a mini-break and head to New York to see Come from Away, so it left me here to hold down the fort (or at least my corner of it). Marketing continues for Wind in the Willows as we team up with the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (our performance venue) to piggyback on their marketing program. As well, I am giving our website a minor overhaul to better showcase our show and upcoming events. Plus, I need to add a new page: Friends of the Yellow Door donation page!

After two years of applications and much effort from our board and artistic team, Yellow Door Theatre Project was granted charitable status by the CRA. This is fantastic news, and allows us to move forward on two fronts—a general build of a friendship campaign to create a community of annual support, as well as a capital campaign to improve our studios and provide a safe and fun environment for our young artists to grow. It’s an exciting time for the company, and a busy time for all involved.

As we continue forward, the company is preparing for our annual charity gala on August 27th. It’s a chance to have a fun night, raise some money and build some momentum heading into the fall programming. Sponsors are being wooed, invitations sent out, and silent auction items are being rounded up. It should be a fun night, and I get to emcee! Time to see if my tux still fits...

The learning curve on this project has been immense. So much to plan and prepare in order to keep a company running and ahead of the game, and I would not have been able to do any of this without the help of Theatre Ontario and the Professional Theatre Training Program. I am very thankful, and I look forward to the second half of my training.

Related Reading:

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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