Friday, 29 September 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

401 Richmond Update

The Province of Ontario announced this week that they will work with the City of Toronto to create a new property tax category for non-profit arts and culture properties, like our home in 401 Richmond.
Thank you to all of our supporters who helped make this possible!

Bruce Hunter and Jani Lauzon in The Breathing Hole
at The Stratford Festival. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


Migrations


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Stories from the Summer Theatre Intensive: Creating “Character”

by Linda Pagnotta

This was my very first Theatre Ontario Summer Intensive experience… and it won’t be my last. My expectations were not only met, but were exceeded. I attended “Who the Heck are YOU?! Creating ‘Character'” with Liza Balkan.

First of all, the woman was amazing. She incorporated movement, exercises, even animal noises, which I hear the classes above us (Directors and Playwrights) greatly appreciated. Thanks for allowing us to play! Liza was full of energy, and delivered a thoughtful approach to learning. She challenged me to re-think the monologue I had prepared ahead of time, and think beyond the intended plan. That particular exercise did more for me than if I had just read aloud the monologue I had been preparing for a month. I was able to incorporate some of what I learned at the course immediately. The many exercises were beneficial for exploring, discovering and identifying what is important to me as an actor.

The space at Factory 163 was great! We had a huge space on the bottom floor which consisted of four quadrants. That’s how I looked at the space. The first space was used for warm up, voice and exercises. I had brought my workout gear and yoga mat to keep up at the hotel, but didn’t need it, thanks Liza! The second space was used for sharing monologues and for character development exercises. The third space was for movement, and the fourth space was a round table for some reflection of the day. At times, all four ‘quadrants’ were used simultaneously. I also enjoyed the common areas where I sat with participants from the other courses. We discussed and learned from one another about the various perspectives and viewpoints within the industry.

The plays I attended were not what I would normally select for myself, but I am glad that I had the opportunity to see something different and expand my horizons. I also liked hearing other participants’ impressions. The lunch time guest speaker series was also beneficial because it gave us the opportunity to hear from industry professionals.

The playwright reading with Kristen Da Silva and her cast members was great! They did an excellent job reading the first act from her play, The Book Club. I wish I could have heard the rest to see how it ends. The dynamic of the actors and how they were seated really lent itself to the atmosphere of the read. I enjoyed speaking with the actors and Kristen after the reading. 

My classmates were wonderful people. I won’t name any names, because you know who you are, and how much of a positive impact you had on me. Thanks for your sharing, listening and encouragement. I wish each of you much success going forward and I hope that our paths do cross again someday. 

Linda has recently retired LKP Consulting, her training company after twenty-five years. She looks forward to pursuing her first love for acting and the theatre. Her hometown stage is the Kincardine Theatre Guild where she has been a member since 2006, both on and off stage.

Related Reading

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

Hive @ GCTC workshops
Theatre Criticism in the Digital Age is on September 27
  • Shaw Festival’s “Play by Play” audience experience starts September 27.
  • Great Canadian Theatre Company’s Hive @ GCTC workshop for high school and university students on “Theatre Criticism in the Digital Age” is on September 27 in Ottawa.
  • The MT Space’s #SURVIVE_RESIST_CREATE conference in Kitchener begins September 28; their Youth Conference begins October 1.
  • Deadline for submissions for Canada Council for the Arts’ John Hirsch Prize for new and developing theatre directors is October 2.
  • Deadline to apply for Paprika Festival's youth training programs is October 3.
  • Deadline to register to apply for Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Capital Grants is October 4 (for the October 25 deadline.)
  • Ontario Arts Council grant deadlines for “Deaf and Disability Arts Projects”, “Jets de théâtre – projets” and “Touring Projects” is October 5.
  • Deadline for directors to apply for Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival 2018 (non-paying) is October 5.
  • Deadline for submissions for Soulpepper’s Ontario Arts Council Recommender Grants for Theatre Creators is October 6.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Great Canadian Theatre Company invites submissions for their Ontario Arts Council Recommender Grants for Theatre Creators Program. Funding priorities are playwrights and collectives based in, or who originate from, Ottawa and the National Capital Region, and work that “provokes examination of Canadian life and our place in the world.” The deadline is December 1.

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, 26 September 2017

Welcome Maja Ardal as Festival 2018 Adjudicator

Theatre Ontario welcomes Maja Ardal as adjudicator for Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 in London. Maja most recently adjudicated the QUONTA Festival (northeastern Ontario) in 2015 in Sault Ste. Marie, and the London One-Act Play Festival in 2016. This will be her first time adjudicating Theatre Ontario Festival.

Maja has been working in theatre for forty-seven years. She is a director, playwright, actor, and theatre trainer. Her musical play, The Hero of Hunter Street, was produced by 4th Line Theatre in 2016. She researched and created One Thing Leads to Another, Theatre for Babies, produced by Young People’s Theatre, receiving two Dora Awards in 2015. It will tour Ontario in 2018, and she is developing the sequel, You and I.

“I am honoured to be invited to this festival,” said Maja. “My role as adjudicator is both challenging and delightful, and ultimately involves the moral responsibility of sharing my views in a way that enriches the communities' craft and passion for playmaking.”


Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 will be held in London from May 16 to 20, 2018 and is co-hosted by Theatre Ontario, London Community Players, and the Western Ontario Drama League.

Monday, 25 September 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of September 25

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
The Veil at Toronto Irish Players
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In South Central Ontario

Sep. 28, Calendar Girls at Burl-Oak Theatre Group (Oakville)

In Southwestern Ontario

Sep. 26, IMPACT 17 at The MT Space (Waterloo)

In Toronto

Sep. 26, The 32nd Annual Groundswell Festival at Nightwood Theatre
Sep. 28, Life After at Canadian Stage / The Musical Stage Company [currently in previews]
Sep. 28, The Deep Blue Sea at Stage Centre Productions

In Eastern Ontario

Sep. 28, The Tomorrow Box at Studio Theatre Perth
ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
The Melville Boys at London Community Players

In Northeastern Ontario

Sep. 29, Million Dollar Quartet at Sudbury Theatre Centre [with a preview on Sep. 28]


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

Thursday, 21 September 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 four stories:
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.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Andrea Runge

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

Andrea Runge trained in directing with Ashlie Corcoran at Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque


(July 30, 2017) Once again I found myself in unfamiliar territory being part of the audience at the first performance rather than backstage. I had the anticipation and excitement similar to other openings I have experienced, but had to put my energy into a very different role! Once the show began I was interested in how the audience was reacting to the play, how the actors were dealing with the audience, and how all of the technical aspects were timed and working together. I was seeing and hearing the play for the first time again.

I have gained much knowledge in many areas throughout this process. Tech week was immensely useful and shed light on what I knew the least about. Observing the relationship between the director, the designers and the technicians offered a lot of clarity in how to efficiently get the show up in the theatre and quickly add in all the remaining technical elements. I appreciate how clear a vision Ashlie had of what she wanted on stage, but also trusted the designers to bring their expertise and vision to it as well, making this stage of the process as successfully collaborative as the rehearsal hall. I really admire Ashlie’s trust in those she works with: she has a huge respect for others’ contributions, with the focus always on what is best for the show. 

Anand Rajaram and Andrew Kushnir in Leading Ladies
at Thousand Islands Playhouse. Photo by Rob Whelan 
Although I wasn’t involved with the show during casting or hiring of the production team, I learned a lot about it while watching what was accomplished in this three-week period. The cast not only carried the essence and heart of each character in a wonderfully unique and imaginative way, but they were also able to work quickly and brought a plethora of ideas and much creativity to each rehearsal which helped with the efficiency of getting the show up on its feet in so short a time. The designers were often present throughout rehearsal, and had a great sense of the play and the overall tone so that their ideas truly enhanced the play. This again made for an efficient tech week as everyone was on the same page. 

Ashlie gave me an opportunity to get some hands on experience by asking me to choreograph a transition, which was a great way to put into practice what I had been learning so far in the process. It was fun to solve the logistics while adding story and character so as to continue the action of the play. The execution of it was educational as well—my goal being to communicate as clearly and efficiently as possible to the actors, designers and stage management. I had made choices while at the same time remained open to what the actors and designers had to offer. It was fun to see something I imagined come to life onstage.

Leading Ladies at Thousand Islands Playhouse
Set & Costume Design by Drew Facey
Lighting Design by Michelle Ramsay
I now have a deeper understanding of the role and responsibilities of the director, including the level of organization needed, the foresight, ability to problem solve and to think on one’s feet. To find the sweet spot of being well prepared, knowing the play extremely well, having clear ideas of what the production will look like, and also being open to change and evolution. There is strength in trusting your team, and great things can come from this trust. I hope to mentor other directors who work in this manner, and I will put many of the skills I learned from Ashlie into my own directing and teaching work. Having gone through the whole process from beginning to end has given me more confidence and inspiration to move forward in this field.

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.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Kelly Wolf

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

Kelly Wolf began training in creation/dramaturgy with Richard Greenblatt at Tapesty Opera in Toronto


(May 8, 2017) As I continue to evolve as a theatre artist, I have become more interested in becoming the instigator of a theatre process, rather than simply responding to the project as a designer.  I am looking forward to getting started with Richard Greenblatt as I pursue a greater understanding of project creation and dramaturgy as a collaborative creator.

My background is primarily as a designer.  I am increasingly interested in creating a piece of theatre in response to a space. It is a fantastic way to allow another kind of narrative to emerge. Typically, I am responding to a set of givens, I am hoping that this mentorship project will encourage me to expand my personal creative practice. Traditional spaces already have an expectation built into them as far as the kind of theatre you can expect to see. I want to create theatre that expands your notion of what theatre is and should be by taking theatre out of the traditional venues. I am interested in collaborating with other artists—from all disciplines—in order to fuse and blur the lines between them in search of new approaches.  I have created site specific works of theatre in the past. I want to continue to make this kind of work but feel I need more development in order to move forward. What I feel I am lacking is confidence in structure and dramaturgy.

I approached Richard Greenblatt, someone with whom I already have a collaborative relationship, to share with me some of his insights into project creation. Richard Greenblatt is a director, playwright, actor, dramaturg who has created many original pieces of theatre for adults and young audiences. We have worked together in the past on projects that are script based as well as creation based. He has two projects on the go that I will observe and participate within; a new opera Selfie by Julie Tepperman for Tapestry Opera and The Missing Pages by Tom Allen. I am about to enter into the project at the very early stages; as they are dramaturging the piece, following it through the drafts, then eventually a workshop. What intrigues me about Selfie in particular is that is that Richard is interested in redefining the form of opera with this piece. This opportunity to follow the project from its early stages of development to finding the right collaborators, to developing the work is what I am most curious about. Following this exploration, I will be creating my own piece of theatre. I am producing a new work, Normal Shmormal at the Hamilton Fringe Festival Gallery Mini Series.  This would be an excellent opportunity to take what I have observed and turn it into action.

Richard and I both have a genuine interest in seeing the art of theatre connect with the audiences.  I am looking forward to our debriefing sessions where we will just talk about the process of making theatre.

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.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Naomi Duvall

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

Naomi Duvall began training in puppet design, building and manipulation with Brad Brackenridge at the Nervous System in Peterborough


(April 28, 2017) In the week before I start my mentorship I find myself brimming with excitement and energy. The first time I set eyes on Brad Brackenridge he was eating copious amounts of deviled eggs. I suppose I should clarify that he was in character as a celebrity judge (in a deviled egg contest) to support a fundraiser for a local theatre company. My first impression was that he was a joyous, hilarious, generous and warm person. I had not yet seen any of his work and I was already drawn in. When I did get a chance to experience it, my imagination was captured. His original ideas, execution, and attention to detail were what I aspired to in my own work. I was given the chance to serve as a type of Usher, guiding each audience member to their private show for his portable puppet piece VERTEP. The piece took place in a confessional-type booth, so that each audience member had an individual experience of a magical, disturbing, powerful journey through death, mourning, and transformation. It was awesome to be able to witness their unique responses to the images/sounds/objects presented. The audience members were all enchanted, deeply moved, and transformed. I was in love and I already wanted to work with him again.

Marionettes created by Brad Brackenridge 
My background is mainly in the performing arts. I graduated from a three-year actors training program in 2012 and have since been finding ways to hone my craft and stay sharp through workshops and sporadic work in theatre/commercials. At the end of this mentorship I hope to have the tools to be able to originate my own work. My plan is to participate in the design, build and manipulation of puppets for Precarious: The Peterborough ArtsWORK Festival from conception to completion with Brad as my guide.

I am intensely curious about marionettes; it’s a realm of puppetry that is magnetic to me but that requires considerable know-how to attempt. I am lacking in wood sculpting/joining/carpentry experience and the mechanical understanding of puppet motion and it is a skill I hope to focus on.

I’ve never been trained in puppetry, all ventures have been self-taught or relied upon experimentation. I’ve always loved working with my hands and have developed a lot of dexterity from years of kitchen work and manual labour. It is a pleasure to be able to use that strength in the service of something that gives me such fulfillment. The satisfaction of literally holding an idea in your hand and shaping it is immense. The possibilities and power that a puppet can have onstage is a definite draw for me. Also, it takes a huge amount of problem solving and ingenuity to figure out how to give an otherwise inanimate object life. It is a special kind of theatre magic created by a well-designed, built and manipulated puppet. I want to be able to provide an audience with that experience using my bare hands, allow them the kind of rapt emotional involvement and belief that I feel when watching one of Brad's pieces.

Brad carving a puppet for a Shaw Festival show
This mentorship means direct contact with the quality of work I myself want to be doing and a person whose work and character I thoroughly admire.  I can’t think of anything better for my career than that and look forward to contributing my enthusiasm, creativity and talent to this project! Next week I will be delving into some puppet history and different styles of puppetry as well as taking a look at some puppets Brad is building for the Shaw Festival. Can’t wait!!

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.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Sarah Thorpe

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

Sarah Thorpe trained in directing with Alan Dilworth at Soup Can Theatre in Toronto


(August 12, 2017) The final weeks of this mentorship ran the gamut of directing techniques and discussions.

I continued to workshop scenes from Bond’s Lear with the actors in Soup Can Theatre’s upcoming production, and Alan encouraged me to focus on how I can take what I discovered from doing the character analysis work, as described in Katie Mitchell’s book, and translate that into a physical life with the actors and play from there. It was a great lesson in the importance of still doing focused, detailed work, and learning how to play from that work and think on your feet. The actors and I made some great discoveries about their characters and relationships which we can’t wait to delve further into once the show is in production. 

Following the workshops, Alan and I turned our focus to directing for site-specific theatre. We visited St Luke’s Church at Carlton and Sherbourne, which has been the home of such other site-specific pieces as Litmus Theatre’s Birth of Frankenstein. I’m looking at this space for an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s most well-known poems and stories to be staged promenade-style, titled Tell-Tale at this time. Prior to our walk-through, I identified the three rooms in the church and the six Poe works that I think would be best suited to the piece. Alan brought up that using Viewpoints—composition techniques developed by Anne Bogart and Tina Landau—would be a great lens to view site-specific space and how it would affect story, character, themes, and audience. Keeping Viewpoints in mind during our walk-through, and considering which works would be in which room, I was flooded with staging ideas and specific Viewpoints to focus on with each piece and each room. Using Viewpoints as the main technique to create Tell-Tale will help me ensure that the storytelling is clear and effective, animating both the stories and the space.

We ended the mentorship with discussions about how Lear and Tell-Tale would fit into Toronto’s current theatre climate, and how I could make the move from directing in the independent community to more established companies. For Tell-Tale, Alan recommended that I think about the overall experience people will have in comparison to the experiences offered by other site-specific works. Site-specific theatre is very popular in Toronto, so what can we do to make this production stand out. For Lear, it’s a very intense and longer piece that wouldn’t suit the tastes of all Toronto theatre-goers. Alan recommended considering how audiences can sit through long and extreme works, targeting specific communities through a social context, reaching out to theatre schools as potential places to produce such a work due to the sheer number of characters and complicated subject matter that students wouldn’t be afraid to jump into, and look into multidisciplinary arts festivals, as we intent to combine projection work and fight choreography into this piece. 

As for career advancement, Alan recommended applying to different directing internships and training programs, constantly make my own work, build relationships with companies and artists, work on smaller projects to counterbalance the larger works I want to direct, pitch lower-risk projects to established and venued companies, and self-promote. Obviously there’s no quick and easy way to do any sort of career advancement, and I never believed that there would be, but it was very heartening to know that I’m already doing some of the suggestions Alan made. And of course, I need to be solid in the work; that comes first, ahead of pitches and self-promotion and everything. 

Looking back on this mentorship process, I feel have a stronger technical foundation that I can build on in a creative capacity, particularly in terms of approaching scripts and creating a fully-realized world of a play. Being specific in the script work must come first and can then be expanded on, creating a much stronger piece overall, and I’ll use that to inform all of my directing work from now on. I now have new ideas for how to expand on my body work. Alan is a wonderful and supportive artist and resource, and someone I can still go to for advice and discussions. I’m very grateful for his time and dedication in helping me become a stronger director, and to Theatre Ontario and the Ontario Arts Council for this opportunity.

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.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Shaw Festival’s “Stage Skills for Adults” workshop on Period Costumes is September 22, “Scene Study Sunday” is September 24, and “Play by Play” audience experience starts September 27.
  • Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa has a Hive @ GCTC workshop for high school and university students on “Theatre Criticism in the Digital Age” on September 27.
  • The MT Space’s #SURVIVE_RESIST_CREATE conference begins September 28.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Soulpepper Theatre invites submissions for their Recommender Grants for Theatre Creators. Their assessment criteria includes prioritizing “ambitious works that speak to the diversity of modern-day Canada.” The deadline is October 6.
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, 19 September 2017

Celebrating Excellence in the Class of 2017

Theatre Ontario's Certificates of Excellence are awarded to individuals who have shown diligence, excellence of participation, and/or outstanding commitment to the drama/theatre community at his/her/their school.

Theatre Ontario is pleased to congratulate some of the “Class of 2017” secondary school students recognized with our Certificate of Excellence (comments are from their teachers.)

Zachary Boudrahem (M.M. Robinson High School – Burlington)

Zachary is an outstanding drama student. He acts and directs and writes and he has also been a member of the Improv Team for three years. He has taken drama for four years and is exemplary as a student and performer.

Abdur-Rahman Ouzeri (Langstaff Secondary School – Richmond Hill)

Abdur-Rahman was in my ADA4M course where he was able to direct and act in a show with a large cast. He embraced the challenge and always strives to engage in equity/marginalization in his work. He has consistently supported drama via acting/directing.

Alyssa Raposo (Langstaff Secondary School – Richmond Hill)

Alyssa has been the face of the drama program this year—directed a fall play show and designed scenic elements for the other shows; acted in the Midway Festival and finishing with a starring role in the spring show…as well as President of Drama Club.

The person receiving the certificate may have worked as a performer, technician, organizer of the drama club, or may simply have been of great support and encouragement to others, during or after school hours.  It may be given out at special events such as a Commencement, Recognition Assembly, or Annual Awards Assembly.

Monday, 18 September 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of September 18

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Theft at The Village Players, Bloor West Village
David Eden, Kathleen Allamby, Clive Lacey, Joanna Kellam
Photo by Jennifer Monteith
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Southwestern Ontario

Sep. 19, Evita (High School Project) at The Grand Theatre (London)
Sep. 20, A Few Good Men at Theatre Aquarius (Hamilton)
Sep. 21, What Happened in Vegas at Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre
Sep. 22, Kings and Queens of Country at Drayton Entertainment: St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre [with previews from Sep. 19]
Sep. 22, The Melville Boys at London Community Players [with a preview on Sep. 21]

In Toronto

Sep. 21, The Veil at Toronto Irish Players
Sep. 22, Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Hart House Theatre
Sep. 23, 7th Cousins at Nightwood Theatre
Sep. 23, Life After at Canadian Stage / The Musical Stage Company [in previews]

In Central Ontario

Sep. 22, Dracula at Peterborough Theatre Guild
Sep. 22, Quartet at Northumberland Players (Cobourg)
ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Party Today, Panic Tomorrow at The Second City

In Eastern Ontario

Sep. 19, A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester at Kanata Theatre (Ottawa)
Sep. 20, Educating Rita at Ottawa Little Theatre
Sep. 20, Tick, Tick... Boom! at Orpheus Musical Theatre Society (Ottawa)
Sep. 22, Almighty Voice and His Wife at Theatre Kingston [with preview on Sep. 21]
Sep. 23, You Are Happy at Great Canadian Theatre Company (Ottawa), with previews from Sep. 21
Sep. 23, The Birds and the Bees at Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque) [with a preview on Sep. 22]


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

Friday, 15 September 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters

Tom Rooney in Tartuffe at Stratford Festival.
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Migrations


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Stories from the Summer Theatre Intensive: Telling Our Important Stories

The Noble Scribes.
(Back row) Jim, Sue, Donna-Michelle
(Front row) Shelley, Jean, Cathy
by Shelley M. Hobbs

This was my first time attending a Theatre Ontario intensive. It was a retirement present from my wife, Joan.

Having spent 27 years working as a lawyer for the Public Guardian and Trustee, I retired in large part to pursue playwriting. My other identity boxes to tick would include lesbian, hearing impaired, cancer survivor, married, grandparent, pale-privileged, cis-female, child of immigrants and naturalist. I came to this program having started writing for theatre later in life, with modest success. I have co-written a musical about women’s hockey (Hipcheck: the Musical) and two dramas (A Good Death; Happy Family) all of which were produced in different years at the Toronto Fringe Festival. 

I have no formal training in theatre. Everything I’ve learned has been from going to theatre (about a hundred plays and musicals a year, mostly indie and small company works), from the development of my own work, and from talking theatre with anyone who doesn’t move quickly enough to get away. 

This intensive meant I was going to spend a week doing nothing but writing and learning about writing. I would meet other playwrights. I would meet our instructor, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, who is a professional, Dora Award-winning, former playwright-in-residence for Obsidian Theatre: a grown-up in theatre terms.

My playwright classmates came from Toronto, rural Ontario, and Montréal. The other Theatre Ontario attendees I met who were in the Advanced Director and Acting programs were from all over the province, representing community theatres of every size and ambition. Every day, I was immersed in discussions with a variety of folks about favourite plays, production politics, props and sets, and how to get stuff on stage with ever-shrinking budgets. It was oxygen for my soul.

Donna-Michelle showed such respect and support for each of us. The question of what defined an “Important Story” was treated as an organic one. She brought a library of plays to read that she considered important for different reasons. Vital questions and intriguing assignments were given. Think about your play from the point of view of those whose stories are not commonly told. Don’t assume the audience knows what you know. Try this, and if it doesn’t work, try this. 

We shared our work, either a play we were already working on or what we had written for our assignments. I heard such well-crafted words. Sometimes, we were all brought to tears. I shared a play that I’ve struggled to get done for years. Years of scribbles on the backs on envelopes and bizarrely scrawled notes to myself—“Make B do forgery herself?” “Research documentation 1934-37.” “What about hats?”

Exploring the masks from other classes at Factory 163
I brought that play to the group, and despite falling at mid-week into what writers may recognize as the “It’s Utter Crap!” nadir, working with Donna-Michelle and my fellow Noble Scribes kick-started it back to life. It’s my hope that the other Noble Scribes, indeed, everyone at the Intensives, got to feel that surge of energy that finding the right direction gives you.

Thank you, Theatre Ontario and Factory 163!

Thank you, Jim and Sue and Cathy and Jean: the Noble Scribes!

Thank you so much, Donna-Michelle!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Voice Over workshop with Elley-Ray
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 “Artists in Communities and Schools” projects is September 14, and for “Indigenous Artists in Communities Projects” and “Indigenous Arts Projects” is September 19.
  • Shaw Festival’s “Stage Skills for Adults” workshop on Period Costumes is September 22.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Carousel Players invites applications for their Recommender Grants for Theatre Creators. Funding priorities are creators whose focus it is to create works for children, youth, and families. Artists of diverse cultural and community backgrounds, including the Niagara region, are encouraged to apply. The deadline is November 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, 12 September 2017

Welcome to our New Board Members Appointed for 2017-2018

Theatre Ontario welcomes Brenda Barr-Worsnop and Annie MacKay to our Board of Directors.

They have been appointed to vacancies that have opened during our 2017-2018 term, due to the resignations of Lily Baird and Ray Jacildo (both serving their first year of two-year terms.)

Brenda Barr-Worsnop
Brenda Barr-Worsnop (Cobourg) discovered the stage at 7 in Cornwall, and rediscovered it as an adult with the Brockville Theatre Guild in 1975.  Now, after more than forty-five active years in community and professional theatre she is well known as a director, actor, stage manager, set designer and teacher/mentor across southern Ontario.  She was co-creator/owner of a murder mystery company, Games Up; has worked professionally in Ontario Summer Theatre as an actress and stage manager; has served on regional community theatre boards in all positions for over forty years, and she even managed to combine her administrative and theatre skills at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga in her job as Executive Administrator. She has taken many Theatre Ontario summer courses and is currently Past President of the Eastern Ontario Drama League.

Annie MacKay
Annie MacKay (Toronto) is an actor, producer, and theatre creator originally from Vancouver. She works in communications and marketing at Studio 180 Theatre, the Dirt Underneath Actors' Space, and the creator-based conversation series Dark Nights. As an actor, recent Toronto credits include: The Rape of Lucrece (Paprika Festival), Marisol (Seven Siblings Theatre – Staged Reading), Brave New Theatre: Unholy (BNT – Collective Creation), The Crucible (Kindling Collective), and Much Ado About Nothing (Unit 102/Leroy Street). Annie served as co-chair of the 2016 Theatre Ontario Youth Advisory Committee. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University.

In accordance with Article 6.7 of the General By-Law of Theatre Ontario, both shall serve as Directors until the next Annual General Meeting, at which point an election will be held for the remainder of the term.

Monday, 11 September 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of September 11

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In South Central Ontario

Sep. 15, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at The Curtain Club (Richmond Hill) [with a preview on Sep. 14]
Sep. 15, The Gin Game at Theatre Burlington

In Southwestern Ontario

Sep. 12, Hank Williams Live – 1952 at Lighthouse Festival Theatre (Port Dover)

In Toronto

Sep. 14, Waiting for Godot at Soulpepper Theatre [currently in previews]
Sep. 15, Picture This at Soulpepper Theatre [currently in previews]

In Central Ontario

Sep. 12, Sexy Laundry at Gravenhurst Opera House
ONstage Now Playing in South Central Ontario
On a First Name Basis at Markham Little Theatre

In Eastern Ontario

Sep. 15, Onegin at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa) [with previews from Sep. 13]

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, 7 September 2017

Celebrate Culture Days at Ontario Theatres

Ontario Culture Days is an annual three-day event (this year on September 29 to October 1), featuring engaging community arts activities.

Free and hands-on, Culture Days activities invite the public into the behind-the-scenes world of artists, creators, heritage workers, architects, curators and designers. Culture Days fosters engagement and support of a diverse arts and culture community that is lived, created, and expressed by all Ontarians regardless of age, ability, culture, discipline, ethnicity, language, or income.

Highlights of our member organizations’ activities (published on the Culture Days site as of press time): 
  • Burl-Oak Theatre Group (Oakville) – “Backstage with Burloak Theatre” features an hour behind the scenes before the curtain goes up on their performances of Calendar Girls. (Sep 29, 30)
  • Carousel Players (St. Catharines) – “Making a Play” is a drop-in session for all ages (parents too!) in the theatre so you can take the stage for drama games. (Sep 30) 
  • Gravenhurst Opera House – “Behind the Scenes Tour” - A tour of this historic cultural centrepiece (Sep 29, 30) 
  • Magnus Theatre (Thunder Bay) – “Behind the Scenes Tour” – an exclusive visit of the props and set design areas, sound and lighting booth, stage, auditorium, and more. (Sep 29) 
  • The Oakville Players (Oakville) – “Behind the Scenes” includes a talk with volunteers, to see what is involved with community theatre. (Sep 30, Oct 1) 
  • Shadowpath Theatre (York Region) – “Conversations with my Younger Self” features local youth collaborating with adults creating a multi-artistic ensemble. (Sep 30) 
  • Stratford Festival – “Warehouse Tour”: a guided tour of their vast selection of costumes and props. Bring your camera and capture an in-costume memory! (Sep 30) 
  • Theatre Ancaster (Hamilton) – “Magic of Theatre – Theatre Ancaster Celebrates 20 Years”: A display of costumes, programs and posters from previous performances. (Sep 29) 
  • Theatre Aurora – “Play Reading – Visiting Mr. Green”: a dramatic reading (Sep 30)

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • ACT II Studio is hosting an Information Day on September 8 in Toronto.
  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Arts Council’s “Artists in Communities and Schools” projects is September 14.
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, 5 September 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of September 5

ONstage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
I'll Be Back Before Midnight at Classic Theatre Festival (Perth)
Chandel Gambles, Lauren Horejda, Lindsay Robinson and Alastair Love
Photo by Jean-Denis Labelle
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Eastern Ontario

Sep. 9, Halfway There at Upper Canada Playhouse (Morrisburg) [with previews from Sep. 7]

In Northwestern Ontario

Sep. 8, We Will Rock You at Magnus Theatre (Thunder Bay) [with a preview on Sep. 7] 

In South Central Ontario

Sep. 6, On a First Name Basis at Markham Little Theatre
Sep. 8, Alone Together Again at Century Church Theatre (Hillsburgh)
Sep. 8, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Theatre Ancaster (Hamilton)

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Ipperwash at Blyth Festival
James Dallas Smith, Nicole Joy-Fraser, Jonathan Fisher
Photo by Terry Manzo

In Toronto

Sep. 8, Waiting for Godot at Soulpepper Theatre [in previews]
Sep. 9, Picture This at Soulpepper Theatre [in previews]

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