Thursday, 29 March 2018

Live Your Passion with the Summer Theatre Intensive Youth Scholarship – Returning in 2018

Theatre Ontario is excited to announce that our Youth Scholarship will be returning for our Summer Theatre Intensive in 2018.

Beginning May 1, Theatre Ontario invites youth across the province to apply for a scholarship to the 2018 Summer Theatre Intensive in Stratford, Ontario. The scholarship is aimed at sending one youth artist to train at one of our Summer Courses FREE OF CHARGE. We will be providing the course, meals, accommodations, Stratford Festival ticket and a travel stipend for one lucky participant between the ages of 16-26.

The Summer Theatre Intensive concept was first tried in 1973 with one directing course offered at Trent University in Peterborough. From those initial 21 participants, the intensive has continued to grow and has helped train thousands of participants in the past 45 years.

Learn more about the Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive Youth Scholarship

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Upcoming opportunities from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations.

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

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

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadlines for applications for Ontario Arts Council grants (Arts Organizations in Communities and Schools: Operating, Major Organizations: Operating, Multi and Inter-Arts Organizations: Operating, and National and International Residency Projects) is April 4.
  • Deadline for nominations for the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award from PACT, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, is April 6.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Scarborough Theatre Guild is making their 2019-20 season a “Directors’ Choice” season. The deadline for submissions of productions is May 15.

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 March 2018

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 five stories:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.

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: Sara Topham

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

Sara Topham trained in teaching Pure Movement with Shona Morris at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London UK


Shona Morris and Sara Topham working together at the
Stratford Festival. Photo by Peter J. Thompson
(February 5, 2018)  I think one of the most complex pieces of learning in the quest to grow as an actor is understanding how to allow all the disparate lessons and theories and light-bulb moments one experiences along the way in classes and coaching sessions and workshops, to actually be a part of the process of putting on a play. From the moment a contract is signed there begins an avalanche of paper—schedules, design sketches, measurements sheets, props lists, line notes,  all of which make one feel the pressure to move towards a result. And all of these things are organized in lines and grids which have the ominous effect, on me at least, of creating the illusion that the work is linear. And even though I have had multitudes of  conversations about process over product over my training and career, inevitably, on the floor as I am working, those lines and grids intrude and create a pressure to achieve something that will give me, and the director, and my fellow artists, some reassurance that I'm going to get 'there' (an elusive place which actually can never be reached because it doesn't exist!) I know I am not alone in this struggle, and I also know that I have found ways of dealing with the pressure over the years, ways of choosing process even when the voice in my head was screaming about product. Most of the time, if I have been successful in that attempt, it has involved some element of Pure Movement work.

I think this is fundamentally why I am so drawn to developing the capacity to teach Pure Movement; I know from experience that it is impossible to be pushing for results, or in one's own way, or paralyzed with anxiety while dropping your weight in a Pure Movement swing! To be in the body, is to be in present time, and from that place all things are possible. In recent years I've been in a lot of rooms where a director or another teacher will say something to an actor like: "You're not in your body." Or: "Get in your body." And I always find myself thinking… "If they knew how to be in their bodies, they would be!" This is one of the situations where Pure Movement, I think, can be a profound gift in a rehearsal process. We all know that the body returns to what it knows, what you teach it. It's why athletes and dancers break movement down the way they do. For a ballet dancer fifth position is home base. It's why from such a young age you are using it 1000 times a class—making it fundamentally sound so that your body will find its way there naturally and without question. Which means that even if something goes wrong, you make a mistake, you slip, you wobble, your body will seek what you have taught it and give you the grounding to let the past be the past and be able to move forward in a useful way because a grounded fifth position is a reflex, no matter what has come before.  Athletes drill and drill and drill so that in the moment that the ball comes to them and there's only a split second to make the perfect move, their brains can creatively solve the problem knowing that when they ask their bodies to follow through on that solution, they will—because they have drilled them and built useful reflexes. I once heard a sports person refer to this as 'the freedom of rigour.’

So what is our equivalent? As actors, how can we find ways to create 'home bases' for ourselves that are as reflexive as fifth position and which are useful places to create from? For a long time my only reflexes were grip and push, and I know that's true for a lot of the student actors I work with. If it wasn't going the way I thought it should be, my body's instinct was to grip and push and it always made my work less good. (Still does—it’s not like I've solved it entirely! Just consciously working on it!)  It's tricky, acting. It's subjective. There is no pirouette to spin or High C to sing or goal to score; only moments of connection that we are constantly in the process of seeking. We are looking to make ourselves, as a wonderful director once said to me, "A totally relaxed being with a volcano inside." That, I am coming to understand, is what a useful home base is. For me anyway. So the aspirations of Pure Movement—alive, engaged, energetic, released, free—have given me a way of training my body to be in the place I need it to be onstage. And because the head and the body are not separate things, when my body is in that free alive space, my head is clearer and less able to get in my way.

Sara Topham and Rob Curtis in Love Me Do at the Watford
Palace. Movement by Shona Morris. Photo by Max Lacome
This last week has been full of all these thoughts swirling around in my head as I sat in the corner during Shona's movement classes, or in an acting or voice class, or rehearsals for the yearly Greek play projects (all of which I was generously welcomed into by the staff at RADA in order to observe how these students are attempting to connect their understanding of their bodies in movement class with the idea of acting.) It's also been a very full week of practical work as Shona and I locked ourselves in studios and continued to dissect the physical and pedagogical elements of Pure Movement. My notebooks are crammed with tiny stick figures and multitudes of notes. There's an element of courage in this work that I never truly appreciated before—and it has to do with being willing to engage in a loss of control. In each of these swings (and there are a myriad of combinations in which to do them), Shona encourages me to release to the point of a momentary loss of control—and allow the swing to flow through that moment—rather than trying to organize it too much. It gives me the same feeling I used to get as a child when a tall grown-up would lift me overhead on a swing and then let go: giving me a momentary feeling of weightlessness before gravity took hold of me and sent me arcing under the bar of the swing set. I used to find it both thrilling and terrifying. It sounds funny to say that this moment in a swing, brief as it is, requires courage, but it does. It's a little moment of faith that your arm will not actually fly off the end of your shoulder—and it's surprisingly hard to do! And so it's not just the drop in the body that is being practiced and repeated (which is very good for the structure of the body of course); you are actually rehearsing courage and faith—in a micro-sense—and that seems to me to be infinitely useful in the development of an actor. Because in the end all our rehearsal is for naught if in the moment of telling the story our courage and faith desert us. I spoke in my last post about 'discoveries vs. decisions' and each of these tiny (and yet somehow vast) moments of losing control is a place alive with discovery—what will happen now? Rather than the decision to bring one's arm down in an arc you have to wait and discover what the body will do, what the body will say, if we stop telling it what to do and say for even a moment.

Which brings me to the last element of learning I want to share, something that I think is at the heart of why this work can be so deeply transformational. Many of the exercises that Shona has the students working through lead her to talk to them about story and movement and how they connect. She says repeatedly, as they are working through a series of movement patterns as a game between them: "The movement gives you the story. You don't decide on a story and then choose a movement that tells that story. You follow a movement impulse and then discover what story it tells." This is a revelation. To the students. And to me. I see what happens to the work when they give over to this non-intellectual, non-controlled way of exploring. They are transformed. One young woman follows a movement impulse that brings her hand to point sharply at something in the distance dragging her eyes into a laser-like focus and her head after them. As soon as she tries to walk, following through on that impulse, she finds she is a very old woman and, instantly, is completely absorbed in the process of discovering how the desire to get to the thing she is pointing at interacts with the fact that her old body resists swift motion. It's remarkable because if someone had told her to show us that she was an old lady she would have done a lot of clichéd 'old lady' movement and acting, but this way she followed the movement and it led her into a full embodiment of that state. I would have believed her to be 90. And that whole story came out of a simple movement. I think this is one of the ways that this work can be so helpful to a rehearsal process: what if, when you hit a wall (as we all do!), instead of trying to fix it with your brain you had a solid process involving movement which would allow your body to help you discover what came next? These students are going to. And I envy them finding it so young.
Sara's notebook

At the end of the week I see this transformative power in action again, this time on a whole room full of bodies and beings, and it was a beautiful way to bring my observation time to a close. We are in one of the rehearsal studios, named for Henry Irving, and this group of students are rehearsing their Greek project: Iphigenia In Aulis. The play begins at the moment when Agamemnon and his fleet are becalmed at Aulis, and Shona and her fellow director want to find a way to create the sense of inertia that the army are experiencing. She asks them to step against the walls of the room and then gives a set of concise instructions: First drum beat—walk into the space and balance it. (Balancing the space is one of the exercises they do almost every day in class. It means that they are responsible for filling the space evenly while in constant motion and requires a very alive awareness of everyone in the space at all times.) Second drum beat—come to stillness. Spiral down to the floor and make a deep shape. (Deep is one of the shapes they explore in their movement classes—along with high, wide, narrow, forward, and back.) Allow your breath to become audible. Once the instructions are given she stands, ready with her drum, and they begin. The result is extraordinary. At first it's just people, present and alive, moving in the space. Then, suddenly, they stop and all the life seems to drain out of their bodies as they find stillness on the ground. And then they breathe…and the hair on my arms stands on end. Because what I've just seen, without them 'acting' it, is the Greek army preparing for battle: in motion, alert, alive. Then suddenly they stop, and you know that something has changed. Then they are dragged into an eternity of waiting. Waiting so long that they become rocks on the beach. Their breath becoming both their means of survival, and the eldritch sound of the lack of wind on the shore. I swear I could feel the sand between my toes! It is a profound transformation. And it is achieved without ever telling them what story they are expressing, but rather letting them move first, and the expressing comes from inside that experience. I wonder as I pack up for the last time, whether next time it will be as magical, whether they will have the discipline (and courage and faith!) to let the movement tell the story, or whether, once they understand how it fits into the production they will be unable to resist 'adding acting'. I hope it's the former; I hope that somewhere inside themselves they understand how powerful it is. And I hope that I will one day be able to lead a group of actors to that place using the tools I've amassed in my time here. 

Wolfe Morris (on right) during his student days at RADA
When I first started at Stratford, I had the chance to work with Diane D'Aquila, who was extremely generous with her time and advice. At the end of the season I gave her a long (and I'm sure very intense!) note about all the things I was grateful to her for, along with a bottle of wine. The next time she saw me she said something I've never forgotten. After expressing her appreciation for the wine and the card she said: "There's really no need the thank me. Just do it for somebody else." I think of that every single time I teach, and will do always. I've been the beneficiary of extraordinary teaching and generosity all of my life, and I feel so lucky that I'm now having the chance to do my best to pass it on. This mentorship opportunity has been a huge step forward in my capacity to 'do it for somebody else' and I am deeply grateful to Theatre Ontario for the grant which gave me the chance to immerse myself fully in the work I am passionate about, and to The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and all the staff and students there, for allowing me to come and making me feel so welcome across the entire institution. At the end of my last day at RADA, Shona took me upstairs where long lists of graduating prize winners from days gone by grace the walls. We stood together in front of a photograph of her father, Wolfe Morris, during his days as a RADA student. I spoke in my application about the chain I feel privileged to be a part of, by virtue of the artists I've learned from. I am so very grateful that Shona has agreed to share her link in the chain with me, a link which connects her to her father and to the extraordinary Trish Arnold among others. That connects me, and all the actors I will have the chance to teach, with them too. What a gift.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.


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: Darwin Lyons

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

Darwin Lyons is training in directing with Ravi Jain at Why Not Theatre in Toronto

(February 22, 2018) This blog post is a mid-way check in on my process of Assistant Directing Ravi Jain on Animal Farm at Soulpepper. As I sit here writing, I am trying to figure out how to frame this blog post. Do I talk about the political landscape of our community right now? What’s happening in rehearsal? What I am learning about art? My last blog post was more about the political landscape than it was about the art. I have this urge to ignore all the conversations about the larger political sphere and just focus on the art. After all, I’m here to learn how to be a better artist. However, what I am seeing in this process is that art can only flourish when the room feels safe.

In my first blog post I shared my trepidation about working at Soulpepper. Since starting this process it has become clear that many people share that trepidation. In fact, people speak of the cost it takes to even be in the Soulpepper space. There have been many sharings of the sexual assault, bullying, and the endemic racism that has happened at that company.

What I saw Ravi do was to hold space for our room, hold space for people who had experienced trauma, hold space when we learned of traumatic histories, and to ask the room to see each of our personal privileges, and ask ourselves how to better support each other. Our room put together this compilation of resources on how to be a better ally. This cracking open of truths and an invitation to examine myself allowed me to see more clearly, and to support others more adamantly. These conversations were happening no matter what, maybe in small groups, maybe in our heads, Ravi gave them space to happen with our team as a whole. That sharing allowed me to live in this political moment and also focus on the art.

Anthony’s adaptation of Animal Farm is so exciting. As I witness this awesome group of actors and designers play in the world Ravi has created I am always struck by deep truths about humanity. At least once a rehearsal day, I’ll watch a scene and see myself reflected. The way these characters organize, how they try to make things happen, how their conflicting worldviews and pressures create conflict remind me of boardroom meetings and rehearsal processes. I leave rehearsal thinking: How do we communicate across different opinions? How do we create a system from the ground up when the only system we’ve ever known is broken? How do we dream for a better future when we are starved in the present? These are huge questions, and as I write them they seem daunting. The beauty of asking these questions in Animal Farm is that I am asked through entertainment, through joy, through jokes, through surprise and through anticipation. The play opens me up by entertaining me and in that state of openness I can hear hard truths, or at least hard questions.

Related Reading:


  • Darwin’s first update
  • (ED. NOTE: You can read the response from the Theatre Ontario Board of Directors to the lawsuits filed by members of the theatre community against Albert Schultz and Soulpepper Theatre Company on our website.)
The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.

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: Howard J. Davis

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

Howard J. Davis trained in directing and designing with Peter Hinton, Beth Kates, Michael Gianfrancesco, and Michael Hart at The Grand Theatre in London


(January 27, 2018) The beauty of a new work is you set a precedent of what the show is. No one has done it before. The liberties and responsibility that are born from this are insurmountable. The hope is also that many remounts and realizations will proceed from it. I am blown away in the time that we had, that we were able to put together this show. With so many takeaways to choose from these are the biggest stand out lessons I learnt during this process...

  • With a show that centres around the idea of sound, Richard Feren’s work was excellent. He worked extremely collaboratively with Peter to amplify the isolation of Mabel’s deafness against a world dominated with sound. Having effects in the rehearsal hall allowed the artists to build upon moments layering almost a filmic underscore to their vocabulary and to explore shifts in tactic and intention. I will definitely be utilizing this into my future work in theatre and film.
  • What began as a lesson in directing and design, I now believe was as a lesson in dramaturgy from Peter: how to best execute a play about history without the most obvious choice. This lesson in dramaturgy showed clearly in the work. Every nuance was discussed in depth in rehearsal and built upon a foundation of specificity. Peter's work in this department I can only classify as flawless. I am also reminded of Iris Turcott who was an advocate for many Canadian artists and who worked tirelessly on this show from realization. She was honoured opening night and I know is greatly missed by many.
  • What is key in a short process like this is one’s eye for editing. Simplifying and sharing the cleanest and artistic execution of one’s vision. Beth Kates’ video work shined in those moment where she simplified her choices and graciously took on board Peter’s direction to execute the scene to its best potential. She also did the lighting for the show which was a large undertaking. As someone myself who wants to do everything from directing to design it is a reminder about how much you can take on in the time that is given.
  • Michael Gianfranceso's aesthetic helped build a correlation between the period and modern day. Michael's accommodation in allowing me into his process with costume, set and props design and those departments adaptability were intrinsic to the shows execution.
  • Michael Hart is a class act in stage managing. It will now be my mission to find a stage manager that I really work with well. Any takers? His focus, engagement in rehearsals and his thoroughness are keenly appreciated. His sensitivity to the actors as well as to a heavily demanding show were incredible to observe with a show that is calling lighting, video, sound, automation and flying cues almost simultaneously.
Bravo All.

I cannot understand how a show about women, written by a women can be dubbed a "Chick Flick"? This was overhead by one of the members of the company during a preview for which I said, "Let us remember that one of the most popular films of all time is...The Notebook." Any comment like that denigrates a woman's experience to being unimportant when in fact women's stories are stage-worthy material that need to be heard more and more. I'm done with "Dick Flicks" to last a lifetime.

The show is far more than a cliché and what makes this show work extremely well is that the characters are not without their flaws, and executed by the actors who were exceptionally suited to the characters they were cast to play. I will miss Graham (Cuthbertson), Tara (Rosling), Michael (Spencer-Davis), Suzanne (Bennett), Madelyn (Narod) and Cat (Catherine Joell Mackinnon.)

Trina Davies has written a beautiful show. It is dark and reflective and poetically optimistic and triumphant. This sense of elated escapism and the theme of love in the show is very needed right now. In our current socio-political climate as well as in the theatre community, this show proves that stories about women are crucial and critical in order that we may move forward conscientiously and be welcoming in our spaces in future.

In my original application I had stressed the importance of wanting to learn how to build a show in a collaborative nature rather than in isolation to a team. This was keenly observed in this show. The creative team on this show worked together extremely well. My next project I do is going to shadow another mentor and idol of mine Marie Clements on her upcoming feature film to be shot in Yellowknife, Kamloops and Morocco. Building upon this principal of team work is critical as I step out of my comfort zone and build connections within my film circle.

Theatre Ontario and the Professional Theatre Training Program.

Tara Rosling as Mabel Gardiner Hubbard (Bell) in the Grand
Theatre's production of Silence. Photo credit: Claus Andersen.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October  1, 2018.

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: Rose Hopkins

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

Rose Hopkins trained in directing with Marilo Nunez at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton


(February 22, 2018)  As I sit here trying to write my long-overdue final report, I’m not sure of where to start or how much to share. Completing this report is challenging because my completing my project was challenging.

I mentored with Marilo Nunez in directing on a production of her play, El Retorno, as part of Theatre Aquarius’ TA2 series. I completed two weeks of pre-rehearsal mentorship with Marilo as well as two weeks of rehearsals for the show. But I could not complete the mentorship as planned.

A few years ago, my father was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (or CLL), a type of cancer of the bone marrow. He underwent chemo, which helped him for a period of time, but also left him with a condition which made it very difficult for his body to produce white blood cells, therefore leaving him susceptible to infection. In mid-September, he was admitted to the hospital with a chest infection and was trying to become well enough to receive a bone marrow transplant.

During the last week of rehearsals, it became clear that my Dad’s position was palliative. I told Marilo that I wouldn’t be coming to rehearsals and got in touch with Rachel from Theatre Ontario to let her know the developments. I was so grateful for the kindness and gentleness of their responses, and for the allowing me the opportunity to finish up my mentorship later in a different way.

My Dad’s health improved briefly and I was able to attend most of tech week at Theatre Aquarius and two of the shows, but on October 28th, I opted to skip the last matinee performance to be at the hospital. My father passed away that afternoon.

In this report, I thought I’d be talking about all the lessons I’d learned about blocking, script analysis, ensemble building exercises. And while I have learned about those things, the lessons that have stuck with me are much more valuable.

I’ve learned that theatre is about people, that choosing who you work with is important. That it helps to surround yourself with supportive people who will life you up. That things often go as expected. I’ve learned that it’s important to give yourself grace sometimes and ask for it when you need it. And I’ve learned that, although my career is very important, family takes precedence. 

I’m deeply grateful to Marilo for her support and understanding during my mentorship, and equally grateful to Theatre Ontario for being flexible with my timeline and the way in which I complete my mentorship. Marilo and I had a few post-mortem meetings to talk through the process during the week of rehearsals that I missed. And I’m thrilled that I will be continuing my mentorship relationship with her as she facilitates the Women’s Work Playwright Circle (of which I am a part) in Hamilton over the next several months.

Related Reading:



The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.

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: Carly Chamberlain

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

Carly Chamberlain training in artistic direction with Franco Boni at The Theatre Centre in Toronto


The Progress Festival installation at The Theatre Centre
(February 20, 2018)  In my first blog post I wrote about wanting to be a part of the revolution in artistic leadership—and wanting to be an advocate rather than an ego. In the time between then and now, our community has exploded a little bit. I don’t want to devote my halfway report to that (though I did write something here, if you’re interested.) But I do want to start off by saying that as I build on my critical understanding and values in leadership, I feel very grateful to be at The Theatre Centre with Franco, in every moment, but in this moment in particular.

We just wrapped up the 2018 Progress Festival, which feels timely. It seems like the crux of what I’ve been engaging with is the question, “what does progress look like?”

Franco and I often sit down to chat and end up in long conversations about the work, our current context, the way things are changing (or not) … and just a few weeks ago we were talking/wondering about how the next phase of change might ignite. For example, how do we move from simply adding new voices to old models to actually changing the models? (Or how do we prove the value/importance of those changes?)

The program from MDLSX at The Progress Festival
Just after this chat I headed downstairs and into The Incubator  to experience Race Cards—an incredible installation created and produced by artist Selina Thompson, from England. In Edinburgh, over the course of 24 hours, Thompson wrote one thousand questions about race, and in reading these questions, you are invited to answer one. For me it was a challenging, moving, sobering experience to slowly read and engage with these questions one by one. It’s an experience I’m still unpacking. 

But having just come from a conversation with Franco, at one point I found myself struck by a series of questions around the halfway point. To shoddily paraphrase, they said, “Do you believe the act of programming is political?” and “What does it mean if the act of programming is political whether you believe it is or not?”

To which I silently said to myself, “Shiiiiiiiiiiit.”

For me, Selina Thompson so succinctly got at the core of what I think a lot of us (art-makers, aspiring leaders, humans trying to think about hard stuff), have been thinking about. The choices we make as artists, as gatekeepers, as institutions, as megaphones and mirrors, those choices are political whether we want them to be or not. And pretending they’re not is just about the most damaging thing you can do. (In my humble opinion, obviously.) But I’m not saying anything smarter people than me haven’t already better articulated. It’s just what I’m thinking about right now.

Carly and Kelly Read at the opening of The Progress Festival
With those ideas rolling around it’s been a fascinating experience to watch The Progress Festival’s success. A joint venture between SummerWorks and The Theatre Centre, this festival is co-curated by multiple companies. The result has been something pretty special. Across the work presented over three weeks, I was surprised by the amount of links between the pieces. And importantly, enjoyed an inspiring pluralism in voices, meaning, medium, and aesthetic. Each curating company brought their own audiences. Mixing with the SummerWorks and Theatre Centre followings, there was a crossing of artistic communities that felt rare and valuable. 

In the darkness of February, it has felt inspiring to see that progress can look like collaboration and pluralism. 

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.


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

Monday, 26 March 2018

ONstage Openings for the week of March 26

ONstage Now Playing in South Central Ontario
Butcher at The Curtain Club (Richmond Hill)
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Eastern Ontario

Mar. 27, Arsenic and Old Lace at Kanata Theatre (Ottawa)

In South Central Ontario

Mar. 29, Disney's Beauty and the Beast at Brampton Music Theatre

In Toronto

Mar. 27, Bloom at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre [currently in previews]
Mar. 30, A Moveable Feast: Paris in the '20s at Soulpepper Theatre


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

Friday, 23 March 2018

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Upcoming opportunities from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations.

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

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

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline for applications for Ontario Arts Council’s Multi and Inter-Arts Projects and Skills and Career Development: Indigenous Arts Professionals and Arts Professionals of Colour grants is today.
  • Deadline for applications for Ontario Arts Council’s Indigenous Arts Projects grant is March 22.
  • The next Paprika Festival Monologue Jam for writers under 30 interested in developing monologue writing is March 27 in Toronto.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Markham Little Theatre invites submissions for directing opportunities (non-paying) in their 2018/19 season. The interview date is April 9.
  • Daniela Saioni is holding a workshop on “Am I Covered? The Art of Visual Storytelling for Film and TV” on May 19 and 20, and may be of interest to stage directors looking to transition into film and television.

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 March 2018

Celebrate World Theatre Day

World Theatre Day is just one week away – Tuesday, March 27th – and you can be part of the celebration!

Join us at our Open House with our colleagues from the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and Playwrights Guild of Canada. Join us from 3pm to 6pm in Suite 350 at 401 Richmond Street West, Toronto. RSVP for the Open House

Bidding opens today for our 4th Annual Online Auction – Celebrating Theatre across Ontario!
Help us reach our goal of $2,500. Proceeds of this campaign are in support of our Youth Advisory Committee, and all of our Youth Initiatives throughout the year. Place your bids now!

Our Youth Advisory Committee invites you to join our #WorldTheatreDay social media campaign collecting thoughts, perspectives and insights. Join the conversation online

The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), together with l’Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (ATFC) and the Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC), has commissioned a message each year to promote and celebrate World Theatre Day from a distinctly Canadian perspective. In 2018, this message has been written by Nina Lee Aquino and translated into French by Djennie Laguerre. Download the message from the PACT website

Visit our World Theatre Day 2018 information page on the Theatre Ontario website

Welcome Elmira Theatre Company and ELATE to Theatre Ontario Festival 2018

On a First Name Basis presented by Elmira Theatre Company
Theatre Ontario is thrilled to welcome the first two productions that will perform at Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 in London. Productions are chosen from Ontario’s regional community theatre festivals, and are a showcase of outstanding community theatre from across the province.

On Wednesday, May 16, Elmira Theatre Company will present On a First Name Basis by Norm Foster, representing the Western Ontario Drama League. Elmira returns to Theatre Ontario Festival after 25 years, and were chosen as Best Production in Festival at WODL Festival in Sarnia by adjudicator Carey Nicholson.

On Friday, May 18, ELATE from Elliot Lake will present Tempting Providence by Robert Chafe, representing QUONTA (the northeastern Ontario community theatre association.) This will be their first appearance ever at Theatre Ontario Festival. ELATE was awarded Outstanding Production by adjudicator Laurel Smith at QUONTA Festival in Elliot Lake.

As previously announced, Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 will feature detailed adjudications with Maja Ardal, workshops, playwright readings, awards and parties celebrating community theatre in Ontario.
Tempting Providence presented by ELATE

The annual Theatre Ontario Festival is a showcase of outstanding community theatre productions; a symposium for passionate, dedicated community theatre artists; a celebration of excellence in community theatre; and a destination bringing together theatre lovers from across the province. Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 runs May 16 to 20, and is hosted by London Community Players in partnership with Theatre Ontario and the Western Ontario Drama League.

Join us at Theatre Ontario Festival 2018

Monday, 19 March 2018

ONstage Openings for the week of March 19

ONStage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
How Black Mothers Say I Love You
at Great Canadian Theatre Company (Ottawa)
Benedicte Belizaire
Photo by Andrew Alexander Photography
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Eastern Ontario

Mar. 21, A Streetcar Named Desire at Ottawa Little Theatre
Mar. 23, carried away on the crest of a wave at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa) [with previews from Mar. 21]

In Northwestern Ontario

Mar. 22, Bed and Breakfast at Magnus Theatre (Thunder Bay)

In South Central Ontario

Mar. 23, Butcher at The Curtain Club (Richmond Hill) [with a preview on Mar. 22]
Mar. 23, Girl in a Goldfish Bowl at Durham Shoestring Performers (Oshawa)
ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
The Drawer Boy at Theatre Passe Muraille
Andrew Moodie, Craig Lauzon, Graham Conway
Set/Costume Design: Joanna Yu, Lighting Design: Michelle Ramsay
Photo by Michael Cooper

In Toronto

Mar. 22, The Chalk Garden at Stage Centre Productions
Mar. 23, Bloom at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre [in previews]

ICYMI: Check out last week’s openings 

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

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Browsing Our Bulletin Board


Theatre Ontario's "Ready, Set, Show!
Foundations of Indie Producing" workshop
Upcoming opportunities from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations.

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

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

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline for submissions for Scarborough Theatre Guild community theatre’s 2018/19 call for directors is March 15.
  • Deadline for applications for Ontario Arts Council’s Theatre Organizations: Operating and Artists in Communities and Schools Projects grants is March 15.
  • Deadline for applications for Ontario Arts Council’s Multi and Inter-Arts Projects and Skills and Career Development: Indigenous Arts Professionals and Arts Professionals of Colour grants is March 21.
  • Deadline for applications for Ontario Arts Council’s Indigenous Arts Projects grant is March 22.

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 March 2018

Stories from Next Generation Showcase: “Like Suddenly Discovering Game of Thrones, Seven Seasons In”

by Andre Newell

When I first came across the Theatre Ontario Next Generation Showcase, my only thought was, ”How have I not been here before?” I’m embarrassed to admit that after seven years of running the Toronto Monologue Slam, this gigantic, annual showcase of actors had completely slipped under my radar. It was like suddenly discovering Game of Thrones, seven seasons in. It felt as if I’d been living under a rock, but was excited to binge watch dozens of new actors performing for two straight days. 

I showed up the first day as an agent, one of the many changes I’ve made over the past seven years. The energy felt like the first day of school; youthful exuberance racing to get ready, and bleachers filled with senior agents and important industry members. At the Monologue Slam you have to face three judges (and you’ve had a drink), but this was an entire room of them. I could feel the stakes for the students who were about to take the stage. Everything had been leading up to this. If they only knew this was only the beginning. 

The event was very well-organized. My background is in event planning and I’ve worked on some pretty big ones including Toronto Caribbean Carnival and NBA All Star Weekend, so I don’t say that lightly. From the moment I arrived I felt welcomed and there were nothing but incredible people offering directions or information everywhere I turned. They didn’t even get annoyed by the thousands of questions I had throughout the event. I tend to ask a lot of questions when I’m nervous. 

Next Generation Showcase Industry Fair
Later on in the evening I changed into my Toronto Monologue Slam hat and attended the reception as one of the presenters. I was grateful for the opportunity to stand beside organizations like George Brown College, AFC, ACTRA, Second City, Factory Theatre and TAAS to inform graduates about what we have to offer. I had so much fun talking with everyone. Their enthusiasm was infectious and I felt my own being renewed. I invited several actors to the upcoming Monologue Slam; many came, some even taking the stage. I was thrilled to aid in continuing their experience from the Theatre Ontario Showcase—seeing them meet other actors in the city, networking with agents and casting directors and also getting to perform their monologue again; a few days older and probably a lot wiser. It was an honor to welcome these talented new faces into our little community. 

A lot of things have changed over the years. Aside from becoming an agent, I’ve also stepped into the roles of writer, director, producer, and became an advocate for artists. I’ve had the great opportunity to mentor and work with actors in almost every capacity and I was wearing all my hats that weekend. As an agent, I was looking for fresh new talent to add to my roster. As a writer/director/producer I was looking for interesting new characters to bring these stories I have running around my head to life. Finally, as an advocate, it became clear to me just how important it is for us to help build an industry that can support the hopes and dreams and careers of so many talented and hard working artists. 

Not only will I be attending this showcase every year from now on, I look forward to getting involved and helping any way I can. 

Monday, 12 March 2018

ONstage Openings for the week of March 12

ONstage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
Grease at Orpheus Musical Theatre Society
Photo by Alan Dean Photography
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Toronto

Mar. 15, Animal Farm at Soulpepper Theatre [currently in previews]

In Central Ontario

Mar. 16, Leaving Home at Northumberland Players (Cobourg)

In Northeastern Ontario

Mar. 14, QUONTA Festival 2018 hosted by Elliot Lake Amateur Theatre Ensemble
Mar. 15, Dean and Jerry: What Might Have Been at Sudbury Theatre Centre
Mar. 16, Macbeth at Thorneloe Theatre (Sudbury)

In South Central Ontario

Mar. 16, Chess at City Centre Musical Productions (Mississauga)
Mar. 16, Fatal Attraction at Century Church Theatre (Hillsburgh)
ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
The Show Must Go On at
Oh Canada Eh? Productions (Niagara Falls)

In Southwestern Ontario

Mar. 12, Beethoven Lives Upstairs at The Grand Theatre (London)
Mar. 12, WODL Festival 2018 hosted by Theatre Sarnia
Mar. 16, A Thousand Splendid Suns at The Grand Theatre (London) [with previews from Mar. 13]
Mar. 16, Hairspray at Drayton Entertainment: Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge [with previews from Mar. 14]

On Tour

Mar. 14, One Thing Leads to Another presented by Carousel Players (Niagara Region)


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

Friday, 9 March 2018

Ontario Off Stage

Don Herbertson
by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

In Memoriam

  • Don Herbertson, a former Executive Director of Theatre Ontario, passed away on December 12 after a long battle with cancer. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Marble Arts Centre in Actinolite (Tweed) on Sunday April 15th from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.
  • Sandy Macdonald, longtime Theatre Ontario Talent Bank adjudicator, passed away on February 28, one day shy of his 78th birthday. We've updated Sandy's Talent Bank bio on the Theatre Ontario website with his obituary.

Conversation Starters

    Sandy Macdonald
  • Alisa Palmer, AD of the English Section of the National Theatre School and Director of the Acting Program, discusses on SpiderWebShow's #CdnTimes the  NTS philosophy of actor training

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Join Us at our Summer Theatre Intensive 2018

Theatre Ontario's Summer Theatre Intensive
Building on our partnership with Off the Wall, Stratford Artist Alliance, Theatre Ontario is returning to Stratford this summer! Once again expanding the courses to two possible training weeks in the beautiful building at Factory 163, we are thrilled to offer a mix of classic courses and brand new experiences for this year’s participants.

For 2018, we are offering the following courses:

WEEK ONE (August 5-10th)
  • Learning to Love Your Monologue with Peggy Coffey
  • Directing - From First Reading to Opening Night with Diana Leblanc
  • Stage Combat with Daniel Levinson
  • Teaching Drama to Children and Youth - Building Your Toolkit with Andrew Lamb
WEEK TWO (August 12-17th)
  • Hot Scenes - Building your Acting Technique with Brenda Kamino
  • Directing with Design in Mind with guests TBA
  • Voice Bootcamp with Elley-Ray Hennessy
  • Creation Lab with Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
Learn more about Theatre Ontario’s Summer Theatre Intensive

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Upcoming opportunities from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations.

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario


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

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board


  • The Young Innovators and Nightwood Theatre present the Fempocalypse 2018 cabaret night community event in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 9.
  • Deadline for submissions for Scarborough Theatre Guild community theatre’s 2018/19 call for directors is March 15.
  • Deadline for applications for Ontario Arts Council’s Theatre Organizations: Operating and Artists in Communities and Schools Projects is March 15.
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