Tuesday, 27 January 2015

PTTP Profiles: Exploring Projects Funded by the Professional Theatre Training Program

Eight individuals were chosen as recipients of Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program grants during our Fall 2014 application round.  We check-in with three of the projects.

Julia Hune-Brown is training in Artistic Direction with Ruth Howard at Jumblies Theatre (Toronto)

Community-engaged theatre at Jumblies Theatre
I am super excited about this winter at Jumblies Theatre and to dive deeper into community-engaged theatre work under the mentorship of Jumblies’ artistic director, Ruth Howard. I first learned about Jumblies Theatre while studying Theatre Development at Concordia University and have been inspired by their work ever since. Prior to starting to work at Jumblies, I facilitated theatre and movement workshops with diverse communities here in Toronto as well as in England and Asia. Now, my goal is to lead a community-engaged theatre project of my own and I cannot think of a better opportunity to further my professional development than with Ruth Howard at Jumblies Theatre. In addition to building my art-practice, I hope that by shadowing Ruth I will learn more of the logistical parts of running a long term artistic residency; including the processes of artistic and community collaboration, the financial and logistical planning for project development, and longer-range planning in community-engaged art.

My first week of 2015 has been a busy one; prepping for workshops, learning about Jumblies’ offshoot companies, and meeting visiting artists from Northern Ontario and Vienna. There is a real collaborative spirit here at the Ground Floor, Jumblies’ current project location. The artists share skills, ideas and experiences. This sense of collaboration is one of the things that most attracted me to Jumblies. The diversity of artists— from different disciplines, generations and parts of the country— that come through the Ground Floor, even just this week alone, has been inspiring and educational.

In addition to starting my own project, I am looking forward to working on Train Payanam, an intergenerational play working with community members from the Scarborough community they are homed in. This play was originally produced by the Community Arts Guild (an offshoot of Jumblies) in November of 2013 and is now being remounted this spring. A particularly exciting part of this remount will be a short run at the Young People’s Theatre.

Alexis Scott is training in Artistic Producing with David Whiteley at Plosive Productions (Ottawa)

I am thrilled to soon be starting my mentorship with Plosive member and jack of all trades David Whiteley.  Even though David and I have a strong rapport because he mentors me informally whenever I have questions, I am eager to learn from him. David directed the inaugural production of The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine for Vacant House Theatre – a company which I co-founded last year. Ever since thrusting myself into the action last year, I’m really passionate about my company and want to keep it running. I’ve become curious about the most efficient and effective ways to capture an audience.

Since David and I have worked together quite extensively, he has a strong understanding of what my skills are and where I would like to grow.  It’s also really perfect that he has been involved in my budding theatre company (after he directed our inaugural production he then took on role of co-producer for a summer remount) because he understands how I can apply the skills of a producer to my own practise. I’m excited for where this will take us.

As Co-Artistic Director of Plosive Productions, David is very involved in producing at The Gladstone Theatre here in Ottawa. There is so much happening at this theatre, and so much for me to learn! I will be working with David twice a week, for about five hours a session and then on my own twice a week as well. I will have a chance to learn a bit of everything – starting with helping to write grants for the City of Ottawa and assisting in rehearsals for two upcoming productions Bankrupt! and Venus in Fur.  It will be really interesting for me to see how someone communicates most effectively to such a large group of people with so many different goals and timelines happening. I know there will be a lot to juggle, and this challenge excites me.

Peter Pasyk is training in Artistic Direction with Chris Abraham at Crow’s Theatre (Toronto)

I’m writing this update a day after the opening night performance of The Seagull at Canadian Stage. The last few days leading up to opening have been full throttle activity. As a part of the creative team I watched tech and preview performances daily over the last week and provided my notes to Chris and the technical team.

Prior to the beginning of rehearsals, together with Chris Abraham, I prepared the background research for The Seagull, and wrote an exhaustive history of the characters prior to the beginning of the play, as well as what happens between each act of the play. I also broke down the script into significant “events” in the story, and I identified the intentions of each character throughout each scene. My notes were used as the cornerstone of our work around the table with the cast in the first days of rehearsal.

The Seagull from Crow's Theatre at Canadian Stage
Eric Peterson and Philip Riccio
In tandem with the rehearsal process I was executing the various elements of the social media campaign for The Seagull that I created at the beginning of my internship. The social media campaign consisted of creative Twitter and Facebook content and contests to encourage engagement with potential audiences. One of my most significant tasks during my residency has been to write and produce the two promotional videos associated with The Seagull. I worked collaboratively with a filmmaker from Montreal and Chris Abraham to create the two videos, as well as another promotional video for an upcoming Crow’s Theatre production.

Outside of the immediate production support work I have been doing, I have also helped organize and host a fundraising event for Crow’s, as well as escorting donors and community members through the construction site of the future permanent performance space and home of Crow’s Theatre. I have been learning about the nature of co-production agreements and my own company surface/underground theatre has already benefitted from this newly gained experience.

In the final weeks of my internship I will be focusing on two major tasks: assessing the Theatre Creators Reserve Grants that have been submitted to Crow’s Theatre, and beginning work with Chris to write the Crow’s Theatre Operating Grant applications.

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 2, 2015.

Read 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.

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