Thursday, 9 March 2017

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Lisa Van Oorschot

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

Lisa Van Oorschot is training in lighting design with Kimberly Purtell

(February 22, 2017) The past seven weeks have been a whirlwind of rehearsals, meetings, tech times and opening nights. I feel so lucky to be participating in this program, and am so thankful to Kim and to Theatre Ontario for all of the experiences I have had so far.

The first day of January was my first official day of the program, and I jumped right into observing the lighting focus for The Wedding Party at Streetcar Crowsnest (Crow's brand new space). After a busy week of tech, we moved on to the Baillie Theatre for Soulpepper's production of The Last Wife, where I was able to observe from the lighting focus all the way up to opening night. Next, we moved on to the Studio 180/Mirvish production of My Night With Reg, starting with rehearsals in the rehearsal hall, then moving to the Panasonic for tech, previews and opening. To cap off this first part of the program, I was able to visit the Shaw Festival for two days, and sit in on some of the preparation for lighting at the Royal George Theatre in the upcoming season.

Getting to see several different productions in different spaces has been incredibly valuable to my education as an emerging designer. All of these productions were extremely different in tone and style, and had various challenges. Seeing the similarities and differences was extremely interesting (for example, working with a fly system vs. a catwalk, and creating a plot from scratch vs. starting with a rep plot.) I really appreciated having so much time to observe, take notes and ask questions, picking up a lot of vocabulary and tips along the way.

It has also been great to have time for hands-on projects to improve my practical skills (such as creating magic sheets for the productions, and trying my hand at creating my own design based on the real-life needs of one of the shows.) Kim's feedback on my work has been invaluable in improving my skills and understanding. I have really appreciated her generosity with her time, and her patience in answering my questions.

It has also been an amazing opportunity to meet other theatre professionals, and see how things really work behind the scenes. I am so grateful that people have been so welcoming, and I am constantly inspired by getting to spend time with people who are so passionate about what they do.

I feel so lucky to be participating in this program, and have really appreciated the financial support and flexibility it has provided. Overall I feel that I've been progressing well on the goals I set for myself; however, being immersed in a professional environment has shown me just how much I still have to learn. I am looking forward to even more opportunities in the remaining weeks! 

Fun with drafting—above, a section of a magic sheet in progress (sort of like a cheat sheet, which shows you your design at a glance). Below, a section of my own theoretical design (with lots of changes still be made based on Kim's feedback).

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2017.

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

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