Thursday, 29 June 2017

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Helen Monroe

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

Helen Monroe will train in directing with Richard Rose and Esther Jun at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto 

(May 8, 2017)

Hi there!

Helen Monroe here. I am a Toronto-based Theatre Director and this is my first blog post regarding my PTTP mentorship grant with Theatre Ontario. Let me tell you a little about myself and a little about this project I am undertaking with Tarragon Theatre.

I moved to Toronto four years ago after graduating with a BA in Theatre from Bishops. I started working with indie theatre companies and immersing myself in the Toronto theatre scene. Over the last four years I’ve worked as a director and designer in the indie scene and seen my skills as an artist grow and my place in this community solidify. About a year ago I took a directing workshop at Tarragon Theatre with Artistic Director, Richard Rose. Through the workshop, I formed a working relationship with Richard and the theatre and spent a few months this past winter volunteering on two shows in their 2017 season. I learned many things as a volunteer at Tarragon, but the most important thing I took away from the experience was the desire to keep working with companies like them. I was in awe of the dedication and expertise of my colleagues and how wonderfully the machine of this iconic company ran itself year by year. I felt very comfortable there, but as a volunteer, I was not able to fully commit myself to spending the amount of time I wanted or needed in the building. I was particularly interested in learning about how Richard Rose split his time and energy amongst responsibilities as a director and artistic director of the company and so Richard suggested I apply for this grant to learn from him as a mentor.

With Richard and Esther Jun, Associate Artistic Director of Tarragon, we crafted this application to allow me to shadow them both as assistant director on two shows next season. Then, in a culmination of what I learn during that time, I will direct a small show in one of their studio rooms. This is an amazing opportunity for me to really experience the role of a director in a major theatre company like Tarragon. I am so grateful for Theatre Ontario’s support and I am excited to keep you all posted on my journey.

This week I am starting prep work on the first show I will be doing next season, Hamlet. Of course, as a theatre artist, this is not a play I am unfamiliar with. I must have read and seen it at least ten times in my life, but Hamlet has the unparalleled ability to feel completely new each time I experience it. My prep work starts with an exploration of the many texts of Hamlet. Richard has me reading both the Q2 and the F1 in the old English spelling and then I cross reference with my Norton Anthology based on the Oxford edition for the modern spelling and footnotes. It’s a laborious and time consuming process, but it is the only way to create for myself a complete and comprehensive knowledge of the play.

The other thing we are doing in preparation is meeting with our Hamlet, Noah Reid, and examining the text together in a more live way. We meet in 4 hour blocks of time and go over bit by bit the language, motives and style of our Hamlet. This includes making cuts as needed as we start to shape the line of the play. At the end of each session, I will take our edits and notes and compile them into a Mastercopy of the script that will be sent to the rest of the team. All the previous drafts of the piece will be saved separately for reference later. Again, it is a time-consuming process, but with Hamlet, organization is key. A clear, concise and accurate text will allow us and the actors a more efficient rehearsal period.

Thanks again Theatre Ontario for this opportunity. I’ll be sending updates as I go along, so keep tuning in. I’m off now to read some more Hamlet!

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 2, 2017.

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.

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