Thursday, 1 June 2017

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Norah Paton

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

Norah Paton is training in production management with Kevin Waghorn at the Ottawa Fringe Festival

(May 2 2017)

Bullet Point Edition

  • As I’m writing this, it’s been a week where I spend less time at Arts Court than others. This week it is the calm before the storm of TACTICS, a 3 week long theatre festival taking place in the Theatre and Studio here, which will be the final ‘push’ of my time.
  • Over three weeks we will have two main-stage shows with their own specific lighting plot and hang and audience configurations.
  • Additionally, we are preparing for the five pieces in the workshop series - a mix of dance and theatre performance and script readings with minimal tech time and time in between.
  • Finally, TACTICS will also be hosting an album release show, panel discussions and a pre-show dinner served in the studio.
  • Lots to get ready for.
  • The schedule and hours are irregular - intense activity and then relative calm.
  • Some of the rentals we’ve worked with so far (not an exhaustive list): film festivals, improv, stand-up comedy, cabaret, professional dancers, young and youth dancers, hundreds of children, rehearsals, conferences, meetings, auditions, art battles, plays, full bands, duo’s, and lots of performances in the intersections between these genres.
  • The goal is pretty much always the same - make it work: whatever the purpose of the day/evening, whatever the client's goal is.
  • In between there’s maintenance and scheduling. Pretty much everyone’s job involves sending a bunch of emails. I don’t think everyone’s job involves electrical wiring.
  • It feels pretty great to learn things. Even better when those things are applicable not just within the confines of the theatre or more generally, the arts, but when those things are useful in ‘real’ life.
  • Creating lighting on the fly for groups or running sound for a full band has seriously upped my technical understanding and confidence.
  • Confidence is a big part of it - being calm and knowing that you will figure out what the problem is/how to do this task/ how to fix it. Thinking it through, following the wire (or google) will usually yield the answer.
  • I’ve benefitted from asking questions. Lots of questions.
  • Finding the best way to balance the two bullets above is a delicate balance I definitely haven’t mastered.
  • I’m a young woman and so depending on the person, I need to work against people's expectations of my competency.
  • I need to work against my tendency to undercut myself and my competencies. Why is it a comfortable default for me to feign or lean into my ignorance or lack of certainty? (I hesitate to relate this to my sex, but I wonder if there’s at least some effect of sex-specific socialization/culture here)
  • Ladders - I used to think I was okay with heights. In reality, am probably more on the nervous end of okay. Or just plainly in the nervous category.
  • Ladder placement - I think it’s a fine art.
  • Give yourself room to make mistakes.
  • Sometimes the mistake is just not doing things efficiently. Not a mistake but not right, either.
  • Less light usually looks better.
  • Lighting dance is sort of way more fun than lighting theatre. How important is an actor’s face really? (okay yes pretty important)
  • It can be physically uncomfortable to watch actors unable to find their light.
  • You can learn a lot about how to work with technicians and designers as a maker from sitting in those meeting rooms and theatres as a technician. What to do and not do.
  • It is a treat to drop into the last week of a production - to help in the final steps then sit in the booth operating the show without the same emotional baggage and anxiety I get from presenting my own work.
  • Maybe that makes it sound less exciting; certainly more sustainable though - in many ways.
  • There is something satisfying about tasks at which you either succeed or fail.
  • There is something satisfying about tasks which yield tangible immediate results.
  • That’s all for now!

Related Reading:

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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