Tuesday, 19 December 2017

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 will train in artistic direction with Franco Boni at The Theatre Centre in Toronto

(December 6, 2017)  A big part of the reason I want to develop my skills in artistic direction is because I want to be a part of the revolution. Our context as theatremakers has changed significantly since the genesis of Toronto’s mainstay institutions. We’re in a challenging and potentially exciting time for thinking about the way we do things and how they might need to change / adapt / evolve in order to survive (not to mention thinking about letting some things die.) AND we’re at a point where it seems like MAYBE we’re FINALLY ready to no longer accept the idea that all our artistic leaders need to all look and behave the same.

In my directing work, and now as I immerse myself in artistic direction, I spend a lot of time thinking about these things, and thinking about a different kind of leadership. I mean, if I want to be an agent of change, what sense does it make to model myself after the kinds of leaders I think need changing? I want to frame my potential leadership as advocacy rather than salesmanship; collaboration rather than dictatorship. When I looked at my interests and values in this way, it dawned on me that there was really one person that would be an ideal fit for mentorship.

Franco Boni has tremendous vision and leadership, but I have also always had the sense that those skills were in service of something greater than himself. The Theatre Centre is a community space; a hub for long term creative residencies, as well as a social and work home for artists and Queen West locals. 

At the Doras this year, amidst The Theatre Centre cleaning up with a number of awards, Franco took his opportunity onstage to draw attention to the urgent need for support for 401 Richmond. To me this was a small but significant moment that lived in contrast to the bravado of other leaders in attendance that night. It was a civic-minded act that speaks to his and The Theatre Centre’s values. The Theatre Centre is a space that helps me hold onto my belief that art can mean something and do something beyond creating a commodity, and Franco is the kind of leader I aspire to be. So needless to say I feel very grateful that he said yes to me following him around for the next five months!

In the coming months, I will be joining him through the progress of a number of projects focusing on curation and residency, as well as the ways in which he and The Theatre Centre engage with both the artistic and local communities. My hope is to develop a more nuanced understanding of the kinds of considerations that go into the decision-making here, as well as developing skills and ways of understanding and thinking that will support my independent producing and directing work. 

I’m especially pleased that the support of Theatre Ontario and Franco is going to enable to me to develop a personal project during this time. Inspired by The Theatre Centre’s genesis as a group of companies banning together with shared needs, I will be developing what I am currently referring to as an Indie Think Tank. I will be bringing together a small group of artist-producers to see if we can work together on shared problems and questions (big and small) and share our resources. It will be an opportunity to test out the ideas I’m engaging with in real time with my peers, and hopefully move our work forward in a meaningful way. 

As I sit in The Theatre Centre cafe writing this, I feel a kind of tension. It’s hard to know exactly where all of this will lead—but how special and rare to have an opportunity to embark on a learning opportunity with flexibility and possibility. I’m looking forward to many months of asking questions, being challenged, and evolving my goals and interests.

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

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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