Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Cole Alvis

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

Cole Alvis begins training in directing with Nina Lee Aquino at Theatre Passe Muraille in Tkarón:to

(February 15 2018)

My name is Cole Alvis and I am a Métis artist based in Tkarón:to with Chippewa, Irish and English ancestors from the Turtle Mountains in Manitobah.

Being mentored by Nina Lee Aquino as she directs The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey for Theatre Passe Muraille’s 50th season is significant because of how this production may inspire the future of Canadian Theatre.

The Drawer Boy was the first Canadian play I ever read. My high school drama teacher coached me on my audition to get into the theatre program at Red Deer College and recommended I look to it for a monologue.  There I was on the prairies working on my audition piece in a Coles bookstore, doing my best impersonation of Daisy the cow. As a closeted rural Albertan growing up with cursory knowledge of my Mom’s Métis heritage this play resonated primarily because many of my aunties and uncles are farmers. It didn’t occur to me I would one day work on it and that the production would speak to various aspects of my identity.

When asked to direct, Nina Lee Aquino had yet to see or read The Drawer Boy. A prolific Canadian play about two farmers in rural Ontario, prior to this production it had not spoken to her as a first generation Filipinx-Canadian. The cast of this production includes Ojibway actor and comedian Craig Lauzon, West Indian-Canadian actor, director and writer Andrew Moodie, and queer white emerging artist Graham Conway. Nina invited these actors to bring their identities to a new interpretation of the play.

During the design presentation I was struck by the possibilities for the production on the women-driven creative team: Michelle Bensimon (sound design), Michelle Ramsay (lights) and Joanna Yu (set and costumes). These designers have been behind some of the most dynamic work in recent years, notably last season’s acquiesce by David Yee at Factory Theatre.

Nina Lee Aquino brings an artistry and rigour that will enhance what is foundational to The Drawer Boy. Hearing the first read today I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this production where excellent Indigenous and culturally-diverse artists dive into a quintessential story, formerly reserved for white artists. I look forward to contributing to this production with its potential to make a much loved play more accessible to the diverse peoples across Turtle Island (North America).

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

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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