Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Sabah Haque

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

Sabah Haque training in artistic producing with Tom Arthur Davis and Jivesh Parasram at Pandemic Theatre in Toronto, Vancouver BC, and Victoria BC

(June 4, 2018)  Our tour to the Coast Salish territories was like a classic family adventure movie. It was fun, scary, and sort of unpredictable.

The Pandemic Theatre crew, made up of the incredible Tom Arthur Davis and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, toured to Intrepid Theatre’s UNOFest, a festival of solo shows on the traditional and unceded territory of the Lekwungen People, now known as the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations (known to settlers as Victoria, British Columbia) to present The Only Good Indian with local artist Justine Shore—who is generous, hilarious, and exquisite. We took a beautiful and windy ferry ride to meet up with Jiv Parasram on the traditional and unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil Waututh Peoples (known to settlers as Vancouver) to present the show at Up In The Air Theatre’s rEvolver Festival with local artist Adele Noronha – who is a wonderfully charming, clever, and brave.

Here are some of my accomplishments: I climbed a ladder 4-6 times a day for four days (with incredible amounts of encouragement from technician Carolyn Moon); I climbed rocks to get closer to the Pacific Ocean (all by myself with lots of squealing); I ran several shows on Q-Lab (which mostly involved pressing space bar), I rode a bike on the road and in a park (under heavy supervision—Tom thought I crashed at one point); and I managed to convince people to like me by the powers of sass. Huzzah!

That last part wasn’t that hard. Folks at Intrepid Theatre and Up In The Air Theatre are some of the kindest theatre pros I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. With some heathy encouragement from my mentors Jiv, Tom, and Kristina Lemieux from Generator, I broadened my artistic network—and made new Facebook-official friends. I’m really excited by the prospect of collaborating with artists across Canada. We are pretty talented.

Networking has always been a challenging aspect of my work. I feel pretty socially daft, and don’t like the feeling of being kind to someone for the sake of my career. Networking isn’t about making people like you. It’s about finding people who jive with you, who you want to work with, who you want to learn from, who you can and can’t stand with. I’ve realized it’s an important part of the self-care aspect of working.

Audience engagement is full of wonderful and horrifying surprises. After showing of The Only Good Indian, we invite the audience to a long table discussion (I live tweeted every single one) to discuss the show. Facilitating conversations about colonization, genocide, and occupation isn’t easy. I watched Donna-Michelle, Tom, and Jiv do it with grace. In the same way that they mentor, they create a positive, and safe environment for folks to share their thoughts. They offer people time, and opportunity. They offer a few jokes (jokes are really important). I wasn’t brave enough to co-facilitate one this time around. Maybe next time.

I also saw some cool theatre! Christine Quintana’s Good Things to Do at rEvolver Festival made me cry; I saw Yolanda Bonnell’s bug at rEvolver Festival—Yolanda is such a beautiful performer.

I also had privilege of sitting in on a rehearsal of Victim Impact, which Jiv is directing. It was really lovely to meet more artists from the South Asian diaspora.

Over the last year, I have learned a lot about what mentorship means to me, and what makes it work. Mentoring with Pandemic Theatre and Generator means I get to laugh while I work, that I’m free to ask for anything at any time, and I get to learn through my mistakes with guidance from artists in the room.

I’ve been lucky to have mentorship throughout my career as an emerging artist. It’s brave work to put yourself out there. I’m really glad I did. Jiv, Tom, Donna-Michelle, and Kristina are the most generous artists I have ever met. Their support of my career is unwavering. And boy, are they ever funny.

Here are some memorable conversations from my trip:
“What about you, Sabah? I heard you’re glamourous.”

Me: I wish I was a male peacock.
“Sabah, you are a male peacock.”
Me: Yaaaas.

“You are the most outrageous intern ever.”

“Swiffer that floor, gurl!” (Directed at Eureka when she lip-synced for her life.)
“What kind of bird is that?”
Me: Like, a normal bird.

I did miss you, Toronto. Hot garbage never smelt better. Now that we’re back, we move into the final phase of my PTTP training—touring grant + festival application writing. That touring life was pretty sweet. I would like to do it again. Maybe I’ll write my own version of The Only Good Indian to tour beyond Canada. Maybe… #sabahtudefortheworld

Until next time~

Sabah

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 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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