Thursday, 27 September 2018

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Thomas Alderson

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

Thomas Alderson training in directing with Ashlie Corcoran at Arts Club Theatre Company in Vancouver BC


(August 18, 2018)  As I approach the half-way point of my experience at the Arts Club, I take time to reflect on the process of being mentored so far. I wrote in my first post that my main goal was to learn about the effective and positive ways in which a director communicates with their colleagues. So far, I have had a great inside look at just that.

I have had the good fortune to be included in productions meetings where each department brings up concerns and/or presents the ways in which their teams will bring (and are bringing) the designs to reality. I have witnessed Ashlie eloquently guide each department towards her vision. There is a willingness to compromise in all departments, and because of her passion for her vision and her respect for each member of the staff, everyone has an excitement about bringing each detail to life as authentically and polished as possible. It has been informative and inspirational to see the entire creative and production teams work so positively and passionately together with the common goal of excellence.

Another goal for this opportunity was to get a better sense of what is necessary in the pre-production process. I had a wonderful interview session with the production manager of the Arts Club, where he walked me through how their season works from play selection to budgeting to production. He gave me powerful insight to what he appreciates from a director, as far as being able to budget a show from early stages. The clearer the director’s vision from the beginning, the more the budget can be adjusted to create the desired outcome. The earlier the director and designer can have an idea about major concepts, tricky transitions, major setting locations, any major technical dreams, etc., the higher the likelihood of them being fully realized.

As we have now moved into rehearsal with actors, I have been able to witness how beneficial preparation on the director’s script work can be. We had a few days of table-work in which the actors were able to really get on the same page, before even beginning staging. This is due to Ashlie’s deep understanding of the play and her thorough preparatory work. During the weeks before rehearsal, I was able to help with Ashlie’s prep work, and she was gracious in sharing much of her research. Seeing this come into useful and practical application was a huge learning moment.

I am overjoyed to say that so far the mentorship has been exactly as I had hoped. As we move through rehearsal, I am making notes on the rehearsal process and directing tactics I am observing. As I go forward through the second half of this experience, I am excited to see how the show comes together from a story, staging, and performance perspective. Ashlie has been very open with me and I am eager to gain more insight as we look back on the rehearsal process when it comes to an end.

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