Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Stories from the Summer Theatre Intensive: Hot Scenes

by Robin Bennett

After an eight-year hiatus from the Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive program, the stars aligned and I had an opportunity and the free time to join Brenda Kamino’s ‘Hot Scenes’ class for 2018.

Looking back over my notes from years past, I realized my first class was in 1996 with Steven Bush—twenty-two years ago. Wow!

I must confess, the same sense of excitement and anticipation from that first class overwhelmed me as I drove to Stratford on the Sunday afternoon. Actually, those feelings took me a bit by surprise. After all, shouldn’t I be a little jaded after twenty-five years of theatre? Apparently, and thankfully, not.

2018 is my thirteenth year of attending Theatre Ontario summer courses. What is left for me to learn? The answer, of course, is lots. Brenda, as always, is insightful and direct—working very hard, both in front of and behind the scenes, to prepare challenging work for her students, and setting and keeping the bar high. What a great class. Everyone was engaged and enthusiastic, the long days deeply involving as Brenda skillfully led us on a voyage of discovery.

I thoroughly enjoyed the working space at Factory163. A large converted furniture factory built in 1903, the patched wooden floors and rough-hewn beams exude character and lend an air of other-worldliness, perfect for nurturing the actor’s spirit.

Rachel Kennedy and Emily Acton, two of the hardest working folks in theatre, kept us all organized and up-to-the-minute with information and cheerful assistance. Unfazed by any circumstance, including an impending wedding to be hosted at Factory163, they bobbed and weaved, like flyweight boxers, overcoming all challenges in what seemed to be an effortless dance.

"Hot Scenes" class at Summer Theatre Intensive 2018
The meals were delicious, even though the caterer struggled a few times to find enough food to feed the voracious crowd. It’s amazing how many calories you burn during the week. With synapses firing on all cylinders for eighteen plus hours per day, our autonomic nervous system kicked into overdrive and away we went. My Fitbit was going crazy.

What are the ‘take-aways’ from the week? Well, I’ll be back again. My batteries were recharged and I emerged from the week with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. No small thing.

Many thanks to Brenda, to my fellow classmates and lovely scene partner, to new friends well-met, to Theatre Ontario and staff for continuing the summer program.

If you are reading this blog, mark your calendar for next year, join us, we’ll create magic.

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