Thursday, 17 January 2019

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Keshia Palm

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

Keshia Palm training in dramaturgy with Marjorie Chan at Cahoots Theatre in Toronto

(December 12, 2018)

This blog post is about hope.

Why do I say that? Well I was asked to describe “what I hope to accomplish”, “what I hope to learn”, and “how I see myself being able to contribute.”  Which all seems very aspirational and hopeful and positive. Which is good—because I do feel hopeful. I am super excited. But I also feel nervous and unsure. I mostly feel open. Which is a good thing I think. 

I have some small ideas and questions about the role of “the dramaturge” that have been percolating. They feel like baby ideas, and elementary questions—little hands reaching up from plastic coloured chairs kind of questions. I hope that by working with Marjorie Chan and Cahoots Theatre, those questions will unfurl and grow into bigger, more complicated questions. I hope I can graduate university and sit around batting questions back and forth with Marjorie sipping theoretical scotch by the end of this. I hope to be well-read in all manner of plays, which will help. I’m really excited about being paid to read and not squeeze minutes out on a bus from here to there—though I suspect there will be some of that too. I hope that all that reading combined with working and talking with Marjorie will help me develop a robust dramaturgical vocabulary, and I hope to use that vocabulary to help support the works in progress of the resident companies and artists at Cahoots.

I feel really humbled to have the opportunity to work with Marjorie Chan. In addition to being an incredible playwright, dramaturge, librettist, and artistic leader, she is also a lovely, lovely human. She is gentle, she is kind, and she listens to the artists she’s working with. I could use more of all those things I think. We all could. I think it’s so incredibly important for people to be heard. I hope to learn from Marjorie how I can be a better leader, facilitator and ally for our community at large. I hope to have a clear image of how I can support artists developing new work from a dramaturgical perspective by the end of the year. I hope I fail at a few things. I hope I succeed wildly at most things. 

I’m having a hard time articulating how I see myself being able to contribute to Cahoots, which says a lot about me and where I am with my artistic practice right now. I feel like a master of none, a jill of all trades. But I am passionate about new work development. I am an advocate for safe creative spaces. And I’m interested in challenging and changing the systems we have in place that prevent art from being sustainable and inclusive. So, I hope that my presence and input and questions will help propel the works of the artists I will be intersecting with at Cahoots forward. I hope I can be a resource for playwrights of differing and diverse perspectives during and after this process. I hope to support Marjorie, Kat, Indrit and Sabah as they create and produce programming that does question and challenge those systems. 

I hope I stay open. I hope I stay hope full.


The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2019.

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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