Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)
C.J Astronomo begins training in production management with Simon Marsden at the Stratford Festival
(January 06, 2019)
It’s been scientifically proven that our bodies and minds change every seven years. This rings true to me with the beginning of a new year and the beginning of a new season at the Stratford Festival. I am fortunate that I will be returning to a company where I’ve worked for the last seven seasons as an Assistant Lighting Designer. But this time, returning in a specifically created role, where I can further develop my skills as a production manager.
This opportunity has been two years in the making. Towards the end of my fifth season, I booked a meeting with Simon Marsden and surprised him with my candid request to learn more about production management. I realized that I wanted to make this transition after working as a Corporate Event Producer during the off-season, and I believed that the Stratford Festival would be a perfect training ground. Fortunately, Simon eagerly agreed and has been fully supportive of making my dream a reality.
Over the next several months, we researched grants, submitted applications, and waited for news. Once news finally came, we decided to start the internship this upcoming season rather than trying to squeeze it in during my final season as an ALD. Although we decided to delay, Simon invited me to sit in on any management meetings that my schedule would allow. This gave me an early opportunity to listen in while key decisions were being made throughout last season and during preparations for this upcoming season. I’m grateful that I was able to join those meetings, not only because it gave me a jump start in learning about what was to come this season, but also because I got to observe how Simon worked with the Technical Directors and Heads of Departments that are crucial to ensuring that the overall Production Department succeeds at delivering state-of-the-art productions year after year.
Now that I’m about to officially embark on a new path at the Stratford Festival with Simon as my guide, I look forward to exploring parts of the company that I would have never had the opportunity to experience as an ALD. I’m excited to learn more about the intricacies of the other production departments, and how all the departments need to correlate together in order to have a smooth tech process. I’m excited to work with Simon in managing budgets and schedules for 12 shows in 3 unique theatres. I’m excited to learn from Simon how to calmly resolve conflicts, figure out solutions to technical challenges, and how to approach upper management (such as the Artistic Director, Executive Director, Producer) when necessary. I’m also excited to continue building on relationships that I’ve developed with various people throughout the years and create new ones with those I haven’t had the chance to work with yet.
When I recently told someone that I was transitioning out of lighting design to further develop as a production manager, they jokingly asked me if it was because I didn’t want to be creative any more. I told them that this couldn’t be further than the truth; because for me, production management is creatively looking at the big picture by developing schedules, budgets, and procedures that will allow a production and the people who work on them to succeed. This is what inspires me to move forward as I begin a new work-life cycle. I can’t wait to see what the first step in my next seven years will bring!
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.