The Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award 2009
Download the nomination form and more information for the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award from the PACT website
Deadline for submissions is March 26, 2009
Toronto, February 17th, 2009 – The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) is pleased to announce a call for nominations for the 2009 Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award. The deadline for nominations is Thursday, March 26, 2009.
This $5000 Award was initiated in celebration of PACT’s 30th anniversary in 2006-2007 and named in honour of Mallory Gilbert, who was Tarragon Theatre’s General Manager for 34 years and one of the founders and Past President of PACT. Supported by the PACT Communications Centre (PCC) and by Tarragon Theatre, the annual Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award celebrates and recognizes outstanding leadership within the Canadian Theatre community.
The Award includes a $1000 portion presented to a protégé chosen by the Award winner, underlining the importance of skills and knowledge transmission in leadership building. Mallory Gilbert, the Award’s namesake, is one of Canada’s most respected arts managers. In addition to her successful 34-year tenure at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, she has served on numerous local and national boards of directors and advisory boards. Ms. Gilbert served on PACT’s Board for 20 years (as PACT President 1989-1993), and she was the recipient of PACT Honourary Life Membership in 2005. By mentoring countless aspiring arts administrators during the course of her career, she has shaped the careers of many of Canada’s theatre leaders and encouraged the creation of exciting new theatre ventures.
The 2009 Selection Panel for the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award is currently composed of Mallory Gilbert (Toronto, ON), former recipients Jenny Munday (Dorts Cove, NS) and Cherry Karpyshin (Winnipeg, NB), with further panelists to be announced. The Selection Panel will review all nominations and select one winner, judging nominations against the eligibility requirements. At its discretion, the Selection Panel may choose to grant no award or multiple awards in one year. All Selection Panel deliberations are strictly confidential. The award recipient will be named at the 2009 PACT Conference in Montreal, QC.
In an exceptional collaboration based on their deep appreciation for Mallory’s contribution to both organizations and their shared commitment to leadership in the theatre community, Tarragon Theatre and PACT Communications Centre have initiated the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award. Tarragon Theatre is sponsoring and helping to promote the award; PACT Communications Centre will administer the award and its selection process, and host the presentation ceremony at the PACT Conference each year.
The Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award was presented in 2008 to Cherry Karpyshin, General Manager of the Prairie Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg, MB. Hailed by those who have worked with her as a true optimist and tireless advocate of the arts, cherry Karpyshin has, in addition to her over twenty-five years working behind the scenes at the Prairie theatre Exchange, been a respected member and leader in numerous cultural organizations throughout Manitoba and Canada, and a mentor to emerging arts administratiors across the country.
The protégé selected by Cherry was Madonna Von Vonderen, Administrator at the Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre in Nova Scotia.
The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) is a member-driven organization that serves as the collective voice of professional Canadian theatres. For the betterment of Canadian theatre, PACT provides leadership, national representation and a variety of programs and practical assistance to member companies, enabling members to do their own creative work. PACT celebrated 30 years of service in 2006-2007.
The PACT Communications Centre (PCC) is the charitable branch of PACT that promotes public interest in theatre, advances knowledge and appreciation of theatre, and increases the accessibility of theatre and the performing arts in Canada by educational means such as online resources, books, magazines and other publications, as well as holding seminars and carrying out studies and research.
About Tarragon Theatre
Tarragon Theatre was founded in 1970, and is well known for its development, creation and production of new work. Major playwrights who have premiered their work at Tarragon include David French, Joan MacLeod, John Murrell, Michael Healey, Morris Panych, James Reaney, Jason Sherman, Morwyn Brebner, Judith Thompson, among many others. Over 150 works have premiered at Tarragon, which is located in mid-town Toronto and has two theatre production spaces and three rehearsal halls.
Welcome to the first in what will be a series of Interviews with the various companies in the festival. We’ve paired shows together to interview each other. This first pairing is “If We Were Birds” (Groundwater) with “Any Night” (DualMInds from Vancouver). We asked each company to pose ten questions (that don’t suck) of the other company. Here’s the first, very thorough, very thrilling interview given by Erin Shield’s (author of If We Were Bird) with Medina Hahn and Daniel Arnold of Any Night!
by Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn
Directed by Ron Jenkins
Presented by DualMInds
Featuring Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn
Writer/performers of the internationally acclaimed Tuesdays & Sundays, and director of the multi award-winning The Black Rider, present a mystery-romance about privacy, paranoia, and violent sleep. A troubled young woman suffers from night terrors. The young man living above her becomes her guardian and lover. But the only place safe may be in their minds.
1. I am fascinated by the exploration of dreams in theatre; the way dreams are represented on stage and/or the transition between reality and dream. What led you to the exploration of “violent sleep” in this piece?
We came across the true 1987 story of Ken Parks, a man who got up in the middle of the night, drove to his in-laws house, attacked them and woke up in his car with blood on his hands and a tire iron on the seat next to him. He had slept walked. We began to study somnambulism, dreams and night terrors in great detail – talking with specialists, visiting sleep labs, etc… and became fascinated with how much the medical industry still can’t explain about our sleep/dream world.
2. Your pieces seem to be grounded in complex characters and the relationship between those characters. Do you create characters before the plot? Or develop a juicy plot and find characters that serve the story?
I think our characters develop instinctually to help the plot along. But yes, I think our strength lies in character. In the beginning they are formed out of our instinct and then refined to aid the plot. But we are very much relationship based. It’s fun to explore WHAT makes people do the things they do. With our first play Tuesdays & Sundays, since it was based on a true story, there was a structure in place for us. With Any Night, the premise gave birth to the character, which gave birth to the plot.
3. You have written this play together. Does your creation process centre around improvisation or vigorous discussion or a bit of both? How does your process begin? When do you invite an audience to view the work? Can you speak a bit about your process?
Our process changes depending on what project we’re working on. But usual the way it goes is we talk talk talk through the story , characters, journey , scenes… sometimes for months, sometimes years. Daniel is good with structure so he takes a stab at that. Medina’s strength lies in dialogue and character. So once Daniel’s banged out the structure, Medina goes through and takes her stab at it – sometimes this happens scene by scene, sometimes act by act, ect. Sometimes Daniel gets the urge to write the novel version before! Then we go through it again together, talk through stuff, rewrite on the spot together (acting it out at the computer!) or divvy up scenes and do it separately. Sometimes we lock ourselves in a room together (or secluded cabin). Sometimes it’s done over the computer in separate places. It’s always a new journey…
4. I know from experience that collaborating with another writer can be both invigorating and frustrating. What are the ups and downs of collaborating so closely with another person?
Wow. Umm… it’s fantastic and hard! You have to constantly compromise and prove your point and fight and it takes more time with two people. The great thing is, you also get two points of view, can use one another’s strengths, the ups and downs are way easier to handle as a pair than alone. And when one person has given up, the other has a flash of brilliance and it gets the other going again. But mostly, you get to learn a lot. About communication. Trust. Lack of ego. The ability to argue and not take it personally. And how to have a strong, deep belief in the other artist and in your own voice.
5. I saw Tuesdays & Sundays (I think it was in the Victoria Fringe in 2001, does that sound right?) In any event, it was a long time ago so please forgive my memory. But I do recall that the storytelling in that piece was quite marvelous; the story was simply told, and in a sense it was a simple story, but the way in which you told the story, the theatrical form you used created tension, suspense, excitement and an extremely strong relationship between characters. The form served the story which I think was one of the major strengths of the piece. Is there a particular theatrical form/device/element you are working with in “Any Night”
Any Night essentially takes place in the main character’s nightmare. It shifts between past, present, and future – from a sleep clinic, to a basement suite, to an unknown place of interrogation – as she struggles to discover where she is, and if she’ll ever wake up. That’s part of the mystery for the audience as well…
6. How has your work with form changed/evolved in your years of working together?
We are both people that enjoy challenge and learning. Over the years we have jumped into a lot of new situations as far as form goes. Our first play was a romantic two hander that was essentially a duologue. Since then we have played with a solo piece, radio adaptations, screenplays, screenplay adaptations, a musical, a libretto for a new opera, tv pilots, etc… We are both willing to jump at new things, or tackle them when asked. In working together, we have both been opened up as artists to take more chances…
7. What stage of development is “Any Night” currently in? Is it a brand new piece or have you been developing it over a few years?
This piece has been in development for years! Honestly, it has been rewritten in so many different ways and styles, trying to get it right-est! It was helped along the way by the BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Theatre Network (Edmonton AB), Workshop West (Edmonton AB), Magic Theatre (San Francisco CA), Shetler Studios (New York NY), the Banff Playrites Colony, the Playhouse Theatre Company (Vancouver BC) and the Spirit of BC commission and development program.
Versions of the play have received staged readings at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, the Arthur Seleen Theatre in New York, and at the Vancouver Playhouse. In Feb 2008, a workshop production was presented by the Belfry Theatre (Victoria BC). After we got it up, we found lots worked but some still didn’t. So we have been working on a slight rewrite which will be incorporated into the upcoming Toronto production. We did a mentorship with Daniel MacIvor while he created A Beautiful View, and we very much view our process like his: so we call this a “developing production”…
8. I see from your website that you work mostly out west. Have you performed in Toronto before? Do you find there are differences between Western and Ontario audiences in general?
We are based out West so as actors we have mostly worked out here. As writer/performers we have actually traveled across Canada, USA, and internationally. DualMinds’ mandate is to develop work that we can tour. We believe that in crossing provinces, countries and boarders, we have the ability to make social, political and personal differences seem less extreme
We performed Tuesdays & Sundays in the Toronto Fringe in 2001. We were totally nervous but the press and community were so very welcoming and supportive of that one. We were the only 5-star review in Eye Weekly, and received Now Magazine’s Outstanding New Play and Production awards, and ended up on their list of “Top Ten Plays of 2001”. So we’re hoping Toronto will welcome our new play! As far as audiences in Toronto, didn’t really notice a difference … although the T-dot was the only place where a large portion of the audience waited outside the theatre and clapped for us as we came out … that hasn’t happened anywhere else!
9. What are you most looking forward to during your time at Summerworks?
Seeing shows, visiting with friends, hearing music, and being inspired. Premiering new work is always exhilarating and terrifying! As artists, what can we do but be brave and keep trying… Luckily, we have an amazing group of people to create and play with, a few of which have worked in Toronto more than us; our director Ron Jenkins most recently did Bash’d at the Fringe and The Red Priest at Factory; and our designer David Fraser often works with Buddies.
10. What is in the future for DualMinds?
Well, we got a BC Arts Council grant to write a new musical which we have a rough draft of – that’s been a lot of fun! And we also have other writing projects – Any Night’s been offered a film option; and we’re adapting Tuesdays & Sundays into a feature film – but right now we want to continue touring this production of Any Night, because that’s what we created it for! DualMinds is essentially a creative entity so we’re hoping to find presenters for the show – not only in Canada but beyond. Beyond that, we just want to continue telling stories that have a universal impact.
This is an article (turned monologue) that Franco Boni made me aware of a couple days ago. Finally got around to finding it and reading it, and, well, sadly agreeing. Impossible not to really. We are all waiting, curiously, to see who will be taking over the reigns at Canadian Stage … but even more importantly, will this person really have the freedom to do anything other than try and re-oil the machine. Will risk and ambition play a role in the programming? Will the freedom to have and apply vision be available?
The Empty Spaces
Or, How Theater Failed America
by Mike Daisey
The Empty Spaces
Seven years ago, I left Seattle for New York—I abandoned the garage theaters and local arts scene and friends and colleagues—because I was a coward. I’d already tried to sell out once, by working at a shitty Wal-Mart of a tech company, but I knew I would not survive in the theater if I stayed. I fled to New York to bite and claw a living out of the American theater as an independent artist because I was young and stupid enough to think that would actually work. Today, my wife and I are one of a handful of working companies who create original work in theaters across the country. We’re a very small ensemble: I am the monologuist; she is the director. We survive because we’re nimble, we break rules, and when simple dumb luck happens upon us, we’re ready for it.
We return to Seattle maybe once a year. During my first week back this time, I ended up at a friend’s party, long after the rest of the guests had gone, in that golden hour when the place is almost cleaned up, but the energy of the night is still hanging in the air. We settled down in the kitchen under the bright light, making 4:00 a.m. conversation and, as all theater artists do, I asked the traditional question: “What are you working on?”
My friend’s face fell, for just a moment—she’s a fantastic actress, one of the best in the city, with an intelligence and precision that has taken my breath away for years. She corrected a moment later, and told me carefully that she wasn’t going out for anything now—that she was giving it up. She has a job-share position at her day job to let her take roles when needed, but now she is going to go permanent for the first time in her entire life. After 15 years of working in theaters all over Seattle, she’d felt the fire go out of her from the relentless grind of two full-time jobs: one during the day in a cubicle, the other at night on a stage.
She said what really finished it for her was getting cast in a big Equity show this fall and seeing how the other Equity actors lived—the man whose work had inspired her all her life, living in a dilapidated hovel he was lucky to afford; the woman who couldn’t spare 10 dollars to eat lunch with colleagues without doing some quick math on a scrap of paper to check her weekly budget. These are the success stories, the very best actors in the Northwest, the ones you’ve seen onstage time and time again. Their reward is years of being paid as close to nothing as possible in a career with no job security whatsoever, performing for overwhelmingly wealthy audiences whose rounding errors exceed the weekly pittance that trickles down to them.
My friend looked at me imploringly—she’s close to 40, at the height of her powers, but the sacrifices of this theater ask for raw youth: When she arrived in Seattle, she’d eat white rice flavored with soy sauce for lunch for a month at a time. “Maybe if I was 23 again,” she said. “Maybe not even then.” She looked down at the table as she said this, and I felt a kind of death in the room.
The institutions that form the backbone of Seattle theater—Seattle Rep, Intiman, ACT—are regional theaters. The movement that gave birth to them tried to establish theaters around the country to house repertory companies of artists, giving them job security, an honorable wage, and health insurance. In return, the theaters would receive the continuity of their work year after year—the building blocks of community. The regional theater movement tried to create great work and make a vibrant American theater tradition flourish.
That dream is dead. The theaters endure, but the repertory companies they stood for have been long disbanded. When regional theaters need artists today, they outsource: They ship the actors, designers, and directors in from New York and slam them together to make the show. To use a sports analogy, theaters have gone from a local league with players you knew intimately to a different lineup for every game, made of players you’ll never see again, coached by a stranger, on a field you have no connection to.
Not everyone lost out with the removal of artists from the premises. Arts administrators flourished as the increasingly complex corporate infrastructure grew. Literary departments have blossomed over the last few decades, despite massive declines in the production of new work. Marketing and fundraising departments in regional theaters have grown hugely, replacing the artists who once worked there, raising millions of dollars from audiences that are growing smaller, older, and wealthier. It’s not such a bad time to start a career in the theater, provided you don’t want to actually make any theater.
The biggest reason the artists were removed was because it was best for the institution. I often have to remind myself that “institution” is a nice word for “nonprofit corporation,” and the primary goal of any corporation is to grow. The best way to grow a nonprofit corporation is to raise money, use the money to market for more donors, and to build bigger and bigger buildings and fill them with more staff.
Using this lens, it all makes sense. The worst way to let the corporation of the theater grow is to spend too much on actors—why do that, when they’re a dime a dozen? Certainly it isn’t cost-effective to keep them in the community. Use them and discard them. Better to invest in another “educational” youth program, mashing up Shakespeare until it is a thin, lifeless paste that any reasonable person would reject as disgusting, but garners more grant money.
Every time a regional theater produces Nickel and Dimed, the play based on Barbara Ehrenreich’s book about the working poor in America, I keep hoping the irony will reach up and bitch-slap the staff members as they put actors, the working poor they’re directly responsible for creating, in an agitprop shuck-and-jive dance about that very problem. I keep hoping it will pierce their mantle of smug invulnerability and their specious whining about how television, iPods, Reagan, the NEA, short attention spans, the folly of youth, and a million other things have destroyed American theater.
The numbers are grim—the audiences are dying off all over the country. I know because every night I’m onstage, I stare out into the dark and can hear the oxygen tanks hissing. When I was 25, the Seattle Rep started offering cheap tickets to everyone under 25. When I turned 30, theaters started offering cheap tickets to everyone under 30. Now that I’ve turned 35, I see the same thing happening again, as theaters do the math and realize that no one under 35 is coming to their shows—it’s a bright line, the terminator between day and night, advancing inexorably upward. A theater I’m working at this year is hosting a promotional event to coax “young people” to see our show. Their definition of young? Under 45.
There are clear steps theaters could take. For example, they could radically reduce ticket prices across the board. Most regional theaters make less than half of their budget from ticket sales—they have the power to make all their tickets 15 or 20 dollars if they were willing to cut staff and transition through a tight season. It would not be easy, but it is absolutely possible. Of course, that would also require making theater less of a “luxury” item—which raises secret fears that the oldest, whitest, richest donors will stop supporting the theater once the uncouth lower classes with less money and manners start coming through the door. These people might even demand different kinds of plays, which would be annoying and troublesome. The current audience, while small and shrinking, demands almost nothing—they’re practically comatose, which makes them docile and easy to handle.
Better to revive another August Wilson play and claim to be speaking about race right now. Better to do whatever was off Broadway 18 months ago and pretend that it’s relevant to this community at this time. Better to talk and wish for change, but when the rubber hits the road, sit on your hands and think about the security of your office, the pleasure of a small, constant paycheck, the relief of being cared for if you get sick: the things you will lose if you stop working at this corporation.
The truth is, the people in charge like things the way they are—they’ve made them that way, after all. Sure, they wish things could be better. Who doesn’t? They’re dyed-in-the-wool liberals, each and every one of them, and they’ll tell you so while they mount another Bertolt Brecht play. The revolutionary fire that drew them to the theater has to fight through so much shit, day after day, that even the best of them can barely imagine a different path. They didn’t enter the theater to work for a corporation, but now they do, and they more than anyone else know the dire state of things. I’ve gone drinking with the artistic directors of the biggest theaters in the country and listened to them explain that they know the system is broken and they feel trapped within it, beholden to board members they’ve made devil’s deals with, shackled to the ship as it goes down. I’ve heard their laughter, heard them call each other dinosaurs, heard them give thanks that they’ll be retired in 10 years.
Corporations make shitty theater. This is because theater, the ineffable part of the experience that comes in rare and random bursts, is not a commodity, and corporations suck at understanding the noncommodifiable. Corporations don’t understand theater. Only people, real people, understand theater. Audiences, technicians, actors, playwrights, costumers, designers—all of them give their time and energy to this thing for a reason, and that dream is not quantifiable on any spreadsheet.
As I drove home from my friend’s house that night, I felt myself filling up with grief. There will be some who read this who will blame her, think she should have sacrificed more, that this is a story of weakness. But I stand by her. I know in my heart she has given full weight, just as so many other artists have given over the years. Much of the best theater of my life I have seen in the garages of Seattle, unseen and forgotten by many. But I remember. Theater failed my friend, as it is failing us all, and I am heartbroken because we will never know the measure of what we’ve lost.
Mike Daisey is a monologuist, author, and working artist.
This is a wonderful opportunity. The only one I have trained with here is Leah Cherniak. She is truly a magical teacher and is one of the most wonderful theatre artists this city has to offer. I urge you to take advantage of this sort of training. There is so little sophisticated developmental opportunities for us theatre-folk. Bravo to Volcano for forging ahead with this crucial training program.
The Volcano Conservatory
Volcano’s intensive theatre training program returns to Toronto this July!
July 7 – 10 & July 21 – 27
Location: Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement, 6 Noble Street
The Volcano Conservatory is the realization of a long time goal. Providing alternative / cutting-edge education has always been part of Volcano’s vision and the company has developed a very specific training model, one that fits with the styles of work in which Volcano engages; work that combines disciplines, or is willing to explore techniques outside of naturalism.
This approach derives from a philosophy where the training is centered on the idea, rather than the instrument; centered on theatre-making rather than simply performing. As theatre artists, we need to know the stylistic options available, as well as the world we interpret. This is the philosophy behind the Volcano Conservatory: providing theatre artists the tools with which to reinvent theatre – tools gathered from various performance traditions around the world. With this training, we seek to look outward, rather than inward.
volcano.ca for more info.