What should we talk about now?

Any suggestions?

22 thoughts on “What should we talk about now?

  1. Can we talk about opportunities for theatre artists just beginning their careers? Especially in the city of Toronto and especially if said theatre artists did not necessarily have a schooling geared toward beginning a theatre career in Toronto…I would certainly appreciate that conversation.

  2. I was hoping that someone else was going to ask and I would just live vicariously, but can we talk about the coffin image that I didn’t understand?

  3. Hey guys!

    Speaking of things I don’t understand . . . have you checked out Twitter? It’s like facebook minus everything but your status line. Weird.


    Coffin? Perhaps I could direct you to:


    As far opportunities for theatre artists beginning their careers in Toronto. Geez, I don’t know. Is there such a thing as a career in theatre in Toronto? Just kidding. Sort of.

    Have you seen the “Work in Culture” job board?


    The TAPA blog has good job postings, too:


    As for overall strategy . . . ideas and such . . . over my head. Any takers?

    How does one kickstart a career in the Toronto theatre biz?

  4. @bfg

    1 Make your own work. If you’re in your 20s and you are not very good looking (and even if you are) it is going to be very difficult to pay the rent with wages earned as a performer. The Fringe lottery is coming up, Summerworks applications are due at the end of the month, there are new indie spaces springing up…There are opportunities if you are not waiting for a phone call.

    2 Go see plays. Figure out what’s going on, not just for networking purposes, which is also important, but to inform your own imagination and just keep in your mind what theatre is like and how it works (and doesn’t).

    3 Take classes. If you don’t have training in the theatre then you you are missing some skills sets that classically trained actors have acquired. This is not a big deal if you treat the theatre as a craft and commit to training and learning these things. I would break these down into 3 broad categories of: voice, movement and acting. Some people may disagree with this one, but i offer it as the difference between on camera acting and on stage acting. There is a specific set of skills to be applied to the stage.

    4 Check out Theatre Ontario. They have a number of resources, from producing seminars, to reputable teachers, to audition listings. There’s a small membership fee, but it’s worth it.

  5. I would be really curious about what anyone else thought, and as Ian and I covered a lot of Toronto specific things, just open it up the conversation to many places:

    You’re 21, you want to be an actor, you want some of your career to be in the theatre, you speak English, and you live in the west.

    What should you do?

  6. Can we talk about that one penguin in “Encounters at the End of the World” who wanders off alone towards the mountains (and, most likely, death)? That little guy breaks my heart. I want to write a movie about him for Pixar.

    Or we can talk about something that is actually relevant and useful, like bfg said. Whatever.

  7. Well, heck, I feel like a tool. I thought it was some sort of anti-smoking lung cancer memorial day thing that I was missing. You never know with you Canadians. (Joke! That was a joke!)

    Yeah, I suppose theatrically I live in a Chicago bubble penetrated by mainly blogs and blogs alone. My bad, and best wishes on the show. Love The Stranger and have had great experience with shows using it as a foundation. Wish the calendar and budget had room for a road trip.

  8. An anit-smoking ad? Funny. We should make an anti-smoking play. We can tour the schools with it.

    What’s going on with “…And They Put Handcuffs On The Flowers”?

    You should come up from Chicago to see Stranger. It’s only about a 9 hour drive.

  9. Yeah, Ian, rub salt in that wound by knowing what I’m working on!

    For real though, I’m immensely proud of what we’re doing with Handcuffs, thanks for asking. I’m aware of a recent production in Buffalo that eschewed some of the more divisive elements — the nudity, the audience sitting amongst the action, etc. — and while the stills I’ve seen for that one look great, we’re approaching the play as written. Aside from a few minor omissions for technical reasons (I will at no time be dancing on roller skates, thank god), ours is an extremely true to form rendition of Arrabal’s play. Which, if you are familiar with the show, is no small thing.

    And, honest to god, a trip for Stranger sounds extremely tempting. I’ve never been to Toronto and I’d love to visit. I’d try shifting schedules, but your run hits exactly as we’re teching and opening Handcuffs. I’ll be watching for your next show, though — keep in touch and hopefully I can make a run for the border next time.

  10. Hi Paul,

    I think you just committed to coming to Toronto to see our next play.

    Your Handcuffs sounds awesome. I’ve never been to Chicago . . . except the airport . . . I would love to check it out though.

    As for eschewing divisive elements . . . I’ve been thinking of checking out eschewing obfuscation, but I can’t seem to get the lid off.

    Best of luck with rehearsals!

  11. Hey, I’m absolutely game. The day you announce performance dates, I’ll start blocking off a lil’ vacation time.

    And let me just say this: I have both an open futon and free street parking if needed. Something to think about.

  12. “You’re 21, you want to be an actor, you want some of your career to be in the theatre, you speak English, and you live in the west.

    What should you do?”

    Hey Mike, happy new yee-ah.

    The answer to this question is easy, you just roll down to the Vancouver Independent Theatre Alliance office in the heart of downtown and check out the huge board of upcoming auditions and company position openings. Then you talk to one of the helpful staff members and give them your headshot and particulars for the data base, which includes your secondary skills besides acting which might be useful to a production: marketing experience, construction, sound tech, graphic design, the ability to sew a hem, whatever. Then you grab an easy-foam hazelnut cappuccino and a scone and wait for the monthly meeting of all the indie theatre companies in town to start so you can kibitz as their representatives each talk about their upcoming productions and fundraisers and hand out promo materials so that everyone can help each other in casting a giant promotional net over the city for all the unbelievable edge-cutting original work that they’re doing, and when something excites you so much that you can’t sit still you stick up your hand and offer to help out in any way you can until you have to prepare for an actual acting role.

    Nah, I’m just kidding. You pretty much do exactly what you’ve detailed above, except for #4, which will hopefully soon be filled by the Vancouver Independent Theatre Alliance.

    I can dream, can’t I?

  13. Really? Penguins aren’t passé yet?

    Seriously, though, the discussion here is good and deserves expanding – you guys should do a series of “Letters to a Young Theatre Artist” posts – interview people from all areas of the industry specifically about how they got started, and practical things young theatre school grads can do to build their careers.

  14. One of my brilliant theatre profs once told me that it’s very difficult to make a living in the theatre but you can make a life in the theatre. Maybe I’m not quite jaded enough yet, I still feel like, important as a living is, I’d rather have a life.

    @Ian Mackenzie

    I, too, do not really understand Twitter. I am on it, I think it’s kind of fun, but I don’t necessarily get it…

    And I am also familiar with both of those websites. I check Work in Culture religiously. They’re great resources but there aren’t tons of auditions. And, in looking to have a life in theatre, I would gladly accept just about any job in the arts, but they are hard to come by…if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard the “not enough experience” line…well, I wouldn’t be writing this. Even organizations I have offered to volunteer for have been briefly interested, only to fade away…

    @Michael Wheeler

    1 You are absolutely right. You can’t wait around for phone calls. And paying the bills would be nice, but just doing something is immediately, I think, the greater issue. I guess on this front, I just don’t know where to start…yet. Where do you start in creating your own work?

    2 Right again. Although challenging on a limited budget.

    3 I actually have a degree in theatre. I guess I should have specified that my lack of preparedness for theatre in Toronto is a result of having gone to school in the U.S. Training is extremely important (and I couldn’t agree more about the fundamentals being the difference between stage and film acting) but the thought of sitting through another acting class, frankly, makes me want to gouge my eyes out. I’ve covered all the theory I can digest in the last four years. At least, for now. The best teacher is experience and I would love to try my skills by actually doing something…I imagine there are other recent grads who feel similarly.

    This being said, know where to find a good voice teacher?

    4 I am so glad to hear Theatre Ontario recommended! THANK YOU! I am familiar with the website but have been a bit hesitant about the fee. I went to school in New York; I was taught to be skeptical of anything with a fee.

    My training prepared me to launch a theatre career in NYC—I studied at NYU—but I decided that I couldn’t afford to live there and that I wanted to come home (another brilliant prof told me that when making decisions, err on the side of having a life). I guess what is most difficult for me is my lack of connections here. I don’t know anyone in Toronto’s theatre world…and I don’t mean someone who can get me a job, just someone to talk to. A mentor, if you will. Or a friend. Whichever. And how are things different here? I don’t know the nuances of Toronto’s theatre scene.

    Do you believe theatre companies have an obligation to foster emerging talent? Or that artists individually have an obligation to mentor the next generation? We are, after all, supposed to be a community, right?

    In the meantime, I think I might like this imaginary theatre land in Vancouver–@Simon, that would be so wonderful! Also, I think I will have to come see Stranger. Various forces in the universe are conspiring to get me there…apparently I know someone who knows you? In my inbox: “I have attached the web link to Mike’s Theatre Company’s next production.”

  15. Weird. I feel like that could only be from my Mom…. Anyhow, FYI I also studied in the States (ART) and then came back here and knew NO ONE. And then Simon and I started Praxis….I recommend Rae Ellen Bodie or David Smuckler as voice teachers in town.

    The major problem with small companies fostering young talent is the resources to do so. With Praxis for example, there are a lot of people who have put shitloads of their free time into building this thing. If we turned around now and offered roles in our once-a-year-prtoductions to recent grads, there are some company members that would beat the crap outta me.

    That being said everyone knows NYU is one of the top programs in The States and you should get some mileage outta that.

  16. Well, Michael, I certainly don’t want anyone beating the crap outta you!

    No, I definitely understand what you’re saying…but there have to be opportunities somewhere for the next group of us theatre artist to start paying our dues somewhere. And not necessarily on stage. NYU is big on the whole package; we learn just as much off stage as we do on. And I paint a mean set. Most of us, I think, have other skills that we would gladly donate just to have a place to go and be a part of something. And perhaps it isn’t going to lead to being cast, but it would probably teach us something. It would probably teach us a lot.

    And I just lament the number of groups I have tried to volunteer for who haven’t seemed to have much use for me. I find it sad.

    Thanks for the tips! I will look into voice for sure. And so far, zero mileage out of the name. But, I guess it’s still early…

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