Staff Profile – Cristina Rizzuto, Marketing Manager

CristinaRizzuto

How long have you worked at Soulpepper and tell us a little bit about what your job consists of lately.
I have worked at Soulpepper for just over a year. As Marketing Manager, my role consists mostly of planning fiscal advertising campaigns, monitoring the marketing and communications budget, maintaining strong relationships with tourism, industry, advertising and community partners, and working with our team to plan and execute email, digital, and print marketing campaigns. I represent Soulpepper on the Toronto Attractions Council, and on the SOTUG (Southern Ontario Tessitura User Group).

What kinds of projects are you involved in outside of work?
Outside of work, I sit on the Board of Directors at Vaughan Public Libraries, and volunteer with a number of organizations, including the University of Toronto Alumni Association and Humanity First. I am also a writer, and have been published in various literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. My first book of poetry was published in 2012, and a few short stories will be published in an upcoming anthology of Italian-Canadian writers this year.

When you’re not at work, what are you doing?
Swimming, yoga, reading, spending time with loved ones, and exploring the city by foot are a few of my favourite activities. I also enjoy cooking and seasonal culinary traditions – ie. helping my father make wine and tomato sauce in the late summer, apple-picking in the fall.

What is something we would be surprised to know about you?
Every year, I endeavour to learn something new. In 2015, I wanted to learn something beautiful – so, I took up Spanish language courses. Last year, I completed the final course in the certificate. ¡Hola! This year, I am taking a course in neurobiology.

What do you love about working at Soulpepper?
I love working with a team of passionate, intelligent people, who inspire me daily. I love staff meetings and Opening Nights. I love creepily looking around the theatre at audience members reacting to a show we’ve all worked hard on for months. I love reaching the end of a performance, because the range of emotions I feel as a result of whatever is on stage reminds me of why I do what I do.

“A great start to the end” – Academy Blog by Alexandra Lord

AlexandraLord
I can’t believe that my time in the Academy is half-way through!  I am starting this second and final year working on a range of different productions in a wide variety of ways.  I am just finishing off assisting Dana Osborne on her costume design for Morris Panych and Brenda Robins’ Picture This and am about to start assisting Astrid Janson on her set design for Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, directed by Diana Leblanc.  It is such an honour to witness these two designers in the mastery of their crafts as well as the sheer joy they bring to their work every day.  I aspire to be so inspired as I progress through the different stages of my own career.

IMG_0980

Costumes for Picture This, designed by Dana Osborne.

I have also just submitted my final costume designs for Edward Albee’s The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?, directed by Alan Dilworth, with the set designed by Lorenzo Savoini.  It has already been an incredible learning experience to work alongside these two artists who I first encountered as teachers and am now developing a collaborative relationship with as co-creators.  I can’t wait to get in the rehearsal hall with both of them and our actors.

IMG_0968

Dana Osborne and Jeff Hughes in Soulpepper’s costume shop.

I am also looking forward to our upcoming Academy masterclass with world-renowned Canadian-born designer Michael Levine.  His set designs for opera and theatre, particularly his collaborations with Complicite in England, have inspired me for quite some time.  I can’t wait to learn more about his creative process, which I know has inspired much of the design work at Soulpepper through how Lorenzo, as the Young Family Director of Design, works and the manner in which he has taught us in the Academy to approach design.  So far this has been a great start to the end of my time here and I am looking forward to what follows.

Alexandra Lord, photo: Bronwen Sharp. Costume shop photos: Alexandra Lord.

Photo Diary: A Day with the City Youth Academy

Soulpepper’s yearly City Youth Academy is a paid, intensive program, providing 10 young people (ages 16-19) with performance training, led by Soulpepper Artists. The young artists have five weeks of artistic skills training and development, and are paired with an Artist Mentor from Soulpepper’s artistic company. Over the course of the program, their instruction includes scene study, devised creation, and training in movement, music, ensemble, writing, rehearsal and performance. The program is designed to inspire personal creativity, artistic discipline, and to support young artists in the development of their own artistic practice.

This is one day in the life of the 2017 City Youth Academy:

1

Today the City Youth Academy brought in images or written pieces that inspired them as part of the theatre devising work they are doing with program lead artist Jennifer Villaverde: many brought in poems; others shared articles or art work; one performed his piece while playing the guitar.

2

EEzra (above) performs a song entitled Young America. While listening to his song, the others look around to view the inspirational objects of their peers. As they look around, they take observational notes. After Ezra performs his piece, some of the participants are inspired to read their pieces and share their inspirations. Marcus shares the poem Lord, Why did you make me Black? by Yeefon Mawusi. Minjae shares Milinda Mae and the Monstrous Whale which he had read, and loved, when he was younger.

3

As the City Youth Academy participants share their pieces, everyone listens attentively – it’s a very personal, and ultimately moving, exercise.

4

After all the pieces are shared, they form a journey of growth on paper from being a teenager, to becoming an adult, and beyond. The participants arrange the pieces on the timeline, and write their thoughts beside the pieces.

5

After a short break, it’s time for Dance with Pulga Muchochoma, working with the song ‘Wash’ by Teknomiles. All the participants are very quick in following the choreography being thought to them: they dance with much energy, moving and jumping across the room.

6

The 2017 City Youth Academy poses with Dance Artists Instructor Pulga Muchochoma, Lead Artists Instructor Jennifer Villaverde, Program Assistant Celia Green and Soulpepper’s Community Programming team Fiona Suliman and Molly Gardner.

Photo Diary by Soulpepper Marketing Intern Mia Tionko, recorded onsite at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in August, 2017. Visit Soulpepper.ca/youth for more information.

Donor Profile: Richard Newland

RichardNewland

Donor history:
I’ve been a member of the Curtain Club for three years now, but a subscriber for much longer, as well as making regular donations to support the ongoing work of Soulpepper.

How did you first learn about Soulpepper/What is you first memory of Soulpepper?
Having friends in the theatre industry, I knew of Soulpepper for a long time, almost from its inception.   I heard stories about their work from these friends and was intrigued by Albert’s vision for the company.   My first memory of their work was a drama (the show’s name escapes my memory, must be my age!) and being impressed with the quality of the acting and the use of stage space. The small theatre space creates an intimacy that you cannot have in the large theatres.

What inspired you to support us?
It actually started from a negative experience with another company.  I was distressed at how the company was treating their Canadian staff (remember my friends?) and thought that I was missing out on good Canadian talent.   I “risked” a season with Soulpepper, and haven’t looked back.   I wanted to support the talent of fine Canadian actors, so I became a donor.  My participation was confirmed when I learned of Albert’s vision to treat actors fairly, and his willingness to step outside the traditional theatre mode, and improve the employment picture for his company members.  Now, Soulpepper launches into its work to become a National Civic Theatre, an idea I’m happy to support in the little ways that I can.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about giving to Soulpepper? And, why do you think the arts should be a priority for philanthropy?
I would say to people that theatre is much more than Broadway musicals and big name performers.   That we have living in our midst highly talented people that can compete with the best that Broadway can offer.  I’ve just seen Billy Bishop Goes to War, and said that was better than most offerings coming to us from south of the border.

The arts, in all its various forms, convey culture.  Without the arts our Canadian culture is diminished.  Supporting the artist communities, will enrich the lives of generations to come.

How do you imagine Soulpepper in 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope to be sitting in the theatre continuing to be impressed by the fine work Soulpepper does.   At the same time, I hope that others, across Canada (and indeed maybe even Broadway) will be seeing the same thing.   Keep up the good work!

To learn more about supporting Soulpepper, visit soulpepper.ca

In The Presence of the Unknown – Katrina Darychuk

Katrina2
I am writing this on the train from Stratford to Toronto, whizzing past farmland. Three months ago I came to Stratford with my mentor and Soulpepper Associate Artistic Director Alan Dilworth to work on The Virgin Trial, premiering in few weeks. Banner1 It is a sequel to Kate Hennig’s The Last Wife, which premiered at Stratford two years ago and at Soulpepper this winter.

I’ve spent most of my time as a director in new play territory. Working to give life to worlds that have yet to come to the stage. While these processes have similarities, there is a constant presence of the unknown.  How do you embrace it? Dance with it? Make it a part of the piece? Working as an assistant director on a new show is fascinating as I am privy to a team in ‘reveal’ mode. Every choice in terms of action, design, or new text, reveals more of the inherent nature of the play.

VT first day
Something inherent in developing new work is that you must be open to the element of surprise.  Even after workshops, and readings, the life of a new play isn’t revealed until weeks into rehearsal.  Just as everyone starts to think they know what it is, it wants to be something else. New plays are delicate. The creative team shares their genesis in a very intricate way.  There is no original to look back on; there is no precedent to compare to.

Katrina1

Years ago, a colleague said, “You can only polish dead things”. As with many quotes in theatre, the author is lost but it is wisdom I hold dear. What is most thrilling for me about new work is its infancy; it’s innate life that is trying to find its way into the light. Not to be polished, but be offered for the first time.

Katrina Darychuk – Directing Student in the Soulpepper Academy

Katrina Darychuk, photo: Bronwen Sharp. Maev Beaty & Joseph Ziegler, photo: Cylla von Tiedemann. Cast & Creative team of Stratford’s The Virgin Trial, photo supplied. Katrina Darychuk & Academy members, photo: Daniel Malavasi.

Donor Profile: Susan Friedman

susan.friedman_chr

Donor history: I have been donating to Soulpepper since 2014 as a member of Top Women, and this year, also as a 42nd Street Patron to support Soulpepper’s initiatives in New York.

How did you first learn about Soulpepper/What is you first memory of Soulpepper? I became aware of Soulpepper shortly after its inception. I thought that the concept of actors creating their own company to perform both classical and contemporary works was brave and exhilarating. I saw the production of The Misanthrope early in Soulpepper’s history. It’s one of my favorite plays and that performance did not let me down.

What inspired you to support us? My impression is that Soulpepper honours and respects the work itself and that all of the artists involved in creating each production work together to fulfil the work. No showboating. This approach does not hamper creativity or stop the artists from looking at an older piece in a new way. Far from it – I am often delighted by a new take on a classic. I think this attitude is responsible for the high quality of Soulpepper productions and I want to encourage it and see more of it.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about giving to Soulpepper? And, why do you think the arts should be a priority for philanthropy? I would tell prospective donors that even if their financial position doesn’t allow them to support Soulpepper in a major way, if they value Soulpepper it is important to offer whatever financial support they can manage. Donating is a message to the artists that their work is respected and a message to the funding community, like governments and foundations, that what Soulpepper does is important to a broad base of community members. And surely no one can question any more that the arts enrich the lives of the community. The arts feed people in a unique way. We see ourselves on stage, both as we are and as we should be. We see new ideas that encourage us to look further and look deeper. The box office take of even the most successful shows by itself cannot fund the productions. We have to be there to fill the gap.

How do you feel about joining Soulpepper in New York this summer as a Tour Patron? And what does supporting Top Women mean to you? I am so excited for Soulpepper to take its work to New York. I expect the theatre world there to be blown away by the integrity, the creativity, the pure pleasure that the productions will give them. And I suspect that success in New York will encourage more support for Soulpepper’s work at home – that’s often the way it goes in Canada, isn’t it? As for Top Women, its members not only support Soulpepper productions, they support each other. It is a wonderful opportunity to network with women who value the arts and each other.

How do you imagine Soulpepper in 10 years? I imagine Soulpepper introducing us to new artists, especially new playwrights, and new productions while continuing to mount productions of the plays we already know and love. I anticipate that the artists will continue to follow the guiding principles on which they have relied to date. The thought is to have Soulpepper endure for generations to come.

How Far We’ve Come… by Marcel Stewart

Marcel_1

April 15th marked one year since the final audition stage for the 2016-2018 Soulpepper Academy. There were 30 of us, from across the country, selected from 1400 applications and 400 auditions! Most of us barely knew each other at the time. We were genuinely interested in getting to know each other, oh so polite, and annoyingly courteous. After 9 challenging, exhaustive months (working together) those sentiments have pretty much all gone. We know far too much about each other, and are constantly challenging and teasing one another. Recently, a Soulpepper company member referred to us as a “family” because of how boisterous our energy is when we’re around each other!

As I mentioned, the past 9 months have been CRAZY BUSY! Here’s a rundown of some highlights:

  • We explored speaking Shakespearean text, specifically Romeo and Juliet, with Albert Schultz
  • We sung O Canada, from a boat, while people watched and instagrammed us on Toronto Island
  • We explored Greek Tragedy, specifically The Bacchae by Euripides, with Alan Dilworth
  • We participated in one of Soulpepper’s most successful fundraising events ever
  • We explored Vocal Masque with Dean Gilmour, one of the founders of Theatre Smith-Gilmour
  • We contributed skits, songs, and story time to the 2016 Winter Waves festival, the highest attended WWF ever
  • We explored Chekhov, particularly Three Sisters and The Seagull, with Daniel Brooks and Diego Matamoros
  • We collectively devised a number of pieces, using Chekhov as the launch pad
  • We currently are exploring Commedia dell’arte with Marcello Magni, one of the founders of Complicite

With our first year quickly coming to an end I wanted to share some photos, to give insight into how we manage as a group.

Marcel_2

This is week one of the Academy, and the boat that we took to the Island (and eventually sung “Oh Canada” on).

Marcel_3

The first fundraising event we attended. About 2 months in. We thought we were so cool.

Marcel4

This was the BIG event that we participated in. 4 months in.

Marcel_5

Winter Waves Festival. The Blanket Fort of Wonder. 5 months in.

Marcel_6

Rehearsing one of the collectively devised pieces. It was titled Anonymous. 7 months in.

Marcel_7

Another picture from Anonymous rehearsal. 7 months in.

Marcel_8

The most recent donor event, where we met our philanthropic mentors. 8 months in.

To learn more about the Soulpepper Academy visit soulpepper.ca.

Michelle Tracy, Hunter Cardinal, Danel Mousseau , Ellie Moon & Rosamund Small, photo: Marcel Stewart. Christef Desir, Marcel Stewart, Daniel Mousseau & Hunter Cardinal, photo: Marcel Steward. 2016/2018 Soulpepper Academy, photo: Ryan Emberley. Ghazal Azarbad, Marcel Stewart & Hunter Cardinal, photo supplied. Daniel Mousseau, Ghazel Azarbad, Nicole Power, Christef Desir & Hunter Cardinal, photo: Marcel Stewart. Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu, Daniel Mousseau, Hunter Cardinal & Rose Tuong, photo: Marcel Stewart. James Smith, Marcel Stewart & Michelle Tracy, photo: Daniel Malavasi.