Soulpepper at Play 2017

Soulpepper at Play 2017 was a tremendous success!

$RLTTVPDClick the image above for highlights from Soulpepper at Play 2017

On October 24, 2017, Soulpepper welcomed a crowd of 300 guests at its annual gala, this year chaired by Raj Kothari and J-F Courville. Soulpepper at Play celebrated the company, and included wonderful performances and a lively auction led by Albert Schultz, Artistic Director.

We raised over $600,000 in support of Soulpepper’s work, both on and off the stage. $185,000 was raised during the auction alone! Proceeds collected from Soulpepper at Play directly benefit Soulpepper Theatre Company and the continuation of our important programs and initiatives, including:

  • Developing new and original works
  • Being the city’s leading provider of creative engagement for theatre artists
  • Training future artistic leaders through the Soulpepper Academy
  • Working with youth in the community
  • Welcoming new Canadians to be part of the creative community

Thank you to our committed event sponsors, table hosts, donors, guests, staff and artists who made it all possible!

For information about Soulpepper at Play 2018, contact us at 416.203.6264 x 138 or development@soulpepper.ca

at play footer

“It was breathtaking to witness the power of our imaginations…”– Academy Blog by Michelle Tracey

At the beginning of October, myself and my fellow Soulpepper Academy artists had the chance to complete a week-long masterclass in design dramaturgy with Michael Levine. Michael is a renowned Canadian scenographer based in London, England, but his work in theatre, dance and opera can be seen all over the world. I was familiar with Michael’s work having seen his designs for the COC’s remount of Götterdämmerung (the 3rd in Wagner’s Ring Cycle) and the National Ballet’s production of Le Petit Prince, for which Michael was credited as ‘Set and Costume Designer’ and ‘Creative Concept’, alongside choreographer Guillaume Côté.

Michael_Levine_Masterclass_2_by_Lorenzo_Savoini

Michael Levine Masterclass, photo by Lorenzo Savoini

I was fascinated to meet Michael, having heard that his design practise was uniquely holistic, possibly due to his experience with London-based company Complicité who is known for their rigorous devised creations. I was excited for what insights Michael could share with our group about the potential of design to shape storytelling. From what I had seen of Michael’s designs, his work is less concerned with literal representation than with invoking the imaginations of the audience. This masterclass also marked a coming together for our Academy. It had been several months since all of our artistic disciplines had worked together in the same room.

Over the course of the week, we dove into analyzing the libretto for the opera Wozzeck by Alban Berg. Michael knew the libretto inside and out having designed it himself several times. Wozzeck is regarded as one of the first 20th– century ‘avant-garde’ operas because it utilized dissonance and atonality to express the tragic and often deranged inner worlds of the characters. Its libretto and score were an ideal jumping off point to discuss different kinds of space that exist in the theatre.

Beyond literal space, we discussed emotional space, psychological space, dream, fantasy, metaphor, etc. After establishing this shared language to discuss space, we experimented at length with how design elements could evoke different kinds of space.

We discussed power dynamics within scenes, and asked ourselves how could these power dynamic manifest themselves physically. It became much easier to understand how the placement of one set piece might amplify a power dynamic between two people in space.

We spent most of the week on our feet, working with choral movement and exploring how the physical relationships between bodies can create dramatic tension. I think it was surprising to most how movement-oriented Michael’s work was with us! I believe this work is at the heart of what scenographers can provide; dynamic space that provides strong opportunities for performers.

People holding sticks above head with shadows behind.

Michael Levine Masterclass, photo by Lorenzo Savoini

We also took time to look at simple objects in the room, and discover how they could be transformed in a theatrical context. This kind of transformation has always seemed like magic to me. It was breathtaking to witness how the power of our imaginations can transform an object as unassuming as a table into a boat, a gurney, a canvas, a prison cell (and on and on), or how a few sheets of paper can transform into a soaring flock of birds.

Michael also facilitated skype calls with several of his London-based colleagues throughout the week. It was fantastic to get a sampling of so many artists’ unique perspectives on theatre making from different disciplines. Finally, we were able to look at the different properties of theatre lighting and what emotional qualities they bring. It was an incredible week, and I feel that we grew as an ensemble as a result of it. The lessons that Michael taught us left me feeling empowered and inspired to continue creating with this bright group of artists.

 

Staff Profile: Chris Scholey, Producer

How long have you have worked at Soulpepper, and how would you describe your role?

Wow…hadn’t really thought about it until now but I’ve been here for two years.  Amazing how quickly the time goes by.  My role as Producer involves a wide range of adventures, everything from looking after our extensive Play Development program and our quickly expanding Audio Programming platform to negotiating rights for projects.  I also do a lot of industry outreach, meaning I connect with companies, producers, and artists to talk about potential collaborations.  Added to all this, I’m often the point person for shows that Soulpepper presents in the Young Centre.  My desk is usually a mess, but it’s a joyous mess.  Is that a term?

What kinds of projects are you involved in outside of work?

Life these days is Soulpepper and then home to my two boys.  The benefit of having two hockey-playing boys is that I get to hang out in all the hockey arenas in the GTA.

When you’re not at work, what are you doing? 

Getting kids ready for hockey, taking kids to hockey, watching hockey, bringing kids home from hockey, cleaning up after hockey.  Go to work.  Repeat.

Ok…it’s not quite that drastic.  But it sometimes feels like it!

What is something we would be surprised to know about you? 

I was the inspiration for a comic book character.  When I was (much) younger, I won first prize at a community rap contest.  I dropped out of a PhD in Marine Biology to play in the world of theatre.  There might be others but let’s keep some of the mystery alive.

What do you love about working at Soulpepper?

It’s always about the people, isn’t it?  And the people at Soulpepper are amazing.  On those days when your to-do list is weeks old, you have multiple shows opening, and the emails are coming in faster than you can respond, it’s the people around you that keep you sane.  And while the people around me may argue the point, I’m still relatively sane so I thank them all!

“I’m practicing to truly take in every moment…” Academy Blog by Nicole Power

As September comes to a close, it is really hard to believe that we are half way done our Academy journey. We all often reflect back to our callback in April of 2016 and how the excitement we felt that weekend really hasn’t gone away. We’ve gone through a lot and grown so close as an ensemble.

This summer I got the opportunity to visit NYC and witness “Soulpepper on 42nd Street” at The Pershing Square Signature Center. I got to catch up with all of the artists and see Spoon River, Of Human Bondage, and Kim’s Convenience. It was so exciting to sit in an audience of New Yorkers and listen to them chat about how moved and inspired they were by the work Soulpepper was doing. I met one woman who was seeing Of Human Bondage for the third time!

When the Soulpepper family returned from NYC, we jumped right back into work. We spent six weeks working under the direction of Alan Dilworth, Soulpepper’s Associate Artistic Director. We worked on both Anne Carson’s Antigone and fellow Academy Member Sina Gilani’s adaptation of Iphegenia by Euripides. We took a group trip to Stratford to see Bakkhai and had a talkback with some of the cast.

In Soulpepper on screen news, I’m just finishing up a Cross Canada promotional tour for Kim’s Convenience season 2! We went to Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, and capped it off in my hometown, St. John’s, Newfoundland. We spoke with theatre students at my alma mater, Gonzaga High School. I got to chat with them about my journey to Kim’s through meeting Albert and joining the Academy and share what we have been working on for the last year.

nicole-blog-1

Chatting with the theatre arts class at Gonzaga High School, St. John’s, Newfoundland.

nicole-blog-2

Moving forward, I’m practicing to truly take in every moment… we are so fortunate to be among Canada’s great theatre artists and I’m trying to sponge everything I can. As I walk into the building each day, I pause to acknowledge the opportunity Soulpepper has given us to learn and grow.

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.