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.

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.