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Staff Profile: Meg Woods, Associate Technical Director

What is your job title?

I am the Associate Technical Director here at Soulpepper.

Describe a bit about the team you work with?

I’m still figuring that out actually! I just joined the company in January and my first show, Animal Farm, hasn’t even closed yet. Soulpepper has a TD (short form for Technical Director) team of 4; a TD, an associate TD, and 2 assistant TD’s. Since Soulpepper is an ever-revolving door of productions there’s no way that one person could coordinate all the elements of every show. So we rotate—each person is assigned a show and by the time it opens they are assigned another. Of course we could not do it alone! We are able to lean on our fellow TD’s at any time. We might need advice on how to tackle a specific scheduling issue or have a structural or electrical question outside our wheelhouse. We each have different strengths and insights that are put to the test with each new show we tackle.

What does your role entail?

Technical direction is a title that encompasses a lot of different aspects but if I had to summarize it into one concept it’s sort of like being an air traffic controller. We are the ones who make sure that all the different elements of the show glide into the theatre smoothly and efficiently (and most importantly safely!) without getting caught up on one another or crashing and burning in the process. We have heads of departments like Props, Paint, Carpentry, etc., but we are the ones who assess and steer the bigger picture. We work with the team to cost and price out every department, ensuring that everyone is within their budget and coordinate ways to compromise if not. We talk to designers and directors to see what is possible with the time and resources we have along with keeping everyone in the loop throughout. We need to schedule the load-in of one show while working around the load-out of another, scheduling dozens of crew hours and making the stage ready in time for the actors. Once we get everything we need to land on the runway of the stage, it’s adjusting the everyday minutia of space to allow for creative growth and settling the play into its new home in time for the audience!

What is the best part of your job? And what are you most looking forward to at Soulpepper in the next few months?

This is going to sound really cheesy but since moving to the city a few months ago I was really worried about leaving all my family and friends. I was anxious about what the atmosphere at my new work place was going to be like. Calling my first day a bit rocky would be a huge understatement. It was chaos – and I was worried that I had made a huge mistake. But since then I have seen so much growth and motion towards change within the company. I have met some really great people and established a new support system that feels really genuine and very strong. There’s a new awareness in the building, and I’m really excited to be part of it. I’m also excited to see how the company uses the catalyst of finding a new Executive and Artistic Director as an opportunity to rebuild and grow. To improve the company as a whole. I’m really looking forward to that!

What are 3 fun facts about you? 

I am left handed, I have been skydiving and I’m an air hockey master!


Staff Profile: Robert Harding, Production Stage Manager

What is your job title?

I’m Soulpepper’s Production Stage Manager.

What does your role entail?

The definition as per the Canadian Theatre Agreement is fairly broad:

A “Production Stage Manager” shall be the senior Stage Manager and responsible for the stage management of all productions both in rehearsal and performance.

The bulk of my job is keeping an eye on how productions overlap, particularly with scheduling rehearsal and how casting decisions may influence the schedule.  Currently, A Delicate Balance is in performances and three of the six cast members are also in rehearsals. One is in rehearsal for Animal Farm, while the other two are rehearsing for Idomeneus.  They are subject to specific rules about when they are able to rehearse while also in performance. I passed these parameters on to the Stage Managers for Idomeneus and Animal Farm during their prep week and they work out with their Directors how best to proceed with the day to day needs of their rehearsals.

Describe a bit about the teams you work with?

Producing is my main point of contact.  Among many other duties, the producers maintain the Master Schedule and we work together on refining that schedule to the day-to-day rehearsals.  That schedule gets further detailed by the layering in of the technical rehearsal schedules by the Technical Director. When time allows, I provide an office presence for the Stage Managers while they’re busy in rehearsals and/or performance.

What is the best part of your job?

I also Stage Manage productions in the season, so wearing a headset and calling a show is and always will be the best part of my job.  Staying connected to the front lines of production keeps me in touch with the art and helps informs what I can accomplish in the office with a richer perspective.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I certainly have had my limits tested, and my job requires a lot of forethought and patience.  It’s always an effort to turn it all off when I’m not here. There is always something that has just wrapped up, in process and imminently on the horizon.   The time commitment can be very demanding.  Striking a balance between having a family against a schedule that can entail a six day work week requires a lot close examination of priorities on both the work and home side of things.  Some days I get it right.  Other times, not so much.  Thankfully, I’m surrounded and propped up by strong, amazing people on both sides.

What are you most looking forward to at Soulpepper in the next few months?

Everything happening right now is so varied.  Calling Prohibition, the Concert is shaping up to be a lot of fun.  I am very much looking forward to the ASL interpreted performances of Idomeneus and finding out the details on how the cast of Animal Farm will be costumed.  Fine-tuning the schedule for March to July is underway; defining and refining the details to make that as smooth as possible is always very gratifying, so I’m looking forward to solving that next puzzle.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization

Staff Profile: Winnie Nwakobi, Coordinator of Community Programming

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

I have worked at Soulpepper as the Coordinator of Community Programming for 3 months now.  However, I have been a part of the Soulpepper community since 2010. I was a participant in the 2010 Youth Mentorship  Program and continued as an Alumni Programs Participant, a Program Assistant, and a Youth Link Artist.

As the Community Programming Coordinator, I work with the team to run all of the youth outreach and access programs at Soulpepper, as well as programs in schools and the local community. I also facilitate student group bookings for Soulpepper performances. Working in the administration here in my various capacities has been exciting and dynamic. I am now part of a team that provides opportunities for youth to explore their interests in theatre and the arts. These are opportunities that were provided to me, and to be on the other side of it is a privilege and I am very excited for the year ahead.

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

This past summer, I co-directed and produced a play called SCAT, which was performed at the Toronto Fringe Festival. I came to Soulpepper not long after that, and went through other exciting changes in my life. I basically got a new job, a new apartment, and got engaged all in the same week. The last couple of months have really been adapting to new environments and adjusting to new beginnings.

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

It depends on the day. I like watching Netflix on my couch, preferably accompanied by a glass of wine. I try to do a wine and cheese night at least once or twice a month! I also enjoy knitting around this time of year. That’s something I would really like to master eventually. Right now, simple headbands and scarfs are my thing…I am getting better with hats but I need a whole lot more practice. I LOVE to cook and bake and enjoy trying new recipes. So if you have any cool recipes – feel free to send them my way!

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

I love to dance!! I used to be in a dance group during my time at York University and I miss it very much. One of my goals for 2018 is to join a dance group/class and I am thoroughly looking forward to it! I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

What do you love about working at Soulpepper?

I love that this company feels like a community. We are all interconnected and everyone here has been incredibly welcoming to me. Being a part of this department is all the more rewarding because we get the opportunity to work with youth and provide free programming. One of my favourite moments so far was during a youth workshop – when I saw some participants come into the building for the first time. They were in awe of the building and the opportunity and were keen to learn and experience a performance at this theatre. It reminded of my first time here. I am looking forward to the coming year – to work directly with my fellow coworkers, youth, and community organizations.

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!

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.

Staff Profile: Mimi Warshaw – Operations Services Coordinator

mimi_newspepper2How long have you been at the Young Centre and what has your job consisted of lately?
11 months now! Hard to believe…  As Operations Services Coordinator for the Young Centre, the bulk of my job revolves around the space usage. If you’re looking to host an event in our spaces, I’m your gal! Though no two days are the same at the Young Centre, and sometimes I help out on weird jobs like folding a 4-foot paper crane.

What kinds of projects have you been involved with outside of work?
I just completed Second City’s year-long conservatory which was a blast! And now I am in the process of writing proposals for a performance piece I’d like to remount that focuses on food and culture and how they act to preserve one another. The Universal Dumping looks to explore what each culture’s version of a dumpling says about their culture, through a dinner with members of Toronto’s diverse food community.

When you’re not at work, what are you doing?
I love to cook and I’m an avid cyclist, but for the most part, I spend a lot of time watching theatre, especially comedy. Most nights you can find me plunked in a seat laughing like crazy at the amazing comedic talent Toronto has to offer.

What is a surprised hidden talent?
I can breathe fire. And then I taught my siblings. Now we’re like the Partridge Family of fire breathers. My parents are very proud!

What do you love about working at The Young Centre?
For sure it has to be the people. Everybody I get to work with is a joy and a laugh and incredibly supportive! I would work any job if these people were there! That, and OBVIOUSLY the Cruban Sandwich on Tuesdays at the Café.

Staff Profile: Sarah Farrell – General Counsel and Director of HR

Sarah-Farrell---2

How long have you worked at Soulpepper, and what has your job consisted of lately? I’ve been at Soulpepper since the summer of 2015.  I am General Counsel and Director of Human Resources.  “General Counsel” is another term for “Director of Legal Affairs”.  My job consists of all things legal and HR-related for Soulpepper.  On a micro level that means drafting and revising agreements, giving legal opinions on things like intellectual property rights, and providing recommendations with respect to regulatory requirements.  I am also involved in staff recruitment and evaluation, and in developing and implementing workplace policies and procedures.  I’m always happy to chat with Staff about questions, concerns, challenges and accomplishments!

What kinds of projects have you been involved in outside of work?
I’m very honoured to have been chosen to participate in the Federal Cultural Human Resources Council’s new ‘Talent to Lead’ mentorship/leadership program.  I just finished a tenure as President of the Toronto Fringe Festival’s Board of Directors. Prior to joining Soulpepper I had my own entertainment law practice specializing in theatre, film and tv.  In the slightly more distant past I was a cast member at Second City, a founding member, Producer and performer with the Toronto Festival of Clowns, and a Producer and performer with a multitude of other stage and tv shows.

When you’re not at work, what are you doing?
I have 2 very active toddlers at home, so I spend a lot of time running around after them!  Oh…and I’m taking a painting class, which I was nervous about, but I’m really loving it!

What is something we might be surprised to learn about you?
I studied clown and bouffon for several years with John Turner and Mike Kennard (Mump and Smoot), and Karen Hines (Pochsy, Crawlspace, etc.).  I’ve been told that my bouffon work is “side-splitting” (I can only assume in a good way).  I really love making people laugh, it’s such a joy.

What do you love about working at Soulpepper?
Everyone laughs at my jokes!  Seriously though, I love our team.  I get to work with some of Canada’s most accomplished, passionate and delightful theatre professionals.

Photo: Daniel Malavasi