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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.

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

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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

Staff Profile: Brian Butler – Café Manager

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How long have you worked at the Young Centre and tell us a little bit about what your job has consisted of lately.

I joined the Young Centre this past June. It’s been a quick seven months! Located in the beautiful atrium, my team (who I couldn’t do this without, they are amazing) and myself serve the staff, artists and students that work and learn within the Young Centre. We make a bit of a transition from cafeteria during the day to a theatre bar for our evening shows.

Over the past few months, I’ve really worked on bringing a new energy to the café. Whether it’s our new wines, menu items or approach to customer service, if you haven’t been to the Young Centre Cafe in a while, you might be pleasantly surprised!

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

Since moving to Toronto a year ago, I’ve done a lot of hiking from the Don Valley to trails near Orangeville. I’m always on the hunt for a new type of coffee, drink or dish that can inspire me. Another reason I love this city is the culture: the concerts, shows and events that happen all over the place. I try to get out and support them as much as I can. I’m also a pretty avid Toastmaster, which is a group where you get to hear some great speeches and interesting ideas.

What else occupies your time?

On weekends, you can usually find me reading a good book (currently J.D. Salinger’s biography) at my favourite coffee shop around the corner from my home. I’ll typically read 2-3 books a month (most of them on my commute to and from work.) In my spare time, I try to get to the gym to counterbalance being surrounded by desserts all day long. I think that’s the secret to not being 300 pounds when working at a café! Most recently, I’ve also starting taking a Spanish language course with a friend of mine, which is a lot of fun.

What is a hidden talent of yours?

I’m pretty good with recalling people’s names. There’s some people I meet just once and can still remember their name years later. To be honest, I don’t have any tricks, people’s names are just something I remember.

What do you love about working at the Young Centre?

My favourite part of the day is being able to bring a smile to our patrons’ faces. I love having the opportunity to talk with people and get to know them, whether it’s their first time to the Young Centre or they have been coming to shows since we first opened our doors. Our patrons are some of the best in the city, and beyond, with how supportive they have been. They are the reason we do what we do!

Photo: Daniel Malavasi  

Staff Profile: Daniel Malavasi – Digital Content Coordinator

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How long have you worked at Soulpepper and what has your job consisted of lately?
It’s been less than one year, but I feel like I’m part of the family already! I’m responsible for filming and editing promotional videos for our shows: trailers, interviews with artists, rehearsals…  anything that gives the audience a fuller idea of the Soulpepper experience, on stage and behind the scenes.

What kinds of projects are you involved in outside of work?
I’ve been editing short movies for Canadian directors since I moved here about three years ago. I worked in the film and TV industry in Brazil, as an editor, and since moving here I’ve expanded my activities to assistant director as well. I’m always editing something! I’m  especially proud of being part of a project called “Standardized”, an online original series that is running its second season now.

What else occupies your time?
I’ve always been an “indoors” person – the Canadian weather  is probably enhancing that even more! I watch a lot of movies and TV shows of all kinds, but I focus on the independent (and weird) ones. I also love anything horror-related: films, board games, videogames… A perfect way of spending the day, for me, is drinking a good hoppy beer with friends, watching a bad horror movie.

What is a hidden talent of yours?
I don’t consider myself a shy person, but I’m also not very good with small talk… That’s the opposite of a talent, right? On the other hand, if you start talking about any kind of art expression, I can keep the conversation forever. If I don’t know much about a subject, I will turn into a sponge – I love to learn.

What do you love about working at Soulpepper?
Ha! What don’t I love about Soulpepper? I feel like I’m in my element here: I help to tell stories about  subjects I love, using the skills I’ve  chosen to develop in the last decades. And a big plus: surrounded by incredibly talented people.

Staff Profile: Ella Batten – Marketing Coordinator

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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 was first involved with Soulpepper as a summer student in 2014 before heading back to UofT for my final year in Arts Management and Theatre. I returned as Soulpepper’s Marketing Coordinator the following spring and have been here ever since! Lately I’ve been working a lot with our beautiful new website, tweaking it towards digital perfection.

What is something we would be surprised to know about you?
I have years of busking experience playing violin/fiddle in Vancouver. It became my only source of income as its flexibility allowed me to focus on school, studying dance, and travel. I played for years every weekend at markets and public food courts, perfecting the balance of focus on my music and responding to my passing audience. When I was 16 I earned enough to travel through Peru!

What kinds of projects/events have you been involved in outside of work?
I am producing a deliciously exciting show called The Numbers Game, on stage September 29 at the Storefront Theatre! The Numbers Game is a 6-part miniseries set in the dirty 30’s, and dives into the race-fueled clash between Queenie St Claire and Dutch Shultz, two real-life titans of illicit industry. Unlike any other show, The Numbers Game has been written by a brilliant team of six playwrights and is performing new ‘episodes’ weekly at The Storefront.

When you’re not at work, what are you doing to have fun or relax?
If I’m not at Soulpepper or working on personal projects, I am most likely practicing yoga or eating. I’ve been indulging in my deck-garden’s basil crop all summer and have eagerly tried every recipe using Pesto I can find.

What do you love about working at Soulpepper?
There is a constant buzz in this building as everyone works towards bringing stories to life. No matter what a person’s role here is, from students to artists to administrators, we are all working towards bringing stories to life and creating a moment of communal *something*. Working with that shared purpose in mind is joyously satisfying.

Staff Profile: Sean Foreman – Patron Services Representative

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Photo: Daniel Malavasi

How long have you worked at the Young Centre and tell us a little bit about what your job has consisted of lately.

I’ve worked at the Young Centre Box Office for about four years now. Wow, four years. Certainly doesn’t feel like it.

On a daily basis I sell tickets, field questions and get to meet great people. It’s fun talking to people from all around the world and showing them what we have going on here.

Any projects that you are involved in outside of work?

In my spare time I like to write and direct videos. The work I produce is mostly comedic but I’ve also made dramatic short films and a bunch of music videos as well.

 When you’re not at work, where can we find you?

I write and perform with a comedy group called The 95s. Every once and awhile we put up an hour long show at Comedy Bar. It’s a great creative outlet and a lot of fun.

What is something we would be surprised to know about you/is a hidden talent?

You know that voice that your computer has when it dictates to you from a word processor? I’m able to speak like that for some reason. I don’t really know why, but who am I to question the universe?

What do you love about working at Soulpepper/The Young Centre?

The sense of community we have at Soulpepper is unmatched. It’s pretty wonderful that on my lunch break I can have a chat with an acclaimed actor, director or writer.  You can’t do that everywhere.