Donor Story: Kit and Barbara Moore

In April 2000, Kit Moore attended his first Soulpepper production. It was The Mill on the Floss, which had been suggested to him by a friend during Soulpepper’s third season. It was just two years after Soulpepper opened and Kit was excited to have a company in Toronto that focused on the classics. Kit was drawn to the inviting and warm nature of Soulpepper and its acting ensemble. Ten years later Kit introduced Barbara to Soulpepper. Barbara grew up in an artistic household and is a long-time patron of Toronto’s classical music scene. Aside from occasional jaunts to the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, she did not actively attend theatre.  Once she started attending Soulpepper with Kit, live theatre became a part of her life. Like Kit, Barbara enjoys theatre companies where you can get to know the actors and feel like a part of a community. As she puts it “It’s special to see a production, then, be joined by the familiar faces of the actors in the atrium post-show.”

Kit has been donating to Soulpepper for over 18 years. He recognized the financial challenges that any new start-up organization faces but believed in Soulpepper’s mission and wanted to support its growth. Barbara sees Soulpepper’s strength in its artists and its contribution to Toronto’s theatre ecology. The Moores feel that it is a priority to support theatre because of its power to expand your horizons, to present you with new points of view and also engage you in stories that often feel incredibly familiar. Kit and Barbara also appreciate the escape that attending live theatre offers. Kit, who is an avid rock climber and has been known to rappel down City Hall for charity each year, added: “Climbing on rocks outdoors is not unlike theatre, in that they both take us outside of our everyday lives for a little while.”

Over the next ten years, Kit and Barbara anticipate that Soulpepper will continue to work with great artists to produce new works and new old works they may have never seen before. Soulpepper is exactly the company that Kit imagined it would be 18 years ago.

Photographer: Janet Trost

Jacob Kay: Six Weeks with the City Youth Academy

I was first introduced to Soulpepper through one of their school visits when I was eight. Having just moved downtown, these school visits led by various Soulpepper artists including: Paula Wing, Martha Burns, Bill Webster, Sarah Wilson, and Jennifer Villaverde gave me my first taste of theatre. I find community programming like the City Youth Academy and school visits a crucial method in producing an inclusive means of artistic expression for youth. After more than a decade later, programming like the City Youth Academy is one of the reasons I felt so strongly to apply to work with Soulpepper this summer, this time as a program assistant.

The City Youth Academy has been such a rewarding opportunity to be a part of. I had the chance to work with ten vibrant, eclectic, and diverse young  performers, each bringing such a great enthusiasm and sharpness which reminded how joyous theatre making is. As the Program Assistant, I worked with Program Leader, Jennifer Villaverde, to assist in facilitating the guest artists’ workshops, creation and exploration in various forms of devised theatre, and stage managed the final performance. Additionally, the environment within the Young Centre was such an incredible way to spend my summer. For the first time, I was able to go ‘behind-the-scenes’ and witness the immense dedication and drive each Soulpepper staff and administrator brings to their work.

Photo by Winnie Doyle-Marshall (3)

City Youth Academy participants in Graffiti Alley on Discovery Day

As far as the CYA participants, they have each grown in various ways over the six weeks. This program’s emphasis on collaborative creation has ensured a sense of constructive idea building within the creation itself. Functioning as one unit, a “Blob” as referenced in their final piece I Was Here, is essential to utilizing every single group member’s assets and skills, without creating a hierarchy of voices. As well, through creation and scene study work with Guest Artist Jordan Pettle, it was evident how much empathy they had for each other through their keen listening skills onstage. As they got more comfortable with each other, they learned the individuality of each of their peer’s processes, a crucial skill in producing an environment conducive to meaningful creation.

Photo by Daniel Malavasi (36)

Learning a Fight Brawl with Guest Fight Director Casey Hudecki

Looking at the past six weeks there are so many highlights! Here’s just a few:

  • Blowing bubbles through the Distillery to bring back a sense of ‘joy’
  • Spending a day exploring Graffiti Alley and Kensington Market
  • African Dance with Guest Artist Pulga Muchochoma
  • Getting the opportunity to sit in on a Bed & Breakfast rehearsal
  • Watching the performers ecstatically learn a “Fight Brawl” from Guest Fight Director Casey Hudecki
  • Getting to know and work with amazing administrators, especially Fiona Suliman and Winnie Doyle-Marshall
Photo by Daniel Malavasi (94)

City Youth Academy Learning African dance with Pulga Muchochoma

Do you know any youth interested in training in theatre and developing their own artistic practice? Applications for next years City Youth Academy will be open next spring.

“Sisters are for sharing laughter and wiping tears”

In honour of the powerful bonds of sisterhood and the World Premiere of Sisters later this month (Aug. 23), we asked those in the cast who have sisters to share something about their own. Here is what Karen Robinson and Raquel Duffy shared with us.

Karen Robinson

My great-grandmother had three daughters.  Her youngest, my grandmother Esther, had three daughters.  Esther’s youngest, my mother Joy, had three daughters.  I am Joy’s youngest.  I have no children.  So many sisters in my maternal lineage, and my particular strand ended with me. Makes me want to hold my sisters that much closer.

Raquel Duffy 

I have two amazing sisters. My sister Tara reminded me of this memory.

When our family moved off Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia, my little sister started school for the first time. She was incredibly nervous and needed me to walk her to and from school, and also stay with her through recess…for the ENTIRE YEAR. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with this arrangement. I wanted to make friends in our new school, but instead was surrounded by snotty nosed, little children.

One day, as punishment for attempting to talk to a fellow classmate during History, I was forced to stay behind and clean the blackboards. I knew my sister would be waiting so I asked to be released from eraser duty. The teacher refused my request. Ten minutes later, I hear very loud screams coming from outside. Teachers and staff came out of the woodwork and started running outside to help. Yes, the screams were coming from my distraught sister. She was in such a state, I was granted a dismissal from detention. I ran out of the school, feeling horrible that my sister felt that I’d abandoned her. When I saw her, I hugged her tightly and told her I was so sorry and not to worry, I would never leave without her. She said, “Oh, I know that. I just screamed to get you out of detention!”

Join us at Sisters, perhaps even with your sister, to reveal the hidden heroism in the everyday life of Ann and Evelina Bunner. Performances run August 23 to September 16.


Staff Profile: Myles Garland, Development Intern

What is your job title?

I am the Development Intern here at Soulpepper.

What does your role entail?

As an intern, my role here is to help out wherever I can! More specifically, my role entails assisting with administrative support, donor stewardship, marketing research, and event logistics and planning within the development department.

Describe a bit about the teams you work with?

I work closely with all members of the development team. Since starting here a month ago, I have spent the most time working with Brandon, Erin, and Angela, focusing on day to day operations including administrative support, thanking donors, and development research efforts. I also work with Mary, Director of Development, and Kathy, Associate Director of Development, on donor stewardship, reports, and some early stage event planning for upcoming Soulpepper events. I also work intermittently with the Marketing and Communications team, helping Brad, Milusha, Jason, and Michael with projects ranging from community outreach initiatives to miscellaneous marketing research tasks and archiving. I have also had the opportunity to sit down with Tania, and Chris, and will be helping out in various areas of the producing department within the weeks to come.

What are you most enjoying learning/working on while you’re here?

It’s extremely rewarding to be able to work within multiple different departments with their ongoing work and initiatives. I enjoy being able to see how they operate and overlap and learn how departments fit into one another. I also love working in an office that involves such a dynamic and stimulating work environment. Whether a day involves the option to participate in a professional development workshop, sit in on an arts management seminar, or get a sneak-peak at an upcoming production, there are always opportunities to learn more about non-profit management and what goes on behind the scenes. It’s also great to work within such a vibrant artistic community; I love feeling inspired by working with people who are so passionate about what they do.

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

I love sharks! I spent a month doing volunteer field research in South Africa for marine conservation a couple years ago where I got to see and study great white sharks in the wild almost every day. I definitely wouldn’t dive into the water with them, but I love them from afar and you can probably find me watching shark documentaries in my spare time.

Staff Profile: Angela Chau, Development Officer of Corporate Partnerships & Foundations

What is your job title?

I am the Development Officer of Corporate Partnerships & Foundations here at Soulpepper.

What does your role entail?

My role primarily focuses on managing the relationships with our corporate sponsors and foundation partners that support our year-round programming as well as specific program initiatives, such as the Soulpepper Family Festival and Soulpepper’s youth and access programs.

What is the best part of your job?

What I love about fundraising is making those connections with our donors and supporters. It is satisfying to be able to help a donor develop a deeper connection with the company where they believe in the importance of our work to support us with a philanthropic gift. Each time our team receives a positive note or comment from a donor about their experience and why they support Soulpepper – whether it’s the talent of the artists they saw on stage, the way a scene made them feel, the importance or relevance of a production, or how the work we are doing in the community had a positive impact on someone they personally know – it is deeply rewarding.

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

You can often find me eating (love food!), taking long walks around the city, riding my bike, and taking fitness classes as I am an avid believer in the importance of self-care and taking care of your body. To me, health is wealth. You can also find me spending time with friends and family, as well as listening to podcasts because I am fascinated by the stories we tell, how they are told, and learning something new.

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

I love to travel – experiencing and learning about other cultures, its history, cuisines, their way of life, has just helped me to be more empathetic and become a better human. My last big trip was to Peru which has now become one of my favourite destinations! My next trip? A two-week road trip in the States where I’ll be visiting Yosemite, Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon national parks – to name a few – and hope to find little gems in between. I also have a pretty extensive plant collection and I recently learned how to drive stick, which is something I’m pretty proud of!

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

Soulpepper will be announcing its newest 2018-2019 season in July and I’m really excited for it all. I can’t share what those are just yet but what I can say is, although I am not part of the creative team, whenever I see our Soulpepper artists at work, I am always taken aback by the incredible talent and quality of the shows that Soulpepper has to offer. Stay tuned!

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

Summer Set Designs from Academy Designers Alexandra Lord & Michelle Tracey

Our two Academy designers, Alexandra Lord and Michelle Tracey, are working on the next two Summer shows Bed and Breakfast and Sisters. Both sets they’ve respectively designed are homes to two, but each home tells a very different story.

Bed and Breakfast Set Design by Alexandra Lord

The set design for Bed and Breakfast is the essentialized architectural structure of a turn of the century home. This familiar frame is filled out by one unconventional couple who learn to love each nook and cranny of this house, the small town it is in, the townspeople around them and, at the center of it all, each other. The set itself contains all they need to tell the story of the year it takes to make a house a home. There are doors that swing both ways, hidden storage closets and front and back stairs. Brett, played by Gregory Prest, and Drew, played by Paolo Santalucia,  move us from multiple locations in the city to a small town and evoke everyone they meet along the way as they prepare to open their Bed and Breakfast with open arms and open hearts.

– Alexandra Lord

Sisters Set Design by Michelle Tracey

The set design for Sisters is at once a representation of the physical home of Anne and Evelina Bunner, their shop, and a transitory space that allows us to jump quickly through time, to flow seamlessly from location to location, and from reality to fantasy. The scenic design is also a physicalization of Anne’s internal world. At the heart of the play is Anne’s mission of self-sacrifice for the benefit of her sister; the audience has a chance to follow her emotional journey in addition to the story through the transformation of the space.

– Michelle Tracey

Bed and Breakfast, by Mark Crawford and directed by Ann Marie Kerr, begins August 11 and runs through September 1.

Sisters, written by another academy member Rosamund Small and directed by Peter Pasyk, runs August 23 to September 16.


Donor Profile: Archie Platt

How did you first learn about Soulpepper/What is your first memory of Soulpepper?

I found Soulpepper on the National Ballet of Canada website.  When I accessed Soulpepper’s website, the breadth of the theatre and the concerts Soulpepper offered impressed me most.  My first memory of Soulpepper was my attendance at The Secret Chord:  A Leonard Cohen Experience.  The artists delivered an outstanding performance.  The intimacy of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts as a venue for performance enhanced the artists’ delivery of Leonard Cohen’s songs that evening.  I enjoyed that concert so much that I am attending the concert again at Soulpepper in July!

What inspires you to support Soulpepper?

I want to support an artist’s passion for performance.  I want to continue to have Soulpepper produce outstanding theatre and concerts.

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?

The arts contribute to the fabric and the texture of this city, this province and this country.  It is for this reason that I am contributing to Soulpepper.

Where do you see Soulpepper in 10 years?

I see Soulpepper continuing to deliver the wide breadth of theatre and concert performances.  I see Soulpepper continuing to reach out to the community and to mentor the next generation of artists.  I see Soulpepper as a place where an artist can express themselves and have their voice heard.

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