My fondest memories of Dalhousie are my memories of action – those of working in the rehearsal room with passionate individuals and the shared goal of creating something spectacular. Practical experience was the opportunity to extend on what I had learned within the classroom and test it in a space that cheekily played with the qualities of unpredictability, self-reliance, and partnership. For the majority of my undergraduate career, I had worked with the Dalhousie Theatre Society as an amateur theatre company to produce plays and musicals, host social events, facilitate workshops and advocate for issues affecting theatre students. In my fourth year, I had the privilege of continuing my experiential learning in the Halifax community as an apprentice for DaPoPo Theatre Company.
Through the Fountain School of the Performing Arts, I was fortunate to participate in the roll out of an apprenticeship program. Theatre studies students had the opportunity to apprentice with a Halifax based company for a full academic year to further develop administrative and creative skills. DaPoPo Theatre is an independent theatre company that creates daring, political, poetic theatre for audiences, artists and art. My supervisor Garry Williams, DaPoPo’s Artistic Director, and I crafted a curriculum that would hit multiple facets of theatre work such as dramaturgy and research, PR work, grant-writing, script work, and collective creation. In October, I was involved in their annual Live-In Festival (a month long celebration of theatre incorporating performances, workshops, special events, and two play reading series). Among various commitments for the Live-In 2015: Further To the Left, I volunteered at the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Cabaret, as a reader and co-facilitator for talkbacks, and in a stage managerial role for The Fear Project (a workshop performance directed by Guillermo Verdecchia that was later mounted at the Atlantic Fringe Festival 2016).
In regards to theatre education and community outreach, I also aided organization and designed marketing material for DaPoPo’s Youth Ensemble: Theatre Arts Creative Training Intensive Class – a weeklong training program emphasizing marginalized creation techniques including Viewpoints, Agit-Prop & Theatre of the Oppressed. This project increased my scope of community interaction and pushed me to be extremely detail oriented in order to create a publishable and distributable project. Through working with DaPoPo Theatre I fostered a more thorough knowledge of Canadian artists, gained first-hand experience of the creative process involved in developing new work, tackled the challenges in dramaturgical annotation, explored how to organize feedback sessions to be fruitful in creating positive criticism – the skills I could list are endless. Yet one thing is important to mention: wherever my career takes me, I am confident in my understanding that these experiences have developed transferrable knowledge that will forever be a strong foundation for me.
Since the apprenticeship and my graduation, I’ve moved to Toronto to pursue a Master of Arts in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. In extending on what I learned during my apprenticeship, I was hired this past summer as an Education Assistant at Theatre Ontario to help organize their Summer Theatre Intensive. I continue to volunteer there as a Special Projects Intern where I am involved in compiling material and writing grants for diverse projects. I am further involved in the Toronto theatre scene as an Emerging Artist at Theatre Gargantua and member of Nightwood Theatre’s Young Innovators Program. Academic research and hands-on creation are two passions of mine from which I stubbornly refuse to pick a favourite – and I see that as a great thing. At this intersection I have met and continue to meet extraordinary people who inspire me and challenge me to ask questions. In these fields I will discover, create art and explore. The path isn’t the clearest, but one thing is for certain: my great adventure has begun.