Give and Take and Grow and SHIFT

About 15 years ago, I co-directed a version of "Alice in Wonderland" at a middle school in Coquitlam; a very smart, very keen, bespectacled kid was our resident theatre tech, if you can reimagine a middle school gymnasium as a theatre (which, I'm sure, you can).

This kid was tireless and took direction well; I was tireless and very green, in my first teaching position. I held big ideas about my future, and I'll bet that so did he.

That kid was Nick Sartore. 

A couple of years later, at Pinetree Secondary's Treehouse Theatre, Nick and I were working together again; he tidily made up for my lack of technical expertise and I directed, choreographed, and produced with a particularly switched on group of student artists.

8 years ago, Nick and some former classmates cooked up plans for the first SHIFT 1-Act Festival, and presented an energizing few evenings of one act plays with new and emerging artists at the Inlet Theatre in Port Moody. Nick asked me for advice, and for support, which I was glad to give. 

When the festival's success seemed to open a window of opportunity, Nick co-founded SHIFT Theatre, and I was invited to join the new Board of Directors. This way, I could continue in an advocacy and mentorship role while making engaging theatre alongside people with whom I identified, with my friends. Nick found his footing as a theatre director in our first few full seasons; our circle grew a little wider, we moved operations to Vancouver and the time for change was ripe again.

Now the festival that built the foundation for SHIFT is in it's 8th annual iteration; Nick and I are sharing the role of Artistic Director until he steps away completely to pursue new (big) ideas for his future. I didn't have this job in mind even 6 months ago, but for the present, it's the perfect fit. I am thoroughly jazzed by how the 1-Act Festival 8 is shaping up: As a proponent of a "make it happen" mentality, I am proud to present four original, locally-developed plays. As a feminist theatre maker, I am fist-pumping about the three female playwrights involved and the fascinating roles for women that all four playwrights have created. I'm ecstatic to work with Production Manager Sarah Mabberley and as an audience member, I am looking forward to seeing these well-crafted, well-scripted, very unique shows back to back to back. 

It's Nick's turn to mentor me: he's teaching me all of the systems, digital and otherwise, that he built.  We work well as an effective, artistic team. We both have grown up some, I'd say, and our audience has grown up with us. Let's meet at the Cultch in six weeks, June 17 - 20th, to celebrate collaboration, community-making, and great story telling by some undeniable local talents.

The "Parachute" Peril of Festival Participation

I'm thinking about the best way to create a stronger sense of community, to set the stage for ally-making and for professional development as part of 1-Act Festival 8. 

From recent conversations with participants in previous 1-Act festivals, it's clear that the process toward tech day and festival dates allows for little more than a fabulous "parachute" culture: You swoop in to present your great, short work, with passion, and you swoop out. We tech all of the shows on one single well-orchestrated day and we run all of the shows back-to-back every night; participants from last year, for example, tell me that they never saw the fascinating work of their fellow participants. 

Time is tight, and moving very quickly toward June already, but SHIFT wants to create the space for festival parachuters to meet, to mingle, to share a preview, and then maybe someday they'll share a resource, a contact, a script, a workshop...Time is tight, but I have an inkling that we can do more for the process, the production and for each presenter if we take a few minutes to get to know each other.



Climb over mid-week with news about 1-Act Festival 8!

This is my first-ever blog entry as new Artistic Director of SHIFT Theatre and what better way to mark the occasion than by celebrating our collaborators in 1-Act Festival 8? Thank you to the jury committee, including Katrina Dunn of Touchstone Theatre and Dani Fecko of Boca Del Lupo and thank you to all of the applicants. 

The brave line up for this year's four-night festival is solidly diverse, and seriously exciting:

"Run" by Anthea Morritt

This unnerving solo show is about love, about loss, about so much more than first meets the eye.

"Another Shot" by C.R. Packer

A UBC grad details a strange crime in small town British Columbia.

"Deer Harper" by Pippa Mackie

A prolific local theatre artist explores the untamed power dynamics of love, and Canadian politics.

"Mis Papas" by Pedro Chamale

Artistic Director of rice and beans theatre remounts this personal and bilingual story of happily-ever-after against the ropes.

I can hardly wait.