BEST LAID PLANS: Ryan Bommarito

I came to Quebec on a whim. In 2015. In December. 

I thought I would stay for 3 months.

It turned into 4 years.

And counting.

Life has a funny way of skewing plans.

I came here because I heard Montreal was a cool city to live in.

I stayed because I grew to agree with the sentiment.

Likewise, the English theatre scene intrigues me greatly. I am continually inspired and motivated by its constant consideration towards theatre’s function within a society. What do stories do to people, how are they told, and by whom? There is a responsibility to the greater impact that underlies a lot of work here, that I love. 

I’ve also experienced an incredible amount of support here: be it developing TOMORROW, founding Hooks and Crooks, initiating Freefalling Monthly, or planning The Creation Lab – there have always been people eager help make it happen.

Because of these things, I feel that my future here, in this city, and in this province, calls for much work. Due to this community’s focus on addressing socio-economic inequality, and its tendency to challenge the status-quo, I’ve been swept up into a greater concern regarding our future on this planet. Projections call for some harrowing new normals regarding extreme weather, and its impacts. Human caused C02 emissions are fast-tracking global warming to the point that socio-economic collapse is expected as early as 2050. This, I cannot stress enough, is real, and approaching rapidly. My future here, as an artist, is definitely one of working to inform, inspire and motivate action. Radical action is required if we hope to ensure a vibrant future for Quebec theatre, radical action is required to ensure a vibrant future for ourselves.

Life has a funny way of skewing plans.

-Ryan Bommarito

BEST LAID PLANS: Tim Rodrigues

 The plan was to move to Montréal to study Contemporary Dance, earn my BFA and move back to Toronto for Teachers College. Clearly, there was a change in plans. After completing my BFA & studying Lighting Design briefly, I decided to stay in Québec, and start my career here in Montréal. I stayed because I felt being in Québec would give me an opportunity to continue learning alongside skilled technicians, brilliant lighting designers and talented performers in multiple disciplines, instead of going into a situation where I felt I would not have a chance to see as much up close, right away. In my opinion, the variety of opportunities to work on festivals and with independent companies or touring companies in Québec, is unparalleled.

Over the course of my career, I’ve never stopped learning, I am always challenged and feel as though I am constantly growing & shifting inside of my creative process. I do believe that this is largely due to the diverse & rich nature of performing arts that we have access to in this province. It’s as though creative energy never stops coursing through the veins of the artistic communities here and they all seemingly influence each other at some point. The opportunities to observe, participate in, learn from or connect with moments/movements are so tangible here. 

Having had the opportunity to tour inside Québec and abroad, I have seen affect our work can have as it ripples outwards, as much as we feel the effects of tides that flow in and out of our immediate community. I want to stay involved in the creation of these ripples that start in our community and move across our country, whether that’s contributing through my work as a Lighting Designer or through my duties as Vice-President of the Board of Directors for Mainline Theatre/Montréal Fringe, or one day acting as a mentor to creatives & designers. 

A visible & vocal community that fosters growth & respect, evolves with our times to reflect the community’s diversity and champions one another, is what I hope for, for the future of Québec Theatre.

-Tim Rodrigues

BEST LAID PLANS: Holly Gauthier-Frankel

Oh Montreal, city of my heart, you are an ephemeral thing. 

Born and raised in you, odd, bohemian, Québécois hamlet, I’ve absorbed so many of your different facets. I learned how to understand the violent histories that run through you, and through so many cultural stories in terrible and beautiful ways. I learned how to make pain into art that might mean something to someone in you. I took in your music and literature; I saw your choreographies and paintings; I danced in laughing back alleys and listened to people drinking, smoking and riffing. Watched several solitudes divide and merge and divide over and over again and, being made up of some solitudes myself, learned how to navigate the catharsis in making my own weird magic. I absorbed the Fringe Festival into my blood, my theatre birthplace, and we made joyful madness together. But the moments that now mean the most to me seem to be when I can share what I know with new generations of wild-eyed conspirators, ones with more energy or fire than I might have, ones with innovative ways to bring theatre into the spotlight for reasons other than ignorance or lack of funding or mediocrity or fear. I see them, the dangerous dreamers, the ones who keep loving and creating and performing on knife-edges, in quirky apartments, with dear soul-friends, with companies that struggle to stay afloat, with companies that may or may not understand or want or need us but who hire us anyway or not, with audiences that we always love and sometimes must goad into changing so that we can evolve and become even more ourselves, together. Montreal. Québec. You’re still a place for visionaries and dreamers; let us keep weaving new worlds from you, and let us ultimately hear the stories of voices who were here before the beginning you think you know. They can show us how to dream, united. Thank you for always letting me boldly share my heart with you.

-Holly Gauthier-Frankel

Job Posting: Administrative Coordinator

QDF is currently seeking a part-time (8-10hrs/week) Administrative Coordinator with a one-year contract beginning on August 5, 2019. The position pays $150-$180/week.

Reporting to the Managing Director, the Administrative Coordinator is responsible for ensuring efficient office systems and processes. The Administrative Coordinator will maintain records (financial, governmental, etc.); participate in the development and implementation of new administrative policies and processes; and assist in all elements of data entry and reporting.

Administrative Coordinator

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Maintains digital and physical office records and documentation
  • Liaises with various parties to gather and share relevant information while maintaining confidentiality of information
  • Keeps pertinent accounts payable and receivable records and handles relevant inquiries
  • Assists in the preparation of monthly financial updates and spreadsheets for reconciliation purposes
  • Assists with all banking requirements – cheques, deposits, etc.
  • Assists on all regulatory and funding bodies’ reporting as required
  • Assists in the development and implementation of new administrative policies and processes.

Candidate profile:

  • Dependable, punctual, team player with outstanding interpersonal skills
  • Enthusiastic and self-motivated
  • Ability to manage multiple deadlines, adapting to changing priorities as necessary
  • Strong organization and time-management skills
  • Practical knowledge of non-profit administrative systems and basic accounting skills are essential
  • Proficient with MS Office (Excel), accounting software (Quickbooks), and database management
  • Familiar with grant reporting systems
  • Fluent in English and French
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills
  • Eager to work collaboratively with a small but dedicated staff, Board of Directors and the talented artists of Quebec

Candidates are asked to send a CV and comprehensive Cover Letter by environmentally friendly email (as attached PDF files) to md.quebecdramafederation@gmail.com. Applications should include references.

Candidates must submit applications by Friday, July 19, 2019 at 3PM though applications will be considered as they come in and interviews may be held prior to this date. The selected candidate will begin training on the week of August 5, 2019 and take over the position as of the week of August 12, 2018.

QDF represents and gives voice to people who identify diversely across the spectrums of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and ability. Quebec Drama Federation is an equal opportunity employer and values diversity in its workforce, encouraging applications from all qualified individuals. We strongly encourage applications from members of equity seeking groups, including but not limited to: persons with disabilities, BIPOC communities, gender fluid, non-binary and gender non-conforming people, newcomers to Canada and from all groups who experience marginalization. We encourage applicants to self-identify in their cover letter if they are comfortable doing so. We thank all applicants for their interest but only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Located in Montreal Quebec, the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF) is a membership organization that exists to support English-language theatre companies, artists and their artistic expressions in Quebec. This support manifests itself through leadership, collaborations with partners and stakeholders in the community, promotion of the artists and companies, professional development and identification of the role of theatre in the community at large.

Job Posting: Membership & Communications Coordinator

QDF is currently seeking a part-time (25hrs/week) Membership & Communications Coordinator with a year-long contract beginning on August 5, 2019. The position pays 15$/hour, payable in correspondence with net amounts after all standard employment deductions.

Reporting to the Managing Director, the Membership & Communications Coordinator is responsible for the coordination and execution of QDF’s membership and communications strategies. The Membership & Communications Coordinator will write, produce and distribute materials using QDF’s communications channels and will monitor and maintain the QDF website and social media platforms. The Membership & Communications Coordinator will provide front line membership assistance and ensure that QDF’s visions, goals and objectives fully support its membership.

Membership and Communications Coordinator

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Prepare and execute all promotional aspects of QDF programs, services, events, and initiatives
  • Provide front line assistance with membership registration and renewal including payment processing & database maintenance
  • Plan and execute social media campaigns and strategies
  • Manage, maintain and update company website
  • Compile post-event and monthly analytics + communications reports
  • Compile monthly and annual membership reports
  • Manage and adhere to a Membership and Communications budget as given by Managing Director
  • Manage and compile online submissions for quarterly calendar, bi-weekly newsletter, and social media campaigns
  • Design promotional materials such as posters and graphics for web
  • Attend and provide live coverage of member events on behalf of QDF
  • Contribute and provide support to QDF’s advocacy activities
  • Answer phones and general email inquiries

Candidate profile:

  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills
  • Dependable, punctual, team player with outstanding interpersonal skills
  • Enthusiastic and self-motivated
  • Ability to manage multiple deadlines, adapting to changing priorities as necessary
  • Strong organization and management skills
  • Responsive and considerate of membership needs
  • Practical knowledge of theatre environment is essential. Cultural policy and arts advocacy knowledge and an understanding of the broader performing arts landscape is an asset.
  • Familiar with design software (e.g. InDesign, Photoshop), MailChimp, Microsoft office, Facebook, Twitter, website and database management
  • Fluent written and spoken in English and French languages
  • Eager to work collaboratively with a small but dedicated staff, Board of Directors and the talented artists of Quebec

Candidates are asked to send a CV and comprehensive Cover Letter by environmentally friendly email (as attached PDF files) to md.quebecdramafederation@gmail.com. Applications should include references.

Candidates must submit applications by Friday, July 19, 2019 at 3PM though applications will be considered as they come in and interviews may be held prior to this date. The selected candidate will begin training the week of August 5, 2019 and take over the position as of the week of August 12, 2018.

QDF represents and gives voice to people who identify diversely across the spectrums of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and ability. Quebec Drama Federation is an equal opportunity employer and values diversity in its workforce, encouraging applications from all qualified individuals. We strongly encourage applications from members of equity seeking groups, including but not limited to: persons with disabilities, BIPOC communities, gender fluid, non-binary and gender non-conforming people, newcomers to Canada and from all groups who experience marginalization. We encourage applicants to self-identify in their cover letter if they are comfortable doing so. We thank all applicants for their interest but only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Located in Montreal Quebec, the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF) is a membership organization that exists to support English-language theatre companies, artists and their artistic expressions in Quebec. This support manifests itself through leadership, collaborations with partners and stakeholders in the community, promotion of the artists and companies, professional development and identification of the role of theatre in the community at large.

Behind the Curtain: Within The Glass

With Dale Hayes!

Photo credit: James Douglas

Quebec Drama Federation: Within The Glass is written by Concordia alumna Anna Chatterton. Had you seen a performance of it before?

Dale Hayes: No, I hadn’t seen Within The Glass before. We read it and the play hit the criteria we look for: simple set, moving in real time, and interesting and contrasting characters while keeping with  d² productions’ mandate to produce and showcase Canadian playwrights.  The simplicity and humanity of the play resonates with d²’s own voice, which eased in our decision to produce it.

QDF: You and the Assistant Director Max Mehran also did the set design! How has it been creating this vision for the production?

DH: It was pretty easy actually. The play is in real time and spans over 90 minutes. We therefore, have no set changes, or lighting and sound cues. We wanted to create a set that was as simple as possible but yet illustrates Darah and Michael’s social status, which is one of the key element in the play.  We are very fortunate and grateful that Primo International supplied all the set pieces.  The Segal Studio space is intimate thus we created a set that adds to the intimacy by giving a sense that the audience is looking through peep holes as the characters move through the evening.

QDF: Can you talk a bit about the production’s themes and their relevance today?

DH: What defines motherhood? Is it nature or nurture? Is it a morality or legality? What does it truly mean to be a parent? For reasons like pursuing a career, couples today are waiting until they are much older to start families. Consequently, they experience difficulties when conceiving and turn to IVF clinics for help. The play is an emotional minefield sprinkled with very funny moments. Anna Chatterton did a great job balancing the serious and tense moments with lighter and comedic ones.

QDF: What are you hoping for audiences to take away from the production?  

DH: I want the audience to leave discussing the issues raised during the play and, more importantly, ask themselves: “What would I do?”  Anna carefully crafted this difficult but very real human experience in order to possibly suggest that a mother’s love could trump science.

You can see Within The Glass at The Segal Centre from March 27- March 31! Tickets are available here. Thanks Dale for taking the time.

Behind the Curtain: How Black Mothers Say I Love You

We had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Andrea Davis who is currently starring in How Black Mothers Say I Love You. The production is midway through their run at Centaur Theatre so we had a check-in, spoke about the music in the show and dipped our toes into the waters of motherhood.

Andrea Davis in How Black Mothers Say I Love You. Photo by: Kym Dominique Ferguson

Quebec Drama Federation: You’re about midway through the production. Soon it’ll be travelling to premiere in Brampton at the Rose Theatre! How has it been going for you and the team so far?

Andrea Davis: Well, it’s been a lot of hard work getting here, but now that we’re midway through our run, the show has become even more of what it is supposed to be.  This happens with most shows: the cast gets to the point where the words and actions are just “in you”, you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do or say next so much.  All of us are finding great new ways to interact on stage and finding interesting ways to flesh out our characters. Black Theatre Workshop’s Artistic Director Quincy Armorer dropped by the show last night. He hasn’t seen it since opening and he was very ebullient about how much the show has gelled.  The pacing of How Black Mothers Say I Love You makes it a real pleasure to perform, especially now that we can all play with it a bit more. So we’re all looking forward to moving the show to the Rose Theatre in Brampton. None of us have ever performed there before, so that makes it even more exciting.  I’ve heard that it’s an excellent theatre and that the audiences are very generous. We’re all looking forward to the adventure! The show is in a place now where I believe we could take it anywhere and it would still be great!

QDF: Music plays a central role in the production. Was there any music or songs that influenced your work in the performance?

AD: I’m a big music fan, and I listen to all different types of music:  rap, R&B, reggae, rock, jazz, classical, world beat, EDM, opera, klezmer, you name it.  I’m one of those people who believes that everything you’ve experienced is what makes you who you are today.  And I kind of feel that way about the music in this play. Like my musical preferences, the music in How Black Mothers Say I Love You is very eclectic, which is something I really love about it.  I feel that a lot of the ways in which people listen to music now (for example streaming) forces you to listen to one genre at a time. Unless you spend a lot of time making playlists from different sources, you get channelled into choosing one type of music and that’s all you get. But I think, like me, a lot of people are interested in and listen to lots of different types of music.  This play reflects that perfectly and with subtlety, thanks to our composer Gavin Bradley and our musical director Alejandra Nunez. You’ll hear touches of many different styles of music throughout the play. The fact that it changes from one genre to another is never jarring or surprising; it simply adds more complexity to the piece, supports the action of the play and gives a more worldly aspect to the settings (sometimes otherworldly too!).

Andrea Davis in How Black Mothers Say I Love You. Photo by: Kym Dominique Ferguson

QDF: The narrative of mother-daughter dynamics and reconciliation is one we don’t see enough in theatre. How has the process been in delving into the subject matter of motherhood?

AD: It’s so true, there aren’t that many plays that delve into motherhood very deeply.  Motherhood is always a big subject, but in this play it reaches astronomical proportions.  Daphne’s absence, the generation gap, the religious divide, issues surrounding sexuality…it’s a real can of worms.  During rehearsal we delved very deeply into the characters’ thoughts, interactions, histories and motivations and we talked a lot about our own experiences.  I believe that going through all of that so deeply brought all of us on the team closer together. There is so much to explore there, and believe me, we explored it, and yet I find I’m still finding new things as the run progresses. 

We had our first “Talkback” (where the audience can stay to ask questions or make comments after the show) on Sunday. It was incredible. Not only did 90% of the audience stay, the questions and comments were so compelling, thoughtful, intelligent and insightful.  Quite frankly, it was the best talkback I’ve ever experienced – and I’ve done quite a few in my day! I was blown away. To me, it’s a testament to the fact that people are really connecting with this story and the characters in it, and that audiences definitely need more of this kind of work out there.  Our goal with this production is to help people heal, and I could see clearly from all of the comments and questions that we received that we are doing that. Unfortunately, Daphne’s story is not unique. There are many families out there who have experienced the trauma of separation—women who have had to leave their children behind in order to make a better life, who sacrificed everything to create better opportunities for their children. How Black Mothers Say I Love You gives audiences a chance to see the strengths, vulnerabilities and misunderstandings of the family members at a distance, and that distance gives them the opportunity to see the situation in a new light.  I believe that with understanding comes compassion, and with compassion comes healing, and that is what we all hope to bring to audiences with this play.

ABOUT Andrea Davis

Andrea is proud and elated to be working with Black Theatre Workshop on this magnificent play. Her career has taken her across the country and around the world. Her theatre credits include Intimate Apparel (Grand Theatre), Romeo & Juliet (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre), Refuge (Tarragon Theatre) The Ventriloquist (Factory Theatre) Recent Experiences (International Tour) and Hamlet (CanStage). Film & TV credits include Orphan Black (Temple Street) Mary Kills People, Rookie Blue, The Firm (E-One) Saving Hope (NBC-TV) Da Kink In My Hair (Global TV) and the independent short film Screenthru (Bravofact). Andrea would like to express her deep gratitude to her mother, Monica, for continually performing fearless acts of love for our family.

Cast of How Black Mothers Say I Love You. Photo by: Kym Dominique Ferguson

How Black Mothers Say I Love You is currently running at Centaur Theatre until March 16, 2019. Thank-you to Andrea for taking the time to speak to us about the production! You can also check out the 3PM matinee after our Serving Up Knowledge: Process of Care event happening at Centaur this Sunday March 10 @ 1PM!

Behind the Curtain: Numbers Increase As We Count…

We had a quick conversation with the creator of the upcoming Numbers Increase As We Count… Ülfet Sevdi! We talked about her research and the Theatre of the Oppressed!

Photo: Cedric Laurenty

Quebec Drama Federation: The production, Numbers Increase As We Count… includes testimonies and documentation from subjects who experienced displacement and forced-sex work. What was the process of research and collecting narratives?

Ülfet Sevdi: The production includes research and documentation about women who have been displaced and forced into sex-work, but it does not include direct testimonies from victims. Some of the team members have experienced first-hand the effects of the Iraq and, more recently, Syrian wars. I am also a witness of the effects of war, having volunteered in centres for refugee kids in Turkey. The performance does however include one testimony in the form of an interview, from Yanar Mohammed (President of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq), who is in charge of women shelters in Iraq and talks about the situation there. The process of collecting and understanding the situation started more than five years ago, while I was still in Turkey. And it continues until now.
The project focuses on our testimonies, on what we feel, on what we should do when we know things like these happen, on how we can respond as artists. It is an outcry directed at the powers everywhere who benefit from the chaos and divisions they create, and who forget those who suffer the most. Iraq is the focus here because it is the perfect example of a new type of war, an experiment—also because we saw the consequences everywhere in the streets of Turkey. But the project is more general: it is about women in war zones, those who do not become ‘heroes’. The project is not about a country, it is about a situation that is global.
For all theses reasons, there is no narrative. We cannot talk about a narrative structure. What we have instead is a protest.

QDF: Can you talk about the Theatre of the Oppressed influences on this production?
ÜS: There are many ways in which the Theatre of the Oppressed influences how this production was made.
The first one has to do with the way we worked: I did not build a piece for the performers to then perform what I wrote. Instead, I created the framework and asked them to search inside themselves for what they could bring on stage. In that sense, I was a facilitator. My function is to empower the performers, not to request them to do something; as a director, I am merely facilitating the process by creating a structure for them to discover for themselves.
The second one has to do with the dramaturgy.  My goal is not to bring a cathartic experience to the audience. My goal is to create change.
Which brings me to the third point, that has to do with the interactive component of the piece. I offer an active role to the audience members. I do not want them simply to sit; I want them to participate, to be part of the performance. Only in this way can they begin to join the protest.
The fourth one is quite obvious: I am here exploring oppression in many of its forms.
These are all somehow related to my practice of the Theatre of the Oppressed. I am probably not aware of all the aspects of this method that find a place in the way I constructed this performance – there are probably many others. But these are the ones I used here intentionally.

Photo: Cedric Laurenty

You can see Numbers Increase As We Count… starting TONITE February 27 until March 2 at MAI. Tickets are available here.

The production is co-developed with Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal.

Originally from Turkey, Ülfet Sevdi is a writer, theatre director, dramaturge, teacher and Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner now based in Montreal. In 2016, with Nicolas Royer-Artuso, she co-founded Thought Experiment Productions, to produce works with political content that integrate extensive research from the social sciences.