Gideon Arthurs is the General Manager of the Tarragon Theatre here in TO. Tarragon is one of the largest and certainly most stable theatre companies in the city. He led the workshop I attended last night, and the knowledge I gained will do nothing but good for me, for years to come.
The workshop last night was my first significant encounter with the professional theatre community here in the city. There’s really no excuse for why it took me this long to reach out. Crossing paths with the people creatures behind a couple of plays last year at the Toronto Fringe festival doesn’t count. The bottom line is, I need to be putting myself out there, and engaging with this community on a regular, weekly basis.
Gideon was great. Friendly. Approachable. Knowledgeable. Empathetic. Blunt. We exchanged cards at the end of the workshop and he agreed to do coffee in a couple weeks’ time. Understanding the subtleties of the theatre community in this city seems to require the covert intelligence gathering ability of a CIA operative. He’ll be a great help.
I figured out that many of the lessons I’ve learned over my seventeen years in the film & television industry will pay dividends as I look to expand my reach in Toronto. Conducting good thorough research on each theatre company before I approach them is essential. Being specific about what I want and who I wish to talk to is also important. Perfecting my ‘elevator pitch’ and having a good ‘one-sheet’ that succinctly summarizes my play are required tools. Taking the time to develop relationships with key decision makers will do nothing but good.
Perhaps one of the most profound things to come out of the workshop was the idea that my play is not necessarily best served by getting in bed with a larger theatre company. For one thing, a large company will want my play to stay in perpetual development for years before it sees the stage – and even then, there’s no guarantee that will ever happen. I also give up a lot of control by working with a larger company. Quite simply, some plays are best served by going the independent route.
I am meeting with a woman from the Toronto Fringe Festival tomorrow. I have many questions for her about how best to organize the staged reading for Not Being A Dick. Beyond a staged reading, I’m beginning to entertain thoughts about going the independent route into a full meal deal stage production sometime this year.
Beyond the play, I have other ambitions too. I am not ignoring my film & television career – that’s where the big money is. Still, I can’t help but feel a symbiotic relationship between the two. I’m going to learn something from doing this, and these lessons will serve me well as I meander forward through the wilderness of the things I’ve yet to figure out in my career.