Despite the cancellation of its 2020 season, The Watermark Theatre in North Rustico, P.E.I. has found a way to keep one of its most popular programs going.
Thanks to a recent grant from RBC’s Future Launch program the theatre’s renowned mentorship program is not only continuing while the theatre is closed, but has even expanded to include professional mentors from across the continent.
Now in its fifth year, the program selects five current theatre students and recent graduates to train back stage at the theatre all summer. The interns each have a unique specialty, from wardrobe to stage management to carpentry to props.
Eleven workshops are being held throughout the summer, from paper props to planning a season to costumes. The funds from RBC enable the type of honorarium necessary to secure top industry pros.
“This year the program has shifted from hands-on work in the theatre and watching Watermark staff at work to learning online,” said Watermark General Manager Andrea Surich. “But by holding the workshops virtually, and because we had the funding from RBC, we are able to provide some really interesting professionals and new perspectives for the interns to learn from.”
Leading the wardrobe workshop is Julia Hodgson, who was working on the National Ballet of Canada’s production of Swan Lake when the pandemic hit. ‘Planning a season’ was led by Creative Director Robert Tsonos, who has plied his trade in five countries.
“The interns are soaking up the expertise,” added Surich. “For instance when blood effects are needed for a show, many questions arise...what is the wound, how big does the effect have to be to be visible to the audience, how will it affect the costume, the props, what are some cheap blood recipes, and how do we clean it up?”
The blood workshop was led by Natalie Kearns, the Master of Props at the Grand Theatre in London.
“This project is something positive in what has been a very difficult season. Our 2020 season is cancelled, but with this mentor program we are still doing something positive in the theatre world, even though our physical theatre is closed.”
Two of the interns are from Atlantic Canada. Wardrobe intern Rebecca Ford is from Riverview, New Brunswick and a recent Dalhousie theatre grad. Stage management intern Anna Hansen-Robitschek is a student in the Fine Arts program at Memorial University’s Grenfell campus in her hometown of Corner Brook, Newfoundland.