Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Three Hats

So I realized just in the last couple of days that after almost 10 months of blogging I haven’t told you about me. The “About Me” section of the blog is about the company and, while I’ve introduced you to the people I’ve worked with, I’ve never introduced to you to me. So - here we go – a little more about the person behind most of the posts you read on this blog:

The first theatrical production I saw that made me want to do this thing we call “theatre” was Angels in America by Tony Kushner. I was in Grade 10 and my high school drama teacher took our class to see the touring production that stopped at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre here in Vancouver. Her name is Ms. St Cyr and boy did she have some balls taking a bunch of high school kids to see a play with male nudity! She, like many other teachers, and my other high school drama teacher Ms. Cave, fostered in me a love for the arts. They supported me and encouraged me and had the amazing nerve to take us to see what many people might deem inappropriate for high school kids. But, I for one, am glad they did because it helped me see that theatre really can change the way the world thinks. I still believe this. I always will.

The first person who told me I was going to be a Producer some day was my third year directing professor at the University of Victoria. His name is Peter McGuire and how in the world he ever foretold that is still beyond me. I remember sitting in his office one day during office hours chatting about something or other when he said to me “you’re going to produce someday”. In my head, I scoffed a little, because I wanted to be a director NOT a producer. Low and behold four years later I directed AND produced the first theatre production, This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan, for what would become Twenty-Something Theatre.

I became a costume designer by accident. Crazy but true. It was May 2004 and I was graduating from the theatre program at UVic. I saw a posting looking for people for the upcoming “Shakespeare in the Summer” festival and sent in my application. I thought maybe I could do stage management or something like that but the director of As You Like It, Libby Mason, offered me a position doing costumes. I thought to myself, "well, I did take all the costume design courses possible, so why not?!" I said, yes, and the rest, as we say, is history.

So, there you go, a little more about me. These are a few of my the moments in my life where I look back and think, I didn’t know it then, but that moment really changed my life. I really can’t thank those people who encouraged me - or who saw something in me that I hadn’t yet seen myself - enough.

So, to all of you wherever you are, Happy Holidays and all the best for a wonderful New Year!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Choose Your Words

Many of you have probably heard this saying at one point or another. Probably from your mother or some other parental figure. There has never been more truth to this saying than in the last couple of days. An interesting discussion was started in the comments section of my last post. As Rebecca stated in her last comment “the issue lies in the word ‘reviewer’“.

So, what does the word “reviewer” mean to you?

To many this term refers to what I would call a “theatre critic”. When I hear the word “theatre critic” I personally think of an intellectual who is writing his “review” from an analytical set of standards. This person might have a Phd in theatre and/or a Graduate degree in journalism. Regardless of how they got it this person has a deep knowledge base from which they are writing.

Under this description I am clearly not a “reviewer” nor would I ever claim to be. Nor would I ever want to be.

As of now there are a handful of Vancouver theatre websites where the “reviewers” post their “reviews” but in my opinion don’t necessarily fall into the category of “theatre critic”. Then there are the various Vancouver bloggers who post “reviews” on their blogs after being invited to attend the performance. Again I wouldn't call them "theatre critics" but their opinion is just as valid. So what can we do? We can’t police the internet and stop people from using the word “review” just because they don’t fit the mold of someone who might traditionally be consider a “reviewer”. So maybe instead, as social media starts to become a bigger part of the publicity pie, we need to redefine what the word “reviewer” means.

I have basically grown up in a time where it seems like the internet has always been a part of my life. Due to this when I hear the word “reviewer” I think of anyone from a theatre critic to a blogger. Furthermore, I see it as inherent that bloggers who are “reviewing” are by definition writing about their opinion or experience. So, when I wrote the post about the PuSh invitation I automatically came at it from that perspective rather than a traditional point of view.

Like I said, in the traditional sense of the word I would never claim to a “reviewer”. I’m a blogger with an opinion. Thanks to everyone for your comments. Keep them coming because it has started a great conversation.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Interesting Invitation

Yesterday I received an email invitation that made me stop and think a little bit. What is the invitation you ask?! Well it was a media/new media invite to attend and review the shows at this year’s PuSH Festival.

I recently wrote a post raving about Carousel Theatre’s production of Robin Hood at Waterfront Theatre (which you should go see because it might be the most fun you’ll have at the theatre this holiday season). The publicist for Carousel (who is also the publicist for PuSH) asked me if they could use my comments on their website/blog. I said “of course” because I am always happy to support my fellow artists in any way I can. Next thing I know I’m being emailed an invitation to review the shows at PuSH.

Now, my first thought, was as much as I would love to see all the shows, I’m going to have to decline the invitation because this blog was never meant to be a site for reviews and I just wouldn’t feel comfortable accepting the invitation without writing a review. I mean that’s what the agreement is right?! They comp me in to see the show and I write a review.

But then I thought about it a bit more and I thought…well…maybe I could. Although I never intended to post reviews on this site on occasion I have talked about certain productions I have seen that have stood out to me for one reason or another. Usually I’ve discussed these particular production’s in context to the larger issues I’ve discussed on this blog (ie. audience development) and haven’t really thought of them as reviews per se. But what are reviews?! One person’s opinion and I have an opinion, right?!

And then, on the flip side, I thought well what about my personal connections within the industry. I mean, I work within the community, do I really want to be reviewing my colleagues?! Currently I only write about a production when it has made a positive impact on me. I generally try not to write about my less than positive experiences at the theatre because a) these are my peers and b) there is already too much negativity in this world. I’d rather, for the most part, focus on the positive then get dragged down by the negative.

But then maybe that’s why I should do it (you can see the flip-flopping going on inside my brain can’t you?!) because I DO work in the industry. Maybe people would be interested in hearing the opinion of someone on the inside? And on top of that, maybe, people would be interested to hear the opinion of someone who represents a young person’s opinion? Plus after further inspection of the program guide for this year’s festival I realized that I’m actually not closely connected to any of the artists or groups participating so I could be fairly objective (well as objective as I can be for something as subjective as theatre). And, since it is an international festival at least half or more of the participants are from other parts of the world. I have NO connections there.

So, I put it to you, my readers. What do you think? Should I review? Would you like to hear my opinion on the shows at this year’s PuSh Festival? Or should I just stick to what I have been doing?

Let me know what you think…

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Giving Thanks

Ok, new topic. One of my very first posts was about fundraising and today we are coming back to this topic.

Today is December 1 and that means 24 days and counting until Santa’s looking at his list to see if you’ve been naughty or nice (hopefully a little of both because what fun would it be otherwise). Chocolate #1 from my advent calendar has already been eaten. If you haven’t all ready, now is the time to break out the Christmas Carols and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. To bake the Christmas cookies and decorate the tree. We brave the malls to search out the perfect gifts for our loved ones.

So, what does that have anything to do with Fundraising?!

Well, for me, it’s the time of year I sit down and personally write out Christmas cards to send to all of the sponsors and individual donors who have supported us this year or in the past.

And, I don’t just write “Dear John, Thank you. Sincerely, Sabrina”. I handwrite each person a note to tell them exactly HOW we used their donation or sponsorship money and HOW it helped us produce our shows.

A couple years ago I went to a fundraising workshop and while most of it was rudimentary the one thing I took away from it was the necessity to make the people who give you money feel like more than just an ATM.

The people who support your company through donations or sponsorships are doing so because they believe in what you do (or you would hope) and want you to succeed. So let them know how they made that happen and then they will feel like they have been a part of it all. They have a personal connection to it.

Just like the art of making theatre is about creating personal connections between us and the audience the art of fundraising is also about making personal connections.

So, did you use Mr. & Mrs. Smith’s $100 donation to buy costumes or build props? Tell them that. Did those costumes or props contribute to a great production? Did that production sell-out or get great reviews? They helped make that happen. Don’t forget that. Without the donors and sponsors your production might still be an idea in the back of your mind.

This is the time of year for giving. Thank the people who have given to you and most importantly don’t forget to give back.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer