Professional Theatre and Educators
Saturday March 27, 1999- 10:00 am to 11:20
Metro Toronto Convention Center- Rm. 717A
Chairs: Ben Sammler and Roger Meeker
Roger Meeker opened the session with a brief history of the project and
a description of the impetus for action. The opinion among the LORT production
managers is that there are not enough skilled, young technicians available to fill
the entry-level, technical position vacancies. Since the vast majority of these young
technicians are coming out of the undergraduate programs, the most effective course of
action is to open a dialogue with the undergraduate educators who train them. Several
interesting points were expressed.
- Where is the future workforce going to come from? Is the traditional
undergraduate program the best place to look?
- How do we locate and attract skilled technicians to our theatres?
- Understanding how they are being trained will allow us to better prepare.
After introductions, Ben Sammler asked whether the educators would
advise a student to seek a career in LORT. Both positive and negative responses were made.
- LORT is an effective extension of the training started in the
undergraduate programs and can be rewarding if the individual brings along their passion
- LORT does not have many opportunities for young designers. The training
of designers should be part of a separate discussion. Both parties agreed.
- Schools are producing designers and LORT needs technicians.
- Open question: Is the main problem that there are not enough bodies or
that the technical training is insufficient?
- It is an accepted assumption that LORT does not pay well enough to
attract the most talented students and other industries pay more for similar skills.
- The educators primary role is to assist the students toward their
individual goals not direct them to work for LORT.
Much time, at different points in the discussion, was spent on the topic
of students high expectations. Both production managers and educators expressed
frustration about this area.
- The term, "instant gratification generation" was explored.
- Educators explained several effective program elements to help introduce
the students to the reality of professional theatre.
- This was an area where the production managers could use help from the
educators and the educators expressed that it was part of their roles as mentors.
- Students should be a part of any future discussions.
A strong consensus was expressed over the value of practical work
- The internship - accountability and review of performance is good for the
school and theatre.
- Production Managers training is more associated with their
professional lives, not education.
- Several Vocational Training programs were introduced as an effective
alternative to supplying skilled technicians with less education loan debt.
- A Design / Technical student will accept less pay for design work because
of artistic gratification and program credit, compared to technical work.
- Some educators assume that most shops are union and that costume workers
are compensated lower than other areas.