BY BILL PHILLIPS
How do you become an artistic director at a professional theatre?
For most, it involves hanging around theatres in your spare time, volunteering, and picking up whatever knowledge you can.
That is changing in Prince George.
The Community Arts Council and Theatre NorthWest have partnered up to provide an apprentice program at the theatre. The program is aimed specifically at developing technical and directorial talent in Prince George.
Melissa Glover is the first apprentice in the program and will serve as the assistant director for the duration of the Theatre NorthWest production of Million Dollar Quartet, opening this Thursday and Meet My Sister.
“It’s very exciting,” said Glover. “It gives me that ‘in the room’ experience that a lot of aspiring directors don’t get.”
Glover started acting when she was four years old as a baby spider in Charlotte’s Web. She went to theatre school before deciding that she enjoyed directing more than acting.
In January she will head to Kamloops to be the assistant director on Meet My Sister, before that play comes to Prince George.
“When we bring it back here, we have a short rehearsal time and because the director of the show won’t be around for some of that time, I get a chance to really direct to make sure that what happened in Kamloops, audiences will see here.”
Jack Grinhaus, artistic director at Theatre NorthWest, said the program is also a fit for the theatre.
“One of the things were constantly doing is flying in most of our talent pool for our productions,” he said. “That, obviously, is a financial burden, but also is a bit of a frustration in that we can’t utilize the local talent as much.”
That local talent, he said, will often go to larger centres to train and learn the craft.
“We build a lot of great technical staff … our carpentry, our technicians,” he said. “But our artistically speaking, we always bringing people in from abroad. We’ve been looking for ways to train our talent here so, maybe they’ll go away, but maybe they’ll come back.”
Sean Farrell, executive director for the Community Arts Council, said the organization has, for the past couple of years, been examining ways of developing local talent “so they don’t have to leave Prince George and run the risk of never returning to Prince George.”
The apprentice program fits that bill.
“Developing local talent is part of both organizations’ mandates,” he said. “The Community Arts Council has a long history of support for a broad range of artistic practices and we are very excited to now have the opportunity to support a prestigious professional performing arts company such as TNW and their work in nurturing local talent.”
The Community Arts Council and Theatre NorthWest are hoping the program will be ongoing.