I didn’t always plan on being a teacher. In fact, there was a time when I was very much against the idea. My mother and many of my relatives are/were teachers and I saw it was a very challenging job so I tried out all kinds of other jobs and career paths. When I finished high school didn’t know what I wanted to do other than go to university, so my undergraduate degree was at a liberal arts school, Mount Allison, and I decided to study drama as my major. I enjoyed theatre and I felt that even if I didn’t go into theatre as a profession, it would still be a useful skill to have regardless of my eventual career and I was correct. Theatre gives you many skills that are useful: teamwork, arts appreciation, empathy, problem solving, the list is endless. I loved performing and working back stage and directing at MTA.
When I finished my degree though, I stopped doing shows. I used those skills I had learned in various ways in various jobs, especially once I eventually started my career in education, but other than going to see a few shows now and again I didn’t get involved again until a few years ago. There was an audition notice for a new community theatre company and I thought, why not? So I auditioned and got into one show that year. The next year I stage managed a few shows and acted in a few shows and started doing some choreography and then I did a musical with my school one year and I was so happy to be involved in theatre again.
Right now, when I’m not a teacher, I’m a stage manager for a community theatre company called Collective Theatrics. We’re a relatively new company, this is only our third season, but most of the people involved have been doing shows together in different companies over the past few years. We mostly do musicals, though our first show was a play, and we only do one or two shows per year. What’s kind of interesting about community theatre is that we all have very different backgrounds, different careers, different ages, but we all love theatre and we manage to put on some pretty professional looking shows. In our group right now we have a few teachers, an accountant, a forensic scientist, some retail workers and customer service people just to name a few. Some people are students, some people are parents.
Before a few years ago, I had never stage managed before but it’s a good fit for me. I think a lot about details and like to make sure that not only am I organized, but that everyone is organized and knows where they need to be and what they need to be doing. Even when I was acting, I liked to make up charts showing which costumes to wear in which scenes and which set pieces needed to be moved when. Stage managing and teaching have a lot in common, especially when it comes to organization, though I’d say stage managing is a great deal easier than teaching.
I’m a strong believer in the idea that it is important to have an activity or hobby that you do outside of your job. Theatre to me is something I look forward to all week. I have made my closest and best friends through theatre and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without it.
Now for the shameless plug. 😊 Our latest musical has its opening night in two weeks. It’s called The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It’s based off the last novel that Charles Dickens ever wrote and he died before he could finish it. Because we don’t know how he was going to end it, the audience gets to vote on three key questions each night, partway through the second act. They vote on who the mysterious detective is, who the murderer of Edwin Drood is and then they get to decide on the secret lovers. The end of the show follows how the audience votes and so there are about 360 different possible combinations of how the end of the show might play out. How’s that for an organizational nightmare?
Of course, that also means that the end of the show can be different each night so people can see it more than once and see a different ending each time. There is a lot of audience participation and it’s also hilarious. We’re working with a cast of very talented people. Watching rehearsals I always get to see something new, some improvement, some different choice an actor is making and sometimes I get so caught up in the show that I forget my stage managing duties So if you’re in Fredericton, or can travel here, the information about this show is on our website and on the poster. It’s an amazing show.