Professional Development in the Theatre Industry

Professional development. Not something we often think about unless forced to by our organization’s HR Department. Certainly, as a volunteer here at Sound + Noise, I haven’t really made professional development a high priority on my to-do list.

However,  professional development was on the agenda during the two-hour October meet up of the Theatre Edmonton Project at Startup Edmonton, and I began to see PD not just as taking a course about theatre, but as a continuous cycle of learning. More importantly, I saw that professional development can take place in a number of ways – attending a workshop put on by someone from the community who knows about a particular subject of interest, going for coffee with someone else who writes about theatre, or attending a theatre company’s rehearsals. A lot of these options I hadn’t considered before – partially because, to be honest, I have never looked at myself as a professional before. And that’s one thing I took away from the Oct. 15 meet up: a “scene” can only become professional if its members treat themselves as professionals, and ensure they remain deserving of that standard. 

What else did I learn at Meet Up #2? First, that there is a huge thirst for knowledge in Edmonton’s theatre community. We’ve got people starting their own collective learning initiatives, and there are others who are starting, or participating, in peer mentorship circles. At the same time, there are workshop seats left empty – either there is not enough knowledge or appreciation of these opportunities, or the format is the wrong one for the audience. Alternatively, there are experts who are opening up “office hours” where people are invited to drop in and chat, and hopefully learn something in the process.

Second, I learnt  that, to start developing as professionals, we also need to look at our faults. That’s scary. But even scarier, is needing to share our faults with others, and trust that they’ll have a suggestion that will help us on our way. For me, it turned out my  trust was well-placed – I heard a lot of great suggestions that I followed up on as soon as I got home. In the coming weeks, I’ll be meeting with writers that I admire (but was previously too nervous to reach out to ask for advice) and sitting in on rehearsals for a play that will take place in 2013 (something I hadn’t thought a director would allow)!

The next Theatre Edmonton Project meet-up will be November 11 at Startup Edmonton. More details will be available on the Theatre Edmonton Facebook Page.

– Jenna Marynowski

P.S.   A few cool things I learnt about at Meet Up #2:

  • Keep your eyes peeled for the Collective Artist Workshare project – which is shaping up to be a series of peer-lead workshops
  • Go behind the scenes of a rehearsal with Bob Baker during the October 28 Master Class at Citadel Theatre
  • October 23 the University of Alberta will host a panel discussion about careers in the video game industry for artists
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