Reflections on a Season at The Thumb
By the time this goes out, it’ll have been a week since my internship at Green Thumb officially ended - an internship made possible by the BC Arts Council’s Early Career Development Grant, so thank you, BCAC. And yet, even with some time to mull it all over, I still find it hard to find the words, really any words, to properly summarize my time here.
During these past 9 months I’ve been able to be a part of an established and successful theatre company. I’ve seen scripts from conception to development, met artists I have looked up to since before I graduated theatre school, and gotten a chance to, quite literally, sit in the director’s chair. All of these experiences have shaped how I approach my work, how I talk to fellow artists, and how I view theatre as a whole – especially Theatre for Young Audiences. To be honest, I hardly knew what “TYA” meant when I first met Patrick three years ago, while I was still a student at Studio 58. As we talked, I realized I was familiar with many of the playwrights he had worked with, and was shocked to also learn I had read a lot of these ‘teen’ plays. Before that, I had no idea that’s what TYA could be.
I grew up in a small farming town in Ontario, without TV or internet, and nothing like Green Thumb existed in my life. I was lucky enough to still see a lot of theatre, but it was more standard ‘adult’ theatre. The shows never really felt like they were for me. Now, to be able to see how shows geared towards young people are engaging an audience that is hungry for conversation, has been absolutely life-changing. Artists – if you ever want to feel inspired, go sit and watch a high school audience watch a play written for them, about the issues they face in their daily lives. It is absolutely the dictionary definition of what an engaged audience looks like.
Okay, now about Green Thumb. What makes GT different than other companies? Well, from the very first day I walked into the offices, I was welcomed. I was treated as an equal, given a desk (which I still haven’t cleaned out – probably a symptom of end-of-internship denial) responsibilities, deadlines, and most importantly a support system to fall back on and reach out to when I needed to. Opportunities and spaces like this come up so rarely in our careers - spaces where we’re expected to succeed but also encouraged to fail; to learn, to reach out and ask for help. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned here - that, if you surround yourself with a talented and dedicated team, you can pull off just about anything.
This post would be way too long if I recounted everything that I’ve done in my time here at Green Thumb, so to sum up, here are the things I learned that I wouldn’t have been able to learn elsewhere: how to stand up for myself when negotiating contracts, how to suss out actors and find which style of direction works specifically for each of them, how to defend my opinions and also how to listen to others, how to talk to businesses and foundations, how to write a successful grant, how to manage work and writing, the kind of care you should but into how you represent yourself in the theatre community; and how investing in emerging artists doesn’t just benefit those artists – it has a real impact on the longevity of the company doing the investing. It’s an investment I’ve watched Green Thumb make, not only with myself, but with countless other artists too. I know it is something for which I will be forever grateful.
June 15, 2018