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E Q U I T Y   Q U A R T E R L Y               w I n T E R   2 0 0 9

                                        COC: A new erA begins
                                  HOw COOl is CAnAdiAn OperA?
                                            wAr zOne tHeAtre

Blood and guts
     Love and betrayal
           Murder and marriage
     OperA HAs AlwAys refleCted tHe AbsOlute HigHs And lOws Of

     Our HumAn existenCe. wHile tHe stOries mAy remAin tHe sAme,

     tOdAy’s OperA COmpAnies Are explOring new wAys tO present

     tHeir Art tO A wider CAnAdiAn AudienCe.
                                                                               Thank you, A
                                                                                               and hello fe
                                                                                                                 llow Equity
                                                                                                         If yo u ar e su
                                                                                                                             ff er in g fr om
                                                                                                         tion withdraw                             el ec -
                                  I won’t take up                                                                            al, have no fe
                                                                                                        Equity elections                           ar…
                                  a l o t o f s p a c e,                                                                      are just around
                                                                                                        corner. In the                              the
                                  because I have asked                                                                      fall of 2009,
                                                                                                       members will                             Equity
                                  First Vice-President                                                                   elect our new
                                                                                                       and Council Po                         Council
                                  Kerry Davidson to                                                                       licy Advisory G
                                                                                                      (CPAGs) for th                             roups
                                  host the column for                                                                     e 2009-2012
                                                                                                          If you are pass                     term.
                                  this issue. I thought                                                                      ionate about
                                                                                                     fessional thea                               pro-
                                  you might all appre-                                                                  tre in Canada,
                                                                                                     ested in taking                           inter-
                                  ciate hearing a voice           wanting to le                                           on new challe
                                                                                   arn more abou                                               nges,
                                  other than mine for             tion, and have                      t the governan
                                                                                      a desire to se                       ce of our Ass
                                                                                                      rve all Equity                           ocia-
                                  a change. (I know               want you! W                                            members, then
                                                                                 hy not consid                                                    we
                                  that I would!)                 tion? If local                    er running fo
                                                                                 or grassroots                       r Council in th
                                                                                                   activities are m                       is elec-
   However, before putting Kerry on the phone, there             then please co                                        ore your cup
                                                                                  nsider running                                           of tea,
is an important change I would like to bring to your            region. As a C                       for election to
                                                                                  PAG member,                            the CPAG for
                                                                                                      you will prov                           your
attention. I have assigned the newly-created posi-              between the                                             ide the critica
                                                                                members, as                                                  l link
tion of Council-Member Liaison to Second Vice-                  National Counc                   owners of the
                                                                                  il, to ensure th                   Association, an
                                                                                                    at Council is ke                        d the
President, Dawn Obokata. Dawn is an experienced                regional issue                                           pt informed of
                                                                               s concerning th                                                any
and dedicated Councillor, and she has expressed                   We have stream                   e membership.
                                                                                      lined the nom
strong interest in helping members connect with               it easier for m                         ination proces
                                                                              embers to stan                            s in order to m
                                                                                                 d for election.                              ake
their governing body. Effective immediately, you             standing can be                                       Any member in
                                                                                 nominated by                                            good
can reach Dawn at She               other members                          petition, with
                                                                               in good standi                         the support of
                                                                                                 ng. Nominatio                              two
will be glad to assist you with your questions, or           on the website                                        n forms will be
                                                                              (                                             posted
direct you to the person best able to assist you.            May. We’ll also                    m) and sent to
                                                                                be keeping th                     every member
                                                                                                  e membership                        in early
   Of course, I will continue to welcome contact            way with inform                                          updated along
                                                                               ation online, th                                            the
from you, but this change will give members                    If you haven’                      rough EquIFLA
                                                                               t already done                          SH and email.
access to someone whose primary job is acting as            National Offic                          so, please mak
                                                                            e has your corr                              e sure that th
                                                                                               ect contact info                               e
liaison, which should improve response times and           assignment so                                           rmation and re
                                                                             that we can m                                              gion
more effective handling of inquiries. Please join          chance to vote                      ake sure that
                                                                            .                                    every membe
                                                                                                                                    r has a
Council in welcoming Dawn to this position.                  W at ch th e w
                                                                              eb si te fo r m or
                                                          involved with                           e in fo rm at io n
                                                                            being an elec                              ab ou t w ha t
                                                                                              ted member                                   is
                                                         CPAGs. Better                                           of Council an
                                                                           yet, contact a                                            d the
                                                         for a firsthand                     Councilor or C
                                                                           account. Our                        PAG member
                                                                                            email addresse                        directly
                                                         website, and w                                        s are available
                                                                           e’d love to he                                          on the
                                                                                             ar from you.

Allan Teichman
                                                                 Kerry Davidso
                                                                 First Vice-Pres

wInTER 2009                                                                                                                     EQUITY QUARTERLY 1
E Q U I T Y                          Q U A R T E R L Y                                                                                                                             w I n T E R                                   2 0 0 9
                                                                                                                                                          V o L U m E                            2          n U m b E R                 4

                                     6            A work in progress
                                                                                                                                                                            president’s messAge
                                                                                                                                                                            nOtes frOm Arden rysHpAn
                                                  as a war rages on                                                                                              4          letters tO tHe editOr
                                                                                                                                                                 5          eQ mOves
                                10                Canadian opera                                                                                                 8          eQ bACkstAge
                                                                                                                                                                 9          eQ vOiCes
                                                  is riding high                                                                                                 17 eQ lives

                                14                Alexander Neef is                                                                                              18 fOndly remembered
                                                                                                                                                                 20 eQ ClAssifieds
                                                  ready for the COC                                                                                              21 eQ flAsHbACk

  EQ                                                    coming issue: sPRIng 2009
                                                        Equity members are encouraged to submit articles, submissions and accompanying
                                                                                                                                                     subscriptions are available at an annual rate of $35, including gsT.
                                                                                                                                                     Publications mail Agreement no. 40038615
  wInTER 2009 – Volume 2, number 4                                                                                                                   EQ is published four times a year by canadian Actors’ Equity Association.
                                                        photos, notices of births, marriages, memorial notices and letters to the editor via
  ExEcUTIVE EdIToR lynn mcQueen                         email ( or on disk with accompanying hard copy. The copy deadline                national Office
                                                        for submissions is february 6, 2009. EQ reserves the right to edit for length, style         44 Victoria street, 12th floor, Toronto, on m5c 3c4
  EdIToR barb farwell                                                                                                                                Tel: 416-867-9165 | fax: 416-867-9246 | Toll-free: 1-800-387-1856 (members only)
                                                        and content.
  dEsIgn fresh Art & design                             EQ Equity Quarterly (Issn 1913-2190) is a forum to communicate to Equity members                                                                                                                      western Office
                                                        the activities of the Association and issues of concern to the Association. with the         736 granville street, suite 510, Vancouver, bc V6Z 1g3
  dEsIgn & LAYoUT Chris simeon,                         exception of the editorial staff, the views expressed in solicited or unsolicited articles   Tel: 604-682-6173 | 604-682-6174 | Toll free: 1-877-682-6173 (members only)
                  september Creative                    are not necessarily the views of the Association.                                  

coVER And InsIdE fRonT coVER: from opera Atelier’s 2008 production of mozart’s Idomeneo – measha brueggergosman as Elettra and curtis sullivan as neptune; curtis sullivan, Jeannette Zingg and Vasil garvanliev
AboVE: brett Polegato as Eugene and Rhoslyn Jones as Tatyana in Vancouver opera’s Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky
Notes from
     Arden Ryshpan
              As part of my preparation for the interview for this job at Equity, I asked the headhunter
              if they could arrange for me to get copies of a selection of the agreements. I soon received a pack-
              age containing the Canadian Theatre Agreement, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet agreement, and the
              Canadian Opera Agreement.
                  I spread them out on the table and started looking for key recurring concepts and language,
              as well as key differences. Slowly but surely, I worked my way through the agreements, reading
                                   through the usual clauses on jurisdiction, grievances and working conditions. And
                                   then I got to the back of the opera agreement.
                                       There were 23 (!!!) pages of print so small I had to fetch my reading glasses –
                                   listing the roles in 343 different operas. Here was a list of titles, many of which
                                   were completely unfamiliar to me. It is truly a humbling experience to be con-
                                   fronted with the extent of your ignorance on a subject. And I certainly was.
                                       I called my mother to talk to her and told her all this. “What?” she said.
                                   “Weren’t you listening all those years growing up when we had the opera on
                                   the radio?”
                                       Well, I was listening. Saturday afternoon opera on the radio was as much a
                                   part of the fabric of my life growing up as any other weekly ritual. While I neither
              understood the language nor the plots (for the most part) I couldn’t fail to be moved by the lovely
              music and emotion conveyed by the soaring voices.
                  The Canadian public from coast to coast has indicated their love for opera as well, by patronizing
              the simulcasts from the Met in record numbers. Toronto now has a gleaming, shiny new opera
              house – the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts – a building getting rave reviews for its
              sightlines and acoustics. Seats are not easy to come by for performances here.
                  The Vancouver Opera Company recently announced that they were in surplus for the eighth
              season out of the last nine, proving that audiences all across the country are actively attending and
              enjoying the opera. Canadian regional opera companies are also regularly delighting audiences.
                  In this issue, we are delighted to have an interview with the new General Director at the Cana-
              dian Opera Company, Alexander Neef, who shares some of his visions for the future with us in the
              article. The issue has also allowed us to share with you some absolutely fabulous photos, showing
              the splendor of the productions done in this country that showcase our members.
                  The beautiful music and dramatic plots in opera make it surprisingly accessible, something that I
              hope we can find a way to communicate to a new generation of kids, who may or may not have
              a mother who cranks up the volume on the radio in order to make sure the whole house is filled
              with the sound of singing.

              Arden R. Ryshpan
              Executive Director

wInTER 2009                                                                                   EQUITY QUARTERLY 3
Letters to the editor
A memorable evening                                                                     It’s hard being green
                                        E Q U I T Y   Q U A R T E R L Y                   F A L L   2 0 0 8

                                                                                Green takes the staGe                              LETTERs on subjects of concern to Equity members will
I would like to sincerely thank                                                         I was very excited to see the              be considered for publication. Letters must be signed, but names
                                                                          Issue-based theatre Gets sexy
                                                                                the dance of vIolence

                                                                                                                                   will be withheld on request for those letters that may affect
Equity for the wonderful Hon-                                                           focus of this most recent edi-             members’ employment. Letters that include artistic criticism of
                                                                                                                                   Equity members or letters that are antagonistic or accusatory,
ours Celebration (Westcoast                                                             tion of EQ. The issue of green-            either implied or expressed, may be withheld or edited at the
                                                                                                                                   discretion of the editor. Opinions expressed in Letters to the
Elegance) on November 2,                                                                ing theatre has been one I have            Editor are not necessarily those of the Association.

2008, at the Arts Club Theatre                                                          been interested in for some                PHOTO AND PRODUCTION CREDITs
                                                                                                                                   Cover & inside front cover: Photo: Bruce Zinger. Idomeneo (2008)
in Vancouver, B.C.                                                                      time. So thank you for that.               by Mozart produced by Opera Atelier. Directed by Marshall
                                                                                                                                   Pynkoski with choreography by Jeannette Zingg. Cast: Measha
    It was a great opportunity to                                                          In that vein, I would like to           Brueggergosman, Vasil Garvanliev, Peggy Kriha Dye, Olivier
                                                                                                                                   Laquerre, Michael Maniaci, Kresimir Spicer, Curtis R. Sullivan, &
meet many senior members that I knew                                         request that EQ no longer be packaged in              O/A dancers & chorus. Stage managed by Arwen MacDonnell
                                                                                                                                   assisted by Kelly Luft, Nan Shepherd & Monika Seiler (apprentice).
very well. The beautiful boxes that were                                     a plastic bag for environmental reasons. I            Page 2: Photo: Tim Matheson. Eugene Onegin (2008) by P.I.
                                                                                                                                   Tchaikovsky produced by Vancouver Opera. Directed by Pamela
given to the members that have been with                                     imagine the decision was made to protect              Berlin with choreography by Allison Grant. Cast: Oleg Balashov,
                                                                                                                                   Norine Burgess, Rhoslyn Jones, Chad Louwerse, Allyson McHardy,
Equity for over 25 years were a wonderful                                    the mailings from inclement weather, but              James McLennan, Brett Polegato, Marcia Swanston, Peter Volpe
                                                                                                                                   & the VOA chorus. Stage managed by Sheila Munn assisted by
gesture from the Association. As for my                                      I don’t think it’s worth it.                          Theresa Tsang, Beth Grieve & Melania Radelicki (apprentice).
Larry McCance Award, it is a beautiful tro-                                                                        Best,           Page 5: Photo: Trudy Lee. A Raisin in the Sun (2008) by Lorraine
                                                                                                                                   Hansberry produced by Soulpepper Theatre & Theatre Calgary.
phy and I will take care of it all my life.                                                Holly Lewis, Equity member              Directed by Weyni Mengesha. Cast: Awaovieyi Agie, Barbara
                                                                                                                                   BarnesHopkins, Michael Blake, Matthew Kabwe, Abena Malika,
   I must also thank the Honours Com-                                                                                              Diego Matamoros (Toronto) Stephen Hair (Calgary), Charles
                                                                                                                                   Officer, Kofi Payton, Cara Ricketts & Alison Sealy-Smith. Stage
mittee, the Councillors and the CPAG of                                      Executive Editor note: At Eq we are always            managed by Crystal Salverda assisted by Andrea Schurman.
                                                                                                                                   Pages 6 & 7: Photos: Christopher Morris.
the region for making this memorable                                         on the lookout for ways to be more envi-              Page 8: Photos: Suzanne McLaren.
evening possible.                                                            ronmentally conscious. We have chosen to              Page 9: Lower photo by Jeremy Mimnagh.
                                                                                                                                   Page 10 & 11: Left photo: Robert Tinker. Transit of Venus (2007)
   Thank you, thank you, thank you,                                          use the polybag as is it fully recyclable and         by Victor Davies with libretto by Maureen Hunter produced by
                                                                                                                                   Manitoba Opera. Directed by Larry W. Desrochers. Cast: Colin
                     Louis-Marie Bournival                                   allows us to include other important member           Ainsworth, Mark Grimaldi Booden, Russell Braun, Judith Forst,
                                                                                                                                   Monica Huisman & Jean Stilwell. Stage managed by Paul A.
                 Company Stage Manager                                       mail. This saves on money and packaging we            Skirzyk with assistance from Evan R. Klassen, Chris Pearce &
                                                                                                                                   Candace Maxwell. Right photo: Tim Matheson. Daphne (2007)
                         Arts Club Theatre                                   would need for a second mailing.                      by Richard Strauss produced by Pacific Opera Victoria. Directed
                                                                                                                                   by Wim Trompert with choreography by Danette Bell. Cast:
                                                                                                                                   Peter Barrett, Emmanuelle Coutu, Rebecca Hass, Kurt Lehmann,
                                                                                                                                   Brian McIntosh, Eric J. Olsen, Sookhyung Park, Kimberly Paulley

   Notice of National Annual General Meeting
                                                                                                                                   & Anthony Pulgram. Stage managed by Jackie Adamthwaite
                                                                                                                                   assisted by Connie Hosie & Steve Barker.
                                                                                                                                   Page 12: Photo: Trudie Lee. Filumena (2003) by John Estacio
                                                                                                                                   with libretto by John Murrell co-produced by Calgary Opera &
                                                                                                                                   The Banff Centre. Directed by Kelly Robinson. Cast: Krzysztof
   Equity’s 2008-2009 National Annual General                                We know that these two topics are of                  Biernacki, Torin Chiles, Gregory Dahl, Jacqui Lynn Fidlar, Gaetan
                                                                                                                                   Laperriere, Graham Paynter, David Pomeroy, Elisabeth M.
   Meeting will be held in Toronto, Ontario.                                 broad interest to our membership, and                 Turnbull & Laura Whalen. Stage managed by Bonni Baynton
   Date: Monday, February 23, 2009                                           hope you are able to join us for what                 assisted by Lisa Roy Munro, Heather Moore & Karen Race.
                                                                             promises to be an informative evening.                Page 13: Top: photo by Pink Monkey Studios. Regina (2008)
   Time: 6:00 p.m.                                                                                                                 by Mark Blitzstein produced by Pacific Opera Victoria. Directed
                                                                                                                                   by Glynis Leyshon with choreography by Anne Wootten. Cast:
   Location: Austin Gallery, The Suites at                                   The business portion of the meeting will              Kimberly Barber, Kathleen Brett, Gregory Dahl, Robyn Driedger-
   1 King W., 12th floor (King subway station)                               include:                                              Klassen, Dean Elzinga, Tracie Luck, Doug MacNaughton, J.
                                                                                                                                   Patrick Raftery, Louise Rose, DeAndre Simmons & Lawrence
   All Equity members are encouraged to                                      8             reports from the President and Execu-   Wiliford. Stage managed by Jackie Adamthwaite with assistance
   attend. Apprentice, provisional and pro-                                                tive Director, including a review of
                                                                                                                                   by Connie Hosie, Steve Barker & Heather Rycraft (apprentice.)
                                                                                                                                   Bottom: photo by Robert Millard.
   bationary members are also welcome.
                                                                                           Association activities and updates      Page 14: Photo by Michael Cooper courtesy of the COC.
   Based on member suggestions, this year’s                                                on current initiatives                  Page 16: Photo: Gary Beechey. War and Peace (2008) by Sergei
   NAGM will be divided into two segments.                                                                                         Prokofiev co-produced by the English National Opera & the COC.
   The first portion will take care of necessary                             8             receipt of the Association’s audited    Directed by Tim Albery assisted by Marilyn Gronsdal Powell with
                                                                                                                                   choreography by Laila. Cast: Mikhail Agafonov, Laura Albino,
   business items and will be kept as brief                                                financial statements                    Betty Wayne Allison, John Avey, Oleg Balashov, Ilya Bannik,
   as we can reasonably manage. The second                                                                                         Michael Barrett, Peter Barrett, Sasha Bataligin, Russell Braun,
                                                                             8             appointment of Equity’s auditors for    Norine Burgess, Sung Chung, Jesse Clark, Alain Coulombe,
   half of the evening will begin with a video                                             the coming year                         Gregory Dahl, Vassily Gerello, Sonya Gosse, Alexander Hajek,
   presentation by Executive Director Arden                                                                                        Teiya Kasahara, Mikhail Kit, James Lévesque, Adam Luther,
   R. Ryshpan, focussing on new media and                                    8             an opportunity for the membership to    Stephen McClare, Peter McGillivray, Lisa DiMaria, Michael Myers,
                                                                                                                                   Ileana Montalbetti, Robert Pomakov, Gabrielle Prata, Niculae
   how this impacts our membership. This                                                   introduce resolutions*                  Raiciu, Bruce Schaef, Lauren Segal, Elena Semenova, Stanislav
   will be followed by a seminar on verbal                                   8             a question-and-answer session           Shvets, Michael Sproule, Jean Stilwell, Michael uloth, Vadim
                                                                                                                                   Zapletchny, COC dancers and chorus. Stage managed by Jenifer
   contracts and letters of agreement, what                                                                                        Kowal assisted by Michael Lewandowski, Kristin McCollum &
   they are and what they aren’t.                                            Refreshments will be available.                       Melissa Bergeron (apprentice).
                                                                                                                                   Page 18: Photo: Robert C. Ragsdale courtesy of the Stratford
   * For further information about introducing a resolution, please contact President Allan Teichman                               Shakespeare Festival Archives.
     at, or by mail to the National Office.                                                                     Page 19: Lower photo by Michael Cooper courtesy of COC.

4 EQUITY QUARTERLY                                                                                                                                                                wInTER 2009
EQ Moves
Onward and upward with the arts

Jackie Maxwell, Artistic Director of the
Shaw Festival in Ontario, was awarded the
2008 Herbert Whittaker/Drama Bench Award
for Outstanding Contribution to Canadian
Theatre. The recipient of this award is chosen
annually by the members of the Canadian
Theatre Critics Association.

Toronto playwright Daniel MacIvor was
named the 2008 recipient of the Elinore
& Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. This
is Canada’s largest annual theatre award,
which includes a prize of $100,000 – $25,000
of which goes to a protégé selected by the
winner. Daniel choose Vancouver playwrights
Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn as his

James Moore was appointed Minister of
Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
in October following the federal election.
The member for Port Moody-Westwood-
Port Coquitlam (British Columbia) was first
elected to the House of Commons in 2000.

Colleen Smith has resigned as Managing
Director of the Factory Theatre in Toronto
after four years. A search process is under-     Charles Officer and Abena malika in soulpepper theatre’s A Raisin in the Sun, directed by
                                                 weyni mengesha
way to name Colleen’s successor.

The Neptune Theatre has announced that
George s. Pothitos of the Sudbury Theatre Centre will be             Linda Levesque has officially taken over as General Manager of
the company’s next Artistic Director. He will take up full time      Teesri Duniya Theatre in Montreal.
residence in Halifax in June 2009.
                                                                     June Park is the new General Manager at Playwrights’ Workshop
Sandra Lefrançois has assumed duties as General Manager of           in Montreal.
Cahoots Theatre Projects in Toronto. Interim General Manager
                                                                     Meaghan Preston, familiar to many as Equity’s National Office
Christina Starr has returned to writing and production. Former
                                                                     receptionist, has been promoted to the position of Assistant Busi-
Cahoots General Manager, Kendra Fry, has been named Gen-
                                                                     ness Representative, replacing David Zelden, who recently left
eral Manager of the Harold Green Jewish Theatre in Toronto.
                                                                     the Association. Michel Roberts has taken over reception respon-
Colleen Winton is the new Artistic Director of the Western           sibilities in the National Office.
Gold Theatre in Vancouver. Former Co-Artistic Directors Anna
                                                                     Theatre director Weyni Mengesha won the 2008 Toronto
Hagan, Pamela Hawthorn and Don Mowatt have joined the
                                                                     Arts Council RBC Emerging Artist Award – a $5,000 cash
theatre’s board to assist in the transition.
                                                                     prize presented to an emerging Toronto artist working
Jessie van Rijn has been appointed General Manager of Vancou-        in any medium or performing arts discipline. Weyni is
ver’s Carousel Theatre for Young People. Jessie was the com-         leader of the Playwrights Collective at Theatre Passe
pany’s Audience Services and Outreach Coordination for the past      Muraille, and directed A Raisin in the sun for Toronto’s
two seasons.                                                         soulpepper Theatre in 2008.

wInTER 2009                                                                                                          EQUITY QUARTERLY 5
A work in progress as a
Christopher Morris is bringing the stories of families affected by the war in Afghanistan to an

Clockwise from top left:
An Afghan holy site

kawa Ada and
Christopher morris

Afghan actor
parwin mushtahel

Herat-based actor
maryum sadakhi,
pictured here with her
brother, mostafa

welcome to petawawa

6 EQUITY QUARTERLY                                                           wInTER 2009
 war rages on
international audience

                                                                                   So after spending two weeks in Petawawa last summer getting
                                                                                to know the families of soldiers, Morris travelled to Afghanistan
                                                                                with two missions – find an Afghan actor to be in his play, and find
                                                                                a rehearsal and performance space. But before leaving, a young
                                                                                actor convinced him to visit her home country of Pakistan while
                                                                                he was away.
                                                                                   Morris took her advice, and travelled to the two countries in
                                                                                the fall of 2008. Kawa Ada – a Canadian actor who was born in
                                                                                Afghanistan, but fled the country with his parents when he was
                                                                                two years old – accompanied Morris to Afghanistan.
                                                                                   “I knew that I wanted Kawa to work on this project with me in
                                                                                the future, so I thought it would be a good opportunity for both
                                                                                him and me if I brought him along,” says Morris.
                                                                                    It didn’t take much to convince Ada to go. “It’s always been in
                                                                                the back of my mind to go back to Afghanistan,” says Ada. “There
                                                                                has been this intangible force – of the people, the culture and the
                                                                                country – that has had an indirect influence on me.”
                                                                                   Ada had also worked with Morris in the past and liked how he
                                                                                pushed his actors to their full potential.
                                                                                   While in Afghanistan, the two took advantage of every connec-
                                                                                tion to seek out stories of how the war had affected families. They
                                                                                also spoke with several actors, such as Maryum Sadakhi, to learn
        bY bARb fARwELL                                                         about the local theatre scene. Ada also had the chance to meet up
                                                                                with family members he had never met before – including a cousin
                                                                                who helped show them around.

        onE dAY An IdEA                                popped into director
                                                                                   In Pakistan, Morris soon learned how involved that country is in
                                                                                the history of the conflict in Afghanistan, and decided to add the
        Christopher Morris’ head. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to do a play
                                                                                Pakistani perspective to his play.
        about war from the perspective of the families of soldiers in both
                                                                                   By the time he returned to Canada he had connected with the-
        Afghanistan and here in Canada?
                                                                                atre companies in both countries and found the two actors he was
           “I knew nothing about the war in Afghanistan,” says Morris.
                                                                                looking for – Pakistani actor Samiya Mumtaz, and Afghan actor
        “But I heard an interview with the wife of a Canadian soldier on
                                                                                Parwin Mushtahel. Both of these women will be involved in shap-
        CBC. She talked about how it affected her life and her children.
                                                                                ing the play as it moves forward.
           “That’s when I just knew I wanted to explore the repercussions
                                                                                   Next year Morris plans to visit Petawawa, Afghanistan and Paki-
        of war as it goes through families, and how it plays out when
                                                                                stan again, but this time with playwright Jonathan Garfinkel, to
        soldiers come home.”
                                                                                start shaping the script.
           That set in motion a journey that started in Petawawa, Ontario,
                                                                                   “I knew nothing when I started out,” says Morris. “But after
        and has taken Morris to war-torn Kabul and Herat in Afghanistan,
                                                                                visiting each culture and hearing their stories, I know this will affect
        and Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan.
                                                                                audiences. But I don’t like setting things in stone. I don’t know
           Morris, who is Artistic Director of Human Cargo, a Toronto-
                                                                                how these stories are going to end up yet.”
        based theatre company that brings social and political issues to
                                                                                Human Cargo’s premiere production will be Night, an international creation
        the stage, has a unique vision for the play. Not only will it explore
                                                                                with artists from Nunavut, Iceland, Germany and Canada. To find out more visit
        the war’s affect on families in Canada, Afghanistan, and Pakistan
        – it will include cast members from all three countries, and will be    Kawa Ada was recently awarded the 2008 Stage West – Equity Emerging Theatre
        performed in each place.                                                Artist Award.

        wInTER 2009                                                                                                               EQUITY QUARTERLY 7
EQ Backstage                                                                               Making the most of your head shot

                                          Be yourself. It’s not something most actors are often told to do, but when it comes to head-
                                          shots it’s solid advice.
                                             “A headshot is not a piece of art,” says Toronto photographer Suzanne McLaren. “It should
                                          be an accurate picture of how you look right now.”
                                             So if yours is more than a few years old, you’ve gained or lost weight, or changed the colour
                                          of your hair – it is probably out of date. And you might want to have more than just one, says
                                          McLaren. A “general headshot” is good to have, but you might think about having several shots
                                          that reflect the kind of roles you are seeking.
                                             For example, if you’re going out for commercials, a smiling photo – with bright colourful
                                          tones – is appropriate. But if you’re auditioning for dramatic stage roles, you would likely want
                                          a headshot with a more thoughtful expression, perhaps darker clothes and a moodier tone.
                                             And don’t wear too much make-up. “Head shots aren’t supposed to look glamorous,” warns
                                          McLaren. “You should look natural.” And be careful of looking too posed. “It’s hard to get a
                                          read on your body language if you are posed or uncomfortable,” she says.
                                             McLaren says one of her most important – and toughest – tasks can be getting the person to
                                          meet the gaze of the camera by looking directly into the lens.
                                             “Your eyes tell your story, so you need to make a real connection with the camera by looking
                                          right into the lens where the image is being taken,” says McLaren. “I tell people to look away
                                          from the lens periodically, take time to gather their thoughts and then look back. It’s a way to
                                          keep their energy up so they bring that to the photograph.”
                                             Digital technology has helped make this a little easier, however. “I have the images right
                                          there on the monitor so the person can see what they look like. It’s easier to show them what
                                          they need to do instead of telling them,” she says. “It also gets them involved. I ask for their
if you are a dancer, you would want       feedback and they get the chance to take ownership of their photo. This, I find, helps build their
to show more body
                                          confidence, which leads to better photos.”

                                                                 Five tips for the perfect head shot
                                                                 1. Your eyes tell your story. “When we look at someone, we look at their
                                                                    face, their eyes. The eyes tell you what kind of mood the person is in – if
                                                                    they are happy, or if a rage is coming on,” says McLaren.
                                                                 2. Get to know your face. Take the time to practise expressions in the mirror.
                                                                    Also take a good look at your posture.
                                                                 3. Be prepared. Make sure you have had enough sleep and have eaten. It’s
                                                                    also a good idea to bring a snack. “This is your livelihood on the line,” says
                                                                    McLaren. “It’s amazing how many people show up tired or hungry.”
                                                                 4. Feel comfortable. McLaren meets with her clients first for a consultation
                                                                    so she can get to know them better, and learn what kind of roles they
                                                                    want. It’s also an opportunity to discuss the right clothing and back-
                                                                    ground, and help them feel comfortable in the studio.
try more thoughtful expression to get those dramatic roles
                                                                 5. Expect to pay about $300 to $400. That should include a set of 25 8x10
                                                                    prints. And go for colour. “Black and white is out of date,” says McLaren.
                                          Suzanne McLaren is a Toronto-based headshot photographer with over 10 years experience working with actors. You can
                                          view her work at

8 EQUITY QUARTERLY                                                                                                                          wInTER 2009
EQ Voices                                                 Keeping up the momentum

bY John mAc mAsTER
                                        I make my living as an         somebody somewhere in this country is happily buying what
                                        opera singer. Although         we have to sell.
                                        my career has taken me            After an arts and culture election rally organized by Equity and
                                        around the world – I am        others, I decided to explore what artists were doing to convince
                                        never happier than when I      politicians and the public that the arts are important to Canadians.
                                        am performing in Canada.       It turns out there is a lot of grassroots organizing going on.
                                           That’s why remarks made        In addition to the activities undertaken by the Association,
                                        by Stephen Harper during       there were many memorable and pointed critiques, including:
                                        the last election campaign     Wrecking Ball parties, viral videos, the Department of Commu-
                                        stating that average Cana-     nications website, and a group calling themselves “This is NOT
                                        dians have no sympathy for     a Conservative Party” organized a rally with an impressive list of
                                        “rich” artists who gather at   rock bands participating. I even donned my tails and went down
                                        galas to whine about their     to the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Toronto and sang Puccini’s
                                        grants really got me angry.    Nessun dorma between performances by a couple of bands.
                                           In my career, I have           Dear colleagues, now that the election is over, it would be a
attended a lot of galas – but I am usually there as the unpaid         shame to lose the momentum in the arts community that rose
entertainment. The purpose of these galas is to raise money. I am      rather spontaneously at our collective outrage at the insults of the
lucky if I get paid for my expenses at such events – and I usually     Harper government. I hope that Equity and our many other union
don’t even get fed! After I perform, I “work the room” to help         partners will continue to lobby, educate, and rally the troops.
the organizers explain to the guests why their donations are so           At the time of publication of this magazine, the future of the
important. Art does not exist by government subsidy alone.             Harper government past the end of January is in question. But no
   Speaking of funding, Harper also asserted that arts and cul-        matter who holds the reins of government, it’s important and effec-
ture funding rose during his tenure. Arts funding actually eroded      tive for artists to continue to do what we do best – use our creative
under his government. And not just by the $45 million of last          talents to criticize, analyze, poke fun, blow holes in arguments and
year’s cuts. According to The Globe and Mail, those cuts are           seek truth over spin. We must use our creative talents to keep arts
symptomatic of a trend under the Conservatives of seeing dollars       and culture high on the priority list for all political parties.
shifted away from arts and culture and funneled toward amateur         John Mac Master’s recent performances include Tristan in Tristan und Isolde and
and sport activities.                                                  Canio in I Pagliacci at the Metropolitan Opera, Fidelio with the London Symphony
                                                                       Orchestra, a debut at Dresden’s Semper Oper as Calaf in Turandot, Verdi’s Requiem
   Before last year’s election, the Conservatives cut programs         at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and Aegisth in Elektra for the Canadian Opera
designed to help us sell our work abroad, increase sales oppor-        Company. Mac Master was also a long time Equity Councillor and Treasurer of the
                                                                       Association, as well as a Larry McCance Award winner.
tunities for our movies and our CDs, and increase revenue for
artists. International touring provides exposure to both audiences
and critics and enhances Canada’s artistic reputation. Canadian
artists need to see and be seen beyond our borders. And please
note – I pay taxes in Canada on my worldwide income.
   The economic argument in support of arts and culture is irre-
futable. A 2008 study by the Conference Board of Canada –
called “Valuing Culture” – confirmed that the cultural sector
is an integral part of the new economy, employing 1.1 million
people across the country. (You can read the report at
   This report also stated that the average Canadian household
spent roughly $1,650 on cultural goods and services in 2007 – for
a total estimated value of $21 billion. This fact alone should put
to rest the assertion that “ordinary” Canadians don’t care about
                                                                       mac master lends his voice to the This is NOT a Conservative Party rally
culture. Seems to me, despite what the government asserted,

wInTER 2009                                                                                                                  EQUITY QUARTERLY 9
f R o m                   I n T E R n A T I o n A L        s T A R s              T o         I n n o V A T I V E


                                                      bY coLIn EATock

                                                      ThERE’s PRobAbLY nEVER been
                                                      a better time to be an opera singer (or operagoer) in Canada than
                                                      the present.
                                                         Of course, Canadian opera artists aren’t a new phenomenon:
                                                      soprano Emma Albani, from Chambly, quebec, was astonish-
                                                      ing European audiences with her talents back in the 1870s. Back
                                                      then, Albani had to leave Canada to build a career – but today,
                                                      Canada’s singers are increasingly choosing to stay at home. While
                                                      it remains difficult to earn a living by working solely in Canada,
                                                      many singers augment their Canadian incomes with work in the
                                                      u.S. and overseas.
                                                         Adrianne Pieczonka used to live in Europe – in Vienna and
                                                      London – but in 2005 she returned to Toronto. She made the
                                                      move for personal reasons, to be closer to her family in Burlington,
                                                      Ontario. “I have a lot of work in Canada,” she says. “With the
                                                      exception of one year, I’m singing in Canada every year to 2013.

10 E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y                                                                           wInTER 2009
P R o d U c T I o n s                        A T         h o m E


     left: russell braun as le gentil and monica Huisman as Celeste in manitoba Opera’s Transit of Venus by victor davies

     Above: sookhyung park (centre) as the title character in pacific Opera victoria’s Daphne by richard strauss

     But my career is still tilted in favour of Europe in a 60:40 ratio. I’d     cities have an opera company, and in the largest urban areas there’s
     like it to be 50:50.”                                                       often more than one. In total, there are more than 40 opera-producing
        According to Pieczonka, Canada has gained a reputation in the            companies across the country, from coast to coast. Compared with
     opera world as a country that produces excellent singers. “We               the profusion of theatre companies in Canada, opera may look thin on
     train singers very well,” she observes. “I hear people all over the         the ground. But considering that 50 years ago there was only one (the
     world say, ‘You Canadians are super!’”                                      Canadian Opera Company), the growth has been remarkable.
                                                                                    About $60 million is spent on opera production every year.
     Making a living in Canada                                                   Again, when compared with live theatre’s annual figures of almost
     “There are more opera singers working and living in Canada than ever        $250 million, opera appears modest. But, for better or worse,
     before,” says tenor John Mac Master. Like Pieczonka, he lived outside       opera’s $60 million is not evenly distributed: The largest opera
     Canada – in New York and Vienna – before returning home. “Can-              company in the country, Toronto’s Canadian Opera Company
     ada’s a really great country to live in,” he declares. “We have health      (COC), produces seven mainstage productions and has a budget
     care here – which is not insignificant when you’re self-employed.           of about $30 million, while a small company may have resources
     And… there’s more government support here than in the u.S.”                 in the neighbourhood of $500,000.
       A look at the “big picture” bears out what Canadian singers say              By global standards, Canadian operating budgets are low. Ber-
     about the strength of opera in this country. Almost all major Canadian      lin’s three major opera companies spend approximately $200 million

     wInTER 2009                                                                                                            E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y 11
c A n A d I A n                    o P E R A         I s       R I d I n g               h I g h

annually, and New York’s Metropolitan Opera singlehandedly spends    Montreal’s Chants Libres. But new work is also being done by
its way through about the same amount over the course of a season.   our “mainstream” producers. In the last decade, Manitoba Opera
    As for the audience, Statistics Canada reports that just 3% of   (Winnipeg) and Pacific Opera Victoria have each premiered new
Canadians attend opera performances. However, Christina Loewen,      operas (Transit of Venus by Victor Davies, and Erewhon by Louis
director of operations for (Canada’s service organization   Applebaum, respectively). Calgary Opera is unique in that its
for the opera sector), notes that this number may be deceptively     commitment to mount a contemporary opera every other year
small. “That amount would be higher if you looked at who opera       is actually written into the company’s mandate. (They’ve done
reaches,” she explains. “Outreach is a big part of what                          Filumena and Frobisher, both by John Estacio.) And
opera companies do in their communities. Companies                                 new works are being planned for Vancouver and
tour to smaller towns, and there are lots of pro-                                    at the COC.
grammes in schools. Opera reaches into all sectors                                       untraditional stagings also bring contemporary
of Canadian society.”                                                                 sensibilities to opera. The COC has made a name for
                                                                                      itself in this regard, with its Ring Cycle two years ago
Ticket sales are looking good                                                         (not to mention innovative presentations of operas by
Even if the core audience for opera is relatively                                       composers ranging from Mozart to Schoenberg).
small, ticket sales, donations, and other factors                                        Vancouver Opera’s visually stunning Magic Flute
governing the overall financial well-being                                                 of 2007 was inspired by West Coast native art
of most Canadian companies are look-                                                         and culture, and was performed in English and
ing good these days. The COC recently                                                          the Halq’emeylem language. Opera Calgary
announced a surplus for the 2007/08                                                              recently updated Faust to World War I, and
season, thanks to record subscription                                                             Hamilton’s last Bohème was set in Paris in
sales, fundraising efforts, and nearly                                                             the 1940s. Even Toronto’s baroque com-
100% ticket sales. Calgary Opera                                                                    pany, Opera Atelier, has been provocative
has also posted a surplus, for                                                                       and innovative with the historical aspect
the 10th consecutive year.                                                                            of its productions.
And companies that have
recently experienced                                                                                   An abundance of excellent
difficulties are bounc-                                                                                 singers
ing back to life: This                                                                                    One of the driving forces behind
year, the Montreal                                                                                         opera’s dramatic growth in Can-
Opera retired a                                                                                             ada has been the abundance
debt that had                                                                                                  of excellent singers that
reached                                                                                                             this country produces.
$2 mil-                                                                                                                However, the down-
lion, and                                                                                                               side of this picture is
Manitoba                                                                                                                that with so many
Opera has                                                                                                              Canadian singers –
whittled down a $600,000 debt to                                                                                and with new ones coming
just over $200,000.                                                                                        along all the time – competition
   As well, there are other indica-                                                                       can be keen.
tors of strength – one of which is
new opera creation. Canada has a
handful of adventurous companies                                                                              laura whalen in the title role
that specialize in contemporary                                                                                of the Calgary Opera and the
                                                                                                               banff Centre world premiere
opera, such as Toronto’s Tapes-
                                                                                                                of Filumena (2003) by John
try New Opera Works and queen                                                                                    estacio and John murrell
of Puddings Music Theatre, and

12 E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y                                                                                               wInTER 2009
   “There’s a lot of competition,” notes Mac Master, “but if you
haven’t got the self-confidence, you shouldn’t be in this business.
You have to be an optimist, and you have to be driven.”
    “It’s a very competitive business,” agrees Pieczonka – hasten-
ing to add that she doesn’t personally feel threatened by younger
singers because she sings roles that they generally can’t. But she
is concerned about the opportunities available to emerging artists.
“It’s hard for young singers to get a break,” she says. “They go to
university and do their master’s degree, and still can’t get work.”
   As well, our bountiful abundance of opera singers may be hav-
ing a depressing effect on the fees. Mac Master can’t help notic-
ing that fees in Canada don’t compare very well with what he’s
been paid outside the country. “I don’t feel that our fees are
keeping pace with inflation,” he notes. “I’m concerned about
how infrequently we get to see and hear our own international
stars – and, in part, that’s because of fees.”

         “     While it remains difficult to earn a living by working
             solely in Canada, many singers augment their Canadian
                   incomes with work in the U.S. and overseas.
                                                                           Carrol Anne Curry of Dean Artists Management (Canada’s larg-
                                                                         est management agency for singers, as well as conductors and
                                                                         pianists who work in opera) is aware of the problem of flatlined
                                                                         remuneration. “In the last decade, fees have risen somewhat,”
                                                                         she says, “but there’s never been a huge bump in artists’ fees.
                                                                         During the economic boom of recent years, I didn’t see the wealth
                                                                         of Canada translate into higher fees for opera artists.”
                                                                           During these troubling economic times, Canadian companies
                                                                         may be in a better position than their neighbours to the south.
                                                                         That’s because many of the larger American opera producers
                                                                         own substantial endowment funds (always the envy of Canadi-
                                                                         ans), which they manage as revenue-generating investments. But
                                                                         these days those funds aren’t worth what they once were – and
                                                                         companies depending on them are in a vulnerable situation.
                                                                           The COC was fortunate to build its new theatre, the Four
                                                                         Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, at a time of economic
                                                                         prosperity and largesse – and today it stands as a visible symbol
top right: doug macnaughton and kimberly barber in a scene from          of the vibrancy of opera in Canada. unfortunately, many of our
the April 2008 pacific Opera victoria production of Regina by mark       opera companies still perform in theatres that weren’t designed
blitzstein, based on The Little Foxes by lillian Hellman                 for opera, sometimes with compromising results. But that doesn’t
Above: Adrianne pieczonka as tosca with Juan pons as scarpia in the lA   seem to be holding those companies back. Canadian opera has
Opera production of puccini’s Tosca, may 2008. pieczonka was recently    never been more exciting.
made an Officer of the Order of Canada
                                                                         Colin Eatock is a Toronto-based writer and composer.

wInTER 2009                                                                                                                E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y 13

InsPIREd bY ThE coc’s
War and PEacE

bY wAYnE goodIng

fRIdAY ocTobER 10, 2008.                                                    The experience was, as he would later characterize it, inspiring.
When Alexander Neef went into work that morning, the sense of            He was impressed by the focused commitment to the final artistic
excitement and nervous tension in the air was almost palpable.           product on everybody’s part – the musicians, singers, creative
   It was the day of the premiere of Prokofiev’s epic War and            team, technical crew and administrative staff. He liked that the
Peace, by every measure the biggest and most-ambitious single            whole company seemed to be wholly engaged (doubtless, in part,
production the Canadian Opera Company (COC) has attempted                because the Prokofiev was one of Bradshaw’s final programming
in its almost-60-year history. Only 10 days on the job as the            legacies).
COC’s new General Director, Neef had actually had little to do              When he went into work after that October weekend, the
with the staging, which realized a pet artistic project of his pre-      sense of excitement was, if anything, even greater, fuelled by
decessor, the late Richard Bradshaw. But Neef had arrived during         reviews that proclaimed the staging as one of the company’s best
the final rehearsal period, just in time for an intensive crash course   in recent years. What he’d seen and heard over the previous two
on his new company in full creative flight.                              weeks could only justify his decision to move to Toronto. “With

14 E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y                                                                                              wInTER 2009
the opening of War and Peace, I knew I would like it very much          Toronto and New York,” he says, “because Toronto turned out to
here,” he says. “I was very proud of the way the company had            be a very different chance and a very different challenge.”
worked. I think that’s how we should do art, how we should do
opera.”                                                                 A world away from Paris
                                                                        This is Neef’s first shot at running a company, and the opera busi-
The search for Bradshaw’s successor                                     ness in which he’s taking that challenge on is very different from that
If Neef was well pleased with the company, the feeling was              prevailing in Paris. The COC may be one of the top half dozen com-
mutual.                                                                 panies in North America, but it’s nonetheless relatively small. Paris
   After Bradshaw’s sudden death returning from vacation in             has an operating budget of about $240 million for its opera and
August 2007, the COC launched an international search to                ballet productions, and stages about 20 operas a year; the COC has
replace him. At the end of the first phase of its work, the search      seven mainstage productions and a budget of about $30 million.
committee had a long list of 40 prime prospects, then a shortlist          In some respects, Neef welcomes the disparity. Sometimes, he
of about half a dozen.                                                  says, it felt as if they were producing opera in a factory in Paris,
   When the 34-year-old, German-born Neef was introduced last           one staging coming off of the line after another without respite.
June as the winning candidate, few outside the company knew his         On the other hand, the big budget obviously allows for more
name. He was, how-                                                                                                 artistic flexibility and
ever, the unanimous                                                                                                richer production values

choice of the search                                                                                               than might be possible
committee and of the              I can bring experience and                                                       in North America – espe-
COC staff who had                                                                                                  cially since the norm in
talked with the candi-
dates as part of the hir-
                                insights into the European                                                         Europe is for govern-
                                                                                                                   ments to subsidize 60%
ing process.                                                                                                       to 70% of budgets.
   Soft-spoken and            way of doing opera and merge                                                            Last year, the COC’s
somewhat reserved                                                                                                  public funding amounted
in his bearing, he had
nonetheless impressed
                              them with the efficient North                                                        to 23% of the total bud-
                                                                                                                   get – with the rest of

                             American way of doing opera.
everyone – both in                                                                                                 the money coming from
face-to-face meetings                                                                                              ticket sales and fund-
and through due dili-                                                                                              raising efforts, including
gence – with his ideas                                                                                             individual, corporate,
about running an opera                                                                                             and foundation support.
company, his knowledge of the international opera business, the         Fundraising is part of the job of a General Director in North Amer-
depth of his connections and the stellar trajectory of his relatively   ica, so Neef, like Bradshaw before him, also faces the challenge of
short career in opera.                                                  playing a vocal and active role to keep the money coming.
   Ironically, Neef was already in a transitional stage between jobs
when the COC first approached him. At the time, he was Director         A different type of administrator
of Casting and Artistic Production at Opéra de Paris and as such        Neef’s background and approach signal a major cultural shift
a close associate of the company’s director, Gérard Mortier. Neef       within the company, too. The flamboyant Bradshaw was an artist-
is, in fact, a protégée of Mortier, one of the most influential and     entrepreneur who split his time between running the company
controversial opera managers of the past few decades.                   and participating in productions as conductor.
   Mortier gave Neef his entrée to artistic administration in 2000         As General Director, his crowning achievement was to spear-
at the Salzburg Festival, and the two have worked together since,       head the drive that made the Four Seasons Centre for the Per-
first at the Ruhr Triennale Festival, then Paris. When Mortier was      forming Arts, the COC’s new purpose-built home, a reality; but he
appointed head of New York City Opera (NYCO), Neef was set              always regarded himself as an artist more than an entrepreneur.
to cross the Atlantic with him, and was already spending about a           Neef is from a different mould, a Blackberry-toting administra-
week a month working at NYCO when Toronto called.                       tor quite in his element talking about budgets, efficient operations
   At that point, Neef knew little about Toronto or the COC,            and the need to counterbalance everything the company does with
but as he did his own research, he realized that he was facing a        income. It’s telling that one of his first administrative changes at the
rare opportunity. “I did not have to make a real choice between         COC was to take responsibility for signing contracts, and that he

wInTER 2009                                                                                                          E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y 15
casts one of his artistic                                                                                               tors and other creative
priorities – extending                                                                                                  staff to work with the
the horizon on the                                                                                                      company, too.
company’s artistic-                                                                                                        “It’s like a chain
planning cycle – in                                                                                                     reaction,” says Neef.
quantitative terms.                                                                                                     “Once we get a cer-
   “Getting access to                                                                                                   tain group of people
the best artists is a                                                                                                   working here, things
matter of mathemat-                                                                                                     will feed from the
ics,” he says. “If we                                                                                                   casting.”
want top-line artists                                                                                                      Neef is optimistic
who book three or                                                                                                       that the COC is in a
four years ahead, we                                                                                                    healthy position to
have to plan three or                                                                                                   ride out the current
four years ahead.”                                                                                                      economic maelstrom,
   While these are still                                                                                                fuelled in part by the
early days in Neef’s                                                                                                    knowledge that cash-
administration, he                                                                                                      flow for this season is
has started to articu-                                                                                                  solidly in place and
late an artistic vision. A scene from the Canadian Opera Company’s production of sergei prokofiev’s War and Peace       statistics suggest that
When he got the first                                                                                                   people tend to turn to
call about the job, he went home to research the company on rather than away from the arts when times get tough.
the Internet, and the new, internationally acclaimed opera house        Opera, though, is the most expensive of the performing arts, so
immediately piqued his interest. In his view, the opening of the he takes “prudence” as a hallmark of planning. “We have to be
new house marks the beginning of a new phase of growth for the conservative on the income side rather than overestimating,” he
company, and his responsibility as General Director now is to fully says. “We can’t spend money we don’t have. And I like to have
realize its promise as a world-class performing institution.          a Plan B in mind, which is the worst-case scenario.”
   In some respects, he says, the COC already has the wherewithal       In his first season, though, Neef is focusing on coming to terms
to achieve this goal, with the new house, the orchestra and the with the Canadian opera scene. He’s been meeting with and audi-
chorus providing key foundations. The company is still in its hon- tioning singers (he may be an administrator by profession, but
eymoon period with the new house in the sense that, with only he does have firm views about such things as singing technique
the company’s third season playing out on its stage, there’s still or good Mozart style), meeting with other General and Artistic
much to learn about what can and can’t be done, and indeed how Directors and looking for possibilities of co-operation (not a strong
best to present existing repertoire in a new space.                   point of the Canadian opera industry) and, of course, restoring
   “We need to analyze the possibilities, as performers and as the confidence and momentum in his own close-knit company
programmers,” says Neef. “We need to define who we are in (Bradshaw’s death knocked it off kilter).
programming and in performance.”                                        At some point, Neef will appoint a successor to Bradshaw the
                                                                      conductor, though it may be a season or two before he makes
World-class artists                                                   that decision, taking enough time for a series of guest-conductor
In part, bringing the company up to world-class standards means prospects to work with the company and the orchestra. In the
bringing world-class creative teams and artists to the company. meantime, he’s working on that world-class future for the com-
Hence his early insistence on sketching out the seasons as far pany, confident that the spirit he experienced around the opening
ahead as 2012/13.                                                     of Prokofiev’s War and Peace, will help get it there.
   He talks of casting a dozen or so major Canadian artists –           “I’ve seen how this company has critical pride,” he says. “Peo-
this would be artists like Ben Heppner, Gerald Finley, Measha ple know and talk about what’s good and what’s not good about
Brueggergosman and Adrianne Pieczonka, already major figures what it’s doing. We have a phrase in German about running
on the international opera circuit – and then bringing in major into open doors, meaning that we run into people who are like-
names from outside Canada to up the star quotient. If the com- minded and sympathetic in outlook. That’s how I’ve felt about
pany knows what it’s doing far enough ahead to book the big coming here. I don’t have to knock.”
names in singing, it’s easier to attract the major conductors, direc- Wayne Gooding is editor of Opera Canada magazine.

16 E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y                                                                                                wInTER 2009
EQ Lives                               Celebrating our off-stage moments

                     Beaming big brother Sébastien is proud to           Equity stage manager suzanne Williams and
                     announce the birth of his little sister Zoé         husband Michael Bluestone of IATSE Local 58
                     Solange, born (in their car!) to Equity mem-        are tickled to announce the arrival of their twins
                     bers Galia Goodwin and Terence van                  – Jackson
                     der Woude on April 6, 2008.                         Michael and
                                                                         Piper Syd-
                                                                         ney – born
              2                                                          5, 2008.
                                                                         Everyone is
                                                                         doing well
                                                                         and looking
                                                                         forward to
                                                                         many sleep-
                                                                         less nights.

              3   1. Equity member Tammy Roberts and automotive service
                  technician Chris Durksen are thrilled to announce that their nup-
                  tials went off without a hitch on July 26, 2008, in Calgary. Not
                  once did anyone cry out, “An actor and a mechanic?! That’ll
                  never fly!” Chris and Tammy wish to thank all those near and
                  dear to them who helped to celebrate this life event (many of
                  whom are likely reading this issue of EQ).

                  2. Equity members Jennifer stewart and sam strasfeld were married in Stratford, Ontario, on
                  June 30, 2008. Family and friends were in attendance to celebrate the day with the ceremony at Shake-
                  spearean Gardens followed by a reception at The Church Restaurant.
                  3. Equity members Melissa Good and Randy Hughson were happily married on February 9, 2008,
                  in Heidelberg, Ontario.

                  4. Equity actor Ramona Gilmour-Darling and Sandy Thorburn, musical director, were married on
                  May 24, 2008 (a date that would forever give them free fireworks on their anniversary!). The fantastic
                  wedding took place in the Thousand Islands Playhouse’s Firehall Theatre in Gananoque, Ontario.

                  5. On July 21, 2007, Equity member Dale R. Miller and Timothy Stain were married in a private but
                  spectacular Buddhist, inspired wedding, surrounded by family and close friends. Complete with a harp
              5   and a Celtic band, it was a magical day and they could not be happier!

wInTER 2009                                                                                         E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y 17
Fondly Remembered
richard monette
1944 - 2008
bY Ann sTUART wITh mARThA hEnRY,

Richard Monette was endowed with many gifts – intelligence,
talent, ambition – which would take him to the pinnacle of his
profession as the longest-serving Artistic Director of the Stratford
Festival. However, his childhood was bleak, without the secure
and unconditional love found in a happy and stable home. He
would use his gifts to find a family of friends (including his beloved
brother Mark) and another home – in the theatre.
   Perhaps because they had been missing from his own life, he
always retained a love of the delights associated with a happy
childhood. If it lit up, made a funny noise, wore mouse ears,
exploded, or by any other means created a moment of magic or
mystery, Richard adored it. If it soared up (balloons, champagne
corks, fireworks, the stage curtain) or floated down (snow, chan-
deliers, a dead duck, the stage curtain) Richard adored it.
   Every possible occasion was celebrated – anything that meant an       richard monette as dr. Caius in the 1982 production of The Merry Wives
opportunity to dress up, eat, drink, give gifts and have a good time.    of Windsor at the stratford shakespeare festival
And preferably to capture the celebration in photographs. Richard
was a master at finding the perfect gift – not necessarily expensive,    their problems. He gave people opportunities to do things they
but fun and right for the occasion. Never generic, each gift was an      had never done before and he gave them his faith that they would
irreplaceable treasure – souvenirs from his travels or a dried rose      succeed. His care extended beyond those who worked with him
from the bouquet presented at his retirement gala. Books and post-       to include the audiences who came to his theatres. He wanted
ers were inscribed; cards carried personal notes and his name with       them to have a wonderful time so they would love the theatre
the omnipresent drawing of a heart. Probably the highlight of a life     and return. He cared for the citizens of Stratford, even those who
of celebrations was the Stratford Festival’s Golden 50th Season with     never attended a play, because he knew that the town’s economy
the opening of the new Studio Theatre, the re-opening of the reno-       was linked closely to the success of the Festival.
vated Avon Theatre and visits from the Governor General, the Prime          Richard’s theatrical achievements were many but it is worth
Minister and festival founder, Tom Patterson. And golden gifts. For      noting that every one developed from his sense of caring. He was
months before, Richard’s home overflowed with an ever-expanding          concerned about classical training opportunities so he started the
collection of gold just-about-everything. And during opening week        Birmingham Conservatory. He was passionately committed to the
he proudly drove around town in a shiny gold car.                        work of Shakespeare so he programmed the entire Shakespearean
   But the gifts and good times were only a symptom of some-             canon during his tenure. He wanted Stratford’s theatres to be beau-
thing much deeper and more important: Richard’s need to care             tiful, comfortable and inviting so he renovated the Festival and Avon
for those around him and to give them a sense of being loved             Theatres and built the Studio. He worried that the Festival would not
and special. These were his most important gifts: his kindness, his      survive hard times so he created the For All Time Endowment Fund.
compassion, his wit. A born entertainer, he could always find the        These were his gifts to the future and they will endure.
perfect anecdote to amuse or teach. But he listened, too, when              Dear Richard. You were so special, so precious, so gifted. Thank
young and old, friends and strangers, told him their dreams or           you for everything.

18 E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y                                                                                                 wInTER 2009
                                           lloy Coutts 1941 - 2008
                                           ExcERPTEd fRom A sPEEch bY dAwn obokATA
                                           foR LLoY coUTTs’ EQUITY LIfE mEmbERshIP AwARd

                                           Lloy Coutts had a               It is indeed a testament to Lloy’s influence that many of the
                                           career spanning over         young artists she worked with became lifelong friends who con-
                                           30 years, in which she       tinued to seek her advice as their careers matured.
                                           was a coach, mentor             Whenever anyone describes working with Lloy, there are three
                                           and director. Theatres,      things that are mentioned: her sharp focus on the crux of the
                                           actors and audiences         matter at hand; the way she demanded excellence and usually
                                           from the Citadel to the      got it; and her keen sense of humour.
                                           Vancouver Playhouse,            I was directed by Lloy in a production of Tale of a Mask, one
the Tarragon Theatre, CanStage and Workman Theatre Projects             of the shows she did at Workman Theatre Projects in the queen
all benefited from her work.                                            Street Mental Health Centre in Toronto. These were always excit-
   She brought her enormous talent and skill – and her keen intel-      ing collaborations between professional theatre artists and out-
ligence and wit – to students and actors at the universities of         patients of the centre.
Guelph, Waterloo and York, Vancouver’s Studio 58, Tarragon’s               The situation could sometimes be quite intense, but Lloy had a way
Maggie Bassett Studio, and Equity Showcase Theatre.                     of unifying the group so we all felt like peers, and maintaining focus
   She was a voice coach at the Stratford Festival during Robin Phil-   on the theatrical process. She knew when to push, and when to relieve
lips’ tenure, and directed and taught Richard Monette’s Conserva-       the tension. I have fond memories of sitting in the cafeteria after a
tory programme. In 2005, the festival honoured Lloy’s contribution      grueling morning rehearsal, talking about Kevins with Lloy. We both
as a coach by giving her the prestigious Tyrone Guthrie award.          agreed that it was Kevin Kline over Kevin Costner any day….

gary rideout 1952 - 2007                                                interaction with
                                                                        my character,
                                                                        and every time
bY bEnoIT boUTET                                                        he would come
                                                                        close to me to
                                                                        sing, he would
I knew Gary since our school days at the university of Toronto’s        have so much
Opera school. His voice was already very powerful and brilliant         saliva that he was
at a young age. He was also a fine actor, which led him into the        always spitting
character tenor field in his early roles. He was such a good actor      in my face. This
that at times, on stage with him, I could not see Gary anymore          was not on pur-
but just the role he was playing. It was almost scary, but terribly     pose of course,
convincing.                                                             but I can tell you
   In recent years he had moved on to Wagnerian roles with great        that it added to
success; he actually was the first “American” to sing the role of       my relationship
Siegfried at the Kirov Opera. He had engagements in Monte               with his charac-
Carlo, Tel Aviv, Toulon and Washington D.C. He was also very            ter on stage. We
well praised as Loge in the Arizona Ring Cycle.                         laughed about it
   He had quite a good sense of humour and was always ready             after the perfor- gary rideout as the witch in the Canadian Opera
for a laugh. Funny, caring, and kind, I cannot think of anyone          mances.               Company’s 1998 production of Hansel and Gretel
else who was so genuine. He always travelled with his little white         Gary sang with
dog, and I remember seeing him walking his dog in the worst             the San Francisco Opera, The Met and the Canadian Opera
snow storms.                                                            Company, among other places. It did not matter where he was
   I remember fondly doing Britten’s Prodigal Son with Gary, and        performing, he would always give the best he had with the most
he was playing the “scary” role of the Devil. He had a lot of           professional attitude a singer could have.

wInTER 2009                                                                                                         E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y 19
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     ATLANTIC                      Catherine Lough Haggquist     ONTARIO                        Zarrin Darnell-Martin          quEBEC
    Theo Pitsiavas                 Hayley Crittenden            Sherry Phillips                 Amy Lee                       Frank Schorpion
    Andria Wilson                  Kazumi Evans                 Andrea Ramsden                  Michael McLeod                Lauren Roy
     BRITISH C OLuMBIA             Chris Bradford               Emberly Doherty                 Noa May Dorn                  Todd Harrop
    Pearce Visser                  Nadine Wright                Alison Jutzi                    Charlotte Corbiel-Coleman
    David Patrick Flemming         Stephen Park                 Kerri Smith                     Costa Tovarnisky               SASKATCHEWAN
    James Sanders                  Bevin Poole                  Ali Momen                       David Reale                   Carol Wylie
    Pablo Silveira                 Marisa Vest                  Lauren Phillips                 Lois Tucker                   Ian Brodland
    Lee Vincent                     E. ONTARIO/OuTAuAIS         Sarena Parmar                   Stevie Jay                    Lucy Hill
    Lindsay Sutherland-Boal        Samantha Madely              Isabella Lobo                   Adrian Gorrissen              Mark Claxton
    Kyle Cameron                   Riley Stewart                Kelly Wong                      Maryem Tollar
                                                                                                                              Heather Morrison
    Debra DaVaughn                                              Jennifer Dzialoszynski          Natalie Robitaille
                                    EASTERN OPERA               Alexandria Galante              Perry Mucci                   Ashley Turner
    Ashley Liu
    Anna Williams                  Paul Williamson              Elizabeth Morris                Allen Keng                     SOuTHERN ALBERTA
    Stephen Barradell              Robin Guarino                Kharytia Bilash                 Karan Oberoi                  Braden Griffiths
    Jethelo Cabilete                N. ALBERTA & NWT            Jessica Horn                    Dharini Woollcombe            Stafford Perry
    Kirk Smith                     Reneltta Bourque             Keely Hutton                    Jon Osbaldeston               Kelsie Vanstone
    Jonathan Holmes                Victoria Wueschner           Caleb Cosman                    Melanie Darlington
    Charlie Carrick                Roberta Koelmans-Cameron     Shannon Kook-Chun               Kate Brown                     WESTERN OPERA
    Chris Cochrane                 Robert Clark                 Peter Scolari                   Megan Pettypiece              Adam Fisher

20 E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y                                                                                                             wInTER 2009
EQ Flashback                                                                 The Manitoba Theatre Centre
                                                                             celebrates 50 years

                                                                                       When John Hirsch and Tom Hendry founded
                                                                                       the Manitoba Theatre Centre (MTC) in 1958,
                                                                                       their goal was to create great professional
                                                                                       theatre with mass appeal. As Hendry said,
                                                                                       “One can endlessly cite statistics to prove
                                                                                       employment, economic impact and tourist
                                                                                       magnetism. What the arts – given a chance
                                                                                       – bring to a city is something in addition to
                                                                                       all those material rewards. They give a great
                                                                                       city an image of its soul.”
                                                                                         Since its founding, MTC has produced
                                                                                       more than 500 plays, and hundreds of
                                                                                       Equity members have appeared on its
                                                                                       stages, including Len Cariou, Graham
                                                                                       Greene, Martha Henry, Judd Hirsch, Thomas
                                                                                       Hulce, William Hurt, Tom Jackson, Seana
                                                                                       McKenna, Eric Peterson, Gordon Pinsent,
Above: the first program cover from 1958
                                                                                       Keanu Reeves, Fiona Reid, R.H. Thomson,
Above right: gordon pinsent and doreen brownstone in A Hatful of Rain
                                                                                       Kathleen Turner and Al Waxman.
                                                                                         The first play produced at MTC was
                                                                                       Michael V. Gazzo’s A Hatful of Rain, star-
    The great EQ “Flashback” photo mystery                                             ring Equity Life Members Gordon Pinsent
    The general consensus is that Larry Cherniak is our mystery man in last issue’s    and Doreen Brownstone. A half-century
    “Flashback” photo. But who was the bearded man sitting last in the front row? It   later, Brownstone was back on stage play-
    turns out it’s not Stephen Heatley – but Stephen Katz.                             ing Yente in MTC’s 50th anniversary pro-
                                                                                       duction of Fiddler on the Roof.

wInTER 2009                                                                                                E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y 21
E Q U I T Y                             Q U A R T E R L Y

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        22 E Q U I T Y Q U A R T E R L Y                                                                          wInTER 2009
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