Last week, River East Collegiate drama students were fortunate to have the opportunity to take part in a video conference led by the Stratford Festival's production director, Simon Marsden (pictured).
Mr. Marsden has been the production director not only in Stratford, Ontario, but also in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Also participating were the technical director Robbin Cheesman, head of wardrobe Michelle Barnier, and director of education Nitasha Rijoo.
What they anticipated would be a 20-minute call turned into a 90-minute conversation on all things Stratford. They were open and willing to answer questions from the students, and asked students to consider why they are involved in the arts and reflect on the importance of arts education.
Additionally, they outlined for the students how they trained for their roles, the various opportunities and challenges that come with a job in theatre, as a well as other employment opportunities related to theatre production.
The REC students were surprised to learn that, so far, they were the only school in Canada who had reached out to Stratford as a means of creating a deeper learning experience for students.
The students were very engaged in the process and got a lot out of the experience, and from a follow up conversation, so did the people from Stratford.