The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Happy World Theatre Day! March 27, 2010

Filed under: World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 4:49 am

Last week, the Entertainment Editor of one of our local daily newspapers, asked me to help her to gather stories of people’s most memorable theatre experiences. I  did, along with the help of the GVPTA, and you can read the results here.

It inspired me to write my own.

A few  years back, a gal with whom I had done some work, Lita, came to me with a play, with the intention of us producing it. The play was Five Women Wearing The Same Dress by Alan Ball. I was deep into a Six Feet Under addiction, and loved American Beauty, so I was intrigued. I read the play, and was immediately entranced by his ability to write characters that reveled themselves in layers, and agreed that the play was fantastic, and must be produced.

I then proceeded to get super busy, and Lita moved to Halifax, so that was the end of that. But I still had it on my brain, so I gave it to another friend of mine, Gillian Morris (now Behnke) who had a production company called Horned Moon. She loved it.

We were about to have our first production meeting, but I had just found out that I was pregnant, so I told her that, in terms of dates, we either had to think about producing it in the next few months, before I began to look really pregnant, or in a year. We both agreed that we could use a year to get this done. I brought on another friend I had been wanting to work with, Sarah Sawatsky, as a third producer.

By the time we went into production at Presentation House, I had a six-month-old baby. One day, in order that my partner could come and see the show, we arraigned to have a girlfriend take care of him at the theatre, so that my partner could sit through a matinee. In the last scene of the first act, a quiet and intense scene between Merideth (played by Mitzi Thaddeus) and Mindy (me), I heard my baby crying outside the theatre. It was my worst nightmare–but somehow I got through the scene and offstage.

I got word to the outside through the stage manager to bring me Michael at the intermission. They brought him in to me, and I hiked up my dress (which was NOT built with breastfeeding in mind!) and proceeded to nurse him. I told the stage manager we’d have to hold the intermission until we were done.

Finally, I handed him to his dad, and stepped into the back stage. A moment later, the lights went out, and I stepped on stage. The next hour was incredibly surreal. It was one of those times on stage that passes like a dream. Time goes and you don’t know where–I felt like someone else was enhabiting my body.

After the show, the stage manager asked me what I had been doing differently. I didn’t think I had done anything differently, but the experience had affected my performance–for the better, or at least, so thought the stage manager.

Beyond that day, that performance, that show, the women that I worked with on that production are still a huge part of my life, six years later. I saw Bronwen Smith yesterday, last summer we celebrated Mitzi’s wedding, and this summer we’ll cry at Sarah’s. Robin moved to Toronto, and is expecting baby number two, but we stay in touch via email. Every couple of months, the three of us that are left in town (and Mitzi, if she’s visiting from London where she now lives) get together and have dinner and talk like the women do in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.

I’ve done a lot of plays, and after they’re over, we all say we’ll stay in touch, etc. But inevitably, life steps in, that’s just how it goes. For me, the greatest legacy of doing that play is the relationships that it created. Bronwen, Sarah, Mitzi, Robin (and Kris, the substitute Robin), I love you!

Happy World Theatre Day!


Why I love the theatre March 3, 2010

Filed under: World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:49 am

World Theatre Day is less than a month away. Plans are in full swing.

Last year, Ian MacKenzie, a writer from Toronto, came up with the idea of a World Theatre Day meme. For those of you that are new to this concept (and I certainly was), Wikipedia defines a meme as

a catchphrase or concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based email, blogs, forums, Internet-based social networking sites and Internet-based instant messaging. The term derives from the original concept of memes, although it has come to refer to a much more narrowly defined category of cultural information.

Ian’s idea was to take a picture of us standing on our favorite theatre books–the books that had supported us throughout our career in the theatre. You can see the results here.

Us WTD10 faciliators loved this idea, and wanted to do it again. So, we are asking people to create a short video, 1-2 minutes long, on the theme of “Why I love the theatre” OR “What theatre means to me.” Once you’ve created your video, go to this URL for further instructions about how to share it with the world.

Here is mine:

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2010 World Theatre Day Message: Dame Judi Dench February 15, 2010

Filed under: World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:33 am
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I was very excited to discover the author of this year’s World Theatre Day address, an actor for whom I have the greatest esteem, and who is a “woman of a certain age”, to boot!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dame Judi Dench:

World Theatre Day is an opportunity to celebrate Theatre in all its myriad forms. Theatre is a source of entertainment and inspiration and has the ability to unify the many diverse cultures and peoples that exist throughout the world. But theatre is more than that and also provides opportunities to educate and inform.

Theatre is performed throughout the world and not always in a traditional theatre setting. Performances can occur in a small village in Africa, next to a mountain in Armenia, on a tiny island in the Pacific. All it needs is a space and an audience. Theatre has the ability to make us smile, to make us cry, but should also make us think and reflect.

Theatre comes about through team work. Actors are the people who are seen, but there is an amazing set of people who are not seen. They are equally as important as the actors and their differing and specialist skills make it possible for a production to take place. They too must share in any triumphs and successes that may hopefully occur.

March 27 is always the official World Theatre Day. In many ways every day should be considered a theatre day, as we have a responsibility to continue the tradition to entertain, to educate and to enlighten our audiences, without whom we couldn’t exist.

This message is meant to be read prior to curtain on March 27, World Theatre Day.

To see a full list of all the theatre artists that have written the WTD addres through the years, click here.


How will you celebrate March 27? January 25, 2010

Filed under: World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:33 am
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March 27 you say? Saturday? What’s the big deal about March 27?

World Theatre Day!!

First a bit of background. As you know,  I am a theatre publicist, and for the past two years, I have done publicity for our local GVPTA WTD celebrations. I have also been blogging for a little over a year. Last year, while we were planning our WTD celebrations, I started thinking “what if we made WTD a truly international celebration? What if there was a place on the internet where people could share their WTD stories, and also get information about WTD, its mandate, and ideas about how to celebrate it in their own communities?”

So, I put the word out through Twitter, and in short order, we assembled an amazing, skilled team of facilitators from all over the world. Some of whom, while they were theatre artists, had never heard of World Theatre Day.

We got the blessing of the ITI, and the World Theatre Day Blog was the result. If you page back, or look at our Tumblog, you’ll see all the amazing and awesome ways that theatre artists from all over the world celebrated March 27, 2009.

My "Standing on Books" meme from last year's WTD

This year, we need your help to make WTD 2010 an even greater success!

Here are some things you can do to celebrate World Theatre Day in your community:

  • Go to a play, and take a friend.
  • Organize a play reading in your community
  • Write, videotape, or record why you love theatre, and email it to
  • Read the World Theatre Day International Address (this year’s has not been published yet, but you can believe the second it is, it’ll be on both blogs!)  prior to curtain at your theatre, or include it as a handout in your theatre’s program. Ask a local favorite actor or dignitary to read it. If you can, record this reading by photos, video or audio, and email it (or the link, if you are uploading it to Flickr, or YouTube) to It will automatically post to the Tumblog.
  • If you have a blog, write a post about what you are doing to celebrate World Theatre Day in your area, then email the URL to We will cross-post your entry on the WTD blog.
  • If you don’t have a blog, please email your story directly to us, and we will post it on the blog.
  • Offer backstage tours of your theatre to the local community
  • Offer open rehearsals to your community
  • Offer discounted or free tickets.
  • Offer open readings to your community.
  • Share photos of your production and photos of your cast and crew with your audience to the World Theatre Day media hub.
  • Distribute theatre-related books, scripts etc. around your part of the world for example, Book Crossings (, ‘release your books’ in a public place – theatre foyers; coffee shops; park benches etc. Put a sticker on the front saying something like, ‘I’m free. Please give me a home. Happy World Theatre Day!’
  • Work up a flash mob. Gather people together in a particular place at a particular time to ‘do’ something theatre-related e.g., everyone gathered reads a sonnet in a supermarket or just freezes at a particular time reading an obviously theatre-related book, then moves on after 1 minute’s freeze. Guaranteed to attract attention! Hurry! the GVPTA’s deadline for Flashmob submissions is this Friday, January 29. Email your submission to For more information, click here.

One new thing we are going to try to facilitate this year is to make connections, via technology, between theatres in different cities, or even countries. If you are planning on having a WTD celebration party, let us know, and we will try to hook you up, via Skype or some other means, with another city who is doing the same thing.

For more information and suggestions, as well as a media release template, download the Getting Started Toolkit.

After all, World Theatre Day is about us celebrating how amazing the work that we do every day is!

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Let’s Make a Scene! October 5, 2009

Every year, our local Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance hosts a conference that takes place over one weekend in October. There are discussions, workshops, and keynotes. Plus quite a bit of socializing and some alcohol consumption.

This year, in light of the drastic cuts to the arts, the theme of Making a Scene is THEATRE MATTERS! They keynote speaker is George Thorn, co-director of Arts Action Research out of Portland.

Here’s what his partner, Nello McDaniel, has to say about the work that they do there:

“ARTS Action Research believes that the challenges confronting today’s arts organizations demand that arts professionals and their community partners respond more forcefully and proactively than ever before. These responses must be complex not reflex, strategic not prescriptive, systemic not situational, studied and deliberate not imitative and tentative, and most of all they must be from the inside out, not engineered from a distance. The future demands that our organizational responses be as creative, bold, entrepreneurial, clear, courageous and adaptable as the art we produce, exhibit and present. ARTS Action Research is committed to an arts community that is artist-centered — led and directed by arts professionals.”

Pretty cool.

Also in the “pretty cool” category, Simon and I will be again on a panel discussing social media. On Saturday afternoon, October 31 (yes, Hallowe’en, and you are encouraged to come in costume. You’re actors, for pete’s sake!), at 1:30, we will be on a panel moderated by Sean Allen called The Power of Social Media.

Here’s the blurb:

The Power of Social Media:
We all know that Social Media is a good thing… right? But what can it really do for your organization besides take up time from your work day? Join us in this open forum as we share inspiring examples and inspire each other with stories of the power of social media for theatre organizations. Moderator: Sean Allan (Chair– GVPTA Advocacy Committee)

We will specifically be talking about The World Theatre Day blog and other success stories.

You should come. For more information, or to register:

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A Eulogy for Augusto Boal May 6, 2009

Filed under: World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:24 am
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As I posted on Sunday, Augusto Boal, founder of The Theatre of the Oppressed, and writer of this year’s World Theatre Day International Address, has died.

Here in Vancouver, the man closest to Boal is certainly David Diamond, Artistic Director of Headlines Theatre. Yesterday, Diamond sent out this eulogy which he wrote for his friend and colleauge, and I asked him if I could share it.

It is with deep sadness that we acknowledge the death of Brazilian theatre director and founder of the “Theatre of the Oppressed” (TO), Augusto Boal. In the early hours of May 2, 2009, the world experienced the passing of a visionary theatre artist, activist and educator.

Boal’s passionately theatrical spirit and his uncompromising commitment to human rights, combined with an infectious sense of play, spread the ideas and practice of TO around the world.

Boal leaves a rich legacy of innovation in theatre and social activism, books, articles, and inspired hearts and minds. As Chris Vine, a friend and colleague from NY wrote upon hearing this sad news, “…we are all grateful for the lives Boal had touched, inspired and linked together artistically, politically and personally, transcending time and distance.”

To me, personally, he was an inspiration, a mentor, a colleague and a beloved friend. No more fiery emails back and forth, Augusto? This is so hard to contemplate. You will always be a welcome “Cop in my Head”. Thank you for so much.

Messages have been posted on the International Theatre of the Oppressed (ITO) website from Adrian Jackson, a TO practitioner and translator of Boal’s books, and Bárbara Santos, on behalf of the Centre of the Theatre of the Oppressed (CTO) Rio. Access Bárbara’s message by clicking on the image of Boal in the upper right of the home page. A condolences registry, where you can leave your thoughts, is available by clicking inside the “interventions” link of Adrian’s message.

On behalf of all of us at Headlines, our condolences to the Boal family, CTO Rio, the global TO community, and all. Boal touched the lives of so many.

David Diamond
Artistic Director, Headlines Theatre, Vancouver BC, Canada

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Augusto Boal Dies May 2, 2009

Filed under: World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 3:48 pm
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I was stunned to receive this email today from Carla Estefan, with whom we had quite a lot of contact during our World augusto_boal_klTheatre Day celebrations. Augusto Boal was the given the honour of writing this year’s World Theatre Day International Address.

The playwright and theater director, Augusto Boal, died in the early hours of today, at 78 years, of respiratory failure in the Samaritan Hospital in the district of Botafogo, Rio. He suffered from leukemia and was hospitalized  since April 28. The location and time of the funeral have not been disclosed.

The work of Boal, who was also essayist and theorist of theater, gained prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, when he  created the Theater of the Oppressed, which was internationally recognized by combining drama to social action.

Boal  graduated with a degree in Chemistry fromthe Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in 1950, but then traveled to the United States, where he studied dramatic arts at Columbia University. Back in Brazil, his first piece as a director was Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, which garnered him an award from the  APCA (São Paulo Association of Art Critics). He directed of the show Opinião, with Zé Kette, João do Vale and Nara Leão, which went down in history as an act of resistance to the military coup of 1964.

From Boal’s WTD International Address:

Weddings and funerals are “spectacles”, but so, also, are daily rituals so familiar that we are not conscious of this. Occasions of pomp and circumstance, but also the morning coffee, the exchanged good-mornings, timid love and storms of passion, a senate session or a diplomatic meeting – all is theatre.

Participate in the “spectacle” which is about to begin and once you are back home, with your friends act your own plays and look at what you were never able to see: that which is obvious. Theatre is not just an event; it is a way of life!

We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it.

Boal was a man who truly used theatre to change the world. A bright light has gone out today, and he will be sorely missed.

Read the entire WTD address.

Read my interview with David Diamond, Boal’s colleague here in Vancouver.

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World Theatre Day: the afterglow… April 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized,World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:42 pm

Wow. What a ride it’s been.

It all started a few weeks back, as I was starting prep work for doing publicity for our local Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Associations’ World Theatre Day celebrations. I thought–Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to make this year’s March 27 WTD celebration truly international? So, I put some stuff out there, and with encouragement, started the World Theatre Day blog as a place where theatre artists from all over the world could connect with each other wtd-avatar2_glowover World Theatre Day.

Then I started Twittering it, and, in a word, it snowballed. Many theatre artists who had never even heard of WTD started getting on board, and before I knew it, we were an international team of facilitators having virtual planning meetings on a semi-regular basis. My more technically-literate compatriots helped to move the blog to its own domain to make it easier to find, rejigged the design, and added the Tumblr feed to make it really easy for peeps to send us their photos and videos.

People started planning their celebrations. The Mayor of Chicago officially proclaimed March 27 World Theatre Day. We got the blessing of the ITI. Australia planned a flash mob. Brazil planned a political demonstration. The NY Neofuturists put out the call for Twitter plays.

Not everything worked out just right. Our local Vancouver celebrations were not well attended, due in part to the Junos being held that same weekend. The Guardian in London wrote about WTD disparagingly. Oh–and I was violently ill on March 27, due to a bug my son brought home from school.

Here’s a rundown of my fave WTD things:

As I write this, my heart feels very full. I love the theatre. It has been my passion for the past twenty years. And being able to share that passion, the joy, the transformative power of theatre with the world has been a huge gift to me.

A very special shout-out to the amazing team of international superheros that made it all happen: Jessica Hutchinson and Nick Keenan in Chicago, Travis Bedard in Austin, Kate Foy in Brisbane, Andrew Eglinton in London, and Simon Ogden, Lois Dawson and Trilby Jeeves here in Vancouver.

I will leave you with this thought: at our last virtual planning meeting, someone used the term “cracking the egg” to describe what we were doing this year. And it’s true–this year we cracked it, next year, we will break that puppy wide open, and make some really tasty omelets!

Here’s to World Theatre Day, March 27, 2010. It’s going to rock!

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Happy World Theatre Day! March 27, 2009

Filed under: World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:42 am

I feel like it’s Christmas–the last few weeks of preparation have finally come to this: March 27–World Theatre Day!wtd-avatar2

Help us celebrate by going to the theatre, participating in a reading, aor  backstage tour. Introduce a friend to the theatre. Join the fun at one of the after parties.

Follow along on the World Theatre Day blog, or follow our Twitter feed.

I am so happy and proud to be one of you.



Hey, Vancouver–Come Celebrate Theatre: International Style! March 20, 2009

Filed under: Blogging,World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:34 am
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A while back, I posted about a new blog that I started with a group of theatre artists from around the world to celebrate World Theatre Day on a truly international basis. Since then, we have changed the URL of the blog to, and its look has been improved greatly, thanks to WordPress expertise of some of my fellow bloggers.

On World Theatre Day, March 27, the blog will act as a central hub for Theatre artists to connect and share thier celebrations with the rest of the world. So be sure to check the blog regularly on March 26, 27 and 28 (because people will be posting from different time zones).

Here in Vancouver, The GVPTA has a raft of stuff you can do to celebrate WTD. But the big party will be happening from 10:30 pm on at The Other Space (formerly The Queen Elizabeth Restaraunt, home of Hoarse Raven and Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding). We will have the blog up on a computer there, so that you can check out the celebrations around the world, and perhaps add to them yourself!

See you there! If not in person, then virtually….