What is Summer Ensemble
This is hard. Sometimes it’s hard to describe something truly amazing – one needs to experience it to fully understand it.
In our company we use food to explain things a lot so let me try to describe Summer Ensemble using food as an analogy: Imagine an amazing scrumptious treat with superb nutritional benefits – that’s Summer Ensemble. Kind of like an ice cream mochi filled with vitamins, protein and all the other good stuff while tasting soft and delicious.
Summer Ensemble offers emerging artists paid work for two months. During these two months artists work on shows (the tasty part of the treat) and also learn many skills (the nutritious part).
Why did we start Summer Ensemble
We wanted to create an opportunity for young artists and immigrant artists to get their first professional credit.
Artists need paid for their work as possible so we did the hard work of figuring out how to find money to provide artists with paid work.
We also noticed that artists have a hard time understanding how the performing industry works. Many artists graduate and then struggle to understand how to build a career in the arts. Schools teach great artistic skills but unfortunately run out of time to teach the nitty gritty of the industry like how to how to create a budget for a show, write a grant, or how does the industry actually work.
Many artists don’t know that being an artist usually means being self employed – 58% of artists are self employed in comparison to only 21% of the rest of the workforce. That means that artists need entrepreneurial skills to succeed.
Who is Summer Ensemble for?
Summer ensemble is for artists who are starting their careers. Minimum age to participate is 15 and maximum age on the first day is 30. We don’t make these rules, they are the rules of the funding program that supports Summer Ensemble. Usually we take in participants between 19 and 30 years of age.
Is Summer Ensemble Paid?
Crane Creations Theatre Company is passionate about paying artists fairly according to Canadian professional standards. Summer Ensemble is a professionally paid opportunity following the guidelines of the Indie 2.2 Actors Equity Association payment levels.
Who participated In Summer Ensemble 2020?
Every year we receive a lot of interest for our Summer Ensemble. In 2020 fourteen artists participated in Summer Ensemble 2020. Due to the pandemic and social distancing, we had to reduce the size of our group. We divided the summer Ensemble into two groups, a summer group of seven and a fall group of seven.
Each year we hire different positions depending on the project we are working on. In 2020 we introduced a new role, the Artistic Producer.
An artistic producer has an essential role in theatre. They oversee organizational operations and all aspects of a theatre production. They are responsible for the strategic planning and production of theatrical events and take care of the financial and managerial functions to make these theatrical events happen. They also manage day to day activities to make a company run. An Artist Producer balances the big-picture with everyday tasks required to make a business run. An artistic producer must be have the following skills: event management, time management, project management, teamwork, problem solving, leadership, financial planning, business management and communication. Their roles and duties constantly change depending on the need of the theatre company. In summary, an artistic producer is the person who makes theatre happen.
In addition to the artistic producer we were hiring actors, a designer, and a Stage Manager. We hired eleven actors, one stage manager and one designer.
Of the 14 artists who participated 57% identify as female, 29% identify as male and 14% identify as non binary. We are a gender positive environment celebrating gender diversity offering gender specific and gender neutral washrooms for our participants.
Summer Ensemble 2020 gathered a diverse range of participants. Each year we take special care to try to assemble as diverse group as possible. We prioritize hiring of newcomers, immigrants, first generation Canadians, artists from Mississauga and the Region of Peel, artists of colour and LGBTQ artists. By creating a diverse group we want to ensure participants exchange their experience and share knowledge to further our aim for increasing the knowledge of artists about the industry.
Average age of participants and applicants in 2020 Summer Ensemble was 25. We aim to hire participants of difference ages.
As an immigrant founded company we are very passionate about providing opportunities for immigrant artists. Immigrant artists are artists who were born outside of Canada. We also track 1st generation artists who are artists who’s parents moved to Canada as adults. Artists from 1st generation families frequently experience lack of support at home to pursue an artistic career as well as other challenges such as lack of understanding how to pursue a career in the performing arts.
This is where our Summer Ensemble 2020 comes from.
During Summer Ensemble 2020 we accepted participants from different schools and participants who have not attended formal training who exhibited exceptional talent, and wish to pursue a professional career in theatre but lack support and/or understanding how does Canadian performing arts industry work.
We accepted participants from Randolph College, Humber College, University of Windsor, Ryerson University and Brock University. We also accepted participants who had studied abroad in New York and the United Kingdom.
We are excited to see participants from across Canada getting involved in Summer Ensemble. different cities and even provinces. Due to the hybrid nature of this year’s Summer Ensemble, we welcomed participants from all across Canada, from Alberta, Quebec and across Ontario including, Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville and Toronto.
Probability of getting hired
Following our last year’s data, and Summer Ensemble, we realized that this was an incredibly important program for students. Despite the pandemic our applicants rose from last year of over 30% from 136 to 178 applicants. Of the 178 artists we received 149 applications for actors, 12 applications stage manager, 12 applications for artistic producer, and 5 applications for designer.
That means that Stage Manager and Artistic Producer applicants had a 8% chance of landing the job, and Designers had 20%. Actors had the lowest probability to get hired at 7%.
Summer Ensemble 2020 took place during the summer and fall months of 2020. The first half of the ensemble, took place from June to August. The second half took place from September to December. The Summer Ensemble ran for 10 weeks per group for a total of 20 weeks.
Auditions lasted 7 days, over Zoom. This was our first time using Zoom for auditions but it wouldn’t be our last. For the auditions we asked the participants to prepare a classical and a contemporary monologue. The candidates chose a wide variety of monologues. Other roles were asked to come in for an interview. We wish we could meet all applicants, but we only have so much time in a day. In total we auditioned 103 actors, interviewed 4 stage managers, 2 designers, and 8 artistic producers.
This is the part when it gets hard for us. A lot of the candidates are amazing and it is very difficult to choose. Our choices are led by the quality of the candidates work and also diversity of the candidates. We want to ensure we have candidates with a wide variety of experience in the room.
In 2020 callbacks were group callbacks over Zoom. We had three groups each with 12 candidates. The groups were asked to do two things: work in a group of four to perform scene from Shakespeare. Work on a Shakespeare’s sonnet. The reason we choose these works is because they are technically very demanding and let us see the candidates ability to understand a complex text, interpret it, and deal with the challenges of speaking the text to ensure it conveys meaning.
Selected candidates for the first group of Summer Ensemble started their first day of Summer Ensemble on June 25 2020. The second group began on September 30th 2020.
The last day of Summer Ensemble is always a special day leaving us sad to see all the amazing arists we grew so close with, leave. For the last day we usually prepare a very special activity. This year our Stage Manager prepared a custom Board game which we used as a rehearsal method to expand on the character work we did throughout the summer.
In 2019 Summer Ensemble concluded on August 2, 2019.
Due to the nature of the pandemic and reoccuring lock downs, it was hard to be in person for long period of time. Each group spent some time working online with each other and then when the lock downs would lift, we spent time social distancing in our lakeshore studio or working outside in beautiful Port Credit Mississauga.
We adapted to online working and became experts at rehearsing over Zoom.
We engaged in learning activities such as financial, digital and marketing workshops.
We started our exploration of finance with a practical workshop on what is economy and how does it work
This workshop entailed learning basic financial literacy like what is money, what is credit, what is debt, what is a mortgage, how to calculate interest rates, difference between simple and compounded interest rates.
The reality of pursuing a career as an artist frequently involves working several jobs to earn a living. The Summer Ensemble encourages participants to seek work that is close to their career like blogging and writing. We teach participants how to write and format a blog using WordPress. We partner with Mississauga Arts Guide to publish the blogs and give the artists a portfolio.
We teach artists about basic marketing concepts like SEO optimization, and how marketing impacts audiences and the possibility to tour a show.
Industry specific learning
One of the most important elements of Summer Ensemble is ensuring emerging artists understand the industry they are pursuing a career in. Each year we ask participants to learn about theatres and artists across Canada and the world. They research, prepare presentations and discuss the work of these artists and their impact on live theatre. We encourage artists to think about content as well as form and consider the role of theatre in society respective of its political and economic situation.
Rehearsals and show development
In 2020 we were working on five pieces: a contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet with gender bending casting for some key roles, a new original play titled Pandora’s Box, a hit play called Terror, a courtroom drama, which was later performed in Fall of 2021, and a new play for kids called Mirror, which is now in development as a puppet show for kids.
We also brought in an emerging artist and former Summer Ensemble member, Nicole Bonder to workshop her new play.
How to get involved in Summer Ensemble?
If you would like to get involved in Summer Ensemble follow us on social media, or leave us your email and we will notify you when the call for applications opens.