'WHAT'S COOKING' is a new blog series wherein the team behind Kitchen Party Theatre Festival gives you a closer peek at some of our secret ingredients, so to speak. What exactly does a recipe for artistic process call for? Who inspires our company members? What have they learned in the industry so far? What do they find interesting about the various characters they play? Today, as we enter our second week of shows, we are excited to kick this series off with some Wednesday Wisdom from KPTF's 2022 Stage Manager, Kevin Olson.
Across the world right now, at this very moment, hundreds of theatres are opening up lobby doors. Patrons are settling into creaky seats, fanning themselves with small, double-sided single sheet programmes and excitedly counting down the minutes to show time. Soon enough, the house lights will dim and flicker out. In that brief darkness, there is potential for theatre magic: that moment where something unexpected happens, where your heart quickens. Every performance of every show on any stage, big or small, could have someone in the audience that sees their lives reflected on the stage, or sees a potential talent that they want to unlock in themselves, or finds a community that they want to be a part of.
I was fortunate to have found my passion while still in high school, through my drama teacher Crystal, and the hundreds of passionate, dedicated and gracious people that populate the community theatre groups in and around Hamilton. In those early years, I found my community and I found my people. People who helped me develop skills that I am still honing today. Because of that, I have always gravitated towards local theatre companies and festivals that have a rich investment in the communities in which they exist. They tell stories that reflect the local history and people of the town. Many of these places have youth theatre programs, or help raise funds for local causes, or provide a creative outlet for overlooked groups within that community.
They can provide training opportunities for young people who might be interested in pursuing some art discipline – whether that is some sort of performance, behind the scenes trade, or somewhere in the management/producing world. Sometimes, these companies are able to pay those who are being trained, re-inforcing the ideas that theatre is hard work, and that hard work deserves compensation, and that mentorship has value. These training opportunities arm people with a whole new arsenal of skills and opens them up to a new world of possibilities (should they choose to pursue it). These opportunities are vital to keep our live performance industry strong, and to ensure that your stories are being told in the coming years.
If you have tickets for the Kitchen Party Theatre Festival season, thank you for supporting local theatre, and by extension, potential theatre superstars from your community. Theatre magic can happen anywhere, but it's especially magical if it happens close to home.
KEVIN OLSON (he/him)
Festival Stage Manager (Girls From Away, The Codfather)
Kevin is beyond thrilled to be a part of the Kitchen Party Theatre Festival this year! He is a professional stage manager who has worked on many productions for over a decade. He has called many theatres home, including The Charlottetown Festival, Lighthouse FT, Port Stanley FT, Theatre Orangeville, Theatre Aquarius, Vancouver Playhouse, Carousel Players, Young Peoples Theatre, Canadian Rep Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop and Smile Theatre (where he was also production manager for several years). He has most recently toured internationally with Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia and with Geordie Theatre, travelling extensively to the United States and to Hong Kong. Despite taking a brief hiatus from theatre, the stage has called his name once again. He will continue to pursue ways to make the theatre process accessible, inclusive and enjoyable for everyone involved!