If you want an example of absolute commitment to our theatre, look no further than Katrina Dunn, who has been on the front lines of the fight to bring great Canadian theatre to Vancouverites for many years. She’s been the Artistic Director of Touchstone Theatre and its all-Canadian mandate since 1997, and was one of the architects of the envelope-expanding PuSh Festival, where she remains as Associate Curator. All this while working consistently as a Director-for-hire. Meet one of the stalwarts of our industry…
1.) In one word, describe your present condition.
If by “condition” you mean the condition of the show, I would say “poised” meaning poised to take off and meet it’s audience.
2.) Describe the condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.
3.) Please describe Touchstone’s criteria for choosing its material.
Our mandate is Canadian work. We pick the the most provocative and exciting new voices creating Canadian work.
4.) Can you tell us a bit about the working process of your Playwright-in-Residence program?
We work with playwrights over a long period – usually 2 to 3 years. The development process includes a series of workshops and hands on dramaturgy with myself and a dramaturg. We carefully usher a show to production and make a significant investment in its premiere.
5.) What advice could you give young companies with regards to structuring themselves towards long-term sustainability?
Diversify your audience and your revenue sources. Plan for things to change, especially when it comes to funding.
6.) How healthy do you feel Vancouver theatre is as a mutually supportive community?
It’s excellent. I think we work together more than any major centre in Canada. Because in the West we’ve been forced to work with less resources, we partner more and share more.
7.) So far, what has been your proudest PuSh Festival moment?
I think it must have been the 07 Festival, when I realize the thing had grown so big that it was impossible for me to take it all in.
8.) If you could offer only one piece of advice to our new directors, what would it be?
Believe in your vision and pursue it despite the nay sayers.
9.) Given a time machine, what one piece of advice would you give yourself as you start out on your career?
Try not to work so hard.
10.) What are your top three theatre reads?
Joseph Chaiken’s The Presence of the Actor
David Mamet’s True and False
John Lahr’s The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan
Tony Kushner’s Thinking about the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness
Four – I know but I couldn’t choose.
11.) What’s next?
Janet Munsil’s new play “Influence” about John Keats, the Elgin Marbles and the nature of artistic inspiration. Touchstone is producing it in November.
“When I realize the thing had grown so big that it was impossible for me to take it all in.”
This is a wonderful articulation of moments many of us have had at some point in our careers or personal lives. When the thing you’re working on has become so big, or has so many working elements, that you don’t have to know it all. You can just trust that the right people are involved.