Pi Theatre is hiring an interim office manager

Pi’s GM Emma Luna Davis is taking some time off to create a life (our most heartfelt congratulations, by the way!), so the company has an administrative position up for grabs while she’s off doing that…

Reporting directly to the Artistic Director, the Interim Office Manager will work in cooperation with the Artistic Director, Board, interns and volunteers, in the maintenance of the ongoing administrative operations as well as contact management and fundraising for the society.

This is a part time, 15-hour-a-week position, partially covering a maternity leave. The position starts with a three week training period with the General Manager on a part-time basis from March 22-April 9, 2010. Contract dates: April 12, 2010 through September 3, 2010, with the option of extension through March 2010. Office hours are flexible, although some evenings and weekend availability may be required for special events and meetings. Remuneration is commensurate with experience
Application Deadline: January 29, 2009

Please click here to download the complete posting.

As an aside, I wrote recently how taken I was with Pi’s recent co-pro with Rumble Productions, After the Quake, and here’s the postscript:

Masakichi Connelly-Ogden

The most recent addition to our family, name lifted from the play. Just came home today! Photo by Mummy.

This One Goes to Eleven: Emma Luna Davis

Emma is the true picture of Arts Administrator as Rock Star. With a MA in Arts and Media Management in a European Context from the Utrecht School of the Arts and a Theatre BFA from UBC, together with years of Stage Management and Logistics Coordination under her belt, she exemplifies the passion required on the other side of the stage.

She is currently the General Manager of the quarter-century-old pi theatre. Their current production, After the Quake, is up until December 5, and it is very hard to get a ticket for.

1. In one word, describe your present condition.

Cautiously optimistic. (Sometimes, the right answer just doesn’t fit the word limit. As someone who writes grants for a living, cut me some slack?)

2. With no directives on word count, describe the present condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.

Poised. (Sometimes, one word is enough.)

I feel Vancouver’s theatre scene is like an tiger ready to pounce. We’re organized, united, and  our message is clear: the proposed cuts to cultural funding in this province are not the answer.  Our community has been threatened and we’re on the defense. There is fear, for sure, but I also think we’re ready and able to defend our cause.  We know what we’re fighting for is worthwhile, and we believe the average British Columbian does too.

3. How and why did you end up on the administrative end of the arts?

I grew up in the arts — My dad’s a filmmaker, my mum a painter, my sister a graphic designer, my cousins musicians…I don’t know if it was because they saw something in my personality or simply boredom with the lack of variety in the family vocations, but ever since I was little, the message was clear that I should not be an artist. ‘Perhaps a lawyer?’

The problem with this message is that the only way you can truly define yourself as ‘not an artist’ is if you are constantly surrounded by artists, and that’s where I felt at home. But performing was clearly not my calling.  When at university someone asked me to ASM for a project, I discovered UBC’s theatre program and the idea that I could get paid to work behind the scenes was an incredible epiphany for me. I trained as an SM and although I really miss stage management these days, I also found myself dissatisfied with project-based work — there seemed to me to be so many interesting things going on in organizations themselves that I wanted to participate in.  I did an MA in Arts Management and have been slogging away behind a desk ever since.

4. What do you see as the single greatest issue challenging the growth of independent theatre?

The role of the artist in society. To me, almost all of our issues boil down to how we prioritize, and therefore fund, arts and culture and the people who create.

5. Please expand on the ideals inherent in Pi’s wonderful motto “global thinking, local acting”.

Pi’s plays share voices from around the world.  This means that we’re producing work, often in translation, from playwrights near and far.  But we see ourselves as an inherent part of the local community — Vancouver’s talent base, our audiences here, and our colleagues in See Seven and Progress Lab are integral to the work we do.  After the Quake is a great example of this — the script is based on stories by well-known Japanese author Haruki Murakami, but our production team is Vancouver through and through, and so is the impact the show has in this community. It would be a completely different show in somewhere else.

6. How has the Social Media aspect of your marketing program impacted your position in the community?

I see our social marketing as one slice of our communications pi (cough. sorry…).  With all of our communications tools (our shows, print, online and social media, and the relationships we have with our supporters, artists and audiences), we are trying to tell people about the work we’re doing and why they might want to be part of it. Social media gives us a great tool to make that message a 2-way conversation, so that we can hear the response to our work loud and clear. That’s important to me.

7. What type of theatre should we as an industry be pushing for towards bringing in a new, uninitiated audience?

I’ve been really inspired by how much of the response to After the Quake has been people saying that this show makes them want to see more theatre in this town. I strongly encourage them to do so — there is so much incredible work happening and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

I’ve been thinking lately that one of the biggest challenges we face is that the most powerful thing we have to offer — a potentially-transformative, definitely-live experience — is something that people rave about when they’ve had it, but are actually apprehensive of beforehand.  No one thinks they want to be transformed, but they are usually glad they were. I think communicating the value of live theatre is a communications debacle and cracking that nut is definitely something I think about a lot.

8. What’s your number one, all-time theatre pet peeve?

Not being allowed to take my drink and munchies into the theatre.

9. Any words of advice for someone considering the leap into arts administration here?

Sigh. Marry rich? But remember, if and when you get a full-time job, no matter how badly it pays, it’s endlessly more stable than the tenuous existence of the artists you work with. That should make you humble, and grateful. I know I am.

10. What are your top 3 theatre reads?

Architecture critic Peter Reyner Banham ‘learned to drive so that he could read Los Angeles in the original.’  Taking a page from his book, the most important way to “read” theatre for me is to watch it. I’d say my 3 favourite productions have been:
– Oerol (2005) (I know, it’s more than one production. But the whole experience was pure magic.)
– Far Side of the Moon
– Quidam

11. What’s next?

Actually, I’ll be on maternity leave as of April, so that’s definitely a new chapter for me. Pi on the other hand is looking very forward to building on the success of After the Quake. Stay tuned!

After the Quake: Our best defence is exceptional art

Indie theatre is a tough little mistress. My investment in her, my drive to make her popular, to share her potential with just a few more people takes its toll on me. And I know it. Hackneyed theatre makes me, well, it makes me angry, if truth be told. I’m not saying that feeling is justified, but if its done really poorly it makes me want to run away from it as far and as fast as I can, and just get my storytelling fix from novels and the occasional movie.  It can make me clueless as to why I would ever want to toil in its short-reaching, revenue-free depths.

And then, suddenly and quietly, I’ll find myself witness to a stage work that bursts the clouds and reminds me exactly why I love theatre so deeply. And it makes me want to stay in it forever, no matter what the price.

You should see After the Quake.

A co-pro by pi theatre and Rumble Productions, local indies that have been around for 25 and 20 years respectively, it is testament to where you can get to in the work with enough time and talent invested in it. It’s not politically charged or form-punishing or experimental, it is simply a vehicle to serve the medium: the sharing of stories. Constructed in script and direction in a way that could only be presented on an intimate stage, After the Quake understands its function from top to bottom. pi and Rumble have clearly taken all the necessary time and consideration to each of the production’s components, after-show cocktail conversation could be taken up entirely by the set design, lighting, sound design, acting, costuming, direction…this is a perfectly balanced play. And I think that’s where the inspiration I felt walking out of the theatre is borne from; the affirmation that so many forms of art must combine in harmony to make the whole truly transcendent. A play can be successful with one component out of tune, but when all are compelling it can truly take flight.

I’m very grateful when a theatrical experience moves me to gush. The hard work that went into this piece is evident, as is what I can only assume to be a rather hefty production price tag (which is the kind of thing you think about when you’re in the business of making theatre, I suppose), and it’s a powerful argument for raging against a government who would dare deem work like this unimportant. This is the frame of mind I’m going into the Wrecking Ball in tonight. This is a worthy fight.

One of the best ways to fight it is to tell everyone you can to see the work that affects you.

Check out the short promo below, they didn’t even scrimp on the poster art, which is original for this production. And there’s a little taste of the sound design as well…

Well dear, your father and I met at a play…

Pi Theatre has announced a lovely little promotional night: they have designated the Friday, May 8 performance of John and Beatrice as a Singles Night. Utilizing the cozy lounge and outdoor terrace of the PAL theatre in Coal Harbour, they’re hosting a post-show Mixer for all guests should they choose to hand out and mix. Cute.

They’re also doing some cool guerilla marketing; stapling mock lonely hearts ads to telephone poles around town with pull-tabs that direct you to information on the play. And I only know about this because a friend of mine saw one and totally fell for it, and had to tell me about it. Nice work guys.

Here’s director Del Surjik talking about the work:

This one goes to eleven: Richard Wolfe

Richard Wolfe is an architect of the Canadian theatre scene in the truest sense, much of the work we are doing now is being built on a foundation of effort that he has been putting in for quite some time. He recently assumed the role of Artistic Director of Pi Theatre after 12 years as co-founder, director and co-artistic producer of Theatre Conspiracy, which received 24 Jessie Richardson nominations for outstanding work under his tenure. He has been a theatre educator across the country, a past president of the See 7 Performing Arts Society here in Vancouver, and a member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. He holds an MFA from UBC.

He shows no signs of stopping breaking ground.


1. In one word, describe your present condition.


2. In a bunch more words, describe the present condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.

I think Vancouver is in the process of developing an ecology that’s truly inter-generational. I hope we can eventually support this properly. Theatre as a profession has been growing in this country, probably since the late 1950’s, which was when the regional theatre system was born (MTC was the first in 1958). Quebec playwriting took off in the 60’s and English Canadian playwriting in the 70’s. The country was beginning to tell its own stories to its own citizens and needed artists and institutions to realize them on the stage. Canada now has the infrastructure to allow theatre artists to call themselves professionals and to be paid for their work.  Our present challenge is to provide the circumstances where individuals can actually expect, if they have talent and determination, to have a theatre career. This means having a viable ecology that supports the full range of theatre artists from emerging practitioners to senior ones.  The Vancouver scene is still struggling with this reality.

3. How are we going to get the next generation of theatre-goers hooked on what we do?

I’m optimistic about the future of theatre. The continued mediation of human contact through digital means will eventually wear thin. Hooking up on Facebook isn’t the same as hooking up on a Saturday night and watching YouTube isn’t the same as being at a live event. People will crave theatre as an authentic human activity. It’s up to us to spread the word.

4. What’s the origin story of your life in the theatre?

I started in high school as many people do. We had a very good program. From there I went on to study drama at the University of Saskatchewan where my first two acting teachers were Jane Casson and Susan Wright. Jane is Sybil Thorndike’s granddaughter and a member of a great English acting family whose work spans the 20th century (Shaw wrote Saint Joan for Sybil). She is a very talented woman and drove us in a way that the old school British system is famous for. Susan (Janet Wright’s sister – Janet is currently of Corner Gas fame) was one of this country’s finest actresses. The whole department was run by Tom Kerr as a first rate professional training conservatory. It was rigorous and infectious.  I had no choice but to go on.

5. What trends, if any, are you noticing lately in Vancouver theatre?

There seem to be more small venues breaking out and the range of work is extremely wide. And, as we all know, the practice of devising theatre and collective creation is alive and well.

6. What are the great strengths of our independent theatre industry here? Our weaknesses?

Our strengths are the depth of our talent and the passion of our practitioners.  Each of our larger training institutions put a different emphasis on their approach to the art and this makes for a real diversity of interest and practice in the community. Our weakness, I think, is a general lack of exposure to influences from the theatre world outside of Vancouver. Of course PuSh and the Cultch help in this regard, but I’m always surprised at how few people I speak with go elsewhere to see shows (this is a generalization of course). I don’t mean London, New York or Toronto (which is a good idea) but even Seattle. There are major theatres there including On The Boards, which is an excellent institution. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland) in southern Oregon has the same budget as the Shaw Festival and just as many theatre buildings but a lot of people I’ve spoken with don’t even know it’s there. This kind of exposure to the outside world can lead to better work at home.

7. How important is it to showcase our work outside of Canada?

It’s very important to get outside of the country to promote the reputation of Canadian culture. It can also help the domestic scene by proving to sponsors and funders that Canadian theatre is good enough to be taken seriously outside the country and is therefore worthy of increased support inside. Unfortunately one of the well known problems with the Canadian psyche and its longing for affirmation is the deep-rooted attitude that local talent is only remarkable if it succeeds elsewhere.  We may be getting over this kind of thinking but we’re not there yet.

8. Which 3 theatre artists, living or dead, would you like to buy a drink for, and why?

Anton Chekhov because of his ability to be an extraordinarily perceptive communicator of the essence of what it is to be human.

Vaclav Havel because of his practiced belief that theatre in society can and should be much more than mere entertainment.

Julie Taymor because of her imagination – the conversation would be sure to take some unexpected turns.

9. In what way are you a better director now than you were five years ago?

I’m more able to envision the finer details of a show after reading a script, complete with a wider sense of production possibilities.

10. What are your top 3 theatre reads?

Jonathan Miller’s Subsequent Performances

Peter Brook’s The Empty Space (and his follow ups Threads of Time and The Open Door – timeless classics)

Dictionary of the Theatre: Terms, Concepts, and Analysis
by Patrice Pavis (Author), Christine Shantz (Translator) (academic perhaps, but remarkable in its scope).

11. What’s next?

I just finished Live From a Bush of Ghosts at PuSh for Theater Conspiracy. Pi‘s Bashir Lazhar previews on March 5th at Performance Works (www.pitheatre.co) and I’m directing a reading for the Scene First program at the Gateway at the end of March.