If you haven’t heard of Aislinn Rose, you soon will. Whether she’s devoting her time as Artistic Producer to Praxis Theatre, producing shows in the city, being on the cutting-edge of the artistic political scene in Canada or filling your feed with poignant tweets, she’s solidified a role in Toronto’s theatrical future. Oh, and she’s also one of the Torontoist’s people to watch of 2012. Aislinn devoted some time in the wee hours of her morning (I did look at the email time stamp!) to answer some questions for me.
1. Where do you work? Can you sum up your job in 3 sentences or less?
I work wherever I can take my laptop, and mostly from home. I’m the Artistic Producer of Praxis Theatre and Associate Editor of praxistheatre.com, and I’m also a freelance producer for other artists and companies like Aluna Theatre. More recently I find myself working on a number of web-based projects, like finding interesting uses for Twitter, building online brains, and managing online communities.
2. Why the arts? What’s made you focus your energy on theatre?
Nothing else satisfies me. I’ve tried to break up with theatre, but nothing works. When I was living in Australia, I was making lots of money as the Manager of a Call Centre for a company providing education to Financial Advisors and Stock Brokers. For some reason I just didn’t feel great at the end of a workday.
3. The arts have a reputation of being lots of work with little pay; true or false? Can you elaborate on your answer?
True true true. People in the theatre community will often say there is a dearth of available producers in this city, but anyone who has done the job will tell you it just isn’t financially sustainable to do it as a freelancer. As producer, you’re generally the keeper of the budget with your eye always on cashflow. Do you pay yourself your fee, or do you pay the Equity invoice? You can often walk away from a project having not paid yourself, or getting paid something months down the road when things have settled, at which point, you’re paying off debts you’ve accrued.
I think the only way you can stay in it is if you have a real passion for the work you’re producing, and the people with whom you are producing it.
4. What’s the best thing about working in theatre in Toronto?
I must say I have been incredibly fortunate to find myself within a community of artists and creators who really are just wonderful people. I love sitting around the table with the great minds of the Indie Caucus, all of whom have a real interest in seeing Toronto theatre live up to its potential and put a whole lot of energy into making that happen.
There are quite a few people I can look up, and who always seem happy to help. I like being able to say, “we should ask Naomi”, or “what would Franco do?”.
5. What’s the worst thing about working in theatre in Toronto?
Our festival venues in the summer.
6. What’s an adjective that can describe most of your days at your job?
Motley. Between October and December of last year, I was producing three different shows for three different companies, starting work forAluna Theatre as their Festival Producer (PANAMERICAN ROUTES coming May 2012!), I was working as Community Manager for an online companion piece to Sarah Polley’s new film Take This Waltz, building an online brain for Liza Balkan’s Out The Window, and carrying on business as usual as Artistic Producer for Praxis. It’s a lot, and it means the things that need to happen every day are many and varied. It makes me happy, and it makes me tear my hair out.
When I’m at my best I have an incredible to-do list where things get crossed off with great pleasure, and when I’m not, people start to notice that the time stamp on my emails is a little late at night… or a little early in the morning. (Please don’t look at the time stamp of this email.)
My cats are a bit fed up with my lack of routine.
7. Describe (in 3 sentences or less) what your favourite memory is from your current job.
Well, I guess a stand-out would have to be using twitter last year to get famous CBC tweeter Kady O’Malley to attend Wrecking Ball in advance of the last Federal election. There were Wrecking Ball events in cities all across Canada that night and we all live-tweeted as a community throughout an evening of great political theatre. @kady’s Wrecking Ball tweets live here on the CBC website.
8. What’s the last play that you saw that really made an impression on you?
I really enjoyed the hybridity of Ravi Jain’s Brimful of Asha: part performance, part storytelling, part improvisation, part panel discussion. I love when artists experiment with form but still manage to let the story shine through. And Ravi’s mother was just lovely to spend an evening with; we should all get to see Ravi being told off more often. (Love you Ravi!)
9. If you could do any other job, arts professional or not, what would it be?
Zookeeper. (See this post on praxistheatre.com. I have no good answer to the final question, so zookeeper it is.)
10. If the Toronto theatre scene was a woman, what advice would you offer her?
Maybe you should shake off some of those inhibitions you inherited from your mother and be a little more promiscuous.