Jajube Mandiela is the Co-Artistic Director of b-current, an independent theatre company in Toronto that strives to create space for culturally diverse artists to be heard. Jajube answered the 9-5 questionaire and has some of the most thoughtful answers I’ve heard. Her idea of what she would do if she wasn’t in theatre? Brilliant.
Check her out.
1. Where do you work? Can you sum it up in 3 sentences or less?
I work in Toronto – often from home, sometimes from coffee shops and shared work spaces, even in parks and on sidewalks. Often wherever I can catch wifi! But when it comes to meetings and rehearsals, b current’s studio 251 in the Artscape Wychwood Barns becomes my home base.
2. Why the arts? What’s made you focus your extra energy on theatre?
Theatre has my heart. With a poet/director/mentor mother, I have literally been in rehearsal halls since I was 3 weeks old. Theatre is my second home, where I can let my imagination soar and feel viscerally connected to other people whether I’m watching or performing.
3. The arts have a reputation for being lots of work and little pay – true or false? Care to elaborate?
I have been fortunate to work both in theatre and television in mainstream and indie productions in Toronto. At the mainstream level, the old joke that a day on camera equals a week in theatre sadly holds true – while indie works of both the camera and stage all involve lots of work for too little or no pay. I am a big believer that Canadians need to collectively change our perception of what being an artist is. Rather than holding fast to the idea of non-mainstream/commercially successful art-making as synonymous with doing a hobby, I think we need to think of working artists like doctors, teachers, and other professionals: as people who serve a purpose and help our society to function.
4. What’s the best thing about working in theatre in Toronto?
Getting invitations to free performances! My first love is watching theatre – I could literally watch a play every day.
5. What’s the worst thing about working in theatre in Toronto?
Backstage. A lot of Toronto theatre venues haven’t been updated, and even the ones that have, the backstage areas are often the last to be renovated or not renovated at all.
6. What’s an adjective that can describe most of your days at your job?
7. Describe (in 3 sentences or less) what your favourite memory is from your current job.
As Artistic Director of b current, my favourite memory is with my fellow Artistic Director Naomi Abiola and our Artistic Producer Alison Wong. After a month of us all being in different cities, working on different projects outside of the company, I surprised them by showing up to a meeting with one of our playwrights in residence completely unannounced – they thought I was going to join by phone from another city, but instead we had a delightful reunion!
8. What’s the last play that you saw that really made an impression on you?
The Double by Viktor Lukawski, Arif Mirabdolbaghi & Adam Paolozza; a TheatreRUN production presented by Tarragon Theatre.
The meticulousness of the performances, writing, design and direction blew me away.
9. If you could do any other job, arts professional or not, what would it be?
Montessori school owner/teacher –I’d turn the school into a company of touring pre-schoolers who create plays and perform them at other Montessoris and community settings.
10. If the Toronto theatre scene was a woman, what advice would you offer her?
People will still take you seriously even if you show your lighter side more often.