Rupal Shah has her fingers in a lot of theatrical pots. She’s a producer at two theatre companies, the woman in charge of the Mentor/Apprentice program at Obsidian Theatre (a program which I think is dynamite), and it’s probably safe to say she sees a whole lotta shows during her off-time (if she’s got any).
See below to learn more about this hard-working, artistic woman!
1. Where do you work? Can you sum it up in 3 sentences or less?
I’m the producer at Nightswimming, where I work with Artistic Director Brian Quirt.Nightswimming is a dramaturgical company that commissions and develops new Canadian theatre, dance and music. I’m also the producer at DVxT Theatre and the Mentor/Apprentice Program Coordinator at Obsidian Theatre.
2. The arts have a reputation for being lots of work and little pay – true or false? Care to elaborate?
In my experience, this is absolutely true. For the most part, artists and arts managers work exceptionally hard, and work exceptionally long hours for an exceptionally small amount of money. I take issue with people in our industry who say that we shouldn’t expect to make more money because “nobody goes into theatre to get rich”. I love theatre and I love the arts, but I’m not willing to be poor all my life. We devalue our sector, our skills and our profession when we as artists and arts managers say that it’s somehow okay for us to work our asses off for very little pay just because we are in a rewarding and fulfilling line of work.
I have no idea how to even begin fixing this problem, but it does exist.
3. What’s the best thing about working in theatre in Toronto?
The sheer amount of theatre and art happening in this city is overwhelming. On any given night, you have several choices when it comes to seeing theatre, music and performance. No matter how long I live here, I don’t think I’ll ever stop being surprised by how much there is to see and do.
4. What’s the worst thing about working in theatre in Toronto?
For a city this size, with such a huge number of residents, audience members, artists and art-makers, I’m often disappointed by the work we produce. I think we can do better.
5. What’s an adjective that can describe most of your days at your job?
Hectic. Awesome. Sorry, I needed to use two adjectives. Almost every day is hectic… but almost every day is awesome.
6. Describe (in 3 sentences or less) what your favourite memory is from your current job.
An Obsidian memory: Getting a phone call from Paul Sportelli, the Music Director at the Shaw Festival, to tell me that our Obsidian Music Directing Apprentice, Floydd Ricketts, had just that day become the first Black Canadian to conduct a performance at Shaw. Ever.
7. What’s the last play that you saw that really made an impression on you?
I really enjoyed Studio 180’s Clybourne Park, and Bliss at Buddies. In New York in April, I saw a circus-theatre performance by Montreal’sSeven Fingers of the Hand, called Traces. It was really beautiful.
8. If you could do any other job, arts professional or not, what would it be?
That’s a toss-up between Museum Curator and Event Planner.
9. If the Toronto theatre scene was a woman, what advice would you offer her?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Make more mistakes. Lots more mistakes. They might make you more interesting.