(photo credit: Yannick MacDonald)
Beyond The Launch
After announcing his 2012-13 season, the Montreal AD talks candidly about Healey, Rose, Vancouver Playhouse and the challenge of here and beyond
by David Sklar
CHARPO: So you just had your season launch. How did it go?
SURETTE: It went well. It’s always a bit intense. I think I talked for about an hour about the season and all our upcoming activities.
CHARPO: What goes through your mind when picking a new season? How do you choose what shows to pick?
SURETTE: It’s a mystery. As they say in Shakespeare In Love, my favorite theatre quote, “it’s a mystery how it ever works”. There are so many factors that go into selecting a season. And there are many questions that I am always asking myself, still feeling relatively new to Montreal. I’ve been here for almost four and a half years now and as someone who programs a theatre in a unique city like Montreal I think, needless to say, it’s challenging. You need to know what’s evolving with the audience. I’m always of the belief that you want to do a season that people want to come and see. There is no point in doing it for yourself and in fact when you get to the scale of operation like us, you have to sell a lot of tickets. We’re about 50 percent run by our box office. We do a lot of fundraising as well as applying for government support. But we’re still white knuckling it in terms of, are we going to make
our box office targets? And usually in a year, it’s a real rollercoaster ride. Some shows are quite a bit under, some are over so in terms of balancing a season, you've got to compromise. I wish I could say I have the magical formula but I don’t. I feel I've got a pretty good track record and the confidence of the Board and staff and the city but you never know. We don’t do the same thing over and over again. Every time we embark on a new production it’s a risk, especially if it’s a new play. Even if you are doing something that was very successful somewhere else, it doesn’t necessarily translate. Having the privilege of working across this country and outside of it as well, there is no guarantee. You can’t go, “Oh ya this was a really big hit in Australia, it’s just going to rock in Montreal, or it did really well in Vancouver, it doesn’t mean anything for here.”