Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Feature: Joel Greenberg on Ten Years of Studio 180

Rehearsing the original production of Clybourne Park
Kimwun Perehinec, Joel Greenberg, Mark McGrinder (photo by Robert Harding)

Ten on Ten
Studio 180's glowing past is spilling into their next decade
by Émilie Charlebois
As Studio 180 Theatre continues performances of their celebrated production of Clybourne Park and as they prepare a public reading of the play that launched the company - The Laramie Project - artistic director Joel Greenberg took a few minutes to explain the significance of another landmark event in the company's history: their tenth anniversary.
CHARPO: How did you celebrate your tenth birthday as a kid?
GREENBERG:  No recollection at all - little memory of any birthdays until I was well into my 20's.

CHARPO: What does this anniversary mean to you?
GREENBERG: I am amazed by the evolution of Studio 180 Theatre, since when we produced 'The Laramie Project' in 2003 the aim was to get it on - we never considered a long-term plan or even a life after Laramie.

CHARPO: What have been some of the biggest challenges faced by the company over the past ten years?
GREENBERG: As with all companies that strive to be ongoing, finances have been, and will always be, a major focus. Identity is another, and equally pressing, challenge - when you are performing in others' venues, audiences tend to think that the work they see is produced by that venue - i.e., in our four years with Canadian Stage, at Berkeley Street, we knew that audiences felt that our shows were Canadian Stage productions - and though they were certainly presented in association with the Company they were entirely ours, from selection through to every aspect of production, finances, etc. This isn't a criticism of anyone - it's totally understandable that audiences link what they see with where they see it. But that doesn't mitigate the challenge of identity-building.

CHARPO:  Biggest accomplishment?

GREENBERG:  Surviving ten years, earning recognition as a reputable company, still smiling and laughing.

CHARPO: Proudest moment?
GREENBERG: They just keep on happening - and all part of the reality that I'm part of a team that never stops aiming for more, better, truer.

CHARPO:  Favourite memory?
GREENBERG: That's  like trying to select my favourite project, the word 'favourite' probably applies to most of the work we've done together.

CHARPO: What are some of the key things you’ve learned from your audiences over the years?
GREENBERG: Audiences that trust Studio 180 are excited by our work and by being taken somewhere that they haven't been. They allow us the great luxury of not having to second-guess their preferences and likely ticket-buying trends.

CHARPO: Other than it being “the show that started it all”, why perform The Laramie Project again? Has the piece’s social relevance changed in any way?
GREENBERG: I don't know the answer to this - we considered a full run of the play, but we'd already produced it twice (2003 and 2004).  We'll learn its currency when we do the reading on February 25.

CHARPO: What is the best thing about what you do?
GREENBERG:  It frees me to dream and to  share dreams with a growing list of artists who have become dear and trusted friends.

CHARPO: What do the next ten years look like?
GREENBERG: I don't even know what the next week looks like, apart from our opening of  'Clybourne Park' on February 19. We've just received a multi-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to hire a Development Officer, so I suspect we may find ourselves rather tightly focused on increasing our corporate and private support bases. 

The Laramie Project will be presented as a reading on February 25
Clybourne Park continues its performances to March 3
Read also Joel Greenberg's notes on preparing the initial production of Clybourne Park
Read our review of the previous Studio 180 production of Clybourne Park

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