From the Page to the Stage: How AMY’s Spring Program shapes the Summer Session

by Co-Session Director Lisa Codrington

General Manager, Paul Beauchamp, sat down with Spring and Summer  Co-Session Director, Lisa Codrginton to chat about what makes each session unique.

Group shot - Rehearsal hall

Paul Beauchamp: What is the focus of the Spring Session?

Lisa Codrington: The focus of the AMY Project Spring Session is development.  It’s an opportunity for the participants to explore something that they are passionate about and develop it into a piece of theatre.  We use different writing exercises, improvisations and discussion to find out what the participants are interested in exploring.  From there we work with them along side their mentors and guest artists to shape those ideas, thoughts and experiences that they are passionate about into a piece of theatre.

PB: What is the focus of the Summer Session?

LC: The focus of the AMY Project Summer Session is presentation.  It’s an opportunity for the participants to have their work fully presented with sound, lights, costume and set design.  The participants work with a professional design and tech team and rehearse six days a week for two weeks.  They get a real sense of the work that goes into a full production.

PB: What is the phase like in between the sessions? How do you narrow down/hone/work on the script?

LC: The phase in between the spring and summer session is a development stage. The session leaders take a look at the script, discuss feedback from audience and from artistic directors and discuss ways to move the script forward.  We then speak with the participants as a group as well as individually and encourage the participants to examine what the audience reacted to positively, what they may have been confused and less responsive to and finally explore what they can do as creators to improve on the script.  Then we hold a group and individual development session where the participants cut, develop and create new material.

PB: Why is a developmental phase important in the life of a new work?

LC: A full production means you have to learn lines, stage blocking, design etc.  While all of that is important it can take time away from all the work that goes into figuring out what you want to say and how you want to say it.  The developmental phase is a time to try things out on an audience without the pressure of a full production.  After a workshop production you get to go back and rework what didn’t work and build on what did for the full production.

PB: Can you provide any examples of how you’ve seen the participants grow throughout the program?

LC: Some of the participants found it hard to understand why we would show an audience a work in progress. We did our best to explain it but we started to realized that a staged reading is a hard concept to wrap your head around if you have no context for it.  It was only after experiencing it and getting to make changes in between shows and then knowing that you get a chance to present the full production in the summer did those that were skeptical understand the benefit.  They could feel when the audience latched on to something and when they didn’t.  This made them eager to come back to the work and figure out how to improve upon the piece.

PB: What would you say the value of the individual mentorships are? Do they have an impact on the finished product?

PB: The one on one time that participants have with their mentors is time for them to work on the individual pieces they build as well as work on acting, singing, projecting, learning lines.  But most importantly the get to work with artists and learn about what it is to be an artist and have someone to chat with one on one out side of our group sessions.

PB: What does the design team bring to the summer program? Why is it important?

LC: It gives participants the chance to learn about and appreciate the different elements that go into telling a story.  It also gives them a sense of the collaborative nature of theatre.  It is important for them to know that it takes a lot of hard work from a variety of people working in different disciplines to tell a story.

PB: Do you think SummerWorks is an important platform for the young AMY women to be introduced to? Why or why not?

LC: Yes.  The participants get to present work in a festival that celebrates independent theatre and new play development.  They get the opportunity to attend other festival shows and see plays by young people like themselves as well as mid career and veteran artists.


The AMY 2014 production of Transfusions runs August 8-12 at the Scotiabank Studio Theatre at the Pia Bouman Studio (6 Noble St). For tickets, visit AMY’s website.