Spotlight on Alumni: Victoria Stacey
Victoria Stacey graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours). During her time at York, Victoria studied Devised Theatre and Directing. In conjunction with her academic education she also volunteered for Theatre Direct, a professional Theatre for Young Audiences company about to enter it’s 40th season. Her relationship with the company grew and she began assisting with the drama school programming.
Upon graduation she had the wonderful opportunity to accept a paid position as Venue Host and Volunteer Liaison for the very first WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years. Since that time she has become an integral part of this small but mighty TYA company taking on such projects as associate director of Summer Camp, assisting with the casting process of Beneath the Banyan Tree (winner of 3 Dora Awards in 2015), working closely with Fides Krucker of URGE to flesh out the movement vocabulary for the publication of the And by the way, Miss… script in Ignite: Illuminating Theatre for Young People edited by Heather Fitzsimmons Frey, and becoming a Firefly Artist for the in-school kindergarten storytelling residency called the Firefly Project .
Victoria now holds the title of Artistic & Education Associate and Drama School Coordinator and works directly with Lynda Hill, Artistic & Executive Director. She has been using her devised theatre training in many ways but finds her creative muscles are flexed most when acting as lead artist and director of the Wednesday After-School Drama Ensemble. This program is intended for 8-12 year olds during which she works collaboratively with the Ensemble to create a unique piece of theatre incorporating movement, music, drama, and design.
Victoria is looking forward to her future in theatre, developing new work and continuing to harness her skills as an artist/educator. Everything is about to come full circle for Victoria in a few weeks when Theatre Direct launches the 2016 WeeFestival where you can find her at the Theatre Centre welcoming school and public audiences.
What was the most valuable thing you learned while studying in Theatre at York?
There were so many valuable lessons and opportunities provided to me when I was studying theatre at York that it is difficult to narrow it down. First, taking both Theatre Management and Theatre Career Management was incredibly valuable. I continue to use the skills I learned in those courses everyday and even keep my notebooks from those classes in my desk drawer for reference. I looked back on these notes while writing my first grant application this season, when writing letters or engaging in other professional communication, and even when looking at the resumes of new grads that cross my desk.
However, I could not answer this question without mentioning my Devised Theatre class in third year. This class gave me the broad strokes training to begin forming my own artistic style and interests. Without the experience of constantly generating new work and then receiving weekly feedback and accurate assessments of the clarity of my work I would not be where I am today. Learning how to gracefully accept notes and swiftly implement them is an important skill. The third year of training upped the ante, so to speak, and demanded the commitment and professionalism required of theatre practitioners out there in the real working world.
Do you have any advice or tips for York students just entering the dept.?
Go and volunteer, get downtown and see theatre as often as you can, begin making your connections now. I implore you not to wait until you graduate to begin the process of networking and building your professional contacts. Participate in the playGround Festival at York and take workshops outside of York. It is in the safe and supportive environment of school where you should take risks, say yes, and make the most out of the experience. Use your time to also look for mentorship, advice, and ask for help from upper students and professors – you are not supposed to know everything at the beginning of your journey (or ever, because that would be pretty boring.)
Did connections, friendships, relationships you made at York help you afterward?
Absolutely! I was fortunate enough to form close friendships early on with people from departments outside of theatre. My closest relationships were with dance and music majors, students studying social work and education and we remain very close friends today. They are constantly providing me with new insight and inspiration. They are very hard at work in their fields and they fuel my ambition. We motivate each other to strive to reach our goals. Though it was definitely important for me to find comrades within my program it was especially valuable to connect with people from other areas because theatre is such a multidisciplinary art form. It is wonderful to have a wealth of knowledge in arts and social understanding to pull from. We ask for each other’s advice, resources and support whenever needed.
What surprised you about YOU by the end of your time at York?
I was surprised to see how important education became as I concluded my time at York. Like many many others I auditioned to York’s Theatre Department with the intention of becoming an actor but I left and entered into my current position at Theatre Direct as an artist educator. I spend a significant amount of time each season facilitating drama in the classroom, educating teachers on how to bring theatre into their practice, and creating theatre with children. Education is particularly important in TYA because we access our audience through the education system and education is at the heart of everything we do. This work is extremely rewarding but it is shocking to me if I look back to where the journey began.
What did you NOT get taught at York that you wish you had been taught?
I wish we had received more training in Marketing and Producing. It would have been useful to have a basic knowledge of marketing strategies, online tools that exist to create marketing materials, and how to write contracts. Though, I do not know how we could have possibly fit this in with the four years already well-rounded and jam-packed with skills to build and a plethora of learning to do!