November 27, 2012

Spolight on Alumni: Wendy Ryder

Wendy Ryder Wendy Ryder and her dog Obie.

We asked Technical Director Wendy Ryder  (BFA 2008) to tell us a little about what she's doing these days, and her experiences at York and after. 

I have been so fortunate and have been able to work for some wonderful companies and people, including Canadian Stage, the Grand Theatre, and the Blyth Festival. I've worked in various roles with these companies, all in management—including Assistant TD, Technical Director and Production Manager. (In Blyth, I had my dog Obie with me, and he was nicknamed the festival's Assistant Production Manager.) I also did some freelancing for a while which was fun albeit short lived. Right now I am happy to say that I am in my second season working full-time for the Canadian Opera Company as an Assistant Technical Director. I am in charge of one of the mainstage operas that runs every spring, as well as working with 3rd party rentals, Front of House events, and the RBA Concerts.

What did you do for the first summer out of the program?

My first summer out of school at York, I started a job at Canadian Stage as an Assistant Technical Director. I had the pleasure of working on the Dream in High Park as my first project there. The summer before, while I was still a student, I was asked to work on Evil Dead the Musical as it remounted at the Diesel Playhouse upon its return from New York.

Backstage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Backstage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Did connections, friendships, relationships you made at York help you afterward?

Absolutely! It was through contacts I had made during my time at York that introduced me to my first job opportunities. These same relationships have helped me grow as a professional and as an individual, and I am so grateful to those contacts and how they have helped me along the way. I hope that I have done the same to others as well.

What did you learn at York that has been of greatest value?

I think the most important thing I have learned has been the ability to manage my time. In my last year at York, I was TD on one of the mainstage shows (Metamorphoses – in Burton Auditorium), I was President of CASA, and I was taking an extra course in addition to the regular course-load in final year. I had no choice but to organize my life on an hourly basis.  This has been a skill that has stuck with me since that final year, and I still often organize myself in this way. I am also impressed that I’ve seen other York graduates who operate in the same fashion, so I’m certain this was something I inherently learned while at York.

The Company of Metamorphoses The Company of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses, directed by Jillian Keiley.

What was your favourite place at York, and why?

The CASA Office and CASA Coffee House — it was such a great place and there was always something different happening every week.