How one grad’s trip took her from working backstage to theatre manager
The origins of “break a leg” as theatrical slang may be debatable, but for Gennieve Edwards the phrase is more than a wish for good luck—it’s also about new beginnings. Breaking a leg (literally) during what she describes as an ill-advised first attempt at longboarding, is the reason she returned for a second credential after graduating from the Theatre Production program in 2009.
“I had been working backstage as a freelance technician in theatres, at festivals and at events all over the city, including the Fringe for the past six years,” she says. “I loved that there are so many opportunities backstage. I started as a crew member, but somehow always found myself in a leadership position.”
But when she broke her femur during the summer of 2013, Gennieve began to look at her theatre career from a new perspective.
“I had to switch gears because I wasn’t physically able to do the things I used to do,” she says.
So she found herself filling a more administrative role, and having the chance to talk to more people who had backgrounds in arts and cultural management. “I had already been doing a bit of admin work, but I started to realize exactly what a credential could do for me, so I decided to take the Arts and Cultural Management program.”
Gennieve says that within a matter of days in the classroom, she was beginning to understand how the different parts of the theatre world come together.
Read more about our graduates, including Zak Kotelko, who plans to bring his IT know-how back to the farm.
“I had always been a worker bee before, and saw the people in the office as being mostly concerned with dollars and cents. Now the lines I used to see are blurred—in a good way. I can really understand exactly how every single part of theatre is connected, and exactly how every one of those pieces has value.”
It’s a perspective that will serve her well in her new role as the general manager of Theatre Network, which produces live performances focusing on Canadian playwrights and stories in its new home at Roxy on Gateway, after a fire destroyed the Roxy on 124 Street earlier this year. She’s only held the position for a few weeks and says she still has to pinch herself to believe it’s hers.
“I’m so happy,” she says. “It’s wonderful to get to be directly involved in an artist’s community—to spend my days living and breathing with people who are so passionate about what they do. I love how theatre is a community, how it brings out the best and worst in people, it’s collaborative, it’s an experience people share, and it’s something that always seems to survive adversity in the world. The arts will always be around, and I’m thrilled I can be a small part of that.”
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