Earlier in 2011, two aspiring performers in their early 20s, James and Janine, came to me (separately) inquiring about a life in the arts and what CBT can do for them.

For those who are not familiar the annual Theatre Ontario Showcase features post-secondary theatre school graduating classes from across Ontario, and the National Theatre School in Montreal. There are also panels for participating students on “The Business of Casting” and “Surviving A Career in Acting”.

In addition to finding artists to add to Carlos Bulosan Theatre’s roster I thought bringing James & Janine with me to Theatre Ontario Showcase would be a great way to start conversations about…anything…industry standards, expectations, institutional training and culturally mandated theatres. I asked them to write freely about their experiences from the day. They were eager to share their thoughts therefore this blog post 1 of 2 featuring James Memeji’s perspective.

James Memije & Janine Palencia post Day 1 of the Theatre Ontario Showcases

The following is short journal of my experience of the audition we attended on Jan 15/12 by James Memije

The schools had the artists performing two monologs, either performing them consecutively or taking turns with their peers. I found the performances very impressive, many of them being able to execute different personalities between their monologs and showing a variety of skill in their acting ability.

Renna had explained to me that her agenda at the auditions was to find any Filipino artists who she might be able to recruit into her theatre. She had passion for prompting “artists of colour” and was particular interested in Filipinos. Unfortunately for her, we were not able to find any that day. A matter a fact the majority of the performers we’re of Caucasian decent. Which lead us into a discussion of why this was so?

Janine, another guest, also joined us for the day offered her opinion saying that theatre is not generally encouraged by parents of artists of colour, therefore not many of them pursue it. Being business oriented, my opinion was that there was not a large market for artists of colour in the theatre industry; therefore many of them quickly gave up the pursuit as soon as they realize their options were limited.

This discussion itself began to make me question my own desire to chase this dream; whether there were as many open doors for me or would my ethnicity become too much of a restriction. Whatever the reason why there were so little Filipino representation that day, I definitely shared Renna’s interest in prompting our culture.

It certainly took Janine and James risk and initiative to walk into CBT’s office/introduce themselves at a function and thank you for sharing your observations about the day. Doubt, discouragement and failure will happen, regardless of career choice. We all will meet failure along our journey to success.

Their concerns about visibility in the “industry” further validate the existence and continued need for culturally mandated theatre companies. In an attempt to raise the profile of  Filipino Artists in Canada the Carlos Bulosan Theatre will be posting selected profiles of artists every day for the next week.

Also, please note that there was a Filipino Artist showcased on Theatre Ontario’s Day 2 and current Play Creation Unit member Meesha Albano was part of last year’s Theatre Ontario Showcases.

Special Thank You to Cornelia and Tim from Theatre Ontario for organizing another successful showcase.  Theatre Ontario is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and developing theatre practitioners across the province, by providing resources, networking, training and advocacy.