Building Quality: IANA Steps Forward

It is one of our goals to constantly increase the quality and entertainment value of our productions.  This year, we will be taking many more huge steps forward in this respect.  But before I go into them, I want to take a quick look at where we started.

We founded this company to provide opportunities to Canadian creators, performers and audiences, and a big part of that was making sure we started by doing the best work that we could, and that we grew on that every year.  In our first season we asked the most talented people that we knew to come on that journey with us and we have never looked back.  We are lucky enough to count some of the best young creative minds in the country as part of our team, and we add more people to this list every year.  This list includes people like writer/videographer/actor Joel MacMeekin, who you can read all about in an earlier post, choreographers Emilee Nimetz, Stephan Dickson and Ashley Earl, and some of the best actors in the country.

We pride ourselves on finding the best people for the job, and giving them the opportunity to shine.  And then come all the other elements of a production.  We started out with 8 lights, no microphones, and essentially no stage.  We now have a fully functioning stage, twice the lighting instruments, and this season we will be purchasing a full set of microphones.  We will also be adding additional lighting effects, and enhancing our stage space yet again.

And of course, we can’t forget our sets and costumes.  We have built a large portion of our costumes since the beginning, but this season will see our biggest set and costume budgets to date, with additional time and materials being put into all of our costuming.  We are also very lucky this season to be joined on a regular basis by incredible set designer David Butler.  Dave worked on our set for ‘Tweed: The Musical’ last year, and we don’t plan on letting him get away any time soon.  His designs for ALECK BELL are going to blow the audience away.  I am so excited to take that huge step forward.

We believe in being the best that we can be, and constantly pushing our boundaries and making more of our work.  We are so excited about all of our productions this season, and we can’t wait to show you everything that we have in store.  2012 is going to mark another major season in our development, so come on out and check out some quality original Canadian Musical Theatre!

See you at the show!


Exploring Our Audience…IANA’s 100KM Reach

This weekend I am going on a great adventure.  Thursday morning the adventure begins.

We want to make sure that everyone in the area knows about our season this year and has the opportunity to visit us at the Marble Church.  For that reason, we are starting a 100km reach from Tweed.  Our new posters have been designed and printed, the routes all planned, and the rental car is booked.

I have to say I am incredibly excited to see many towns that I have never had the reason or opportunity to visit, and go on a little mini vacation road trip around Ontario.  I also plan on stopping in at many local theatres (Some I have coffee dates with) and seeing how we can all better promote our events and get more people in the theatre!

At the end of my trip, or possibly throughout, I will write another Blog post to tell all about my grand adventures, and what I discover on my trip.  Thursday will take me from Tweed, to Napanee, to Kingston, to Perth, to Sharbot Lake, to Tamworth and everywhere in between!

Friday will start in Actinolite, head to Kaladar, Queensborough, Bancroft, Peterborough, Hastings, Campbellford, Marmora, Madoc and again, everywhere in between.

Saturday begins in Stirling, heads to Frankford, Trenton, Carrying Place, Bloomfiled, Picton, and finally ending in Belleville, and, you guessed it, everywhere in between!

I am very excited, and can’t wait to see all these little hamlets, visit with the people there, shop at local stores, eat at unique restaurants and put up our great new posters!  I would love to hear any suggestions of favourite haunts of yours and hear about your favorite spots in Eastern Ontario.

I will be tweeting regularly during my adventure, and writing a big blog post about the trip.  And if I don’t see you this weekend then I’ll see you at the show!


Company Profile: JOEL MACMEEKIN!

Over the course of the coming year I would like to take several post opportunities to highlight members of our company who have been with us for a while, and who have contributed significantly to the development of this company.  To our vision, our mission and our mandate.  Joel MacMeekin is one of these people.

Joel was actually one of the first people to work for IANA in any way, and has actually worked for us in almost every way.  Depending on how much you know about IANA, you might know that we like to work in an ensemble style, and we like to utilize and explore the many talents of our casts and crew, and give everyone the opportunities they deserve.  Joel is the epitome of this concept.

Joel’s first interaction with IANA was at the very inception of the company.  True, there was a foray into producing before Joel’s involvement, before we were technically a company, but since we’ve had our papers, he has been on that journey with us.  Our first ever anything was a staged reading of Joel’s play ‘Missing in Action’.  Joel and I went to college together, and sometimes we would get to hear or read Joel’s written work, and I was always moved, inspired, and entertained by it.  I asked Joel to pitch me a couple of his scripts, and see if we might produce one as a staged reading.  He readily agreed, and after perusing a couple, we chose ‘Missing in Action’.  This hilarious play was a lot of fun, and a great experience with a group of eight very funny and very talented people.

The next production IANA did was ‘The Last Five Years’.  Now, although this is a two hander, we decided to include video elements to stitch the show together, and make the transitions from song to song more relatable and easier to follow.  Joel is also an incredibly skilled videographer, so I asked him if he would be willing to direct and produce these videos.  Again, he agreed to come along for the ride, and the result was overwhelming.  The videos were one of the most talked about elements of the production, and really put the professional touch on what was already a very satisfying show for us.

The next year, when we decided to produce our first ever full season in Tweed, ON, I asked Joel to come on board yet again, and in another whole new light.  This time, as a performer.  Joel is a talented actor, beautiful singer, and riotous comedian.  He played the Priest and Pomeroy in our production of ‘TWEED! A New Canadian Musical’ and reprised his role in that production again this past August.

And then came what is quite possibly Joel’s greatest contribution to the company to date.  I had decided last fall that I wanted to create an original production based on the life of Alexander Graham Bell, I had a concept all ready, and songs picked out in my brain.  However, I knew that with my time constraints for the year, and my already fairly full plate, I wouldn’t be able to pull off this project alone.  I knew Joel to be a very talented writer, and so I asked him if he would help me create the show.  Not only did Joel gladly accept the opportunity, but he brought a passion, a dedication and a talent to the task that I couldn’t have found anywhere else, and that led to the production of my proudest moment to date.  Joel wrote the book for ALECK BELL, and it is truly remarkable.  His timing, sense of character and his integrity have made this show a truly amazing thing, and something that I think will have a life and legs long after I originally planned for.  For those of you who don’t know, Joel was also the assistant director on the show.

And all of this is not even what makes Joel so great.  He does all of this, and has all of this talent, but what makes him truly stand out is his incredible personality, his love for his fellow creators, his personal passion and his absolute willingness.  Joel is ‘it’ when it comes to kind, caring and dedicated professionals, and I count myself lucky every day that I get the honour and the privilege of working with him on a regular basis.  I love this man, and I can’t wait to keep working and creating with him in future.

Watch for Joel this season as active as ever in most of our productions.  Joel is creating all of the original Audio-Visual elements for STALKYARD HURTS, and will be back this year as writer and co-director of our tour of ALECK BELL.  Joel has also designed several of the pages and elements of our website.  And who knows what else the season might have in store…stay tuned…