I am an apprentice… James Long


FM:What is your experience with/opinions on mentorship?

James Long: We’re constantly collaborating with people outside of our discipline so I would consider those people a mentor… they are bringing in skills we’ve never experienced before: Sarah Chase, Veda Hille. I steal from just about everybody I can.

FM:Are there limitations to mentorship?

JL: So much of [theatre] is instinctual that I think in a mentoring relationship you have to remember your own instincts.

FM:What are your views on formalized mentorship programs?

JL: It happens more in the dance world. In the theatre world from what I understand the mentoring is more geared toward administrative mentoring.

FM:What has been your experience with less formal, self-initiated individual mentorships?

JL: You can be mentored all your life if you take that approach to it.

FM: Which has greater value and why?

JL: It took until I was working professionally to realize the value of the training. I just think it’s easier to understand the practicalities when you are in a practical environment of professional work.

FM: Do you see variation between apprenticeships in the different sides of theatre (acting versus directing versus design versus admin versus tech, etc)?

JL: In the theatre world it seems that the systems in place are geared more toward administrative mentorships as opposed to artistic mentorships.

FM: Advice to those seeking an apprenticeship?

JL: I think it’s just important to ask. I don’t think there’s a lot of companies in this city that have closed their doors officially for rehearsals. When I go to festivals I take the opportunity to go and talk to the creators and say, “OK, what exactly did you get up to?” People love to talk about their work.

JAMES LONG is an artistic director of Theatre Replacement. When he isn’t working with TR, he acts, writes and directs with others.