I am an apprentice: Tammy Isaacson


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

TI: Prime [at Pi] (mentorship program) came out of looking at the community and what we perceived at the time to be a huge hole in the ecology: how do people actually get their work recognized? This year we will be creating what we’re calling Prime Placements, so we will pair up…for example a set designer with a practical, working assistant.

FM:Are there limitations to mentorship?

TI: The danger might be in people getting taken advantage of.

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

TI: I was producer of the Fringe and… artists would help each other go across the country with work and developing work. It clearly spawned so many great things.

FM:Does formalized mentorship or self-initiated have greater value and why?

TI: In an ideal world there would be lots of both. In some circles it’s called professional development. It’s all how you cut it.

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

TI: There has been no attention to designers at all. There are many more ‘artistic’ mentorships available. This is considered a common way to get into the industry and learn a craft. It is harder to get a technical mentorship such as that which I had. However, within the industry there is definite belief that hands on training is much more beneficial than university training.

FM:Advice to those seeking an apprenticeship?

TI: Dream big and do a crazy, wild pitch. Inspire someone.

TAMMY ISAACSON has worked in theatre, opera, dance and festivals as a writer, director, administrator and stage manager. She was the General Manager for Pi Theatre for eight seasons and is currently the General Manager of the Alberta Opera touring company.