By Shane Dingman
All is not lost if you’re studying theatre technical production at Ryerson, for it you fear you won’t land a job after graduation, take heart in the example of one who has gone before.
Lyndee Hansen, who graduated from Ryerson’s technical theatre school with a major in administration last April, says the jobs are out there. “It’s not hard to get work,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun working, and quite different than it is in school in many ways, and in many ways it’s exactly the same.”
She’s 24 years old, a former resident of picturesque Goderich, Ontario, and finds herself jumping from job to job. Prior to graduation, Hansen spent three months working with Timothy Luginbuhl, head of public relations at Ryerson’s theatre school. She was made head of PR for three Ryerson productions, overseeing the operations of the PR office with Luginbuhl. “He and I spent three months together working on the three shows,” she says. “He liked my work and thought that I was gonna go places.”
After graduation, Hansen went to work as an associate producer on Dali, produced by Crow’s Theatre art director Jim Millan, which ran at the World Stage and Tarragon Theatre for three weeks in April.
After that show, when Crow’s Theatre’s company producer went on tour with the Kids in the Hall, Luginbuhl, who sits on the Crow’s Theatre board, recommended Hansen fill the position.
At the interview, “they said, ‘yeah great, yeah great, we need somebody and you’re willing to do it, you seem really interested,’” Hansen says is more conversational.
The learning curve was a little steep, says Hansen. “They don’t train you to be a producer in school — there’s no producing 101. It was baby steps. It’s not like they just said, ‘OK, produce, you have no idea what you’re doing, but go, we trust you!’ Jim and I have cultivated a working relationship. He’s more than happy to say, ‘Oh, you don’t know this? Let’s do this together, let’s teach you how to write contracts.’”
Hansen describes the basics of producing as putting your fingers out and making sure that everything feels OK, and that nothing has gone awry. And when someone has a problem, you try to find out if you can solve it without having to throw money at it, but you also need to be ready to spend if it’s necessary.
Hansen’s theatre school connections loomed again when she was offered an assistant stage managing job with the DVxt Theatre Company’s production of The Doll House, by Henrik Ibsen. Hansen knew the director, Vikki Anderson, because she was Luginbuhl’s partner.
Working days running the office for Crow’s Theatre and nights on The Doll House, which runs from Nov. 16 to Dec. 9, Hansen also takes the occasional shift at The Harbourfront Centre as a production coordinator.
“I’ve proven to some people that I can do it,” says Hansen. “You build momentum and people will give you a bit more responsibility the more they can trust you.”
The lesson is, network. In school, outside of school, wherever you can. “You need to get your name out there,” says Hansen. “It’s not a really big business, everybody knows everybody else, it’s a pretty small community. They tell you that in school and you never believe it.”