A Digital Exchange: ICE asks ESA

February 26, 2015 – This month, we are delighted to welcome both the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and the Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA) to The Theatre Centre.  Presented by Soundstreams, ICE is performing The Whisper Opera in our main space, while students from ESA are performing A Doll’s House in our BMO Incubator.  In preparation for both groups to share our backstage, ICE asked ESA questions over e-mail, about modern theatre, the devaluing of arts education and keeping an open mind. 

Here, we offer a glimpse into their digital exchange…


How essential have the arts been to your development as a student, as a person, and as a citizen?

- Ross Karre, director of production of ICE, percussionist

You can usually find bits of yourself in any character you approach, and you can expand on those parts for the role. I’ve found that the more characters I play, the more I see things from others’ eyes, and I feel compassion, or at least understanding for people I’d never thought I would have going in. As a person in the world, it lessens my criticism and stops my focus from going inward.

- Andreana Callegarini-Gradzik, who plays one of the Noras

We’re fighting a tendency in the American public school system which increasingly devalues the arts in favor of “STEM” (science, tech, engineering, and match) subjects. What would you say to a politician to convince them that the arts are essential to your education?

- Joshua Rubin, co-artistic director of ICE, clarinetist

The arts are an amazing way to express yourself. I know a lot of people that have gone through some tough things that don’t have an outlet. I’m very lucky in the way that I have acting and singing to portray a different character and be someone else for a period of time. I was fortunate enough to find that way to let things go, but a lot of kids haven’t discovered that yet.

- Quinn Tabbitt, who plays Anna

When working on “A Doll’s House,” what was your biggest challenge as an individual artist/actor? What was your biggest collective challenge as a company of performers?

- Tony Arnold, ICE, soprano and lead of The Whisper Opera

My biggest personal acting challenge might have been learning the Tarantella. I don’t pride myself on my dancing ability and therefore partially refused to learn it. I’m happy I got over my fear and could spend more time focusing on my blocking. I think a big challenge for a group of young actors and artist is to focus on listening rather than talking. I think we’re getting there despite the slight speed bumps.

- Adam Finkelman, who plays one of the Krogstads

When presented with experimental performing arts such as the Whisper Opera, what do you do to keep an open mind and interpret such radical methods and styles?

- Kivie Cahn-Lipman, ICE, cello

Some ideas are so inventive that they have to be seen to be believed, and so when I approach a piece of experimental art I try to go into it without any expectations based on convention, because if I allow myself to just take it in as it is I might find something remarkable that I would never have thought of before.

- Georgia Findlay, who plays one of the Noras


The Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA) Drama Department presents A Doll’s House at The Theatre Centre (BMO Incubator), February 20 – 28, 2015. Performed by a cast of teenagers and directed by ESA drama teacher Natasha Brault and ESA alumni Taylor Sutherland, A Doll’s House raises questions about gender politics that are as resonant today as they were in Henrik Ibsen’s time. For more information and to purchase tickets CLICK HERE

Soundstreams presents The Whisper Opera at The Theatre Centre (Main Space), February 26- March 1, 2015. Using a libretto compiled from search-engine responses to such prompts as “When I think of you, I think of…,” Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang explores the tension between our private and online selves in a work that demands the most intimate live performance possible. Reprising their successes at Lincoln Center and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, soprano Tony Arnold and New York’s International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)—hailed by The New York Times as “one of the most adventurous and accomplished groups in new music”—make their Canadian debuts in an opera so quiet, so delicate, that it can be experienced by just 52 people at a time. For more information and to purchase tickets CLICK HERE


Photo Credits: (L) ICE: Armen Elliot. (R) ESA: Aden Solway.