The team here at The Theatre Centre couldn’t be happier to announce the appointment of our new Director of Facilities & Production: Billy Wolf!
Billy joins our team after working as Technical Director at Canadian Stage, and this new appointment at The Theatre Centre reunites the team of our Artistic Director Franco Boni, our General Manager Aislinn Rose, and Billy, who all worked together on Liza Balkan’s incredible 2012 production of Out The Window, which had been developed in Residency here at The Theatre Centre. After that experience, working together again was a matter of “when”, not “if”.
As a production manager, technical director, stage manager, and everything in between, Billy has served a variety of performance artists and theatre venues for ten years. Originally from London, UK, he has worked on a wide range of productions with international companies and artists, many of whom specialise in devised, experimental or otherwise unconventional performance practices. This work has taken him around Europe and to China, Australia, North America, and now to our home, The Theatre Centre!
We sat down with Billy to ask him some questions. In the spirit of true investigative journalism we asked only the toughest questions and wouldn’t let him off the hook (especially regarding his favourite dessert).
How did you get into theatre?
I was lucky to have had exposure to a full depth of theatre and performance early on: my high school took theatre seriously, I had a great drama teacher and I found the rich cultural landscape of London right on my doorstep. I very quickly developed a love for theatre in all its forms and found that when you are passionate about making something your job, it’s pretty easy to talk your way into it.
What do you love about theatre?
I love that theatre is nothing without the community that it serves, I love how tangible the effects of theatre are upon that community, and I love to be a part of the risk the artist and the audience member engage in, together, when a performance happens.
Which theatre and performance artists have you enjoyed working with the most?
A good production manager never reveals his favourites. But I’ve many artists to thank for the stuff that I’ve learned. Stan’s Cafe, who first brought me to Toronto with The Cleansing Of Constance Brown at the Harbourfront Centre, constantly surprise me both as a practitioner and an audience member. Gecko’s first piece Taylor’s Dummies blew my mind as a teenager and it is they to whom I owe my appreciation for the physical side of theatre and my care for detail. Fevered Sleep demonstrated to me that in making high art for young children, you should never underestimate your audience. And bluemouth inc. took me around the world with Dance Marathon, a show for which I needed to wear a dozen hats all at once.
Which productions have you enjoyed working on the most?
Dance Marathon was a thrilling project; no matter where you are on that team—artist, production manager, musician, dancer, front-of-house manager—you are at the absolute mercy of your audience. Also, it’s the only job I’ve done (so far) where I’ve had to don a frilly shirt and dance like a go-go dancer. On the other end of the scale, I once did a fall/winter tour of a children’s show called The Giving Tree by Sixth Sense around pre-schools in Swindon, UK. It came at just the right time in my career, bringing me back down to earth with a soft bump on the play mats I kept tripping over every time we did a load in.
What is your favourite theatre show that you have seen?
So many. Come have coffee with me and I’ll tell you all about them.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
As a production manager, I live for theatrical challenges, but I don’t like the uncertainty of my solutions. We often talk about the risks taken as a theatre artist, a director, designer, performer, even producer, but rarely do we consider the risks taken by the facilitators to these ideas. More often than I care to admit, I am making it up as I go along too.
What are you currently reading?
I am not a reader, but want to be one. I’m currently reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley but at a rate of about 0.8 pages a month.
When was the last time you got to see a movie in the theatre, and what was it?
The Martian, a few months ago, and it’s the first time my wife and I had been to the cinema since our son was born three years ago.
What is your son’s favourite movie?
Cars, except we’ve not managed to get past the first fifteen minutes yet. Please send spoilers.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A production manager for a contemporary theatre venue.
What superhero power would you want?
To click my fingers and have what I need instantly. Actually, maybe it’s to be somewhere else instantly.
If we asked you to cook for one of our community meals, what would you
make? (Including what you might want to sneak in from a favourite
I would invite Hanna, my wife, to help me with a feast of Mexican street food. There would be lots of guacamole.
What makes you laugh the most?
My son. He’s a hoot.
What makes you ragey? (Are you a hangry person?)
I am famously unflappable and ten years of technical theatre has left me with the awesome ability to control my hunger.
What’s your favourite cookie?
My wife, Hanna’s, salted pumpkin mookies.