Off the Wall Stratford Artists Alliance

If a leaf falls in the forest, was I quick enough to catch it? On this day I was. Perhaps it was all that ninja karma flowing through me, as I had grown very strong during the last week at Off The Wall. Training and sharing theatre techniques with some of Stratford’s finest mentors, learning new things about power tools, how to bend metal to your whim, how not to blow up a building, and how to keep calm and look around at all the marvelous moving pieces that are Off the Wall. At the end of the week, I came out feeling that I had skills I could work on, perhaps a super power to see the basic mechanism of things, and friendships that may last a lifetime – if they let us back! Theatre gives us such strange treasures in the strangest of places.

offthewallfinalHere is one of the many welding techniques you get to learn, and by the look of the picture and Gnarly me, we are on day one. Day one, beyond tackling metal and strange warehouse smells, M drove us to a patch of rolling green for lunch. We laid back and watched the clouds go by, thick and full of expectation. I realized then how beautiful Stratford was, and how one could be in theatre district in high heels one day and in bare feet roaming the many trails the next. Beware of goose poop!

offthewallfinal-2After a few days of acclimatizing to the workshop, and the fact you are surrounded by many years of wonderful history, with some of your heroes tucked up on a shelf, just up over that giant carousel. Sigh. Sometimes we worked as a group, and learned together, and sometimes we broke off to work on our individual projects, though some classmates who take extended courses had actual set build work. More on that later. Am I a nerd that this makes me gleeful that it even exists?! Credit to all the instructors, young and very, very, very, old (and wise).

offthewallfinal-3Below is a portion of our workshop. It looks pretty messy and there is a narwhal spouting up from it, so it must be my work space. I could drive my table mate M crazy. Have you noticed all the cool flames on all the headgear you get to wear? Those puppies make you look cool while saving your eyeballs from blindness. You may also notice the green vice sitting next to a black helmet, next to a grinder. This belongs to one of the other amazing people who dared to share a week in welding.

offthewallfinal-4While we are only here for 5 days, some of our creative classmates are lucky enough to stay on for the Theatre Production Arts program they offer. I stole the description from the website so you don’t have to read through my tomfoolery: “Theater Production Arts is an intensive, hands-on summer course, where participants are mentored by seasoned professional artists from the Stratford Festival and learn all the skills required to create a stage set.Elements built during the course will be used in a professional theatrical production. Theatre Production Arts introduces participants to the basics of stagecraft including: Stage Carpentry (Weeks 1 or 2); Artistic Welding (Weeks 1 or 2); Scenic Painting (Week 3); Mask Making (Week 4); and Prop Making & Faux Food (Week 5).Registration in the five week program includes tickets for Stratford Festival productions, warehouse and backstage tours.”