- impact 17
- Upcoming Productions
- Theatre for Social Change
- We Are CULTURE
- MT Space presents
- Workshops & Classes
- Get Involved
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Support Us
Passing the Torch
Submitted by Pamela on Thu, 06/30/2016 - 3:10pm
As MT Space enters its 13th season, Founding Artistic Director Majdi Bou-Matar and Associate Artistic Director Pam Patel prepare for a significant transition at the organization. Beginning this July, Pam will be stepping into the role of Artistic Director of MT Space, while Majdi remains as the Artistic Director of the IMPACT Festival.
While reflecting on the past decade and looking into the future, Pam and Majdi asked each other some burning questions to discuss this transition. We share an excerpt of their conversation with you here:
M: Pam, why did you decide to take this job?
P: If MT Space (and you, Majdi!) has taught me anything, it's to keep my eyes and ears open for whatever opportunities come my way. I came to MT Space with little to no acting experience. When you asked me if I could act, I said "I could try." When you asked if I wanted to coordinate the IMPACT conference, I said "Sure! Why not?" When the opportunity came up to direct the IMPACT opening ceremonies, I replied "Ooo! That sounds fun." When left with the responsibility of directing a show about faith and justice, I thought "I should do this." Each and every experience I've had with MT Space has challenged my abilities and enabled me to constantly be learning, while always hearing diverse opinions and perspectives. I love this atmosphere of curiosity and listening to each other that has been created at MT Space, and over the past eight years that I've been with the company, I feel that my world has grown immensely.
I am now presented with an opportunity to try and fill the ginormous shoes of Majdi Bou-Matar. When faced with this honour, my inclination is to respond with "Bring it on!" I will be challenged to go above and beyond my responsibilities, and I cannot even imagine how much I will learn.
So with this said... Why did I decide to take this job? Well, I think it's more like the job picked me!
Majdi, what are you going to do now with so much time on your hands?
M: I am going to act, direct, write and play. I have several projects on my mind that I’d like to complete – ideally before I die. I have roles to play, plays to direct, stories and poetry to write, and still so many dreams to chase. Don’t worry, I won’t be going very far. I’ll always be here to work with you.
P: You've heard the story of when I first met you. Tell us the story of when you first met me.
M: It was the time when the current Community Room at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery was still the ArtBar restaurant. After a very unique performance of our play Seasons of Immigration on the Centre in the Square’s main stage attended by over 700 people – probably the largest crowd we have ever had in one night, you sat at my table in the bar. I was glowing with ecstasy and pride. You were calm and composed. Your eyes were bright and your smile spoke volumes about your intelligence and charisma. You told me that you’ve never done ‘theatre’ before, but you are a performer – a singer. I asked you if you knew how to act. And you said ‘I can try!’ Back then I wouldn’t have imagined that you were about to become my best friend and colleague. You shined at MT Space productions like a true star very soon after that meeting. And now I can’t believe you are even taking my job!!
What are the things that you want to do at MT Space that I haven't done already or maybe could never have done?
P: The mandate, goals, and values at MT Space really resonate with me, and I would like to hold these ideas close to me while I move the company forward into a new chapter. Going through this transition has taught me many things about the sharing of these values and perspectives. We have a special way of working at this organization that I think really enables us to do the things we do. I have started a document to collect some of these values and perspectives so that we can always remember where MT Space came from.
While we look back, I would like for us to look forward, and acknowledge the future leaders that we have in our community by enhancing the youth opportunities that we have to offer. I would like to help solidify an MT Space Young Company as a part of our core activities, so that we can offer culturally diverse youth opportunities to discover their leadership through theatre, and mentor with the incredible cultural leaders we have in our community today.
Oh! And I would like to establish a South Asian festival here in Kitchener-Waterloo. Perhaps that's a little self-indulgent. But I can guarantee everyone will have a good time!
M: What kind of character and culture shift is MT Space going to undertake as a result of this transition in leadership?
P: I think that we've begun to feel it already. In some ways, this transition is coinciding with a wave that's happening across the country, with so many theatre companies taking on new leadership. Maybe we'll get together and start a revolution! Not the kind where we grab our signs and rally and start petitions. The kind where we actually change the ecology of theatre in Canada, resulting in a larger cultural shift across the country... Who knows. It could happen. I actually think it's happening as we speak!
So what advice, or wisdom, can you impart to me as I step into your humongous shoes?
M: I’m going to answer this question like an old master! Listen Pam…
- MT Space’s culture is that of the people. Keep it like that and you will always find yourself surrounded by the best people.
- Keep your doors open. Literally do not close any doors. Do not ask people to call, buzz or knock before they come to see you. Tell them just to walk in.
- Remember that sometimes when theatre empowers one marginalized person, its impact on the community could be far greater than the impact of a passive show enjoyed by thousands.
- Rules and regulations are put in place to make people’s lives better, fairer and more efficient. Don’t hesitate to break those rules that don’t.
- I heard an artist once say: “art for the sake of art is a waste of time and money.” Always strive for social justice.
Pam Patel - Artistic Director - MT Space
Majdi Bou-Matar - Artistic Director - IMPACT Theatre Festival