Artistic Director Ashima Suri interviews Stage Manager & Warrior Young Woman, Tara Mohan on her journey in becoming a Stage Manager. A hard-working, compassionate and beautiful individual, Tara says it like it is. She truly has the I AM Limitless spirit!
BEHIND THE SCENES:
A HEART-TO-HEART INTERVIEW WITH TARA MOHAN, STAGE MANAGER
1) What made you decide to become a Stage Manager?
It all just sort of happened, really. When I was in high school, I was very into visual arts. Then in my final year, a friend of mine asked me to be one of the set designers for my school’s Production course. I knew that I liked painting and sculpting, so I decided to go for it. I ended up in love with the whole production process and decided that I needed to work in theatre production. I applied to Ryerson University’s Performance Production program with the vague intention of being a set designer, but also open to trying new things. At this point, I should probably mention that when I was working on that high school show, many of the actors told me that they thought I would make a great stage manager… apparently I had the personality for it. At the time, I had no idea what that meant. I didn’t even know what a stage manager was, so I mostly just smiled and nodded. So when I started at Ryerson and found myself sitting in my first Introduction to Stage Management class, I was pretty curious to find out what all the fuss was about. As I learned more about what stage managers do, and what sort of person is needed to do it well, I realized that it just might be the thing for me. That realization was cemented for me after I stage managed my first Ryerson show.
So, long story short? I decided to give try something new, and it was the best thing I ever did.
2) Were there any barriers or roadblocks on your journey to become a Stage Manager?
Surprisingly, it’s been pretty smooth sailing… so far. I have the feeling that the roadblocks are yet to come. Over the last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some amazing professional mentors who have helped me make connections in the Toronto Arts community, and I’ve made some good progress in establishing myself. The reason I say that the roadblocks are yet to come is because I haven’t actually been out in the industry for that long. For 4 years I was focussing on school. Then, after graduating in April, I was lucky enough to get a full-time, but short term, position working for Toronto Dance Theatre, which is my focus now. I think the road blocks will come once I finish at TDT in a few months and suddenly find myself without a single focus. It’s going to be a new phase of life for me, and I think it’s going to be quite an adjustment not having a steady schedule or income.
3) What’s the thing you love the most about what you do?
In the abstract, I love the feeling that I am helping to make art happen. It’s so rewarding to know that I am making a direct contribution to something that is amazing and bigger than me.
More specifically, my favourite part of being a stage manager is calling the show (making sure all of the lighting cues, sound cues, etc happen at the right time). There’s nothing more satisfying to me than a perfectly called cue.
4) When you think of ‘Warrior Young Woman’, what do you think of?
I think of a young woman who is being herself, doing what she loves, and not apologizing for it. I think of someone I am striving to be.
5) Would you consider yourself a role-model or inspiration to other South Asians looking to get into the Arts Industry? Why/Why not?
I’ve honestly never thought of myself that way. I mean, what young person stops one day and thinks “yeah, I’m definitely a role model”. Maybe everyone except me has done that, and I’m just crazy… Anyway, I would be flattered if I was thought of that way. I never set out to try and be inspiring. I’ve always just tried to do what was right for me, that’s all. If others were to take one thing away, I’d hope it would be this: You should do what is right for you. No matter how difficult it might be, no matter what other people say, if it’s what you’re passionate about, you can make it happen. I am lucky to have amazingly supportive parents, but I’ve been told a lot of things throughout my life about how difficult it is to work in the arts. Thank goodness I didn’t listen to any of them, because here I am.
6) What are you most passionate about?
This was a really tough question. I think it’s because I don’t have a single thing that I’m passionate about. I’m passionate about experiencing new things and enjoying life to the fullest. And that’s one of the reasons I love working in dance and theatre… every show is different, and a new challenge. But beyond that, I can’t handle the idea of being stagnant. I have this drive inside of me to go new places and try new things, be it as extravagant as traveling to another country, or as simple as just trying a new restaurant.
7) Who is your role model(s)?
My mom, hands down. She is one of the most amazing women I know, and somehow manages to thrive at everything she takes on. She is the one who taught me that hard work pays off, and that if I put my all into something, I can achieve whatever I put my mind to.
8) If you were asked to support a cause, what cause would that be?
I haven’t got a specific organization in mind, but the cause would be Equality. I find it abhorrent, and practically unbelievable, that in this day and age there are still groups that have to fight for recognition.
9) How would people describe you in 3 words?
Oh gosh, this is hard… After conducting a quick poll (Is that cheating? Sorry…), I have been told these words are: compassionate, loyal, and conscientious.
10) What’s a typical day for Tara Mohan?
Hm, I don’t really have a typical day. Most days I’m lucky enough to be able to sleep in until about 9am, and then head in to work at TDT for 11am. I spend my time there either doing paperwork, being in rehearsal, prepping/maintaining costumes, helping out during tech times, or out on errands. It feels like I’m doing something new there basically every week. Then, depending on when I finish work (which can be anywhere from 3pm to 11pm, depending on the day), I might do some work for one of the other shows that I’m stage managing independently. And in between all of that, I’m either having crazy adventures with my roommates, or enjoying some quiet time alone.
Thank you Tara!!
ABOUT TARA MOHAN
Born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, Tara first discovered her interest in theatre–quite by accident–after agreeing to be a set designer and scenic painter for a high school drama production. The attraction to the performing arts was instantaneous, and after being accepted to Ryerson University’s Performance Production program, Tara never looked back. It was working at Ryerson that Tara discovered her love of dance, and her aptitude for stage management. Now, as a recent university graduate, Tara has had the opportunity to work on a number of professional shows. Moving forward, Tara hopes to lead a successful career in the performing arts. When she’s not working, Tara enjoys spending time outside exploring the city, or staying in with some knitting and a good TV show. Selected credits include: Stage Manager for Gadfy’s performance at the Toronto Urban Dance Symposium (Daniel’s Spectrum, November 2012), Stage Manager for George Brown Dance’s Spring Graduation Showcase (The Betty Oliphant Theatre, April 2012), Stage Manager for Gadfly’s Klorofyl: Thrive or Survive (The Fleck Dance Theatre & The Oakville Community Centre, November 2011), Stage Manager for Limitless Productions’The Brave Beginnings Encore—Artist’s Showcase (519 Community Centre, October 2011), Stage Manager for Cheshire Unicorn’s Infinitum and Infinitum Workshop (The Annex, October and July 2011), Stage Manager for Events in Real Time’s Express Yourself (Hub 14, August 2011), Stage Manager for Limitless Productions’ Forbidden Fruit: Evolution (Factory Theatre Mainspace, July 2011), and Stage Manager for Women in Dance’s Next Generation Showcase (The Toronto Centre For the Arts, June 2011). Tara is currently the Assistant Stage Manager and Metcalf Foundation Intern for Toronto Dance Theatre.