MtA drama production manager appointed President-Elect of national board
Paul A. Del Motte has been the wizard behind the lighting and sound at Mount Allison drama productions for 36 years.
Del Motte serves as production manager in the Drama Studies program as well as lecturer.
Now he is lending his considerable experience, talent, and expertise to the Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology/Institut canadien des technologies scénographiques (CITT/ICTS), which seeks to support professional theatre across the country.
Del Motte has been with the national organization from its founding meeting in 1990. He has served on the National Board of Directors for the past three years and was recently named President-Elect. He will serve one year in that role before beginning a two-year term as President in August 2022, followed by a one-year term as Past President.
Del Motte is the first President from Atlantic Canada, and the first in a number of years to come from the education sector.
“I bring that educational aspect to it in a time when, because of COVID, we are seeing an exodus of experience in professional theatre,” he says. “Because the theatres shut down for more than 18 months, a lot of people have gone on to other things. There are a lot of openings out there. Universities have to fill those gaps and make sure the gaps we fill are the appropriate ones — that graduates have the knowledge they need for the new workplace.”
Del Motte is not the only Allisonian connection on the CITT/ICTS board: drama graduate Crystal Lee (’13) is also currently a director-at-large.
The CITT/ICTS helps set standards for everything from how to safely use prop weapons on stage to how stage lighting systems communicate. It also helps connect employees with jobs, provides mentorship, and advocates for the industry — most recently, for example, pushing for support for gig workers, roles that are very prevalent in the theatre industry and which were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
It also offers opportunities to network and share ideas.
“We ran two roundtables during COVID, one about re-opening professional theatre and the other an educational roundtable discussing safe practices,” he says. “So we are following some of the same protocols at Mount Allison during productions as the National Theatre School.”
Del Motte is taking over the reins at a particularly difficult time for theatre.
“Normally our advocacy is about best practice — making sure people don’t get hurt on stage and doing things in a safe and efficient manner,” he says. “But the challenge going forward is kick-starting live theatre again.”
Del Motte notes that health protocols and loss of experienced workers are only part of the challenge: many theatres have experienced technology issues because the equipment sat unused for so long.
“We have to focus over the next year on getting things up and running and clearing the rust and seeing how we are going to move forward beyond this,” he says. “As we move to higher levels of vaccinations, some of the nervousness (about attending live events) is going away, but there is still some. On the other hand, people are getting Zoomed out and want to get back to the theatre.”
CITT/ICTS ensures that production managers and technicians are not alone in this process by giving them a forum to share ideas and new approaches.
“Nine months ago people were saying it was the death knell of theatre,” Del Motte says. “But theatre has been through more than this — think of the restrictions put on theatres in the medieval and Puritan times. And yet, from Oedipus through modern times, people have always wanted to entertain, to tell a story, to pass on history, to engage and make people think, and there are so many people happy to see it back on.”
Learn more about Mount Allison’s Drama Studies program and the Motyer-Fancy Theatre.