Meet the Company – James Kendal
Tell us a bit about how you got here.
I come to Technical Direction from a bit of a circuitous fashion. I was a musician, and a dancer as a kid. I did most of my post-grad work in classical ballet. From there I moved on and got into carpentry and then technical art. So it has been a riot to be involved in this show, operating caterpillars and birds and ginormous monsters and such.
What are some challenges that come along with touring?
A fairly obvious challenge at every place we stop is avoiding little people who are up to our waists when we are carrying large set pieces – safety is obviously number one. Often we’ll have some of the older kids help us out, and it’s a blast and they are usually thrilled to help. One challenge that I am dreading is the freezing cold metal pipes that make up the interior of the tree. Those are going to be in the truck overnight, so I am thinking gloves might be necessary!
What has it been like to work on a re-mount?
More-spacious-than-ever Monster Den
It’s been great to rediscover the main characters, Dib and Dob. I feel like I am getting to know both the characters and these guys better. It’s been fun. We tweaked some stuff with my big caterpillar entrance, got some more caterpillar moves. It hails back to my dance background – caterpillar dancing.
What advice do you have for others pursuing work in theatre?
From my unique and somewhat unusual sort of background, the biggest thing I can say is to put yourself out there. I did quite a lot of touring through elementary schools as a teenager, not so much as with TYA, but BYA (Ballet for Young Audiences). I moved back to Toronto 4 years ago… and the job market was terrible, so the biggest thing I did was just get out there. I volunteered as an usher or an ASM (Assistant Stage Manager) at dance festivals and friends’ theatre productions, and one thing led to another. So then I was SM-ing shows, and helping with lighting hangs, and the next thing I knew, I was crawling on grids. It’s just about being safe and knowing your limits and asking for help. Toronto has just been a great scene and community for that. If you can’t afford to go to shows, volunteer to help usher, and you’ll get to see stuff and meet people. Be brave, talk to people, and try to edge your way in.
James Kendal, Technical Director & Monster and Magic-Maker
Finally, would you say you’re more of a Dib or a Dob?
It’s interesting to live both the upper and lower station in the sibling element; I have an older sister, a younger brother, and a way-younger sister. So I see really interesting things about different dynamics. If I had to pick, since I have a bit of both in me, I would probably err more in the direction of Dob.