Franny McCabe-Bennett: Theatre artist/administrator

I work as the education and audience enrichment coordinator at Factory Theatre, where I’m also a member of the box office bar and front-of-house staff.

I also work at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, where I’m a member of the patron services staff. I am also an actor, writer and producer. I’ve just launched my own company, Two Juliets, with a partner.

I got my bachelor’s degree at the University of Guelph, where I majored in drama and minored in social psychology. I then went to Humber College for the theatre performance program for two years but did not graduate.

My experiences at Guelph really prepared me to work as an arts administrator. I write study guides, communicate with teachers and prepare workshop materials for university and high school students. The program is a good combination of practical and theoretical work – writing essays, understanding script analysis and how to look for motifs. Critical thinking is pushed at Guelph.

All our plays at Factory this season are premieres, and when you’re working as an education coordinator, it’s up to you to figure out how to find different curriculum materials. Our first show this season tackles Alzheimer’s and family relationships. How do you take that subject and make it relevant to a 16-year-old in a family studies class?

When I applied to Guelph I didn’t think I would be continuing in theatre. I’d loved theatre in high school but I thought, “I’ll take a whole bunch of stuff in first year and see what happens.” I ended up taking more and more theatre classes and wound up with social psychology credits, which complement theatre arts very well because theatre is all about understanding people. It helps to know how to work in a group and not get into a fight.

School opened my eyes to how wide the world of theatre is. It’s not just about the actor: you can be an actor-writer, actor-director, prop builder. It’s a lot more complicated than I first thought. Guelph opened my eyes to production, and then at Factory arts admin became this whole other world. I never would’ve thought while taking my first zoology class in Guelph that I’d be working as an arts administrator at Factory Theatre.

The toughest thing is the inconsistent schedule. I can’t have one job because I won’t make enough money to survive. Trying to find a way to make it all work is the hardest thing.

As the education and audience enrichment coordinator, I love the school matinees. For a lot of high school students, it’s their first time seeing a stage show in a theatre space. When the lights are down and there’s a light transition and everyone gasps, it’s the most exciting thing. You can see in their eyes how much it means to them.

That’s also what I love as an actor: seeing people transformed by an experience that touches them. Any time that transformation and that power happens in any of my jobs, I’m delighted that I get to do this all the time.

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