Honoured. Delighted. Intrigued. Cautious.
Those are the words Theatre SKAM’s artistic producer Matthew Payne uses to describe his reaction when he was approached by Kate Rubin in April to buy her theatre and drama studio that’s operated in the community for the last 22 years.
Payne knew it was a big deal, and if Theatre SKAM was to take this on he wanted to do it right. After further discussion, the company decided there was more reasons to do it than not.
“I think the founders of SKAM always felt like the company was bigger than any one of us, so definitely adding the school component really helps solidify that,” said Payne, noting the company had previously been in the old Burnside elementary building, which was recently reclaimed by the school district, forcing them to hunt for a new space.
“We haven’t had a teaching component before at all, so it for sure expands the operations of the company.”
The Kate Rubin Theatre & Drama Studio offers year-round acting courses for children, teens and adults, catering to about 75 students for each of the four terms.
A drama teacher for more than 20 years, Rubin’s studio became her passion while working on the side as a director and for many theatres, schools and organizations including Kaleidoscope Theatre, Langham Court Theatre, Theatre Inconnu and Camosun College.
But eventually Rubin reached the point where she wanted to expand into other things, and after much contemplation, the hunt began for someone to take over her studio rather than shut it down — a thought that made her sad whenever she imagined telling parents and the members of the community who’ve been coming to the studio for years.
She talked to people from Vancouver and Oregon about her studio, but eventually decided she wanted to hand it over to someone local.
“Really understanding the Victoria community is important to me and it’s hard for someone coming in from somewhere else to assess the world here. It’s very unique, the arts community here,” said Rubin, who admits it was a hard decision to leave.
“I still go through feelings talking about it, but it feels like it’s time to let go. I am quite excited about what’s coming up in the future for these guys and for me. It feels like a win win all around.”
According to Payne, the school will still function the same way with all the same teachers and programs, and Kathleen Greenfield stepping in as school administrator.
Having taught for Rubin and other local institutions in the past, Payne has an understanding of what it takes to teach a class to both kids and adults. The school not only increases the size of Theatre SKAM, but also connects it with emerging artists by training them. Ideas are already being floated to add other components such as stage combat or production classes to the school’s programming in the future.
As for Rubin, she has a number of projects she’s already buzzing about lined up for the new year that involves directing and she currently facilitates the Belfry 101 program at the Belfry Theatre. She also wants to do performance coaching, not only for actors, but for professionals and people who want to stand out. She’ll also return to the studio from time to time, teaching special workshops and classes.
“I would love to still continue teaching because I love to teach,” said Rubin. “I love seeing people gain in confidence in themselves and in their expression really….Educating kids about theatre is super important because otherwise it’ll die if we don’t.”
The new SKAM studio is located at 1030 North Park Rd. For more information visit katerubintheatre.ca or skam.ca.