As the new executive director for Kaleidoscope Theatre Productions Society, Oak Bay’s Marcus Handman is intrigued by possibilities the company holds for both this community and the entire Island.
Kaleidoscope was founded in 1974 as a professional touring theatre company. It has commissioned and produced more than 100 original plays or adaptations for young audiences and played to more than 2.5 million children worldwide.
“I love the idea of a family audience, of nurturing young people, of passing something on,” Handman said. “We know if we can get young people interested in making arts part of their experience … they will become the audience of tomorrow.”
Among Kaleidoscope’s mandates is providing outreach through theatre-based educational activities for the Greater Victoria community, including classes, workshops, camps and classes. “It’s a good company that has a long history in Victoria, of being here, being a part of the fabric of the community,” Handman said. “The company is less prominent than I think it should be, there’s an opportunity to be known Island-wide.”
He’s excited to bring his breadth of experience and knowledge to the smaller organization, and perhaps right even into his own home community. “I think there’s huge potential for the Oak Bay High theatre,” he said. “I understand it’s a community theatre. I’d like to explore what might be possible there.”
Handman’s own arts days started in high school, as a 14-year-old technician, before heading to McGill then UBC as a theatre major.
“Most good arts administrator are failed artists. I’m a failed director,” he said with a laugh. “I graduated and discovered that I was better at being an administrator.”
A former executive director of the Victoria Symphony and Pacific Opera Victoria, Handman’s career includes positions with the Directors Guild of Canada, International Cinematographers Guild and Opera Lyra Ottawa. He co-founded FilmOntario and has served on various boards of organizations, including Variety the Children’s Charity, Tourism Victoria, the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of BC and Victoria’s ProArt.
Kaleidoscope operates as a full-service theatre offering resident productions, tours, outreach and theatre school. “They allow me to be part of a great organization and integrate back into the arts community here,” he said. “It is a smaller organization, but at this stage in my life and career, I’m looking for work-life balance.”
The new role will keep him busy, though it is part time, allowing for other activities and volunteer work.
Last year he started with the Boat for Hope – a Variety the Children’s Charity event where local skippers take children with special needs and their families on a pirate adventure on the high seas – as volunteer co-ordinator for land-based activities. “I’m looking forward to continuing that relationship,” he said.
Kaleidoscope’s season starts Oct. 30 with a fundraising production of Little Shop of Horrors. Buy tickets at rmts.bc.ca or 250-386-6121.