By Pierry Parmera
Four years after graduating from Algonquin Rachel-Dawn Wallace won the Derriere le Rideau Award in April for her performances as a production stage manager in 2012.
Wallace was recognized for her outstanding work for stage-managing two plays: Mabel’s Last Performance and My Name is Asher Lev.
“It’s something that I didn’t foresee,” said Wallace. “But when I was nominated I felt really surprised, honoured and just over the moon over the fact that I had even been considered for this recognition. And, of course, when I won it was great to see that all your work is being recognized.”
Having worked for Abalone Theatre Company and 9th Hour Theatre Company last year, Wallace still remains attached to the latter. She is the first person from 9th Hour to in an award, according to Jonathan Harris, founder and president of the company.
“We nominated her because we thought she would win,” said Harris who was particularly proud of Wallace’s achievement. He doesn’t feel that people who work behind the scenes get enough recognition.
“(The audience) just sees the final product,” he said. “The actors and directors get the applause but it wouldn’t possible without the behind-the-scenes people.”
Despite her successes, Wallace has not forgotten her humble beginnings as a theatre graduate in 2009 and the difficulties she faced finding a job. However, being well prepared, success was only awaiting.
“When I first graduated, I started off as an assistant stage manager which is the person who sits backstage and hands props—important tasks, but not the most glorious,” she said. Now, as the main production manager, Wallace assumes a bigger role at 9th Hour.
“My role is to watch over the technical elements of the show, and make sure that everything goes according to the director’s vision.”
Having excelled at her role, Wallace is more trusted. Her opinion is valued at 9thHour and her reputation has grown in the eyes of the college where she is also working.
“I never could have pictured graduating at Algonquin College and four years later be back at the college, working in my field,” she said about her current job at the college’s box office. “It’s really interesting how it worked out.”
Wallace is also grateful to the college as she has been nominated as a community hero of Algonquin. This is an initiative the college has recently undertaken to profile successful alumni like Wallace.
“The college has supported me a lot,” she said. “It’s good for students to see that it is possible to achieve success as long as you keep trying and keep working towards that goal.”