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Heather and Emily participated in the 2021/2022 Professional Mentorship Program with a focus on the art of prop building and painting. Heather was able to provide Emily with hands-on experience while on the job-creating and painting props for theatres.

Heather and Emily worked on creating this giant prop skirt that was featured in the play “In Time” by End of the West Collective, presented by Theatre Projects Manitoba. This piece was designed by Dave Thomas.

How was your experience in the mentorship program? Why do you think this mentorship was valuable to you?

A valuable and influential experience, learning from each other and growing in our skillsets together!”- Emily Villanueva

“Despite the challenges of participating in this program during a pandemic year, especially in disciplines that are very much about hands on work, there was still a lot to be learned on both sides of the relationship. As I’m sure many before me have experienced, it was interesting/challenging to reflect on my own experience and knowledge and figure out what things were valuable to pass on to someone starting out. The limitations on in-person builds often pivoted the conversations to the many invisible skills required to do the various jobs I do, such as interpersonal skills and self preservation in chaotic environments. Lots of the little ‘nitty gritty’ details that you aren’t necessarily taught in a classroom also dominated our discussions. I look forward to ‘unofficially’ continuing our mentorship for the benefit of us both. I’d love to train more people to do what I do so that I can hire them to help me on future projects and/or refer them on things I don’t have the capacity to take on. Definitely a valuable program to grow the pool of skilled artists that are in demand in this city/province!” -Heather Lee Brereton

Heather Lee Brereton has worked in various capacities in the Winnipeg theatre community for over a decade. She has assumed many roles: Stage Management, Designer, Props Builder, Wardrobe Mistress, and Technician for regional and independent theatre productions.  Recent builds (including the beforetimes) include a pair of devil mascots, replicas of Shakespeare’s will, a bear skin costume, and custom severed head. She also creates custom garments and performance costumes for private clients including vintage clothing enthusiasts, circus artists and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. Research and attention to detail across the board keep her quite busy and lead to lots of interesting projects. 

Emily Villanueva is a newcomer to the theatre scene, having been studying at the University of Winnipeg for Theatre and Film Design. Born in Winnipeg, she is a proud queer BIPOC artist, studying props, puppetry, costuming and design. Working with local film group Ode Productions as a designer, prop artist and puppeteer, she aims to represent BIPOC artists behind the scenes and investing her time into creative and transformative work.

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