Elenna is a founding member of The Mission Business, an immersive design collective in Toronto that recently produced the award-winning, eight-month-long ZED.TO and Visitations at the Drake Hotel to much critical acclaim. She has extensive directing experience in Toronto and abroad. She has worked with TIFF, Luminato, Nuit Blanche and Acting Up Stage Company. Elenna graduated from the University of Toronto in 2007 and completed an MFA in Professional Directing at Ohio University allowing her to work and train in Europe and New York.
Hart House 2004–2007
- Director for Hart House Theatre
- Director for UC Follies
“Hart House supported and enabled me to explore the beginning of what I didn’t even realize was going to become a life career. If it weren’t for Hart House, there is no way I would be where I am today. I sometimes found it challenging to go to class while working at Hart House. It often seemed like my time there was so all encompassing, that I never wanted to leave! You could have moulded me to the walls of that building.
“It was challenging to balance the creative work I was doing in the theatre with my studies, as well as other responsibilities I had on campus, like being a residence don at Woodsworth College and working part-time jobs to pay for tuition.
“My first time directing on a large stage was when I was elected to take the lead of the University College Follies. We put on A Chorus Line and for the first time in many years, the Follies made a profit—because it was good! It was a big learning curve for me. I was leading a group of almost 30 people towards a big show. We barely managed the small $10,000 budget, gathering costume pieces ourselves from Value Village and photocopying the programs from whomever would let us!
“We spent hours in the basement of the UC residence pretending we knew how to construct sets. We spent almost 30 hours blow-drying Mylar™ onto wooden frames with hair dryers! It was really all a matter of incredible teamwork. Everyone was so excited and willing to do anything to make the show happen. And, it was such a success! We had a couple of sold out shows, The Varsity reviewed it and we had such a wonderful two weeks. Paul Templin was running the theatre at the time, and it was the first time in many years that he had to hand a cheque back to the Follies for the show.
Hart House Theatre
“This was the beginning of my long time relationship with Hart House Theatre. Paul asked me if the UC Follies would be part of the following season, with me at the helm directing Godspell. Of course we said yes, but the pressure was on this time to make it worth the theatre’s investment in hiring us. Again, we succeeded! After the success of Godspell, we partnered with Hart House again as a part of their season, this time with The Rocky Horror Show. We pushed the boundaries more than we thought we could, and sold out almost every night. We held a midnight performance. This was the height of my artistic life at U of T, and it was all because Paul Templin took a chance on me.
“Over the years, Paul and I formed an invaluable friendship that grew with each school year and with each show. The following year, I was no longer a student and was finally hired to direct on the Hart House season with a pay cheque. I was thrilled! We put up the Canadian Premiere of Reefer Madness the Musical, and once again, it was a hit! The writers flew into Toronto from Los Angeles.
“The experience I gained directing and producing large-scale work at Hart House can certainly be credited as the reason I got into graduate school and on a full scholarship. Hart House allowed me to build my résumé, gain access to more jobs and a diverse range of opportunities both in Toronto and abroad.”
Mission Business and Current Projects
“Today, I am working in Toronto as an independent producer and director. I work for my own company, The Mission Business, a hybrid company that combines elements of theatre and gaming to create immersive experiences for the public. Our most notable work was seen in 2012 when we ran an eight-month-long project about the end of the world called ZED.TO. In early 2013, we mounted a modern-day ghost story, where the past meets the present at the Drake Hotel. In the spring of 2013, The Mission Business had its largest opportunity yet. We travelled to the NASA Ames Research base in California to produce a three-hour show for Autodesk’s annual Ideas Conference. The company is currently in business development mode, with the next show being created in early 2014.
“In addition to my work with The Mission Business, I coach other artists on how to reach their long-term artistic goals, and I have started a new venture called Adventure Bandit, a company that runs tailor-made Toronto adventures for individuals, couples and families.”