The U of T Drama Coalition, supported by Hart House Theatre, added a new elected position last year: A First-Year Rep. Mila Frumovitz, subsequently voted Rookie of the Year, reflects on her term as she passes the baton to this year’s rep.
Performer-playwright-director Mila Frumovitz is no stranger to the stage. In fact, she has been acting since she was six years of age. Last fall, when she began at the University of Toronto (Woodsworth College), the English and drama major was introduced to Hart House. She quickly realized the rich experiential learning opportunities related to Hart House Theatre.
She seized the day and decided to run in student body elections for the position of First-Year Rep in the University of Toronto Drama Coalition. This group, supported by Hart House Theatre, advocates, recognizes and celebrates campus theatre. It also oversees two key events: the Hart House U of T Drama Festival for new, student-written works; and a popular end-of-season awards ceremony, the Dougies – its name, a respectful nod to Doug Floyd, Director of Theatre and Performing Arts, Hart House Theatre.
Mila won the job and accepted this inaugural role: First-Year Rep. And she clearly excelled. She was one of two undergrads who won a Rookie of the Year at the Dougies in April 2023. This is a recognition of newcomers to the campus theatre community who, in their first season, worked on multiple shows and/or participated in campus theatre through leadership roles.
Early in this 12-month role, in meetings with the Coalition President Cass Iacovelli, Mila quickly realized one of the biggest hurdles: Many students were not aware of the campus theatre community and its numerous opportunities until third or fourth year.
She sought to fix that, and became active on social media to get the word out to first-year students. Much of her position was reaching out in this way. At a recent Open House at Hart House, for example, she met many first-year students and started to build a process wherein she could regularly share information about opportunities in theatre on campus.
As a matter of fact, one of the things that Mila most enjoyed in her role was connecting with others. “It sounds cliché, but the best thing was the people who I met through the position. A lot of them have stayed on the Coalition this year. It was rewarding to meet those people, to work with them and continue to do so.”
As well, assuming an administrative role was of great interest to Mila. “I had student government experience in high school, but taking on an administrative role within theatre is something I hadn't done until joining the Coalition. That was very gratifying.”
Appreciates the Uniqueness of All-Student Productions
During her time as the First-Year Rep, Mila was active. She was the Assistant Director for Victoria College Drama Society’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Later in the year, she participated in St. Michael’s College Troubadour’s Cabaret and University of Toronto Mississauga’s English and Drama Student Society’s God Save the Queen! at the Hart House U of T Drama Festival.
Mila loved seeing her friends perform in student-run productions. “Everything was my peers – the set design, the music direction, the pit bands! These were people who’re not necessarily professional, but they’re experienced and knowledgeable in a way that was incredibly impressive to me. There’s such a robust community of student creation at U of T in writing, costume designing, directing and lighting design. It's fascinating! I hadn't worked in an environment like that before, and it was really exciting.”
She also watched her friends and colleagues take their own shows “into the real world,” to the Toronto Fringe Festival and other semi-professional companies.
Hart House Theatre: Where Goals Suddenly Seem Attainable
During her time as a Rep, Mila also served as Assistant Stage Manager on The Gray, where the team consisted of former and now semi-professionals, and current and graduating U of T students.
“Being a part of a production that was semi professional at Hart House Theatre on the U of T campus was fulfilling. As someone who wants to work professionally in theatre, this goal seemed suddenly attainable by the opportunities that Hart House provided.”
This Theatre is very special to Mila. “At Hart House Theatre I know I'll always see a friend – someone on stage, backstage or in the audience – and that's a lovely thing to feel. The U of T theatre community is not small, but it's very tight knit. Hart House Theatre cultivates a community of friendship and support, and a network of creativity. It’s such a community-building experience.”
Advice for Students: Get Involved
Mila has advice to all U of T students: “Go see the campus theatre shows. See the productions at Hart House Theatre. There is such a robust community of talent and a packed schedule. You have the opportunity to see shows every weekend, and there are student ticket prices. It's a lovely way to support the community.”
For those thinking about participating, she urges them not to be shy. “It can seem daunting. At first, I felt like I was entering someone else's world. But the minute I got into rehearsals, I knew it wasn't the case,” she says, adding, “It's never too late to get involved. Opportunities come up in the second semester as well.”
Mila also implores undergrads to embrace new challenges. “Be open to trying novel things. Look up the Drama Coalition. We have a comprehensive guide created by Alicia Balduzzi (the St. Michael's College Troubadours Artistic Director & Drama Coalition Representative) on how to get involved in campus theatre. There's so much to love!”
Mila welcomes the next First-Year Rep, Leila Vessey, and passes the baton. She also credits this year’s Drama Coalition President and Co President, Maria Perry and Noam Citrin, for starting the year on a wonderful footing.
Mila’s star continues to rise. She will be directing a campus theatre project this year.
Read more about how to get involved at Hart House Theatre.