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Three Hats Are Better Than One: How Joseph Recinos Became a Performer, Administrator, & Advocate

When Joseph Recinos graduated from Humber’s Theatre Performance program in 2011, he had already signed with an agency and booked the first two gigs he auditioned for. On top of that, he was invited by Humber faculty member Nina Lee Aquino to intern at Factory Theatre.

Right out of the gate, Joseph was combining performance and arts administration, but that’s probably not surprising because that’s exactly what he did in school.

While he was at Humber, Joseph conceived and produced Humber’s first Arts Festival, giving him a trial run of what he could do as well as the “confidence to showcase multidisciplinary art.”
Joseph was also on student council as well as the School for Creative and Performing Arts’ Dean’s Advisory Committee. He voiced student concerns about facilities, starting him on another “career” – in politics!

“Humber did a lot for me. I took full advantage of everything that was there, and fought really hard and was really invested in trying to create a better community. Which I just carried forward in my professional career.”

Joseph now volunteers his time sitting on the Youth Council for the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, and is currently co-chair of the Youth discipline for ArtsVote Toronto where he fights for artists’ rights. And, he says, as a “diverse” artist – that is, non-white – he works to create art that is representative of the diversity that is Toronto.

“We’re all immigrants and we're all diverse. And that is sadly something that isn't quite reflected on our stages.”

Not surprisingly, Joseph’s production and political experiences at Humber did more than give him the skills to go out and produce shows or be an arts advocate, though he didn’t expect it.

“I thought I was just going to learn how to be an actor. And I came out learning about myself. And my place in this world. I came out a well-versed man and citizen. I didn't expect the program to help shape who I am as an individual. It was very profound.”

Joseph recommends that students with a knack for arts administration get involved on campus because working in administration allows artists to make a living and still have time to perform. Moreover, he adds, it gives you the tools you need to create your own work.

“Because you'll know how to write grants, you'll know how to ask for money. You'll know where to go to get permits at city hall, liquor licences, and all those things. You won't be overwhelmed when you're forced to do it yourself and create for yourself. Because there's nothing more satisfying that still receiving a paycheque and being in the arts.”

Being a door
But, says Joseph, the practical benefits aren’t even the best part about being involved in arts administration. His first mentor and Humber instructor Nina Lee Aquino once said to him, “If you can be the door for people, do it.” And that’s stuck with him.

“Being that avenue for voices to be heard is so special to me. Because it’s something that everyone struggles with. It's a very close second to actually performing for me.”

Five jobs?
Of course, juggling multiple jobs – some might say multiple careers – makes for a busy life! As Joseph says, working in theatre isn’t a 9-to-5 job.

“As awesome as it is, it's super, super hard. My hours fluctuate between 60 to 80 hours a week. At one point I was working five jobs. And when I say five jobs, two of those were paid, the rest were all volunteer time or creating my own work, like going out and performing at open mics. That is a job. I’m not getting paid for it and sometimes the houses are very small and you're performing for maybe five people, but it's instrumental that you consistently put your art work out there no matter what.”

This was another lesson that Joseph says he learned at Humber.

“The actor/performer who is waiting by the phone no longer exists. Now you have to go out and create your own work. This is one thing I’m very, very, very grateful that Humber showed us.”

Between his three (or more!) hats, it’s clear that Joseph has taken that lesson to heart. And, he says, if you can push throught he tough times, the community is always there to help. You can still flourish.

“You don't choose this path. It chooses you. If you are passionate about what you do and you believe in yourself, stick to it. Because it'll pay off.”

Joseph Recinos is a performer, producer, writer, and events coordinator.

As an emerging artist, Joseph has performed with Roseneath Theatre, Hart House, fu-GEN, and Sulong Theatre Company and has had roles on Mayday and Dual Suspects. Joseph was also co-facilitator/creator-performer for HopeBlitz, part of Theatre Passe Muraille's TPM Everywhere Guerrilla Street Theatre initiative.

Aside from acting, Joseph is also a beat poet who performs under the alias “Transition.” Joseph recently finished his multidisciplinary workshop production of The Art of Storytelling at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, and along with his cast, Joseph was recently nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Ensemble in the TYA division in Bea Pizano’s La Maleta, produced by Roseneath Theatre.

Behind the scenes Joseph is currently interning as artistic producer with Alameda Theatre Company, and is also a producing assistant with Aluna Theatre. He is the director of the SLIP program for SummerWorks Festival and was the assistant producer/TAPA administrator for the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, as well as the canvas coordinator for Cahoots Theatre Company.

He volunteers his time sitting on the Youth Council for the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, and is currently co-chair of the Youth discipline for ArtsVote Toronto. He was a 2012 DORA Juror and is a 2011 Humber Performance Graduate.

Three Hats Are Better Than One