Nora Polley will speak to us on Zoom on March 23, 2021 at 7:15 p.m.
For Nora Polley, 2021 marks 57 seasons at the Stratford Festival. Her grandfather, father and all 4 of her siblings have worked for the Festival. Nora retired from stage management in 2009 and now works part-time in the Festival Archive. She has a special insight into how theatre works and sometimes doesn’t. Nora has lived her whole life in Stratford, so far.
Nora Polley’s life is subject of biography Whenever You’re Ready by Shawn DeSouza-Coelho.
The following summary is from Laurel Smith of Quill and Quire, May 2018:
Shawn DeSouza-Coelho’s new book about life backstage at what is arguably Canada’s premiere repertory company – Ontario’s Stratford Festival – provides a unique glimpse into a little-known and often unheralded part of the theatre profession. The author’s narrative choice to relate veteran stage manager Nora Polley’s career in the first person, using diary-like entries, allows an intimate glance into an interesting life. The book traces Polley’s rise from apprentice stage manager in 1969 (at $65 per week) to her status as one of the most accomplished professionals in her field.
Polley’s love for the theatre came to her honestly. Her father, Victor Polley, the festival’s long-time bookkeeper (starting in 1954), later served as administrative director. Her grandfather, Francis Patrick Polley, coached the choir that performed in the inaugural 1953 season. it is clear the Polley family’s devotion to the festival was enduring and has passed on through the generations.
The seasons Polley spent working with legendary artistic directors Robin Phillips and Richard Monette comprise career high points in this retelling. The respect and close working relationships she shared with the pair resulted in lifelong friendships that Polley understandably treasures; her accounts of their respective funerals provide some of the most affecting parts of the narrative.