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Posts by in the greenroom

In Conversation with Miranda Calderon, performer/producer of Taking Care of Baby

by Bailey Green

Taking Care of Baby is a verbatim/documentary style play focusing on the story of Donna McAuliffe—a woman accused of murdering her two infants. The play uses testimony from those closest to McAuliffe to dig deeper in search of the truth. There’s just one catch—Donna doesn’t exist. It’s all fake.

Miranda Calderon takes on the role of Donna at the Storefront Theatre in Taking Care of Baby, a fake documentary play written by Dennis Kelly. Director Birgit Schreyer Duarte read the script years ago and shared it with Calderon as part of another project they were collaborating on at the time that focused on the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. “Birgit and I worked together for the first time years ago when we did a SummerWorks show that was an adaptation of a novel,” Calderon recalls. “We both found that we really enjoyed the collaborative process of working together. In the years since, she has had so much more experience directing shows, assisting at Stratford and Canadian Stage where she works as a dramaturge and translator. We’ve both grown, and of course we benefit from being close friends. It’s a treat, and we feel incredibly lucky to be working on this project. And everyone involved is so incredibly wonderful and professional.”

Photo of Dylan Trowbridge by John Gundy.

Photo of Dylan Trowbridge by John Gundy.

By the time we meet Donna McAuliffe, she has already endured a brutal life. She lost two babies and suspicion surrounded the circumstances of their death. She was convicted of murder, sentenced to life and then eventually exonerated with the help of her mother. And now, estranged from her husband, childless, and reeling from 14 months in prison, Donna is living at home trying to put her fractured life back together.

Photo of Miranda Calderon & Astrid Van Wieren by John Gundy.

Photo of Miranda Calderon & Astrid Van Wieren by John Gundy.

Calderon approached the role with a desire to understand the intense experiences her character has been through. She researched prison life and reached out to a friend who works as a defence attorney to better understand the process of a murder trial. Calderon also has a very personal tie to the subject matter of the play. “I’m pregnant for the first time, so when I found out [about the baby] this summer and then when the project was selected by Storefront for their season, I was just wow-ed by the odd timing,” Calderon says. “I wondered whether it was a good idea to put myself in this world while I’m pregnant. But at the same time there was something so exciting and interesting about that coincidence. It’s only added to the process.”

McAuliffe is surrounded by a varied cast of characters, all with their own opinions about whether she did or did not murder her children. The actors often play multiple roles, some of which include: Donna’s mother the politician (Astrid Van Wieren), the estranged husband (Dylan Trowbridge) and more. Donna’s defence hangs on a new diagnosis by a psychologist named Dr. Millard (played by Richard Clarkin). Millard has diagnosed Donna with Leeman-Keatley Syndrome (a fictional disease) where a mother is so overwhelmed by the empathy she feels for the world’s suffering that she turns on the source of her pain, namely her children.

Photo of Richard Clarkin by John Gundy

Photo of Richard Clarkin by John Gundy

“A big part of this process has been the struggle to determine what’s true, what’s not true, who can I trust […] it’s part of what the audience is going through at the same time,” Calderon says when asked about how the style and format of the play affect the story. “When we realize that we were wrong about people, it can be so unsettling. It happens with people we are intimate with, with colleagues, and then public figures as well. The characters in the play operate on all three of those levels and so the audience goes through this questioning with us.”

Taking Care of Baby

Presented by The Care Takers at The Storefront Theatre

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Who:
Featuring: Miranda Calderon, Richard Clarkin, Caroline Gillis, Craig Lauzon, Dylan Trowbridge, Astrid Van Wieren
Written By: Dennis Kelly
Directed By: Birgit Schreyer Duarte
Set Design: Michelle Tracey
Lighting Design: Steve Lucas
Costume Design: Amanda Wong
Sound Design: Matthew Pencer
Video Design: Remington North
Producers: Miranda Calderon & Adam Paolozza

When: January 29th to February 14th, Wednesday through Saturday @ 8pm, Sunday Matinee @ 2pm

Where: The Storefront Theatre – 955 Bloor St. W, Toronto

Tickets: $20-$25, Advance tickets available here.

Connect: http://thestorefronttheatre.com/events/taking-care-of-baby/

‪#‎INDIEUNITE‬ ‪#‎BabySFT‬

#TheresMoreThanOneTruth #BabySFT

Chelsea Hotel is “Magical. Sexy. Haunting. Refreshing. Passionate.” – A few words with Tracey Power, Director/Creator/Performer of Chelsea Hotel – The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

SSB: How did you conceive of the idea for Chelsea Hotel?

Tracey Power: I was interested in creating a show that was a fusion of music, movement and theatre. The poetic quality of Cohen’s music immediately became the inspiration for this desire. The concept for the world in my mind was always one of imagination, magic, love and surprise.

SSB: How was this new musical created?

TP: I began listening to all of Cohen’s music and images and stories began to form. A poetic order began to grow, a seamless flow of consciousness that in my imagination made perfect sense. I could also hear a sound for the show that incorporated the instruments that were played by the team of 6 artists. There are 17 instruments in the show so creativity has always felt limitless.

SSB: It’s been very popular in theatre recently, to have the actor/singers playing the instruments instead of the more traditional band – actor split. Why did you decide to take this approach?

TP: We began creating this show 5 years ago and at that time it was much less popular, certainly on the west coast. The style of Chelsea Hotel stems from a concert or cabaret so that is where the roots of its approach lie.

SSB: What attracted you to Leonard Cohen’s music?

TP: His lyrics. Even after 5 years, there are still words I hear for the first time. They make you curious, they inspire incredible imagery and you discover pieces of yourself within them.

SSB: Describe the show in 5 words:

TP: Magical. Sexy. Haunting. Refreshing. Passionate.

Chelsea Hotel – The Songs of Leonard Cohen

A Firehall Arts Centre Production
Produced by Theatre 20
With the support of Theatre Passe Muraille

ChelseaHotel-photo by Mat Simpson-sm

Who:
Directed and Conceived by Tracey Power
Musical Direction and Arrangements by Steven Charles
Cast: Rachel Aberle, Sean Cronin, Christina Cuglietta, Benjamin Elliot, Jonathan Gould & Tracey Power.
Set Design: Marshall McMahen
Lighting Design: Ted Roberts
Costume Design: Barbara Clayden
Sound Design: Xavier Berbudeau
Dramaturg: James MacDonald
Artistic Producer: Donna Spencer

What:
“It’s written on the walls of this hotel, you go to heaven, once you’ve been to hell.” – Leonard Cohen

CHELSEA HOTEL comes to Toronto fresh from a sold-out national tour! Leonard Cohen’s powerful and inspirational music is the heartbeat of this eclectic cabaret of loves won and lost. With extraordinary arrangements, six performers play seventeen instruments in this rollicking tribute to the remarkable writer. Through Cohen’s transcendent songs and lyrical honesty, you will be transported to New York’s infamous hotel – a place full of music and enchantment, desire and passion.

Where: Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, 16 Ryerson Ave. Toronto

When: February 3-21, 2016

Tickets: $25-$55 + limited Pay-What-You-Can for selected performances. Buy tickets here.

Connect:
#chelseahotel2016

O, What a Noble Mind is Here O’erthrown – In Conversation with Julia Nish-Lapidus, Ophelia in Shakespeare BASH’d Hamlet

by Bailey Green

If you’ve ever seen a Shakespeare BASH’d show, then you’ve seen Julia Nish-Lapidus work her magic. Behind the scenes, Julia has an eye for aesthetics and design. As Artistic Producer of the company she handles everything from ticket sales to social media. As an actor, Julia brings intelligence, wit and energy to her text—whether as the fierce Kate in The Taming of the Shrew or the clever Mistress Page in Merry Wives of Windsor. This February Julia is taking on a new challenge, the role of Ophelia in Hamlet (presented by Shakespeare BASH’d.) “She doesn’t have to be a victim,” Julia says of the doomed Ophelia. “She’s actively choosing what she wants, it’s not a blind obedience. And yet she does want the people around her to be happy. And I think that’s in the text, but I do think it will be a different Ophelia than most people are used to.”

In the title role of Hamlet is BASH’d Artistic Director James Wallis. James and Julia have been married since 2012 and Julia discusses how their shared history translates to a powerful connection onstage. “Hamlet and Ophelia don’t have much time together on stage to create this very intense relationship,” Julia says. “So working with James offers me a way in to that world, not to mention the trust and freedom we have in rehearsal.”

Photo of James Wallis & Julia Nish-Lapidus by Kyle Purcell.

Photo of James Wallis & Julia Nish-Lapidus by Kyle Purcell.

Catherine Rainville is taking the helm as director of this production. Catherine—who has acted in several BASH’d shows and co-directed Merry Wives during their Fringe 2015 run—leads a gender balanced cast that includes a female Laertes (played by Jennifer Dzialoszynski) as well as female Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (played by Jade Douris and Megan Miles.) “Catherine is such an actor’s director. She knows how to get you to solidify what you’re thinking.” Julia says of working with Catherine. “She just lets her actors’ impulses come out naturally, and then she helps shape them.” Julia also mentions how interesting it is to watch Hamlet surrounded by women that he mistrusts and how that new element affects the story.

Photo of Jennifer Dzialoszynski by Kyle Purcell

Photo of Jennifer Dzialoszynski by Kyle Purcell

Ophelia’s family dynamic has also been key to Julia’s exploration of Ophelia. Laertes’ (Jennifer Dzialoszynski) apprehension of Hamlet takes on a different tone coming from a sister as opposed to the older brother dynamic that audiences are used to. And Daniel Briere, who plays Polonius, is “such a giving scene partner who knows his text like no one’s business and has really embraced the idea of having two daughters,” says Julia.

Photo of Daniel Briere by Kyle Purcell

Photo of Daniel Briere by Kyle Purcell

Exploring the sister dynamic between Ophelia and Laertes has been a joy for Julia, “I couldn’t ask for better actors to be in a fake family with. And I think Catherine was right on the nose with her casting, especially with Jen. Wait until you see her fight,” Julia says. “The fights for this production, created by Nate Bitton, are incredible, and Jen performing them is amazing. It’s great to see a badass woman at the end of the show taking on the protagonist in a fight. Laertes being a woman brings a whole different quality to the fight at the end because now we’re seeing the rage and heart of a women whose entire family is dead.”

BASH’d shows have a reputation for selling out, so get your tickets early to avoid disappointment (plus when you buy online in advance, you save a dollar!)

Hamlet

Presented by Shakespeare BASH’d

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Who:
Directed by Catherine Rainville
Featuring: Daniel Briere, Jade Douris, Jennifer Dzialoszynski, Tim MacLean, Megan Miles, Jesse Nerenberg, Julia Nish-Lapidus, Drew O’Hara, David Ross, Jane Spence, James Wallis
Production Team: Dorea Beaudoin, Nathan Bitton, Darcy Haywood Stoop, Chloe Purcell, Kyle Purcell, Simon Rainville

What:
Shakespeare BASH’d caps off their biggest season yet with one of the Bard’s most beloved plays: Hamlet. Artistic Director James Wallis takes the stage in the title role, alongside a company of Shakespearean powerhouses in this energetic, compelling production. Returning to the Monarch Tavern, Hamlet will mark the fourth and final show of the company’s hitherto sold-out season. Don’t miss this new, fresh, and bold staging of a Shakespearean classic.

When: One week only! February 2-7, 2016

Where:  Monarch Tavern

Tickets$19 online, at shakespearebashd.com, $20 at the door (cash only)

Connect:

@shakesBASHd

@_BaileyGreen

@intheGreenRoom_

Women in Theatre, The Canadian Canon & Finding Humour in Dark Subject Matter – In Conversation with Tyler Seguin, director of The Trial of Judith K

Interview by Madryn McCabe

I had a chance to talk to Tyler Seguin, director of The Trial of Judith K., presented by Thought for Food about humour in dark subject matter, women in theatre and the Canadian canon.

MM: Tell me about the Trial of Judith K.

TS: It’s a modern, Canadian take on Franz Kafka’s The Trial, set in 1980s Vancouver, with a female protagonist. It’s fast, funny, sexy, dark and violent.

MM: What made you want to direct this show? What drew you to it?

TS: The first thing that drew me to The Trial of Judith K. is the way it mixes comedy and darkness. As a person, I’m interested in big ideas and strong political statements, but as an artist I’m not really interested in didactic storytelling. Judith K. deals with some serious issues like legal disenfranchisement, the security state, oppressive cultural norms and the objectification/exploitation of women, but it does so with humour, which makes it all the more powerful. Laughter opens people up and disarms them, allowing the “Important Statement” to slip into their minds unnoticed.

We’re all breathing more freely with a new PM in the House, but we chose this play during peak Harper years. And despite the “sunny ways” of Trudeau, Bill C-51 is still on the books, and every single time I open the paper there’s another example of a Kafkaesque justice system at work in Canada, not to mention the rest of the world.

I’m also looking for opportunities for strong visuals with elements of movement and physical theatre. As far as I’m concerned, theatre isn’t a realistic art form and I am frustrated by plays that pretend to be a verbatim representation of the real world. The Trial of Judith K. revels in its theatricality.

Stephanie Belding. Photo by John Gundy

Stephanie Belding. Photo by John Gundy

After The Memo, it was important to us that the next project be a play with a stronger female voice. The Trial of Judith K. is written by a woman, with a female lead and more women than men in the cast. It’s also an older Canadian script, which appealed to us. The Trial of Judith K. was nominated for major prizes including the Governor General’s Award and the Dora for Best New Play, but it hasn’t been revisited professionally since 1989. It feels like we’re a community obsessed with creating new work, but are we really developing a Canadian canon if a script is only performed once?

MM: What do you feel is the role of theatre companies when it comes to representing the Canadian canon, even if that company’s mandate isn’t specifically to develop or showcase Canadian playwrights?

TS: There’s room for all kinds of theatre and nobody should feel beholden to anyone else’s idea of what theatre “should be.” But it seems that companies are either “new work” or “classics” and when they say “classics” it’s British, or American classics. People are now starting to explore the European canon, but very rarely do we see previously-produced Canadian plays. We were so happy to see Factory produce a whole season of previous hits, and Passe Muraille is starting a celebration series this year. But generally TPM and Factory produce seasons of entirely new work. Great! We need to develop new work, but that’s 8-10 plays that will probably only be seen once and then forgotten. And that’s just two local theatres – how many more new plays are being produced across the country? And what does that do to playwrights? If you’re not constantly producing something new, you’re yesterday’s news. And they’re being expected to put in years and years of development for a show that’ll run for possibly 5 weeks. That’s no way to create a history. Part of the problem is with our funding models. The major granting bodies are very interested in supporting the development and presentation of new work and we were actually told that since we were choosing to do an older play that we needed to make a stronger case for why we wanted to produce it.

MM: There are themes in Judith K that are similar to your last production, The Memo. Both discuss the absurdity of bureaucracy, and the down-the-rabbit-hole way of navigating it. Is Judith K a deliberate follow up to The Memo?

TS: Yes and no. Yes, there are a lot of similarities to The Memo – both stories essentially deal with one person’s fight against “The System” – but we weren’t deliberately looking for a thematic follow-up to The Memo. We wanted to find a play that would meet certain parameters: female protagonist, more women than men, Canadian, and ideally something that would let us get back in touch with the Czech community who were so incredibly supportive of The Memo. We read several plays and eventually we started looking at Kafka. There are several stage adaptations of The Trial but when we discovered Sally’s play, not only were we able to check off all the boxes, but we were excited by the material itself.

MM: The Trial of Judith K is based on Franz Kafka’s The Trial, making the protagonist a woman and setting it in the 1980s. What do you think that brings to the story?

TS: There’s an added layer of the patriarchal nature of “The System” and its inherent misogyny. In the world of Judith K. anyone can get caught up in the system, but when a woman is the accused, her body becomes part of the negotiation. The men who offer to help her, want something physical/sexual in return. It’s uncomfortable and unsettling and disturbing.

Stephanie Belding, Scott McCulloch. Photo by John Gundy

Stephanie Belding, Scott McCulloch. Photo by John Gundy

MM: I hear the design elements are very important to the show as well. Can you tell me about that?

TS: Since the show takes place in several locations, we needed a set that was flexible enough to create multiple looks using the same few pieces. We are also somewhat limited by being in the TPM Backspace – the stage is tiny. However, it has a lot of height, which we’ve also taken into consideration with our set. We wanted to evoke a sense of claustrophobia – that everything towers over Judith. We were also looking at ways of incorporating the 80s (when the play was written) and the 20s (when the novel was originally published). Expressionism blossomed in the 20s and neo-expressionism popped up in the 80s so there’s actually a lot of similarities – geometric shapes, large shoulders, the use of light & shadow are all elements we’re integrating into the design. Many music videos from the 80s owe a lot to German expressionist films. Once we started looking for the connections, they were incredibly obvious.

As well, our sound designer is playing with songs that straddle both eras while also highlighting the distinctions, such as contrasting the synth-sounds of the 80s with scratchy phonograph recordings from the 20s.

MM: Why do you think The Trial of Judith K was written as a comedy instead of a moral-imbuing drama?

TS: The source material is actually quite comedic. Kafka is funny. He’s taken on this aura of “serious writer” but his work is full of humour. We found this with The Memo as well – it’s something about the Czech psyche, they’re able to take awful, depressing situations and find the humour in them. We spoke to Sally Clark and apparently the original commission for Judith K. was a serious drama about a hostage situation and that it was the original director, Morris Panych, who suggested it should be a comedy.

MM: How do you manage the comedy with such dark and, sometimes disturbing, subject matter?

TS: We’re definitely walking a tightrope with this show. Terrible things happen throughout – assault, torture, murder, and execution are all in the story and we don’t want anyone to think that we’re taking it lightly. People should be disturbed. Our ideal tempo is “Funny – Funny – Funny – Disturbing – Funny – Funny – Funny – Is that funny? – Why did I laugh at that?” Laughing at disturbing material doesn’t mean we’re making fun of it. Humour is a powerful tool and a coping mechanism. If we can laugh at something it ceases to have power over us. So while the show has a sheen that is heightened comedy – the characters are based in Commedia, and the style is almost farcical – we are actually using this stylization to comment on some pretty horrible situations.

MM: Is there anything that you want our readers to know about the show?

TS: It feels like we’ve been talking a lot about the show’s big ideas and issues and while those are important, we want your readers to know that The Trial of Judith K. is just as funny as it is smart. Sally Clark says the overriding principle of staging this play should be “louder! faster!” The show feels a little like a sitcom run amok – the situations are wacky, the characters are outlandish and the jokes pile up on top of each other. The material can also edge into the grotesque, and the nihilism runs deep, but first and foremost it’s a comedy. Until it isn’t.

The Trial of Judith K.

Presented by Thought for Food Theatre

Scott McCulloch, Stephanie Belding. Photo by John Gundy

Scott McCulloch, Stephanie Belding. Photo by John Gundy

Who:
Directer: Tyler Seguin
Assistant Director: Tamara Vuckovic
Fight Director: Siobhan Richardson
Set Design: David Poholko
Costume Design: Miranda VanLogerenberg
Lighting Design: Jareth Li
Sound Design: Alex Eddington

Starring:
Stephanie Belding
Toni Ellwand
Patrick Howarth
Andrew Knowlton
Helen Juvonen
Scott McCulloch
Cara Pantalone

What: A sexy, funny, and thought-provoking adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial returning to Toronto stages. 

Where: Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Ave.)

When: January 28-February 14, 2016

Tickets: www.artsboxoffice.ca

Connect:

thought4food.ca

@thought4food
@TylerJSeguin

@intheGreenRoom_
@FuriousMAD

In Conversation with Severn Thompson, playwright and performer of ELLE, on stage now at TPM

 

by Bailey Green

When Severn Thompson read the novel Elle four years ago she had no idea that this story would capture her imagination for years to come. The Governor General’s Award-winning novel written by Douglas Glover is based on the true story of Marguerite de Roberval. Marguerite, along with her lover and nurse, were marooned by her uncle the Sieur de Roberval on the Isle of Demons in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. Thompson spent the last three years adapting and workshopping Elle before bringing it to Theatre Passe Muraille. “It struck me as so refreshing to find a female voice from a time I had heard very little about, in the very early days of the explorers in the mid 1500’s,” says Thompson. “I felt very close to her [the character]. The story crossed 500 years very easily for me. It brought the past to the present.”

Severn Thompson in ELLE at TPM. Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Severn Thompson in ELLE at TPM. Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Adapting a 200 page book into a 24 page script is no easy feat, and Thompson had to set deadlines to make the hard choices. From the beginning, Thompson knew that she wanted simple props and set, and that the staging would be essential in creating the world of the play. “You want to still make it as rich an experience as you can,” Thompson says, “and assume that the audience coming in may not have the same background with the story that you have.”

As the project grew, so did the team involved. Thompson participated in the Banff Playwrights Colony where she worked with dramaturg and Program Director Brian Quirt and then Andy McKim, Artistic Director and dramaturg of Theatre Passe Muraille, who “has been guiding me through from an early stage. He [McKim] brings a lot of experience to the work, so that has been so useful” says Thompson. Two and a half years ago, director Christine Brubaker joined the project and became Thompson’s main partner in developing Elle. “We see things in a very similar way, so it’s been great to have eyes from the outside. She’s been really invaluable in pointing to aspects that need more and areas that need less. It’s been a great discovery, seeing how the audience relates to the play.”

Severn Thompson in ELLE at TPM. Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Severn Thompson in ELLE at TPM. Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Author Douglas Glover has connected with Thompson throughout the development process, but Thompson notes that he has been very supportive from a distance, recognizing the differences in form between a play and a novel. Glover has seen drafts throughout the process and a short workshop performance at the Lab Cab Festival, but TPM is his first experience of the fully realized production. When asked about the greatest joy Thompson has experienced working on Elle she says:

“To share this story. It’s one that gives a very strong female voice to a point in history where we have heard so little. And she’s not just strong, because bad things happen to her but she doesn’t play the victim and yet she isn’t the perfect hero either. She has faults and quirks and it’s wonderful and exciting to share this character that Douglas has created.”

Thompson also notes that Elle reminds us of the history of our land and how easy it is to forget about the ground we stand on. “Elle reminds us about the power of this land, and the complications that have evolved from colonialism,” Thompson says. “The nature of that history is still in play today, whether we are aware of it or not.”

Jonathan Fisher and Severn Thompson in ELLE at TPM. Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Jonathan Fisher and Severn Thompson in ELLE at TPM. Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

ELLE

A Theatre Passe Muraille Production

Who:
Adapted by Severn Thompson from the Governor General’s Award-winning novel by Douglas Glover
Directed by Christine Brubaker
Starring Jonathan Fisher & Severn Thompson
Dramaturgy by Christine Brubaker & Andy McKim
Stage Manager: Laura Baxter
Production Design: Jennifer Goodman
Sound Design & Original Music: Lyon Smith
Movement: Viv Moore

What:
“Headstrong. What do you do with a headstrong girl? Maroon her on a deserted island lest she spread the contagion of discontent. Forget her.”

It’s 1542 at the time of France’s ill-fated third attempt to colonize Canada. The Sieur de Roberval abandons his unruly young niece, her lover, and her nurse on the Isle of Demons just off the coast of Labrador. With real bears, spirit bears, and perhaps hallucinated bears, Elle brilliantly reinvents the beginnings of this country’s national narrative.

Where: Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, 16 Ryerson Ave. Toronto

When: January 14-31, 2016, Tuesday-Saturday at 7:30pm & Saturday & Sunday at 2pm.

ASL-Interpreted Performances: Thursday January 21 at 7:30pm & Saturday January 30th at 2pm.
Relaxed Performance: Saturday January 23rd at 2pm.

Tickets: $17 Under 30, $20 Artsworker, $33 Seniors, $38 General Admission, Pay-What-You-Can Saturday & Sunday 2pm Matinees. Purchase here. 

Connect:
passemuraille.ca/elle/
@beyondwallsTPM
@severnthompson

#ElleTO

@_BaileyGreen
@intheGreenRoom_

In Conversation with Deanne Kearney – Creator of Urban Myth at the Next Stage Theatre Festival

By Bailey Green

Deanne “Dee” Kearney studied ballet and contemporary for years but had never felt completely at home. When she discovered hip hop everything changed. “Hip hop very quickly became my whole life, and identity, as soon as I found it,” Kearney remembers. “It changed everything, even the way I look at things. I write on urban dance and I produce. Hip hop is such a lifestyle, and it’s an amazing, supportive culture.” Kearney teaches dance and is part of the Toronto B-Girl Movement, dedicated to bringing more women to the forefront of a largely male-dominated style.

Kearney set out to create Urban Myth with the goal of bringing popular styles to new audiences, “I completely fell in love [with hip hop], I wanted to show the world how amazing it is.” She chose the styles featured in the show (breaking, krump, house, waacking, to name a few) based on the current, standout styles in Toronto.

Urban Myth is a show geared towards an audience who may not be familiar with this genre. Each style is announced before the dance. When asked about the biggest difference between a theatre show as opposed to a battle, Kearney says, “The audiences are much quieter! You can take pictures and tweet. The performers love to hear the audience yell and respond so it can be odd for them to adjust to the different setting.”

Photo Credit: E.S.Cheah Photography

Photo Credit: E.S.Cheah Photography

Kearney brought in choreographers “at the top of their game” in each style and gave them free rein to create. All she asked was that they each find ways to challenge themselves to choreograph pieces with a story. No themes were given, but as the pieces took shape a variety of stories emerged. One piece, performed by Raoul “Jin” Wilke and The Moon Runners crew, is an apocalyptic future based on the film “I am Legend.” Another dance is 12 minute long krump piece, choreographed by Amadeus “Primal” Marquez, about domestic abuse choreographed. The choreographers worked with their own dancers from their crews and came together to create the opening number of the show.

The challenges of this show came from the volume of people on stage. With about 30 people involved plus Kearney’s own people, it was no small feat to organize everyone involved. “The most rewarding is just seeing the pieces, the whole cast was watching the show just entirely in awe of each other,” Kearney says. “Many of these dancers don’t do theatre shows. They just battle.”

Photo Credit: E.S.Cheah Photography

Photo Credit: E.S.Cheah Photography

When asked about her inspirations, Kearney shouts out her friend and collaborator Anthony “Illz” Put. Illz is a b-boy who travels the world to battle. “He has amazing movement qualities and is so easy to work with,” Kearney says. “He just doesn’t know how good he is yet.”

Urban Myth is a hard-hitting, intricate and visceral show. If you catch it this weekend, be sure to make some noise.

Urban Myth

Presented by BreakinGround as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival

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Who:
Creator: Deanne Kearney
Choreographers: Amadeus “Primal” Marquez, Anthony “Illz” Put, Mariano “Glizzi” Abarca, Caroline “Lady C” Fraser, Caitlin “Caddy” Superville, Deanne “Dee” Kearney
Featuring: Dancers from Northbuck, Lions of Zion, Footnotes Dance, Ground Illusions, Twisted Ankles and The WaaquettesPresented by: BreakinGround

What:

Krump. Breaking. Popping. Locking. House. Waacking. Bringing raw urban dance from the street to the stage, created by Canada’s top urban dancers and choreographers.

Where: Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst St)

When:
January 17 09:00 PM  buy tickets

Tickets: $15.00

Connect:

@breakingroundto
www.breakinground.ca

 

In Conversation with Kaitlyn Riordan – Acting in Mockingbird at the Next Stage Theatre Festival

Interview by Hallie Seline

HS: Tell me a bit about Mockingbird at the Next Stage Theatre Festival.

KR: “January is the new July” is the motto of the Next Stage Festival this year and that could not be more true; both for good and environmentally dubious reasons… But to focus on the positive, Mockingbird is a World Premiere of Rob Kempson’s second ‘high school’ play where we’re dropped into the secret and mysterious world of an English teacher’s office at a high school. We meet a varied cast of teachers, all with their particular roles to play in the claustrophobic room they retreat to for some respite from the teenagers they’re teaching. We soon discover that everyone’s favourite colleague, Jon Foster, is having a relationship with a student, and the delicate balance of harmony is quickly disrupted.

HS: Can you speak to me a bit about your character in the show?

KR: Alexandra Lee is a young woman with a very clear sense of right and wrong. She is ambitious and dedicated to her chosen profession in a way which she does not extend to her personal life. Jon Foster, her delightful gay best friend of 10 years, provides her with all the companionship she needs and working at the same school has been a dream come true. An aspiring novelist, Alex is searching for something, which when the show begins, is out of her grasp.

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HS: It’s so wonderful to see such a large cast on our Canadian stage. What has been your favourite aspect about working with such a large, diverse cast, which features a rich range of talent in experience, background and age?

KR: Having so many rich personalities in the same room creates a dynamism which is electric. Previous to the first day, I knew a few of the cast members to say hello, but I didn’t really know anyone very well. Starting rehearsals almost felt like that first day in September when you go back to school and meet your new class mates, but the beauty of the theatre is that we then got to play together. I laughed harder in these rehearsals than in any I recently recall and not always at the appropriate time.

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HS: Why do you think this story needs to be shared with audiences now?

KR: We live in a very progressive community here in Toronto and in the past few decades I think that the value of ‘rules’ has eroded. Very few professions carry an unbreakable code of conduct; doctors, lawyers, and many would argue teachers. How do those two concepts coexist? How do we marry our progressive society with an unbreakable code? How do we navigate those grey areas of life? That seems to be the crux of where so much of life exists, so we need to ask ourselves those questions.

HS: It’s just the beginning of a brand new year, which always feels like it opens up the potential for new possibilities. What do you hope to see this year in the Toronto/Canadian theatre community?

KR: Before moving to Toronto, I lived in London and New York. What struck me when I moved here was the lack of Canadian stories on our stages, in contrast to the prominence of British or American stories I witnessed in those cities. In Toronto I think that varies year to year, but that is always my hope as I go into a theatre; show me something about the world I live in, and the country if possible. Sorry to be a bother. Thanks ;)

Short Answer Questions:

What are you listen to lately? Alabama Shakes. I’m obsessed.

Where do you look for inspiration? In the theatre, in books, in friends, and in nature. I live near High Park and it never ceases to amaze me.

What is your favourite place in the city? Withrow Park, the AGO, or the Islands. That’s a tough one.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? Follow your passion, because you’re lucky to have one.”

Describe Mockingbird in 5 to 10 words: Drawing lines means picking sides.

Mockingbird

Presented by timeshare as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival

mockingbirdWho:
Playwright/Director: Rob Kempson
Featuring: Tess Degenstein, Beau Dixon, Margaret Evans, James Graham, Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Esther Jun, Andrew Moodie, Rahnuma Panthaky, Andrew Pimento, Kaitlyn Riordan, Paula Wing
Producer: Lisa Li
Set/Costume Designer: Brandon Kleiman
Lighting Designer: Michelle Ramsay
Sound Designer: Lyon Smith

What: When we first meet the English department at Finch Park Collegiate, rumours are flying about a teacher-student relationship. Two days later, Mr. Foster has been removed from the school and everyone is trying to make sense of what has happened. An exploration of what happens when innocence meets authority, and the grey area between right and wrong.

Where: Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst St)

When:
January 14 07:45 PM  buy tickets
January 15 05:00 PM  buy tickets
January 16 03:45 PM  buy tickets
January 17 04:15 PM  buy tickets

Tickets: $15.00

Connect:

#MockingbirdNSTF
mockingbirdtheplay.com
www.robkempson.com
@Rob_Kempson

 

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