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Posts tagged ‘Emerging Artists’

In Conversation with Emerging Directors Ty Sloane, Bryn Kennedy & Kevin McLachlan on the 2018 Paprika Festival Directors’ Lab

Interview by Bailey Green.

This month, the Paprika Festival heads into its 17th year as the Paprika Directors’ Lab enters its 3rd year. The Directors’ Lab provides the opportunity for emerging directors to work with an experienced mentor and this year, the three directors had multidisciplinary artist Clare Preuss as their mentor. We sat down with emerging directors Ty Sloane, Bryn Kennedy & Kevin McLachlan to learn more about their experience participating in the Lab. We spoke about finding your voice, discovering your process and drawing inspiration from your peers.

Bailey Green: What drew you to Paprika?

Bryn Kennedy: As a young artist there’s not a lot of opportunities to take on a leadership position and put on a full production, while still having the support of mentorship. This is a festival that is helping you though the stages… it’s a unique opportunity. Mentorship and leadership, so there’s support and a challenge in that.

Kevin McLachlan: Direction is something I have always loved doing, even informally. Even as a kid, I was always the one organizing our mock battles against invisible armies. I’m currently in my final year of Musical Theatre at Sheridan College, and a teacher reached out to tell us about the festival and, being at the peak of the age range, I thought that it wasn’t an opportunity to miss. The more I read about it, the more we’ve participated in the program, the more awareness I’m getting and the more I can plant roots in such a rich theatre community. People are genuinely interested in your success and well-being. It has been a really amazing experience.

Ty Sloane: It’s a really rich opportunity in that you’re with other young emerging artists, you’re with folks who are still learning and struggling. Directing terrifies me. A lot of mentors have been like ‘you should direct’ and I’m like ‘no no no’. But I’ve tried to approach this year as an artist to challenge myself and seek what may not feel comfortable, and [for me] that was directing. I love it.

Photo of Ty Sloane by Neil Silcox

BG: Can you tell us a bit about working with your mentor Clare Preuss?

KM: We got paired with Clare, and she kind of got one of the hardest jobs in the world. Not in helping us, but how do you help someone make art? There’s no easy recipe on how to create something. But she has shared her patience and understanding of the industry and her own process with such a clear passion for the work and has extended all sorts of tools she has.

TS: She calls them games. What’s the game we’re playing? What’s the game of the show? How do you adjust the game? And I love that because games sounds a lot easier and a lot more open and she’s really done a great job of providing ways for the three of us to learn from each other and from her, and to adapt whether it’s a game or an approach.

BK: She comes from a performance background and so do all three of us, and so a lot of her process that she has been reminding us about is making a rehearsal hall that feels comfortable and safe to do work in and how do you keep that going. It’s about setting the rules for the game, not in a way that limits anyone, but in a way for all of us to feel safe. She’s been really good about meeting us all where we are at.

Photo of Bryn Kennedy by Neil Silcox

BG: What kind of theatre do you want to create?

TS: I am obsessed with Theatre of the Absurd, and breaking the conventions of what it means to put on a production. For the work I want to do, I like to talk about the really intimate stuff. I myself am a queer, mixed-race, mixed-gendered person and I want to talk about those things and explore them and unpack them.

BK: I am really interested in work that lives in the emotional reality of the characters as opposed to the physical or literal world around them. How do we bring the inner experience to the outer world? I started directing because I wasn’t seeing the kinds of stories on stage that I wanted to see or wasn’t feeling like there were characters who represented the person that I am as a young woman and the friends that I have.

KM: I’m completing my fourth year at Sheridan Musical Theatre so for myself Musical Theatre was an accidental gateway. I was not the kid that knew every show and sang the score to them and I’m still often exposed for my lack of knowledge in the music theatre world. Like the Gene Kelly quote, ‘if all it takes for someone to laugh and smile is to sing and smile and do a dance, then I’m happy to be a song and dance man’. That’s a simple way and a somewhat privileged way to look at it but I have always loved to make people laugh. I’m also struck by the kinds of questions that don’t have answers.

Photo of Kevin McLachlan by Neil Silcox

BG: Tell us a bit about the pieces you have chosen to direct.

TS: My piece is called Witness of Obsession and Desire and asks what stops you as a lover from leaving a relationship. It’s told from the perspective of Quinn telling the lover, which is the audience, about their experience falling in love with two people at the same time and learning about their own sexuality and polyamory. [It’s about] what it means when you think that the stories about the people who you’re in love with is actually about you and your journey into loving yourself.

BK: I’m directing Vitals by Rosamund Small. As a paramedic Anna meets people on the worst day of their lives, every call she receives is an emergency, but when professional trauma starts to slide into personal tragedy, she finds herself fighting for her own life. It’s an exploration of mental health in the medical community and we have a kick-ass all female team.

KM: My piece is based on the questions of playing God and how can you make a ‘right choice’ in a decision where there isn’t one… My mother is a retired hospice worker. She was a hospice worker for 20 years and I was inspired by her experience with grief in a work setting and in her own personal life,  and how she had to make that decision with people about to continue or discontinue someone’s end of life care. I’ve written an original piece called Fragments that looks at, in such a situation, how can you decide whether or not someone should continue or discontinue living and what are the moments that we define ourselves?

BG: What have you learned from working with each other?

BK: From Ty and Kevin I have learned to live longer in the process part. I tend to jump straight to product, ‘let’s block this!’ And for me it’s checking boxes instead of sitting in this world and exploring it. When we did our training days and got to direct in front of each other, I was just so in awe of how they (Kevin and Ty) trust the process. I was able to see how the end result will be richer by having patience with yourself and the performers as you move through creating something together

KM: I feel I’ve learned applicable hands-on things but I’ve been so inspired by seeing Ty and Bryn take on work that is so deeply personal to them. To see anyone step up to something that challenges them is inspiring. They have both been so open with the place they’d like to arrive but they can turn to me and ask if I’m freaking out like they are. These are people I would happily work for or alongside in the future in any capacity but also these are people I would just hang out on the weekend with.

TS: In the last year, I have met a lot of directors and artistic directors but having worked with Koovy [Kevin] and Bryn, they bring a genuine honesty and it moves me and inspires me and makes me feel that I can be as honest with my collaborators. They bring such magic to the work that they do, they hold space for people for learning and for them to learn to in the process. Greatest directors group I have ever been a part of.

The Paprika Festival

What:
Paprika Festival is a youth-led professional performing arts organization. We run year round professional training and mentorship programs that culminate in a performing arts festival of new work by young artists.

—We generate opportunities for young artists to lead their own creative process with the support of their peers and professional mentors.

—We set the stage for young artists to have their voices heard in a setting that is supportive and also dependent on critical response.

—We ensure that young artists are well equipped to find employment in diverse cultural industries and to become our successors.

Where:
Native Earth’s Aki Studio, located in the Daniels Spectrum at 585 Dundas Street East, on the south side of Dundas, just east of Parliament Street.

When:
May 14 – 20
Full Schedule here.

Tickets:
paprikafestival.com/festival-2018/tickets/

“No one story is the same. No one mental health case is the same.” In Conversation with director Brittany Cope for GREEN IN BLUE

Interview by Brittany Kay

BK:  Tell me a little bit about the show you directed – Green in Blue:

Brittany Cope: Daniel and Curtis are two strangers who were destined to meet on this one bench at Woodbine Beach. Both are going through a personal crises and both unknowingly end up helping each other. Curtis fails to help Daniel in his biggest time of need, which results in personal tragedy. After having thought about everything Daniel told him that night, Curtis is changed. He tries to express his gratitude to Daniel’s mother, only to be shut down. Daniel saved Curtis’ life, now Curtis must try to keep Daniel’s legacy alive.

BK: This play has been performed before? What has the development been, if any, from its first installment?

BC: This play was first performed as a staged reading last summer and then we [Greenlight Theatre] produced a workshop production in Windsor, ON last fall. As far as development goes, the major changes we’ve made this time around have taken place in little character nuances. We’ve focused on clarifying responses and making sure only the words that need to be said on stage are actually spoken. The second act has changed the most. We wanted to really understand these two characters [Daniel and Curtis] and their views on mental health; why they think the way they do about the main actions in the play.

BK: Why the title, Green in Blue?

BC: Green in Blue actually comes from a Miles Davis song titled Blue in Green which we use in the show. It was flipped around because of a line one of the characters says in the play (you’ll have to come see the production to figure it out!)

BK: Why this piece right now?

BC: This piece is important right now because it looks at mental health and suicide in a different light. With shows like 13 Reasons Why becoming so popular and inciting conversations about the “correct” ways to look at and discuss suicide, I think it is important to open ourselves up to new and different perspectives. No one story is the same, no one mental health case is the same, so instead of judging, I think it is important to be open to a wide scope of experiences.  

BK: This is Greenlight Theatre’s first production. Are there future productions in the works? What sets you apart as a company?

BC: The goals for the future of Greenlight Theatre are simple: We want to continue creating new Canadian work by emerging artists. This mandate seems straight-forward and seems to be what we hear all the time in audition postings, but we really want to focus on the emerging artist aspect of it. We want to give these artists the opportunity to work at a professional level when they produce their work. Just because you’ve applied for several grants and never received one, doesn’t mean that your show doesn’t deserve to be seen. We want to foster those opportunities. As for the near future, we are hoping to put up another show later this fall and we will be hosting our annual Backyard Play-Reading Evening this summer to hear new work and hopefully find some collaborators for the future!

BK: What do you want audiences walking away with?

BC: I want our audiences to walk away with questions. I’d like everyone to question their own ability to listen to others instead of focusing solely on themselves. I think we all need to question our pre-conceived notions of how people “should” cope with the issues surrounding mental health and suicide. What would it be like in those final moments? The suicide in this play isn’t the climax of our story – it’s about the people who are affected by it.

BK: Describe the show in 3-5 words.

BC: Dark, quick, witty, thought-provoking.

Who:
by Duncan Rowe
Directed by: Brittany Cope
Featuring: Kevin Doe, Kasia Dyszkiewicz, Stacey Iseman and Duncan Rowe
Produced by: Emma Westray

What:
Daniel and Curtis are two strangers who were destined to meet on this one bench at Woodbine Beach. Both are going through a personal crises and both unknowingly end up helping each other. Curtis fails to help Daniel in his biggest time of need, which results in personal tragedy. After having thought about everything Daniel told him that night, Curtis is changed. He tries to express his gratitude to Daniel’s mother, only to be shut down. Daniel has saved Curtis’ life, now Curtis tries to keep Daniel’s legacy alive.

Where:
Beach United Church
140 Wineva Ave., Toronto, ON
(a wheelchair accessible venue)

When:
May 11-13, 2017 at 7:30pm

Tickets:
Tickets are $20 cash at the door, or you can buy $15 advanced tickets at http://greeninblue.bpt.me.

Connect:
fb: /GreenlightTheatreProductions
ig: @greenlighttheatre

Artist Profile: Tanya Rintoul Talks Creation, Collaboration & the Rules of Being a “Good Girl”

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

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SSB: Tell me about your upcoming show Good Girl at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

TR: I started writing last summer, after I did a 10 minute Alley Play in the Fringe called Change Room. I had watched a documentary about a serial killer named Aileen Wuornos. If you’ve ever seen the movie Monster with Charlize Theron, that’s her. And I was so interested in how little care there was in actually finding justice. Did justice mean someone being punished and that was it? I felt like no one actually took the time to figure out why she did what she did. So we’ll never know and no one will ever understand her point of view. She was put in dangerous situations and she responded by killing. And I don’t think that that’s someone who necessarily is a “killer.” But I don’t know that for sure. I still have a lot of questions and I’ve watched it over and over and over again.

I was also fascinated by the fact that she was imprisoned for years, and yet every time someone came to interview her, she would fix her hair the second she saw the camera. And she was a wreck; she didn’t have any sort of glamour left. But she’d smile as though she were a movie star, just because there was a camera in the room. Even when she was on death row, she still cared about how she was perceived. So, those two things: the concepts of justice and of perception, really triggered a lot for me and I started writing about it. The play itself is about a woman who’s committed a crime and she wants to figure out why she did it, because she didn’t plan to.

SSB: Where did the title come from?

TR: It came out of one of the stories the character tells in the play, about being told as a child that she’s a “good girl.” We tell children: “Good job! You’re a good boy” or “You’re a good girl.” As a society we’ve come up with rules for what it means to be good – what good people do; what bad people do – but sometimes good people do bad things and sometimes bad people do good things. So what does that even mean?

SSB: Why did you choose to do this piece in a site specific location? Can you talk a bit about your venue?

TR: When I did the first, 10 minute version in the Fringe last year, it was in a small shed. I could fit 12 people and they were closer to me than you and I are right now. It was really terrifying. But I loved that I could talk right to them. I could connect with different people at different times based on who they seemed to be or what they seemed to connect with. I also wanted her to have a world of her own. I thought of warehouses, garages, basements, anywhere really contained where you would go to hide. And I wanted the audience to come into that world. In a theatre the audience is coming into a familiar place. There’s a safety, a contract, an understanding of what’s going to happen and I wanted the audience to feel like they were coming into her space in a really visceral way.

My creative partner (director Elsbeth McCall) and I, were wandering around the Annex one morning around 9 am, and we came across this shop. We didn’t even pay attention to what the shop was selling. We were interested in the sketchy stairs that went down to a basement apartment that looked abandoned. So we started snooping around and this man came to the door and said: “Can I help you?” We told him we were looking for a space for a show in the summer. He seemed really interested in helping us but didn’t know how he was going to do that. We gave him my card and he called 5 minutes later and said “I think I might have something.” So we go back to this pawn shop that he was opening – he’d literally been there a week, he takes us to the back of the store, which is all industrial shelving and storage for his products: 20 stereos, an old coke machine and a robot, really weird things, and it was perfect. Ever since then, he has had everything we needed. I’ve worked in theatres where I haven’t been able to access things that he has. He had lights, chairs; he’s providing us with all the means. He was up on the ladder running cables and chords for us during tech. And he’s a lovely, generous man. He’s so excited.

SSB: Why did you decide to do this piece as part of the Fringe?

TR: I feel like it works because there’s a context for people – a festival is accessible. The Fringe does a lot for you. They set up a structure and ask you the right questions at the right times and that’s really great. It’s our second time doing the Fringe.

SSB: Tell me a little bit about barking birds theatre. Why did you start the company and what has it become for you?

TR: We (Elsbeth McCall and Tanya Rintoul) started the company because we really loved working together. I’ve never met someone who I just connect with on every level. I get really emotional talking about this. We literally say half a sentence and that’s the conversation. We are both on the same page. We met in theatre school and we continued to work together more and more as time went on. We see theatre through the same lens and we tell stories in a similar way.

We’ve always been really interested in people and character-driven story telling. We work in a very multi-disciplinary way as well – although this particular show is a little different. We like to take realism and deconstruct it. Use memory, image and storytelling the way the human mind works: in fragments and flashes.

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Good Girl by Tanya Rintoul

SSB: How was it balancing the roles of writer and performer? Is it hard to relinquish to your director’s vision?

TR: I found it easier than I thought I would. I try to treat them as if they’re two roles. There are things I do in the show that, as an actor, I feel very uncomfortable doing, but as a writer it is really important to me that they be done. So, in a way, I really do have to separate those things. On the other hand I’ll get distracted by the wording of something while I’m in the middle of working on a scene and I’ll have to stop and think about it and say: “Can I cut this?” It’s a weird feeling that I’ve never experienced: the level of distraction that I go through. I literally slow down as I’m speaking to try to process it. But they’re really patient with me, my director and stage manager. They let me figure things out as I need to.

SSB: If you could assemble your dream team for your next project – including any celebrated artist you can think of – who would be in it?

TR: I really want to work with Graham McLaren, because the Hamlet that he did with Necessary Angelchanged the way that I saw theatre. I don’t know if I even understand how my work has changed since I saw that show. The experience I had in that audience definitely changed the way I approached this piece.

SSB: I noticed in the trailer for your show you have some suggested nudity. How do you feel about women showing their bodies in film and theatre?

TR: I think that as a society we’ve forgotten how powerful nudity can actually be because it’s everywhere. I remember when certain words and certain things weren’t shown on TV before a certain time and that’s completely over. And I think it’s too bad, because it has the potential communicate this vulnerability and television has ruined that. In theatre it can be uncomfortable because the people are real and they’re right there, naked in front of you. If an actor is self-conscious you know it, and if they’re not, you start thinking about why, because it’s not “ok” to be naked in front of a room of people. It’s one of those things we just don’t do. I’m certainly interested in the power of it and examining how we use it. It adds to the belief that we’re watching someone in a private moment.

SSB: What’s your favourite thing to do in your time off?

TR: Surprisingly enough, I love seeing my friends. I feel like I should want to be by myself and do something really glamourous. But the thing I miss most when I’m too busy to do anything but work, rehearse and sleep, is calling up someone last minute and making plans. I love spending time with people that I care about… or being here in my house. This interview is the longest I’ve been here, awake, in forever.

SSB: What are you most afraid of?

TR: I have definitely have a fear of being the only person left, which is a very real thing in my family: I’m an only child, I have my parents and that’s it. My extended family is very small. And I have this knowledge and understanding that eventually I will be the only one. And that is something I think about a lot and am afraid of. And I’m afraid of windows at night.

SSB: What is your character most afraid of?

TR: Everything that’s happening to her in the play. Specifically, her biggest fear is being wrong and doing the wrong thing.

SSB: What inspires you, as a person and as an artist?

TR: People. I love learning about people and watching people. I watch documentaries endlessly because I find different points of view so incredible. I’m especially fascinated by people who aren’t anything like me. I grew up in a theatre family. I’m really interested in people who know nothing about theatre. I work at a restaurant and I talk to all these people who come there after their 9 to 5 job and I realize I will never know what that life is like. And I want to know, I want to look in other people’s houses. When I walk down the street at night I’m always looking into people’s windows. Someone said to me once: “You’re afraid of windows? It’s like you’re afraid of being seen.” And that’s terrifying. There could be someone over there and you can’t see them. That’s what the fear is based on. Because I’m always seeing and watching, I feel like someone could be seeing and watching me. It’s a weird cycle. What do we present versus what is actually there? That is a huge part of this play as well. The character really tries to figure out how she’s supposed to be. I’ve been told my whole life I should change things about myself because it’ll be easier. But if I do that, then what will I lose because of who I actually am?

CRASH COURSE on Tanya

Favourite book: Fall on Your Knees and The Time Travellers Wife. I hate that they made that awful movie out it.

Favourite playwright: I have a really hard time with this question, because I have seen so many good productions of bad plays and really bad productions of good plays. Theatre is supposed to be seen so it’s hard to judge a piece without all the other elements. It isn’t simply the words that define it for me.

Favourite vice: I’m not going to say the first thing that comes to mind. But, beer.

If I was to pick up your Ipod right now what artist would be playing: Nina Simone

GOOD GIRL, A barking birds production presented as part of the 2013 Toronto Fringe Festival
Written & Performed by Tanya Rintoul
Directed by: Elsbeth McCall
Stage Managed by: 
Jade Lattanzi
Sound Design by: 
Hallie Seline 
 
Runs: July 3rd-July 14th
Wednesday July 3rd – 8:30pm
Thursday July 4th- 8:30pm
Friday July 5th- 8:30pm
Saturday July 6th- 8:30pm
Sunday July 7th- 8:30pm
Monday July 8th- 8:30pm
Wednesday July 10th- 8:30pm
Thursday July 11th- 8:30pm
Friday July 12th- 8:30pm
Saturday July 13th- 8:30pm
Sunday July 14th- 8:30pm
 
Where: 1044 Bathurst Street (Annex Pawn) Enter through back ally off of Vermont Ave. 
Tickets:  $10 at the door/ $11 in advance at https://www.fringetix.ca/scripts/max/2000/maxweb.exe?ACTION=ORDER
 
For more info on Barking Bird Theatre: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barking-Birds-Theatre/187191241329340
Or check out their facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/147961018727546/?fref=ts

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