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Posts tagged ‘Haley McGee’

On Our Radar TO: Get Stoked for Theatre this Holiday Season

 

With the world slowing down a little for the holidays, now is the time to kick back, relax and spend some time with the ones you love. What better way to cap off 2013 than to enjoy one of these fine productions. They’re a little bit naughty and a little bit nice… just the right amount to spice up your holiday life. These shows are On Our Radar, Toronto, and we think you should get stoked for theatre this Holiday Season!

 

Venus in Fur

By David Ives, presented by Canadian Stage

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“A young actress determined to land the lead plays a cat-and-mouse game with the play’s director.”

This is a remount of the production that ran in the fall and be glad it’s back! This is a production that you need to put at the top of your to-see list this holiday season and catch it before it goes again. Not only is this production sexy, smart and funny, Carly Street’s sharp, seamless performance is a marvel to watch. If that doesn’t convince you, we suppose you’ll just have to mosey on down to the theatre and let this production put you in the mood.

Where: Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley

When: December 13th-29th, Tue-Sat 7pm, mat Sat-Sun 1pm (Dec 24th at 1pm; no shoes Dec 25-26)

Tickets: $24-$59, 416-368-3110, canadianstage.com

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Weather the Weather or how we make it home together!

By Haley McGee, presented by Theatre Columbus

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“In an original fairy tale by Toronto playwright, Haley McGee, a young girl must outwit trolls and gnomes in this outdoor production for all ages.”

A perfect show for the whole family or to reconnect with your inner child, this outdoor play unfolds in the historic Evergreen Brickworks with magic, adventure, a great cast and enough charm to warm even the coldest winter-begrudging hearts. With that in mind, dress warmly and be sure to catch this lovely Canadian gem this holiday season.

Where: Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview

When: December 11th-29th (no shows December 17th & 24th-26th) Tue-Sun 8pm, mat December 21st & 23rd 5pm

Tickets: $12.50-$32 416-504-7529, theatrecolumbus.ca

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Elizabeth – Darcy: An Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice

By Hallie Burt and Kate Werneburg, presented by Burt and Werneburg

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“In Regency England, Elizabeth Bennet, a bright, spirited, young woman, meets the wealthy and arrogant Mr. Darcy. Their first impressions are challenged and finally overturned, as over time, they come to respect, admiration, and true love. Join Burt and Werneburg as they create an exciting period piece that illuminates a universal human experience through immersion, humour, and investment.”

Clever and charming, this 2013 Toronto Fringe two-hander deserved this remount in the historic Campbell House Museum. This entertaining and inventive adaptation is definitely on our radar for the holidays, and of particular note is the sharp skill in which Burt and Werneburg flip between their cast of characters.

Where: The Campbell House Museum, 160 Queen Street West

When: December 14th – 29th 2pm & 8pm (check online for specific dates and times)

Tickets: $20, 416-597-0227×2 https://totix.ticketpro.ca/?lang=en#def_9536240

Evil Dead – The Musical

By Christopher Bond, George Reinblatt, Frank Cipolla and Melissa Morris, presented by Starvox Entertainment/Jeffrey Latimer Entertainment

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“The musical based on the Evil Dead film franchise returns home for its 10th anniversary.”

On the flip side, if you’ve had enough of holiday cheer, why not fill your December with some horror, blood and gore with a mixture of song and dance, of course. You’re sure to have a bloody good time!

Where: Randolph Theatre, 736 Bathurst

When: October 29th– January 5th Tue-Thu 8pm, Fri-Sat 7pm and 10:30pm, Sun 3pm.

Tickets: $19.99-$79.99 evildeadthemusical.com

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Parfumerie

By Miklós László, adapted by Adam Pettle & Brenda Robins, presented by Soulpepper

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“By great demand, the award-winning, heart-warming holiday hit returns! In this uproarious comedy for the whole family, that forms the basis for both The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail, two shop clerks kindle a tender love affair through anonymous letters while they unwittingly squabble with one another in person.”

Between the lavish set, vivacious staging, live music elements and charming, smile-inducing performances, Parfumerie is a feel-good feast for the soul. If you’re looking to stay in the holiday mood, head on down to the Distillery District to catch this seamless performance.

Where: Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill

When: November 28th – December 28th

Tickets: $32-$68, 416-866-8666, soulpepper.ca

In Conversation with Graeme McComb of George F. Walker’s Moss Park

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

The old record player whirring in the corner, surrounded by artists, students and west enders, Graeme McComb, of George F. Walker’s new play Moss Park at Theatre Passe Muraille/Green Thumb Theatre, and I were barely able to grab a seat when we met for our interview at Saving Gigi. He’s working in Toronto for the first time, hailing from the west coast, but I have a feeling this isn’t the last time we see him.

SSB: So how was opening night?

GMC: It was great. It was actually the premiere of the play, here in Toronto. The energy in the building was really good. Full house.

SSB: How are you finding being in Toronto for the first time? 

GMC: It’s great. The arts are very rich here. It’s really cool to come into a artistic community that feels so alive. In Vancouver it’s a little less so. The funding from the provincial government is not as high as in Ontario so there isn’t the same amount of work going on.

There are just way more theatres here than in Vancouver – more companies functioning. Even The Vancouver Playhouse – a big regional theatre – had to close a couple years ago. It’s really sad. So for me, if I wanted to be a consistently working actor, I’d have to move here.

SSB: How did you get involved with this show in particular? 

GMC: I did a show earlier in the year that Patrick McDonald cast me in called Cranked. It toured around BC, California and Tennessee – we went to Nashville. During the end of the run, he knew he was directing this play and he asked me to audition for it. And I went to the audition, and was lucky enough to get it.

SSB: So you already had a relationship with the director? What was it like working with him?

GMC: Yeah. Really good relationship. He’s a great guy. I wish he could direct me in every play that I’m in. The way that he has fun and makes us feel comfortable… his incite is very unique. And I really feel like I work well with him. We have similar styles in approaching the work. I like to have fun, but I like to get down to work. We kinda speak the same language.

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SSB: Something I find so interesting about Green Thumb, is that they do youth theatre, but it’s not just for youth. It’s stories for everyone about youth. Can you speak to that? 

GMC: The show I did with them before this (Cranked) was for high school students. It had mature themes: it was about crystal meth and drug addiction. We have a Q and A after the show, so the students had the opportunity to ask me any question they wanted to. But sometimes I’d find the teachers asking a lot of questions and being very affected by it as well. The show’s created for the kids, to help them understand that these issues happen, but it’s a message for everybody about addiction and a journey through addiction. Even (Green Thumb‘s) elementary school tours are so well written and so well directed and produced, that they tour to theatres and the teachers get into them as well. I’ve seen a lot of them and watching that as an adult they’re still really moving and effective. But as a little kid… wow… they get totally into it.

SSB: It sounds like it has something to do with not talking down to kids. 

GMC: When I did Cranked, sometimes we’d do a show for 900 or 1,100 kids. And it was a one-man show – it was just me. So I’d be standing behind this backdrop and I could hear them just talking and talking. And I got the feeling that they were thinking: oh it’s just another drug play or just another drug message. But then the lights went down and I’d come on with just a microphone and I’d start beat boxing into the microphone…

SSB: You beat box?! 

GMC: You could just tell they were thinking: “What’s going on?!” And then I’d go into a monologue about old zombie movies and new zombie movies, comparing the two of them. And they’re expressions were like: “What the hell?!” And then I just go into a rap song. And by the first two, three minutes, they were into it.

SSB: So you rap too?

GMC: Well I’m not a rapper… but for the show I was. Green Thumb commissioned a rapper named Kyprios from Vancouver to write the songs specifically for the show. And they hired a DJ named DJ Stylust to make all the beats. So we got to incorporate all these original songs made for the show.

This character Stan, it’s just his personal journey. And the character is 17, it’s not an older person talking to them. It’s this young guy, going through rehab, going through addiction, stealing stuff from his family… And they really connect with it.

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SSB: Your character in Moss Park, which is the show you’re doing right now, is also a young man dealing with some tough issues. Can you tell us what is that play about? 

GMC: George F. Walker who wrote the play, wrote a play in 1994 called Tough! and it’s based on three characters: Jill, Bobby and Tina. Bobby and Tina are together but they come from poverty and they have a rough upbringing. The play starts off with Tina accusing Bobby of cheating on her – he’s just a young guy, he doesn’t really know how to grow up. Then you find out Tina’s pregnant. This play is a sequel to it. It’s set three years later. They’ve had a little girl, Holly: she’s not onstage. It’s just Bobby and Tina this time. Jill’s offstage taking care of Holly. They’re trying to figure they’re life out because you find out that Tina’s pregnant again. She basically says to Bobby: “I have to have an abortion, because you can’t take care of a child and we have no money.” On top of that, my mom and I are getting evicted. It’s life or death the whole time, that’s how high the stakes are. For sixty minutes straight, it’s just Bobby and Tina trying to work through it, and fight for their relationship and their baby.

SSB: Moss Park is at Theatre Passe Muraille, which is not a youth theatre, it’s a general theatre open to the public. So unlike Cranked, which you brought straight into schools, it’s taking the youth story and putting it on for everyone: youth AND adults. Do you think that’s important? How does it compare to your experience with Cranked? 

GMC: Our opening audience, it was an older crowd. And Tina talks a lot about poverty, about coming from poverty. There’s a story about her grandfather and his experience. A lot of people could relate to that. I could see them relating to it. But then there was also all the youth content that a lot of the younger people could relate to as well. So it’s a show for anybody. It’s not a specific message driven piece. It’s a little hour of these two peoples lives and it doesn’t end full circle. They’re just fighting to be together, they’re fighting to have their child, they’re fighting to have a life and trying to figure it out. And they don’t give up. If they did give up there’d be no play.

SSB: I find there are a lot plays about relationship issues and poverty and trying life decisions, but focused on older characters. But in this case we have just two leads on stage.. and they’re both young. And it’s not a TYA show! That’s unusual. I know it gets me very excited, and a lot of people are excited to see it. 

GMC: For sure.

SSB: How was your experience working with the other lead Haley McGee?

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GMC: It’s been amazing. She’s so perfect for the part. I keep telling her, I don’t know how I would do it without her. She’s so generous on stage and an amazing actor. And being from Vancouver, I auditioned with a lot of women who were my friends that I knew already. Then I found out I got the part and Haley had gotten it, and I thought: I don’t even know her, and we have to be in love! But she’s great, she’s wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better Tina.

SSB: This character, Bobby, comes from a different background than you. How did you go about getting inside his experiences?

GMC: It was really cool to have George in the rehearsal process the whole time. Him and Patrick have worked together for years so they’re really good at working together. Bobby is really close to George’s heart, both of the characters are, so he had a lot of really good incite about Bobby. A lot of the work was just building it in rehearsal through the text and through Patrick’s direction, and of course seeing myself in him as well. I’m young, he’s younger than me, but not too long ago I was his age. And I really relate to a lot of the stuff he goes through. For example, he wants so badly to figure his life out and to grow up, but he just doesn’t know how to do it. He’s never done it! He has a line, where he just wishes someone would tell him how to grow up: “Tell me how to grow up, tell me how to man up. I just don’t know how to do it!” It’s not like he’s says: “yeah I just really don’t want to.” He’s not passive. He’s fighting for it. He’s trying to figure that out the whole time.

So I love Bobby. He’s funny and he’s sweet. He just sometimes doesn’t say the right thing… but he’s trying to though! He means so well. But he just comes off … wrong.

SSB: So what your saying is Bobby’s situation is very relatable. You can just ask yourself: What would I do if I was in his situation?

GMC: Yeah. Because Haley and I were both creating our characters at the same time and feeding off each other, a lot of Bobby came from my interaction with her. This play is so much about the other person. For her it’s about me and for me it’s about her. So we’re on that level, working together, back and forth, back and forth, listening. It really works so well. And with George’s writing it’s so real. Patrick said he wanted to make it look like there was no direction – like nobody directed it. It’s just two people, working it out for an hour.

SSB: Which we all know about.

GMC: Exactly, we’ve all been through it. Everyone’s been through it.

That’s one of the things I love about the theatre: you can have an entire hour of people, in real time, just working something out. That’s one thing I find interesting about this play, it’s going on in real time. There aren’t time lapses, plot changes or location switches. It’s just two people in a space for an hour.

Some people have a hard time with it. They go to the theatre and want to leave feeling like everything worked out at the end. That might not be the case with this play – you probably won’t feel that way. Cause it’s the hard truth. It’s beautiful in that way – in that it doesn’t end in a: they go walking off in the sunset way. That’s the reality of their situation.

SSB: So Patrick wanted it to seem like there was no direction. Do you think you’ve achieved that? How does that manifest itself?

GMC: It’s a lot to do with the words and the actors. He said that yesterday, after opening. It’s a dance and it’s about a musicality between us. We were talking in rehearsal that we’re like jazz musicians. We know the key we’re supposed to play in and there’re a thousand different notes that we can play in that key. But as long as we’re in the same key, we can change every night. Patrick said: “you can do a thousand choices in that key, and they’re all going to be right. But you have to be in that key.”

It’s freeing as an actor to know you don’t have to stick to the same choices. And if Haley says something a different way than she did yesterday, I’m going to react to it a different way, and then we just go back and forth and back and forth. It’s like we’re playing music in this key. It’s really cool when that happens cause we really start cooking.

And the audience is like another musician. He’s the other guy in the band – the wild card. He still plays with us! And we just kind of go along with him. But he makes us change it up.

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SSB: It’s kind of like being on a rollercoaster. You just jumped on and you can’t get off until it’s over.

GMC: Patrick used another visual metaphor, that it’s like skiing – gate skiing, navigating around specific obstacles down a hill. The start of the play you’re up there at the top of the hill, looking down at all the gates and you’re like: “Ok! Here we go!” And as you’re going down the hill you have to be in the moment from gate to gate to gate. You have to see maybe one or two gates ahead, but you have to be right in the moment. You can’t look too far ahead or you’ll bale. If you check out for a sec, the audience is going to know and the play will suffer. So that’s what’s really cool about George’s writing too, is it’s so in the moment, all the time. Patrick said that in George’s writing the characters say what they’re thinking exactly when they think it.

SSB: What was it like working on a new play by such an iconic Canadian playwright? That’s gotta be crazy in itself!

GMC: Yeah it really was! I know Patrick pretty well and they’re friends so that was helpful. I went to theatre school reading his plays, so when I auditioned for the play I was like: “Oh my god!” I was quite nervous coming to Toronto, to a new place, meeting this iconic writer. But he’s just a regular guy, really insightful. He knows a lot about those characters, knows a lot about theatre and it was great to get to know him and work with him. He was so open and so kind to us. I felt very comfortable to act in front of him. Which was great, because I definitely get performance anxiety.

I go on stage and I feel my senses get so heightened. I’m just in it so deeply. It’s kind of overwhelming but it makes me very focused. So I’ll be very on the ball, because I’m just so in the moment and the adrenaline’s pumping. I’m not thinking about the past or the future, it’s just right now.

SSB: So it ends up helping you.

GMC: It does. Sometimes it’s not very fun.

SSB: Is there anything you’d want people to know coming to see the play?

GMC: That’s a good question. Open your hearts to the characters. And just let it take you on a journey.

SSB: What inspires you as an artist?

GMC: It’s been very inspiring to come here. New work is very inspiring to me. Creating this character has been very inspiring. Telling stories. I’m very passionate about telling stories and being a medium for a message.

Moss Park

by George F. Walker, presented by Green Thumb Theatre/Theatre Passe Muraille

Where: Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson

When: November 5th-16th, Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Mat Sat 2pm.

Tickets: $15-$32.50, Matinee PWYC, 416-504-7529, passemuraille.on.ca.

On Our Radar TO: Get Stoked for Theatre this November!

Why is theatre relevant? Whether it allows you to re-connect with your inner child, be exposed to a new perspective, challenges your pre-conceptions or allows you to let your guard down, whether you’re looking for a sexy night out, a night to sing and dance with childish glee without feeling out of place, or simply looking to be entertained and connect with those around you through classic love stories and a beer in hand, these productions are On Our Radar, Toronto, and we think you should get stoked for theatre this November!

Savage in Limbo

Written by John Patrick Shanley, presented by Bob Kills Theatre

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With a newly extended run, we’ve heard nothing but exciting things about this production. Bold, brave work, exciting use of a new venue to the Toronto scene (The Downstage), and some incredible talent that must be noted!

“John Patrick Shanley is an Oscar, Tony and Pulitzer prize-winning writer of stage and screen. He is best known for the 1988 film Moonstruck, and the 2004 play Doubt, which was also adapted into an Oscar-nominated film in 2008.

Bob Kills Theatre is an experience in visceral theatre. Founded by Melissa D’Agostino and Diana Bentley, the company strives to present unique, often surreal, texts in interesting venues. With an emphasis on bold stories and the virtuosity of performance, Bob Kills Theatre aims to challenge, engage, entertain and instigate.”

Various 32-year olds seek love, sex and a way out of their dead-end lives.

Where: The Downstage, 798 Danforth

When: **Extended Run** October 22nd – Thursday November 7th 8pm.

Tickets: $20 savageintoronto.com

The Double

A TheatreRUN production presented by Tarragon Theatre

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Adapted from the novella by Dostoevsky, created and performed by Adam Paolozza, Arif Mirabdolbaghi and Viktor Lukawski, we’ve heard this production described as hilarious, whimsical, psychologically complex, haunting and magical. If that doesn’t catch your interest, maybe this delightful trailer will. Catch this gem of a remount before it closes!

“When are you no longer yourself? The anxious government clerk Golyadkin is plagued by a stranger who looks just like him but is more daring, romantic and brash. Inspired by Dostoevsky’s novella The Double, this theatrical triangle between a neurotic, his doppelganger and a stand-up bass transports us to 19th century Russian high society and Golyadkin’s labyrinthine search for his identity.

After a hit independent run last season that saw a Dora Award win for lighting design, Tarragon warmly welcomes this dark satire about our deepest fears of losing our identity.”

Where: Tarragon Theatre Extraspace

When: October 15th-November 24th

Tickets: 416-531-1827 Tarragon Box Office

Dirty Butterfly

Written by Debbie Tucker Green, presented by Bound To Create Theatre as part of Obsidian Theatre’s 2013/14 Presentation Series

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If there is one production we have been excited about for its first professional Canadian Theatre debut, it’s Bound to Create Theatre’s production of Dirty Butterfly as part of Obsidian Theatre’s 2013/14 presentation series. Since its first run at the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival, we’ve heard nothing but incredible things of this arresting play by British playwright Debbie Tucker Green and after seeing its opening, this hypnotic play is not to be missed!

“This drama explores voyeurism, power and guilt by confronting the collateral damage of domestic abuse and racial economic divide.”

Where: Aki Studio Theatre, 585 Dundas E.

When: Previews Oct. 30-31st, Opens November 1st and runs to November 17th. Tues-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm

Tickets: $20-$25 Preview 15$, November 10th PWYC. www.boundtocreate.com

Moss Park

Written by George F. Walker, presented by Green Thumb Theatre/Theatre Passe Muraille

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There’s a new George F. Walker in town and with some pretty incredible young Canadian talent as its leads, local talent Haley McGee and Vancouver native Graeme McComb, and we’re into it!

“Moss Park is an intimate look at two young people as they confront an uncertain future.  In this follow up to Tough!, George F. Walker takes Bobby and Tina on a journey as they fight to map a life that doesn’t include poverty.”

Where: Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson

When: Previews Runs November 5th-16th, Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Mat Sat 2pm.

Tickets: $15-$32.50, Matinee PWYC, 416-504-7529, passemuraille.on.ca.

Alligator Pie

Featuring poetry by Dennis Lee, presented by Soulpepper

Soulpepper's Alligator Pie in rehearsal, Raquel Duffy, Mike Ross, Gregory Prest. Photo Credit: Nathan Kelly

This needed a remount in the most heart-felt way. We saw this last fall and what a treat it was to watch this talented group of artists weave the children’s poems of Dennis Lee together with heart, humour and glee-inducing creativity. This family-friendly production is definitely enjoyable for all ages on so many levels as it celebrates imagination and invention.

Where: Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane
When: Opens November 3rd and runs to December 1st
Tickets: $23, Rush $5-$22 416-866-8666, www.soulpepper.ca

Romeo and Juliet

Written by William Shakespeare, presented by Shakespeare BASH’d

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If you know anything about Shakespeare BASH’d it’s the long line-up of Fringe hopefuls trying to snag the last few tickets at the door of their two sold-out Fringe hits with both their 2012 production of Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing this past Summer at the Victory Café. If you managed to get your tickets early, then you got to see what all of the hype was about – a clean, story-focused Shakespeare, chalk-full of boisterous local talent, all of which you could enjoy with a drink in hand. Well BASH’d is about to present their first tragedy outside of the Fringe circuit and bring us to the incredible 3030 Dundas West in the Junction, inviting us to grab a beer (perhaps from one of the 3030’s many local craft beer selections) and reconnect with Shakespeare’s greatest story of original young love-at-first-sight.

Where: 3030 Dundas West in the Junction

When: November 19th-23rd Tuesday-Friday 7:30pm, Closing Saturday at 4pm

Tickets: $16-$21 with advanced purchase highly recommended* http://www.shakespearebashd.com/tickets.html

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Mature Young Adults

By Wesley J. Colford, presented by Aim for the Tangent

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We had the pleasure of catching this gem at the Atlantic Fringe Festival on a visit to Halifax this September and we’re very interested to see it in its next stage of development in Toronto at the intimate Videofag space. Andrea Nemetz from the Chronicle Herald expresses our thoughts on Mature Young Adults perfectly: “Everyone has been a teenager in love, or will be. …an astonishingly real look at that most complicated of emotions.”

“This tragi-comic love story continues the theatrical tradition of East Coast playwriting greats David French and Daniel MacIvor with a contemporary twist for the Facebook generation. In a world where labels and gossip fly through cyberspace like lightning, is it possible to love without giving up your identity? Can you escape the container your community places you in?”

Where: Videofag, 187 Augusta Ave.

When: November 20th-24th: 19th-22nd 8pm, 23rd & 24th 4pm & 8pm

Tickets: $15 at the door. Advance tickets available through T.O. Tix www.totix.ca

After Miss Julie

Written by Patrick Marber, presented by Red One Theatre Collective

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If you are looking for a crazy, sexy performance to spice up your life as the temperatures drop… we’re looking to After Miss Julie presented by Red One Theatre Collective. After Miss Julie is a version of Strindberg’s Miss Julie by Patrick Marber, where Marber amps up the power play between Julie, John, and his fiancée Christine to a deliciously dangerous level. The result, a steamy and at times manic and even hilarious power play amongst the class structure of 1945 England. With David Ferry as the director and a cast of some exceptional young local talent (Claire Armstrong, Christopher Morris and Amy Keating), we can’t wait to see what Red One brings to the Storefront this November.

Where: The Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor Street West

When: November 15th-30th (Preview November 14th) Tuesday-Saturday 8pm, Sundays 2pm

Tickets: $20/ Tuesdays $10/ $15 Preview)

The Sacrifice Zone

Written by Suzie Miller, presented by Theatre Gargantua

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If you’ve never been to a Gargantua performance, now is your chance to catch their world premiere of their 10th cycle of work The Sacrifice Zone. Created through their unique process, Theatre Gargantua is artist driven and works as a creative ensemble, producing projects in two-year cycles. We’re overflowing with excitement to see their latest creation, blending physical theatre, vocal soundscapes and unique storytelling and staging and we think you should be too!

“An industrial explosion shatters lives in an isolated resource town, rocking the balance of the community. While Alex and Hannah struggle with the loss of their partners, Laura and Patrick renegotiate the boundaries of a love affair, and newcomer Elly watches the emotional landscape change as arrestingly as the physical environment does. When everything is at stake, what would you sacrifice to make things right?

The Sacrifice Zone cuts right to fundamental questions of who and what are our responsibilities? And is balance, indeed justice, ever possible? Gargantua explores real world issues of individual, corporate and environmental accountability through their signature physical and critically acclaimed contemporary visual style in this gripping production based on a script by celebrated Australian playwright Suzie Miller.”

Where: Factory Studio Theatre
When: November 13th-30th Wednesday-Saturday 8pm, Saturday November 16th & November 20th 2pm.
Tickets: $19-$25, Buy tickets at www.factorytheatre.ca 

The Gay Heritage Project

Created and performed by Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn & Andrew Kushnir, presented by The GHP Collective in association with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

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We just caught a glimpse of this promo video, and we can’t wait to catch it mid-November! A collaboration between acclaimed theatre makers Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn, and Andrew Kushnir, The Gay Heritage Project offers audiences a unique chance to discover, celebrate and connect to our queer heritage. Once again, Buddies in Bad Times provides Toronto with relevant, thought-provoking, socially-conscious theatre.

“Three of our country’s most gifted creator/performers set out to answer one question: is there such a thing as gay heritage? In their search, they uncover a rich history not often shared and shine new light on contemporary gay culture. The result is a hilarious and moving homage to the people who came before us and the events that continue to shape our lives.”

Where: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, near Yonge & College

When: November 17th-December 8th, Tuesday-Saturday 8pm, Saturday & Sunday 2:30pm, Preview Performances 8pm

Tickets: $20-$37

Know something that should be On Our Radar, Toronto? Connect with us through Twitter & Facebook using the hashtag #OnOurRadarTO or send us an email to inthegreenroom.ca@gmail.com. What’s on your Radar? 

Theatre Caravel presents Sea Change – An Event to Gather the Community and Celebrate Work in Development Over the Baked Goods Table

Interview by: Hallie Seline

I sat down with Eric Double and Julia Nish-Lapidus of Theatre Caravel to discuss their upcoming 15th edition of Sea Change: a night of new performance going on this Saturday October 12th. We talked about community in the arts, the draw of baked goods and audience participation and the importance of providing a relaxed venue for artists to present and develop their work and for audiences to witness and interact with the work in development of local artist.

HS: Let’s begin with you telling me a little bit about Sea Change.

ED: Sure! Well Sea Change, a night of new performance is the event that we, Theatre Caravel, run as part of our company initiatives. It’s a quarterly event where we invite artists of all different types, be it visual artist, musicians, poets, playwrights, mask performers, clowns etcetera, we’ve had it all, and we invite them to show fifteen minutes of new work that they are working on in front of a pretty diverse audience, to sort of inspire the artists to continue working on their pieces and giving the audience a chance to see work in development in a very supportive, creativity conducive environment.

JNL: It’s also about the meeting of all of the different artistic mediums. The whole idea behind Sea Change was that we didn’t want to be a theatre company just for theatre people. We love music and visual art and all of these different mediums, so we thought why don’t we invite these amazing people we know who are doing other artistic things to come be part of our theatre company through this event with the hope that connections would be made between the musician and the spoken word artist and so on. We’ve actually had a lot of Sea Change performers meet at the event and hook up to do shows together afterwards, inspired to mix their two mediums. That was one of the ideas behind the event – to say it’s not about the theatre community only, it can be about the artistic community as a whole.

HS: So would you say that was your main inspiration – to create this sort of artistic event in the city which people can feel part of?

ED: Well, yeah! It actually stemmed from this idea that was inspired by Julia’s parents, who had been going to these events called House Concerts. We thought it was a really novel idea that local musicians like the Wainwrights would put on these tiny concerts for maybe maximum fifty people in someone’s house, in a relatively laid-back performance.

JNL: They were my parents’ neighbours who were doing these concerts for maybe thirty-five to fifty people. They would get really great musicians and put on a show in their house. They would do it maybe six times a year and it would completely sell out! It started off with just their friends but then their friends would tell people and so on and by the time my parents moved in next door, they had to buy their whole year’s subscription to these House Concerts in advance because it would sell out like crazy. People just loved being there. They would serve food and it had a super relaxed vibe while providing this amazing musical experience.
So originally Sea Change was supposed to take place in one of our houses… that was the plan! (They both laugh). Then we just realized that we didn’t have houses that could fit all of the performers and more than fifty people at once.

ED: The idea was to incorporate the laid back spirit of these events, because up until that point, I don’t think I had ever been to anything that wasn’t just theatre focused and was really that relaxed, basically. I think we were kind of hungry to explore our inspirations behind our own artistic practice, and hopefully do that for other people too.

Nicole Ratjen as Princess Penelope

Nicole Ratjen as Princess Penelope

JNL: And supplying free food was a big part of it for us. As much as that seems like an afterthought of ‘Oh yeah, there are free baked goods’, for us that was also a big part of creating the community feel at Sea Change of really bringing everyone together on multiple levels. Though we couldn’t do it in a home, our focus was still on making it feel ‘home-y’.

HS: Of course! Well, people connect and come together over food, art, music…

JNL: Exactly! Well I bake, my mom bakes, and this woman who was best friends with my grandmother, who is pretty much like a grandmother figure to me, she bakes too! It’s like family baking for everyone at Sea Change, which I think makes it a little more special. And people always enjoy being able to go over and talk to the little old lady who baked those brownies that they love.

ED: Yeah, I baked once…

HS: Oh? And how did that go?

ED: Really good, actually! It was from a box. It was our birthday cake but still, I baked it. It’s as far as my baking contributions have gone though so far.

HS: So how long have you been doing this event? Was it 2009 when you had your first Sea Change?

ED: We launched in May of 2009 and the one coming up on October 12th will be our fifteenth!

HS: Wow! How have you seen Sea Change develop over these four years?

ED: Well, I mean you get better at running an event after you’ve done it for a couple of years, so that’s kind of nice. We’ve gone from having three-hour meetings about it to planning it over text messages sometimes… (they both laugh). It’s kind of nice that it’s taken on a life of its own. I think how we’ve seen it develop is that, as Julia was mentioning the community aspect of it, we’ve not only seen performers come back to be part of our audience but performers have come back, and we often invite them to come back when they have a different medium they want to work in. One notable example is our friend Shawn (Jurek), who’s going to be performing at this next one. He originally started as this backing musician for one of our other artists who came to perform…

JNL: He did that twice.

ED: Yeah! And then he said, “You know, I also do photography. Can I put up some photos at the next one?” And we were like “Of course!” And now he’s going to be performing his own music! He, like many of us including Julia and myself, are a little more multidisciplinary, as I think you kind of are in the theatre community just naturally. If you’re producing your own work you’re going to be doing more than just acting or producing. Many of these artists do this, as well. We’ve seen more and more artists come back in different ways and collaborate with one another as well. So yeah, I guess it’s really grown into this community of collaborative artists and invested audience members over the past four years.

Adam Paolozza performing The Double

Adam Paolozza performing The Double

JNL: We have a lot of regulars who we just know will show up every time who have been there from the beginning and it’s been interesting to see new people come on and in turn become regulars as well. Most of our performers tend to, if they are new to us, after performing once, chances are we’ll see them at another one as at least an audience member. Because of this, our audience has grown even through just having new performers. I mean each performer usually brings their own audience and we’ve seen through this that people come back again and again because it’s just a great experience. It’s just very cool to see that audience base develop in such a contagious way.

Most of our audience are not, actually, theatre people too! They vary in age… really a whole gamut of ages. We get people who are, for the most part, interested in the arts in general. They go to theatre and to concerts and then they find Sea Change and think this is something where they can kind of see it all and feel like they are even a part of it. I’ve had a lot of people who are not in the arts say that this makes them feel like they are a part of the community versus going somewhere else where they are just sitting in the audience and feeling more like a separate spectator. It’s developed that way in which the community is building, not just with performers, but everyone in that room becomes a part of the event.

HS: To what level is Sea Change participatory or is it just by the nature of how it is, the audience feels part of the event?

JNL: We’ll we encourage audience involvement and it also just sort of happened that our performers started getting the audience involved in their work. We have a lot of musicians who do call and response stuff with the audience and people always come to us timidly saying, you know “I was thinking of doing this thing and it would involve having the audience do something with me?” and we’re always like, “Yes!” This is the type of audience that feeds off of that type of thing. They are going to get involved and we love it! We had a performance once of a play reading and she needed people to throw ping pong balls as pellets of ice getting thrown at the actors throughout their scene, and the audience loved it to the point where people would hold on to balls and throw them at performers later on during the night because they thought it would be fun. We’ve had times where a musician needs to re-tune during the set and one time someone started telling a joke and when they still weren’t done tuning one of the audience members stood up and shared one of their jokes and now it’s a thing that sometimes happens throughout the event. It’s an opportunity where the audience gets to participate and talk to the performers and everyone gets to share a little something. It’s great watching aspects like that develop.

Rob Faust of Faustwork Mask Theatre

Rob Faust of Faustwork Mask Theatre

ED: I think that’s also partly because of the venue that we do it in, which is called CineCycle (behind 129 Spadina Ave.). It’s a bike shop that is converted at night into some sort of performance venue, often times for film screenings. If you go there during the day you would never believe it’s actually a venue. It’s a bike shop and there’s just bike stuff everywhere, but then Martin, the guy who runs it carts all of the stuff out and transforms it into a performance space by night. I think when people come into the venue for the first time they are a little taken aback at how personal it feels. It’s not like a traditional venue. It has a lot of character to it, so immediately when you’re sitting there and you’re watching a performance piece going on in an unusual setting, it kind of breaks down a barrier. The audience is kind of on top of the performers in a way that there really is very little fourth wall. This allows those barriers to break down, causing the event to be a little more immersive.

JNL: Going off that, my mom is selling the tickets at the front, so she’s the first one who’s going to greet you as she’s sitting there, proud and excited about the event. It’s very cute. We’re also walking around saying hi to everyone, the performers don’t hide backstage, they have seats in the audience and watch the rest of the show until they get up and do their thing. And there is always a crowd of people hanging around the baked goods table just chatting and meeting new people. The energy is meant to be very warm and welcoming. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on that.

We’ve also kept it at a seven-dollar price point if you book in advance and ten dollars at the door for the past four years, with no intention of making it higher and I think that goes into the idea of community. We’re not trying to make money off of this event. We cover the costs to have the event because having it and providing that space for everyone is the most important part of it all. We don’t want it to be the kind of thing that anyone has to think twice to come to. We hope that seven dollars makes the event accessible enough and the goal is to make the whole thing as easy to be a part of for anyone and everyone.

ED: Yeah, I’ve had lots of friends say that we could make it more expensive, partly as a compliment because they thought that the value was worth it and the product was worth it, which was nice to hear but again, as Julia was saying, it goes into our mandate of how we run Theatre Caravel as a company. It holds the same sort of ideals that we like to run our show with. One: they’re about community, Two: they’re also about new work and taking risks, Three: they’re about kind of expanding your horizons, I guess you could say, in the collaboration with artists, working in a multi-disciplinary format, etcetera. So the seven dollar thing kind of plays into that as well,

JNL: It’s just fun having people come up to me and try to pay for the baked goods and I tell them not to, that it’s all part of it. For seven dollars, it’s all of the performances, the whole evening and all of the food there. Half the time the night ends with me sending someone home with a whole cake or batch of left over cookies.

HS: Putting on an event like this for four years, you clearly have seen some merit in providing this kind of event for the Toronto arts community. Why do you think events like this, where you say the venue feels a little more personal and people feel a part of both the event and its development, are so important to provide for the arts community?

ED: That’s a great question and I mean I’ve seen other events crop up around the same time that we started doing this, like Crapshoot with Theatre Passe Muraille, which I think is pretty notable for providing an event for many artists who are starting their pieces, and I think that these events have this sort of laid-back atmosphere which I think has a lot to do with their success. In terms of why that’s important to the theatre scene, I think it’s partly because in our generation of theatre creators there’s a lot of us, basically, who want to have a voice and there aren’t enough avenues for us to get it out there in, maybe, the traditional sense. These kind of low-key events give an opportunity for artists just to try something out. It’s an opportunity to fail and succeed on their own dime, sort of thing.
I think Sea Change has been successful, partly, because the artists feel comfortable just putting themselves out there. That’s why it’s so endearing, that’s why the audience gets on board so easily, because these artists are doing it for the love of doing it, not because there’s any type of pressure on them to either get a job or to meet a certain expectation. People just want to see the performers do really interesting work and take risks. I think that this format is popular because people, audience members and artists alike, want to feel like they are part of a community that supports them.

Chelsea Manders performs her brand of Music Comedy

Chelsea Manders performs her brand of Music Comedy

JNL: And I think it’s important from the audience perspective too in that it kind of makes the whole arts world more accessible to everyone. It lets everyone be a part of a special little event where new theatrical work is being created and it’s an opportunity to invite anyone and everyone to come and be a part of its creation. Haley McGee (Toronto-based playwright/performer – Oh My Irma) has workshopped sections from a couple of her plays at Sea Change. I’ve had a lot of people say to me, “I saw it at another place and it was so great because I had seen it in earlier stages here at Sea Change before. I remember being a part of it and talking to her about the piece and answering questions she had about it while she was still writing”. I think that kind of accessibility to new local work is important to the audience and their investment in the arts community and it’s important to the artist to be able to show their work at these stages to an audience that they don’t completely personally know. It’s a real integration of audience and performer, I think, which is really crucial to developing continued support and attendance of the arts outside of events like these in the city.

HS: What do you hope for the future of Sea Change?

ED: Well, that’s a great question and one we’ve been talking about a lot now that we’ve done four years of Sea Change successfully. We’ve talked about a few different things… I mean ideally having something like a residence program would be really nice to have – Sea Change, not necessarily on a larger scale, but maybe over a longer term. We’ve been looking into potential grants for artists and maybe even multidisciplinary collaboration between artists, which seems to be happening a lot more these days, to create more of a long-term opportunity and have Sea Change be a place where they can show what they’ve been working on.
I’ve also thought about doing a young company of sorts, starting from the ground up, having them either just be there or workshop some stuff. So yeah, there are a couple ideas on the table right now for the future of Sea Change.

JNL: We’ve talked about wanting to do kind of a larger scale festival sort of event, either running a longer period over an entire day or the course of a whole weekend, bringing in a lot of both past performers and new performers. I feel like that might be an anniversary celebration sometime. Our anniversaries keep sneaking up on us so we keep missing it, but it’d be great to do just a really big Sea ChangeSea Change on steroids! We also want t-shirts! We have buttons and magnets so I feel like t-shirts are the next step up.

Dennis Hayes Reads Poetry

Dennis Hayes Reads Poetry

ED: Yeah, we’ve had over a hundred twenty performers now so there’s a pretty good well to draw from to welcome a lot of people back. We’ve had quite a few returning performers throughout these years and they seem to really love returning. I mean one of our performers is coming back from Zurich, moving back two days before Sea Change, and she already has her tickets! It’d be great to get all of these people back in a room together to sort of celebrate this community, which has sprung up around it, thankfully. I mean we were never sure if it would catch on and people seem to really love it! I think it may have something to do with the baked goods… (laughs). It’s all about the brownies!

HS: It’s always about the brownies. Tell me a bit about what you have planned for your upcoming Sea Change.

ED: Well our Sea Change coming up is jam-packed, as always! We have a playwright named Claire Acott, who has done a Toronto Fringe show in the past and is currently working on a new show, so she’ll be doing a part of that. We also have another Fringe veteran, Laura Anne Harris, who instead of doing a one-person show, she’s going to be trying out a four hander for the first time. Again, one of our greatest joys is watching artists try out new things. We have Shawn Jurek who is our musician. He’ll be doing a lovely acoustic set. Then we also have a new sort of music/theatre piece with Andrew Gaboury, who’s a playwright and has also done stuff with us in the past, and a couple of his fellow artists (Kira Hall and Rob Schuyler) who are making a new music/theatre play. Not a musical, per say, but the mix of music and theatre into a new piece. Then we have one of our, I like to call them, our Sea Change stars, like our greatest hits, an artist coming back named Teodoro Dragonieri and he’ll be showing some of his world-class visual art. I’m not kidding… it is incredible work! It belongs in a museum… or somebody’s house if you want to buy it, you can at Sea Change! So we are really lucky to have his work, and the work of the rest of these artists, which will make for another jam-packed night.

JNL: I was also thinking of looking up new cookie recipes… I’m thinking chocolate but I’m still undecided.

HS: I was going to ask, what’s new on the baking front but I guess they’ll just have to go to find out!

ED: Exactly! Well, thanks so much and we look forward to seeing you all around the baked goods table on Saturday.

Theatre Caravel presents Sea Change: a night of new performance.

What: 15th edition of Sea Change: a night of new performance. Brilliant new performers, and a couple favourite past performers, all trying out some incredible new work you won’t see anywhere else. Come to see new work, stay to chat with the artists, and then stay later to finish off the complimentary baked goods!

Featuring:

Claire Acott – Playwright
Andrew Gaboury, Kira Hall and Rob Schuyler
- New Music Theatre
Laura Anne Harris
- Playwright
Shawn Jurek
- Musician
Teodoro Dragonieri
- Visual Art

When: Saturday October 12th, 2013

Doors – 7:30pm, Show – 8pm

Where: CineCycle (behind 129 Spadina Avenue)

Tickets: Admission is ONLY $7 but seating is limited and spaces fill up quickly, so RESERVE YOUR TICKETS NOW by e-mailing info@theatrecaravel.com. For more info check out the Sea Change page on Theare Caravel’s website: www.theatrecaravel.com