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Posts tagged ‘Julia Nish-Lapidus’

“Collaboration, Character-Driven Plays & 90s Pop Culture” A Chat with David Mackett, James Wallis & Julia Nish-Lapidus on DUBLIN CAROL by Conor McPherson, November 14-26

Interview by Hallie Seline.

We had the pleasure of connecting with David Mackett, James Wallis and Julia Nish-Lapidus to discuss their latest collaboration on Conor McPherson’s Dublin Carol presented by Fly on the Wall Theatre. We spoke about what drew them to explore McPherson’s plays, working with director Rod Ceballos, and riffing off the play’s setting in the 90s, we do a little 90s Rapid Fire Question session on bands, trends, and catchphrases, because… how could you not?!

HS: Tell me a bit about the show and what it’s like working on it.

James Wallis: Dublin Carol is set in the back room of a funeral home in Dublin on Christmas Eve. John is running the funeral home because his boss, the mortician Noel, is in the hospital; John’s showing the ropes to young Mark, Noel’s nephew (played by moi!), on a day when his estranged daughter tells him that his ex-wife is dying from cancer. The play deals with John confronting his past, present, and future – the choices he is making and those he will make. John is a realist but also full of fantasy. McPherson is a master at understanding the grief underneath the common man. John is broken and tries to confront his former demons but he’s also unwilling to see his complacency and hypocrisy in his life. It’s been a great pleasure to work on such a deeply sad play, and amazing to work on a play about intimate conversations and emotions. Since the majority of the work I do is Shakespeare, the sparse, yet detailed text is a joyful challenge.

HS: Tell me about working with director Rod Ceballos on this.

JW: I’ve known Rod for years but never worked for him. He’s a diligent director, always thinking about what is being said and done in the moment. He’s challenging to his actors: What’s going on right now? What do you need out of this moment?

It’s been a great lesson to watch him and David Mackett working together. They’ve spent a lot of time working together and it shows. Their professionalism and creativity is evident. They work carefully and with constant focus on John’s inner world.

Rod has a great deal of experience to offer an actor, and it’s been a great pleasure to learn and work with him. Plus, he’s a good guy. The room is full of friends working on a play with passion and hard work. That’s all I care about.

HS: David, what is it about Conor McPherson’s work that draws you to it and excites you?

David Mackett: I was first introduced to McPherson’s work when I was approached to do a site-specific production of The Weir, produced by MackenzieRo as part of the 2004 Toronto Fringe. What immediately struck me about his plays is how character-driven they are – McPherson has said in interviews that not much happens in his plays (i.e. there’s not a lot of “action”, as it were), but as the play progresses, you are gradually drawn into the inner lives of the characters you are observing – their feelings of grief, loneliness, and regret. And that’s what really excites me about his work – exploring the inner emotional lives of these characters through what is said, and perhaps more importantly, what is not said. In each of the McPherson plays I’ve worked on, something happens that forces the characters to re-examine their lives – the choices they’ve made – often leaving them with a suspicion that they’ve let life pass them by. I think that’s what we all wonder about: whether we are, in fact, seizing every opportunity that comes our way, and living our own lives to the fullest.

HS: If your audience could listen to one song/band/album before coming to see the show, what would it be?

DM: Dante’s Prayer by Loreena McKennitt

HS: I heard this show is set in the 90s, which I am ALWAYS into. Let’s do some…

90s Rapid Fire Questions

JW & DM: Julia Nish-Lapidus is a huge 90s pop culture fan/enthusiast, so we leave it to her to handle this rapid fire round:

Favourite 90s band:
Julia Nish-Lapidus: All Saints! Deborah Cox! Mariah! Jimmy Ray?

Favourite 90s fashion:
JNL: Platform shoes. I even had platform flip-flops, which were not comfortable. Though I always wanted to dress like Angela from My So-Called Life, and she would never wear those.

Favourite 90s movie:
JNL: Clueless… Empire Records.

Favourite 90s trend:
JNL: Inflatable housewares. I had a chair, an ottoman, a garbage can, and a Kleenex box holder.

What would be your 90s sitcom catchphrase?
JNL: Hop to it!

If you could give your 90s self one piece of advice, what would it be?
JNL: Stop pretending you’re too cool to like boy bands. We all know you went to an O-Town concert.

Describe the show in 5-10 words.
David:
Dublin. Christmas Eve. A visit. A man’s own ghosts. Whiskey. A chance.
James: An intimate Christmas sorrowful story time
Julia: Loss, loneliness, regret, and a chance at redemption.

Dublin Carol

Who:
Written by Conor McPherson
Presented by Fly on the Wall Theatre
Directed by Fly on the Wall’s Co-Artistic Producer, Rod Ceballos
Featuring: David Mackett, James Wallis and Julia Nish-Lapidus
Production Design by Patrick Brennan
Stage Manager: Cora Matheson

What:
Dublin undertaker, John Plunkett, is a man haunted by his past – a past he would sooner forget. It’s the morning of Christmas Eve and he’s back in his office with his new assistant, after overseeing an early morning funeral. Then an unexpected visit from his estranged daughter throws his daily routine into turmoil. It’s a visit that forces him to confront the ghosts of his past…but one that offers him a final opportunity to make things right.

Where:
Artscape Youngplace
180 Shaw Street, Toronto

When:
November 14 – 26, 2017

Tickets:
$15-$25
Preview (Tuesday, November 14): $15
Tuesday – Saturday: $25
Sunday Matinee: $20
flyonthewalltheatre.ca

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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_

An Interview with Julia Nish-Lapidus & Catherine Rainville of Shakespeare BASH’d “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in the 2015 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Bailey Green

“We’ve done comedies before, but nothing like this. It’s a non-stop riot.” – Julia Nish-Lapidus, Shakespeare Bash’d.

You may not associate the words “laugh-a-minute” with Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, but Shakespeare Bash’d may change your mind—they have taken over the Victory Cafe this Fringe to bring you a comedy of epic proportions. I spoke with Julia Nish-Lapidus (playing Mistress Page) and Catherine Rainville (co-director of the production with Artistic Director James Wallis) to talk about what makes this show so “silly, fartuous, specially amazing and ridonculous.”

The show’s main plot focuses on Falstaff, Mistress Page, Mistress Ford, and their respective husbands. Falstaff decides he wants to seduce the women to gain access to their husbands’ money, but when the ladies figure it out, they decide to turn the tables on him. “They’re two smart, badass, confident, ballsy women,” says Julia.

The two women also decide to teach Mistress Ford’s jealous husband (Andrew Joseph Richardson) a lesson. Catherine and Julia praise Suzette McCanny’s work as Mistress Ford, especially with her portrayal of her sincere love for her husband and desire to help him recover from his jealousy for his own sake. Though Master Ford is described as a “rascally knave”, through cuts and interpretation, Bash’d chose to cut some of the implied violence in the text. “In 2015, we can’t have a man who beats his wife being forgiven at the end of the play. That just doesn’t sit right,” Catherine says. “And we’re not burning Falstaff with candles… We ‘turn him, turn him’ instead of ‘burn him, burn him,” Julia follows up.

And it wouldn’t be Shakespeare without a subplot – a love story between Anne Page and Fenton (played by real-life couple Jade Douris and Drew O’Hara) whose chances are jeopardized by Anne’s mother, Mistress Page, who is anxious to marry her off to the good Doctor Caius (played by Zachary Parkhurst). Jeff Dingle plays Slender, another suitor of Anne: “Slender is so loveable but just so, so wrong for Anne,” Julia says.

Sean Sullivan plays Falstaff and Lynne Griffin plays Mistress Quickly, and Catherine and Julia can’t say enough good things about them. “Sean is such a generous scene partner who is so willing to go for it,” Julia says. “They’re honestly amazing,” says Catherine, “Every day they might bring in a new prop or piece of clothing, props or set ideas.” Sean really dove in to the role of Falstaff with exuberance. Catherine expresses gratitude for Sean’s willingness to be completely open to try new direction. Catherine also says what a privilege it’s been to watch the actors go through the extensive process of creating a character from start to finish—a process she is quite familiar with, herself.

I asked Catherine and Julia about what had challenged them over the course of the show:

Julia: Giving myself permission to truly push myself. I’ve played comedic roles in our shows before, I mean last year it was basically just cleavage and squeaking. But with this show, I’m just trusting myself and the text and our amazing company, and just going for it with gusto.

Catherine: My greatest challenge has been navigating the impossible, like when the whole cast is onstage or there’s these big changes in space or location. For example, how do you make the audience see a giant tree in their mind?

Julia: Oh no… now the audience is going to be looking for the giant tree.

Catherine: There’s no tree. It’s not literal. But sometimes you get these gifts, like there’s a chimney spoken of in the text and we just magically have a fireplace in the Victory.

Julia: This time around in the Victory Cafe, I feel like we’re really embracing the bar and making it part of our story. We are the Victory Cafe players and we are here to perform our show for our audience and the queen.

I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.” – The Merry Wives of Windsor

Merry Wives - Poster

Join your favourite Best of Fringe winning Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare BASH’d, for the Bard’s outrageous rural comedy: The Merry Wives of Windsor. In a world of drunks and cuckolds, two witty women set out to teach a lesson of love and jealousy.
Come crush a cup at the Victory cafe with this battle of wits.
“I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.”

By: William Shakespeare
Company: Shakespeare BASH’d
Company origin: Toronto, Ontario
Director: James Wallis, Catherine Rainville
Cast: Jade Douris, Lynne Griffin, Andrew Knowlton, David Mackett, Suzette McCanny, Julia Nish-Lapidus, Drew O’Hara, Andrew Joseph Richardson, David Ross, Sean Sullivan

Connect with them:

shakespearebashd.com
@ShakesBASHd

Where: The Victory Cafe, 581 Markham Street

When:
July 07 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 08 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 09 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 10 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 11 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 12 at 05:00 PM  buy tickets

Show length: 90min.

Tickets: fringetoronto.com

One More Time with Feeling! Shakespeare BASH’d on remounting past hit “The Taming of the Shrew”

Interview by Hallie Seline

Hallie: Can you speak to me a little about remounting a show? 

James: It’s a really crazy experience! There’s a lot from the original production that has transferred over for us, but a lot of it is changing too. We’re three years older, with three years more experience (and marriage), so our approach to the show, the characters, and the relationship has evolved.

Julia: It’s kind of wonderful to have a full rehearsal period to revisit something you already know so well. You have an opportunity to try more and really dig deeper. Plus, we have some new people joining us for this production, so they’re bringing a new energy and perspective to the show that wasn’t there before.

Hallie: Why this show?

Julia: This show holds a special place in our hearts. It was our first full Shakespeare BASH’d production and we did it only months before our wedding. It was one of the most exciting summers of my life and the show was a huge part of it, so it’s amazing to get to revisit it and play opposite my husband again – that’s always fun.

Hallie: Anything new and exciting in this version? 

James: Lots of new and lots of old. The cast is a mix of returning and new, which is fantastic. The feel and energy of the original production is definitely still there, but the cast members are taking time to explore these characters with fresh eyes and Julia and I are discovering more and more about the controversial relationship between Kate and Petrucio. There’s definitely a lot of new stuff coming out. Plus, it’s in a new bar. The Monarch Tavern is a fantastic space and it’s allowing us to stage the show in a very different way than we did at the Victory Cafe.

Hallie: What can audiences hope to expect for this performance? 

Julia: Exciting, silly, heartwarming Shakespeare that keeps you laughing but also has a lot under the surface.

James: We’re really excited to talk with audience members after the show and see how it affected them.

Hallie: James, what’s it like to step away from the director’s role and back into acting? 

James: Of course, it’s a little tough. I’ve really enjoyed my time in the director’s position with Shakespeare’s plays. I really like shaping the story – it’s one of my favourite things. I think with acting, you have to let things be. You can’t control as much, if at all, at times, and therefore you have to take a breath and just be. Which is liberating as a storyteller. Surprises abound! Regardless, I have a great team on stage and off so I trust that the show will be fantastic!

Hallie: Describe the show to me in 5-10 words.

Julia: Hilarious, action-packed, beer-filled (and fueled), and full of love.

Hallie: What’s your favourite beer at the Monarch Tavern?

James: Great Lakes Karma Citra IPA

Julia: Oast House Barn Raiser Country Ale

Hallie: Favourite line from Taming of the Shrew:

Julia: “Ye are a baggage.” Shakespeare really knew how to hit where it hurts.

James: “Is not this well?” that’s what everyone wants to know.

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When: April 9th – 12th, 2015

Where: Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton Street

Tickets: $18 shakespearebashd.com/tickets

Connect: @ShakesBashd

Connect with ITGR Hallie: @HallieSeline

Artist Profile: James Wallis & Julia Nish-Lapidus – The LaBute Cycle – This Week Only at Unit 102 Theatre – “We are who we are inside… The rest is unimportant.”

Interview by Hallie Seline

I had a chat with one of my favourite couples in Toronto Theatre, James Wallis and Julia Nish-Lapidus, to discuss their most recent project – The LaBute Cycle, going from Shakespeare (known most notably from Shakespeare BASH’d sold-out Toronto Fringe shows and their most recent production of Romeo and Juliet last fall) to LaBute, working professionally as a couple and their favourite places in Toronto. reasons to be pretty runs for one week only (April 8th-13th) with a special PWYC staged reading of Fat Pig on Sunday April 13th.

HS: Tell me a little about yourselves and about the show. 

JNL: We are doing reasons to be pretty, by Neil LaBute and a staged reading of his other play, Fat Pig. Originally we were presenting full productions of both plays in rep, but unfortunately, one of the actors was badly injured earlier this week, and is no longer able to do the show. James Wallis, our director, has stepped in to play his role in reasons to be pretty, but we are not going to be presenting a full production of Fat Pig at this time. We will be doing a staged reading of Fat Pig on Sunday, April 13 at 2pm, with another amazing actor, Jesse Griffiths, stepping into the role of Tom.

JW: Both of these shows examine how we value female beauty. We’ve worked with a lot of the team doing The LaBute Cycle while working with my other company, Shakespeare BASH’d, doing classical work. The LaBute Cycle is a passion project for myself and all those involved.

HS: Why LaBute?

JW: LaBute to me is a fantastic playwright, as he is very honest and focused with his characters’ worldviews. In reasons to be pretty, he tackles a very sensitive issue with the way we value beauty in the modern world. He doesn’t pull any punches and, in my opinion, writes with a great gusto about what he knows and doesn’t try to be politically correct. Also, I love his text; it’s extremely conversational and it’s a complete 180 from what I’m used to with Shakespeare’s work.

JNL: It’s a really interesting and sensitive subject matter to explore. And it’s fascinating to explore it so publicly. The issue of beauty and how we value it is pretty prominent in our world today and I think this play offers many different perspectives, and asks a lot of questions about the subject.

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Original Cast: Milan Malistic (TL), Elisabeth Lagerlöf (TR) Julia Nish-Lapidus (BL), Steve Boleantu (BR)

HS: What have you found interesting about working on something so different together. You normally work on Shakespeare together, this is quite a change. 

JW: It is! It’s been really great to get to explore these new characters, but bring a lot of the basics we use with our Shakespeare work into approaching these roles. I like the role of Kent for sure, he’s a malicious person, a person who is very selfish, but I think that he’s his own person and fights for what he thinks is his, regardless of who he hurts along the way. It’s not pretty but it’s honest. He’s verbose and nasty at times, which isn’t such a stretch for me but it is not where I live most of the time when it comes to acting. I’m excited for the challenge.

JNL: It’s really great to get to work with James on something contemporary for a change, and now I get to work with him as both a director and fellow actor! Being a married couple who works together so often (yes, James is my husband) is really great and it’s interesting to be exploring this sort of subject matter together. For me to be doing a big fight scene with Steve, who plays my boyfriend in the show, and have James be directing it is really cool, because he knows me so well and for material like this that sits in such a natural world, he can really help me bring a lot of myself to it, since he obviously knows me so well.

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Power Couple: Julia Nish-Lapidus & James Wallis

HS:This is being performed in Unit 102 theatre. Tell me about working in the space.

JW: In my opinion, it’s one of the most amazing spaces in the city. It is a complete blank slate that I have seen transformed in so many ways. I really like the enthusiasm of the guys who run the place. They want to see great theatre come out of their space and I admire their tenacity for finding it.

JNL: It’s a really great space. There’s a lot of flexibility to use it however you want and the team of people who run it are awesome! It’s so important to have small, flexible spaces like that in the city.

HS: If you could entice people to come see the show in five to ten words, what would they be?

JW: We are who we are inside. The rest is unimportant.

JNL: Hilarious, heart breaking, and oozing with talent.

HS: What inspires you as artists?

JNL: James, my husband? Is that super cheesy? This is really a passion project for him, and he’s pushed me to take risks artistically that I don’t think I would have without that push from him.

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JW: The people I am fortunate to be surrounded by. The constant creativity that they exude is without equal. Also, my wife, Julia, whom I am completely enthralled by, her grace under pressure, her faculties with producing a play and her wonderful intelligence when it comes to any work she does.

JW: He just said that because of what I said. He felt like he had to…

HS: Best advice you’ve ever gotten.

JW: It’s just a play.

JNL: Act better.

HS: What are your favourite places in the city?

JW: Victory Café, my home, the Dank and any used book store.

JNL: Home! And Bar + Karaoke (the best karaoke place to drink your face off and sing 90’s pop songs)

reasons to be pretty

by Neil LaBute
The LaBute Cyclelabutecycle_postcard_front

WhereUnit 102 Theatre (376 Dufferin Street)
When: April 8th-13th *Special staged reading of LaBute’s Fat Pig will be presented at 2pm on Sunday April 13th
Tickets: $17 – Available at www.labute-cycle.com and at the door. The staged reading of Fat Pig on April 13th is PWYC at the door

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