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Posts tagged ‘Shaina Silver-Baird’

A Chat with Jason Maghanoy, Playwright of THE NAILS at SummerWorks

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

SSB: Is this play inspired by true events? If yes, how so?

Jason Maghanoy: This play is like all of my other plays: it’s all true but none of it is true.

SSB: Where does The Nails fall on the realism spectrum?

JM: It’s like real life… which sometimes doesn’t feel real, you know?

SSB: Where does the title The Nails come from? 

JM: There’s a line in the play that explains it and I don’t want to give it away.

SSB: Have you worked at SummerWorks before? Why is this festival a good match for your play?

JM: This is my fourth time doing SummerWorks. I always have fun doing it. The Nails is the most ambitious project I’ve ever had as part of the Festival.

SSB: What did you take into account when assembling your team?

JM: Tanya Rintoul built the team. She was the first person I brought on-board and she has been amazing. Rigorous. Ambitious. Smart. I love what she has created.


SSB: The play addresses family issues, racism, homophobia… Did you set out to write a piece that dealt with these things?

JM: Yup.

SSB: The play takes place in America. Is it specifically American or is that just the setting? How does it relate to Canadians?

JM: My dad lives in Texas and Houston is like… my CITY, you know? But the themes of the play are universal.

SSB: What can people expect from The Nails?

JM: A good time. Hopefully you’ll want to talk about it after.

SSB: Describe the play in 5 words. 

JM: Faith. Freedom. Love. Cruelty…Four words is enough.

The Nails

Written by Jason Maghanoy
Directed by Tanya Rintoul
Performed by Jeysa Caridad, Jake Runeckles, Alexander Thomas, William Ellis, Ellie Ellwand
Stage Management by Meghan Froebelius
Set Design by Christine Urquhart
Lighting Design by David Costello
Sound Design by Jaiden Davis-Jones
Costume Design by Claire Hill
Production Management by Alanna McConnell

Ally and Josh spend every summer with their father as he goes from small town to small town working for a construction company in America. But this summer is different. This summer they grow up. This is the summer that everything changes.

The Nails is a play about family. It is a play about faith. And it captures a world of freedom and extremism in all directions; love and cruelty exist within the same space here. Sometimes they feel like the same thing.

Factory Theatre Studio
125 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON

Tuesday August 8th 10:00pm – 11:15pm
Thursday August 10th 7:30pm – 8:45pm
Saturday August 12th 4:15pm – 5:30pm
Sunday August 13th 1:00pm – 2:15pm


In the Greenroom’s Next Stage Theatre Festival Favourites

We couldn’t think of a better way to start 2017 on a high note than with a jam-packed festival of new theatre, dance, music, storytelling and improv; watching artists take their work to the ‘next stage’; and, of course, some good beer tent times re-connecting to old friends and meeting new ones!

We wanted to share some of In the Greenroom’s Festival Favourites, with the hopes of inspiring you as you begin your final NSTF scheduling. We’ve chosen something different, something new, something bloody and something true… maybe.

Be sure to share your favourite festival moments!

Connect with us on:
twitter: @intheGreenRoom_
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instagram: @inthegreenroom



Go to MANICPIXIEDREAMGIRLS if you want: something different… completely different!

It’s hard to find just one word to describe MANICPIXIEDREAMGIRLS. Wild, weird and wonderful, this show is bold, hilarious, absurd, athletic and completely fun! There’s nostalgia. There’s glitter. There’s incredible “wow-did-they-just-do-that” dancing, blow-up props, Garden State references, singalongs, and bags of milk! Yup, it’s a total trip and the more we think back on everything we experienced during MANICPIXIEDREAMGIRLS, the more we smile.

**We also recommend reading the program note on the work by choreographer Alyssa Martin either before or after for an even deeper appreciation of the piece.

Join dance-theatre renegades Rock Bottom Movement for a hallucinatory romp through millennial nostalgia and classic indie film. Choreographer Alyssa Martin conjures a gleefully glitter-soaked pop-culture mashup featuring 90’s singer-songwriter karaoke and athletic dance breaks.

Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst St.)

January 11 at 06:45 PM
January 12 at 07:30 PM
January 14 at 09:00 PM
January 15 at 05:15 PM


Something New: Songbuster, an improvised musical


Go to Songbuster if you want: something new… every time!

Songbuster, an improvised musical is perfect if you’re looking for heart-wrenchingly hilarious ballads about _____ (You fill in the blank!) At this fully improvised musical, audience members get to choose the subject matter of the play! On opening we witnessed an entire saga about comicon that we won’t soon forget. We especially loved the improvised flamenco duet… Enough said!

Fast paced, ridiculous and always entertaining, the cast creates an hour-long musical from suggestions provided by the audience. This dynamite cast has been seen in mainstage musicals and comedy clubs around the country and knows how to make you laugh one moment and break out your jazz hands the next.

Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst St.)

January 11 at 07:00 PM
January 12 at 05:30 PM
January 14 at 06:00 PM
January 15 at 01:45 PM


Something Bloody: Blood Ties


Go to Blood Ties if you want: something bloody…fun & musical!

Witty, charming and funny dialogue, plus beautiful songwriting with clear and engaging narrative sung throughout, Blood Ties is a bloody fun musical. Hats off to their thoughtful and clever costume design and a special shout-out to performer Jeremy Lapalme!

Sheila’s uncle shoots himself in his bathroom on the eve of her wedding, and when her three best friends arrive in town to celebrate they are instead faced with the task of cleaning up the considerable mess left behind. This flagship musical show by Dora-nominated team Anika Johnson and Barbara Johnston has previously been a hit at SummerWorks, the Edinburgh Fringe, and on BBC America’s ‘Orphan Black.’ Based on true events.

Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst St.)

January 12 at 05:15 PM buy tickets
January 13 at 10:00 PM buy tickets
January 14 at 02:00 PM buy tickets
January 15 at 07:00 PM buy tickets


Something True (or False… either way there’s Spam!): Two Truths And A Lie


Go to Two Truths and a Lie if you want: something true… or false! Regardless, someone is going home with a can of SPAM after this truly feel-good, laugh-out-loud, intimate storytelling show, so how could you miss it?

Though filled with lies and liars, Two Truths and a Lie promises to be filled with hilarious laugh-out-loud moments for a truly feel-good time in a cozy venue. These three talented storytellers transport us to horrifying yet still somehow endearing moments in their lives, and whether you can figure out who the ultimate liar is or not, a can of Spam is up for grabs, so… who wouldn’t want that?!

Each night of the festival, Graham Isador (Situational Anarchy), Helder Brum (Born with a Tale), and Rhiannon Archer (Life Records) will regale audiences with three unbelievable stories…one of which is completely made up. After the critical successes of their honest and funny solo shows, these veterans of Toronto’s storytelling scene are coming together to make you laugh while lying to your face.

Factory Theatre Antechamber (125 Bathurst St.)

January 11 at 05:55 PM
January 12 at 08:40 PM
January 13 at 06:40 PM
January 14 at 05:40 PM
January 15 at 04:25 PM


We hope this inspires you to kick off your weekend NSTFestival schedule planning and be sure to see something you wouldn’t normally! This list is just the beginning.

There’s 10 shows that have each been selected to offer something different. Be bold. See something on a whim! That’s what the festival spirit is all about. You never know what you might be surprised by.

Happy Closing, NSTF! We’ll cheers you in the beer tent!



“It’s the scariest performance I do. But it’s also why I love this job.” – A Chat with Kristian Bruun on SONGBUSTER – an improvised musical

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

I had the joy of chatting with Kristian Bruun, one of the artists performing and creating nightly Songbuster – an improvised musical on now at the Next Stage Theatre Festival. He spoke about the need to put on more musical improv in the city, how they prepare for a performance that is always changing, and how this is both the scariest kind of performance and why he loves his job. 

Shaina Silver-Baird: How did Songbuster start? What was the inspiration for creating a fully improvised musical?

Kristian Bruun: It started with Stephanie Malek and Josh Murray in the summer of 2015. They both wanted to see more musical improv represented in the city and went out to all the people they thought would not only bring top talent, but also be fun to perform with. We all love musicals, and the excitement that comes from improvising one is unlike anything else. Originally, we were just doing a couple shows for Blockbuster Week at Bad Dog and Big City Improv Festival and it just grew from there.


SSB: How did you get involved?

KB: Stephanie approached me and said she was putting a group together. How could I say no? I’ve worked with some of the cast before (like Nug in Evil Dead! The Musical) and it seemed like a fun project.

SSB: Is it scary going out on stage not knowing what’s going to happen?!

KB: Always. It’s the scariest performance I do. But it’s also why I love this job.


SSB: How do you prepare/rehearse for an improvised musical?

KB: We run songs, scenes, mini versions of shows. We work on different varieties of songs and song structures. We revisit classic story arcs found in musicals, and character archetypes, and always go back to the basic foundations of storytelling. It always helps having an expert eye to guide us and this year we’ve been working a lot with Carly Heffernan, who is brilliant and always sharp with her notes.


SSB: You did this show before at the Fringe Festival. Will this version be any different?

KB: Not really. Of course, we hope we’ll be even tighter as a group. We love these chances to do a run of shows because we always learn so much from night to night. It’s improv, so every show will be wildly different and wonderfully weird.

SSB: Do you have any favourite moments from the last run?

KB: We had a musical take place on the moon that got very randy. Everybody was making out and grinding on each other. The audience really got their money’s worth that night. Yeah. That was fun.


SSB: Many people know you from your TV/film work. How is this style of performance different? What are the challenges and are the two related for you?

KB: This is a type of performance where I’m left to my own creativity and that of my cast mates. No script, not much of a plan… It’s so open and nerve-wracking and fantastic! It’s a complete rush being on stage with no script (also a common theme in my nightmares). I sometimes get to improv on set, but here the world is our oyster and we shuck the hell out of it.


Rapid Fire Question Round:

Favourite play you saw this year: Obsidian Theatre’s stunning production of “Master Harold”… and the Boys.

Favourite movie: Swiss Army Man.

What’s on repeat on your iTunes: The Hamilton Soundtrack.

Favourite food: Roti.

Most embarrassing moment (or the most embarrassing one you’ll tell us): Anytime someone recognizes me I turn beet red, get all shy and start flop sweating. I walk away embarrassed every time. Thank god it doesn’t happen too often…

Describe Songbuster in 5 words: Musical appears before your eyes.

Songbuster – an improvised musical


Photo by Tanja Tiziana

Presented by Songbuster Inc.
Created by the Ensemble – every night!
Featuring Tricia Black, Kristian Bruun, Ashley Comeau, Alexandra Hurley, Stephanie Malek, Josh Murray, Nug Nahrgang, Nicky Nasrallah and Connor Thompson
Musical Director Tom King

Fast paced, ridiculous and always entertaining, the cast creates an hour long musical from suggestions provided by the audience. This dynamite cast has been seen in mainstage musicals and comedy clubs around the country and knows how to make you laugh one moment and break out your jazz hands the next.

Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst St.)

January 06 at 09:00 PM
January 07 at 04:00 PM
January 08 at 08:00 PM
January 09 at 09:00 PM
January 11 at 07:00 PM
January 12 at 05:30 PM
January 14 at 06:00 PM
January 15 at 01:45 PM



Talking Canadian Stories & the Upcoming Production of AGENCY with actor Ben Sanders

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

Shaina: What’s different about working on a new play like this that’s never been done before, compared with something that has been in the theatre canon for awhile?

Ben Sanders: It’s very liberating when you don’t have to worry about the burden of a precedent for your character. Rather than doing the ten thousandth Mercutio, I get to be the very first Peter Gottschild (my character in Agency). There’s a great freedom that comes with that. My impulses and choices are brushstrokes on a fresh canvas.

Shaina: What is a ‘Canadian’ story? Would you say this is a Canadian play?

Ben: Canadian stories are anything dreamed up in the mind of a Canadian (including brand new Canadians) or anything set in Canada. Aside from some of our indigenous stories, just about all Canadian stories involve relationships to other countries. Agency is set in Germany, and features all German characters, but it also has a whole lot of the heart and soul – and some of the heritage – of Eva Barrie, a Canadian artist.

Photo of Eva Barrie & Ben Sanders by Greg Wong

Photo of Eva Barrie & Ben Sanders by Greg Wong

Shaina: What’s been the biggest challenge and biggest joy in tackling your character so far?

Ben: We’re playing with time and memory in the play. Sometimes my character is onstage as a part of someone else’s memory, rather than really being there. So I can’t be too picky about my “reality”, or my circumstances. The biggest joy, so far, is the crackling dialogue – Eva’s lines just roll off your tongue. Makes my job easy!

Shaina: Describe the show in 5 words.

Ben: Suspense. Surveillance. Betrayal. Obsession. Turtlenecks.

Photo of Earl Pastko & Ben Sanders by Greg Wong

Photo of Earl Pastko & Ben Sanders by Greg Wong

Shaina: Do you think it’s important for the other characters to explore the past as they do? At what point is this exploration positive and at what point is it detrimental to get trapped in the past?

Ben: Everybody’s got skeletons in the closet… everybody. So if you want to dig into your own past, or your family tree, you’ve got to do so with empathy, and brace yourself for unseemly discoveries. A family history is just a story we’ve been told, usually edited and revised for our benefit by people who care about us. Do you really want to challenge that story? It takes a lot of courage and offers little reward. But, then again, some stories demand to be told, and don’t ask politely.

Photo of Earl Pastko & Ben Sanders by Greg Wong

Photo of Earl Pastko & Ben Sanders by Greg Wong

Shaina: Did you have to do any research into the specific events of 1980s Berlin to tackle this play? What was the most interesting fact your discovered?

Ben: The extent of the surveillance state was pretty astounding, especially the network of “Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter” – informal collaborators. These were not official Stasi agents, just ordinary people feeding the authorities information on their acquaintances. Friends reported on friends; family reported on family. Once the wall fell, and it all came out in the open – once the hundreds of thousands of shredded files were pieced together by hand – reconciliation was not easy.

One of the most moving stories was of a woman who was devastated to learn, after the wall fell, the names of all the friends that had been reporting on her behind her back. At the end of her research into her file, she was reminded that she, also, had briefly informed on her friends, and completely forgotten about it. Surveillance and betrayal were just a part of everyday life.

Photo of Earl Pastko, Ben Sanders & Eva Barrie by Greg Wong

Photo of Earl Pastko, Ben Sanders & Eva Barrie by Greg Wong

Shaina: There is so much going on in the city right now, why should people come see this play? What will they get here that they won’t get anywhere else?

Ben: Eva Barrie is a major new talent. Her writing is totally engrossing: it’s got an impressive technical complexity – lots of tasty plot – but also a very natural, relatable tone that will catch you off-guard. And she’s written a terrific role for Earl Pastko to act the hell out of. Which he does.


Photo of Earl Pastko, Ben Sanders & Eva Barrie by Greg Wong.


About Ben Sanders:


Ben Sanders is a Toronto-based actor. He has performed at the Shaw Festival for seven seasons, appearing in 14 productions, including The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with the Key to the Scriptures, The Sea, Major Barbara, Cabaret, Our Betters, French without Tears, Misalliance, Serious Money, and four world premieres: Michel Marc Bouchard’s The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt, Peter Hinton and Allen Cole’s musical version of Alice in Wonderland, Lisa Codrington’s adaptation of The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, and Michael Healey’s reimagining of On the Rocks. He also performed with The Grand Theatre (A Christmas Carol, Dry Streak, Playwright’s Cabaret) and with Toronto’s Praxis Theatre (Objections to Sex and Violence, Tim Buck 2). In 2015, he was named one of NOW Magazine’s Top 10 Theatre Artists of the year, and the My Theatre Awards Performer of the Year. He trained at Ryerson University.
Up next, Ben will be back at the Grand Theatre in The Lion in Winter.


A New Play by Eva Barrie


Presented by Yell Rebel
Written by Eva Barrie
Directed by Megan Watson
Dramaturged by Thomas Morgan Jones
Featuring: Earl Paskto, Ben Sanders & Eva Barrie

Set & Costume Designer: Karyn McCallum
Lighting Designer: Mikael Kangas
Sound Designer: Lyon Smith
Stage Manager: Théa Pel
Technical Director: Tamara Vuckovic
Design Assistant: Echo Zhou
Producer/Production Manager: Noah Spitzer

In the height of the Cold War, Hannah’s father is killed as her family makes a desperate escape out of East Berlin. Years later, she reads her father’s Stasi files and unearths a 25 year old mystery. The only one who can help her solve it: the man who spied on her father. Demanding answers and getting far more than she bargained for, Hannah takes a trip into the past.

The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen Street West

November 10th – 20th
Tuesday – Saturday 7pm
Saturday/Sunday 1pm

General Admission: $22.00
Arts-worker/Student $18.00
PWYC Performances: Nov. 10th (7pm), Nov. 12th (1pm), Nov. 13th (1pm) & Nov. 19th (1pm)

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t: @yellrebelTO


“Corpses, Neo–Alt Theatre and Community” In conversation with David Ferry, director of BREATHING CORPSES at the Coal Mine Theatre


“It’s really important in this company that everybody has ownership in the room. It’s the way I like to work. My job as a director is to create an empowered room. It’s not ‘director as boss’, it’s ‘director as facilitator’.”

– David Ferry


Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

Shaina: The title “Breathing Corpses” is quite potent. What does it mean to you?

David: Well, it’s kinda like The Walking Dead isn’t it? In the idea that people are walking around dead already, they just don’t know it. And they don’t know when they’re going die. For instance, with the characters Kate and Ben, she’s already dead in their relationship in an odd kind of way. So she’s a breathing corpse. And then there’s fate at play: she’s already marked for death. And Amy is marked for death. And Richard is marked for death… So there’s a sense that there’s nothing you can do about it. You may be marked for death sooner rather than later. I think the playwright is saying: we’re all walking around dead, we just don’t know when it’s going to happen.

Shaina: But there are actual dead corpses in the play?

David: The one dead body that we see onstage is at the top of the play. And we find out later that it’s one of the characters we meet during the course of the following scenes. So we go back in time as the play progresses. He’s fated to be dead in a month when we meet him on stage. The other dead character – whose body is found offstage – we see her breathing as well. So at the time that the first scene of the play occurs, two people that we meet on stage, are already dead.

It’s so bizarre trying to figure out the timeline of this.


Photo of Benjamin Sutherland & Kim Nelson by Shaun Benson

Shaina: So as a person discovers a dead body, does that mark them for death? Or is it more complicated than that?

David: There are a couple of things that seem clear to me. Everybody is marked for death. We’re all going to die. But some people are marked for death early, before their time. One of the things I’m playing with in the play is that each character who dies prematurely appears at some point in their bare feet. Nobody’s going to understand what that’s about! But it will set them apart, because they are already walking towards death. And Charlie, who is death himself, also appears in bare feet – he carries death with him… It’s an odd play.


Photo of Erin Humphry & Richard Sheridan Willis by Shaun Benson

Shaina: This is the first Canadian production of this British play. Do you find there’s a difference between working on British, Canadian and American repertoire?

David: English theatre is hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years old. Canadian theatre is not. It’s a baby, relatively speaking. And the tradition of Canadian-written plays is, relatively speaking, new, especially in comparison. The tradition of English playwriting is far more influenced by the editor, literature and form. They have a different rhythm to them. And American plays are completely different, as well. They have a tradition of writing for commercial theatre, which we essentially don’t have in Canada. The idea of a play being written for a marketplace that has to please a lot of people who are willing to pay $130 – $500 doesn’t exist here. Most Canadian plays are done once, which is a tragedy. It’s a completely different crucible of what a play has to go through.

So when you work on an English play, even with a young feminist writer like Laura, you’re dealing with a long tradition of a commercial theatre, a regional arts funded system which has a long gestation period (think a 6 month rehearsal period instead of a 3 week period). You’re dealing with a play that comes from a more literate background. And you’re dealing with structures and forms and rhythms that come from another culture. And deal with different issues. I mean the whole issue of immigration is treated completely different in English plays than in Canadian plays because it’s a different issue. So it’s always interesting to work on plays from other cultures.

For me, English rhythms, especially urban rhythms, are very fast and very quick thinking. Not that we don’t have that in Canadian theatre, especially with our young playwrights like Jordan Tannahill, who deals with highly literate people and quick thinkers. But even his plays are a different rhythm because he’s Canadian. I would argue that Mamet cannot happen in England and Churchill can’t happen in the United States because they come from different traditions all together.

Photo of Simon Bracken, Erin Humphry & Richard Sheridan Willis by Shaun Benson

Photo of Simon Bracken, Erin Humphry & Richard Sheridan Willis by Shaun Benson

Shaina: So are you using accents in this version?

David: Yes, because it is such a distinctly British play. Ted and Diana – the producers of the Coal Mine – picked the plays. And it was really important to them that in the casting we really find actors that can deliver on the dialogue.

Shaina: How is it different working with Coal Mine, compared with other companies?

David: In an important way, it’s very focused on the actor: good acting, good plays, in an intimate space. There’re no grants, they do everything out of the pockets of the producers and that gets paid back through box office. It’s a big part of their mandate to have a serious footprint in this (Danforth) neighbourhood. This year, their season passes have doubled from last season. We can sell 1700 seats for this show, and they’ve already sold over 500 in advance, which is fantastic for a tiny little theatre like this. It works because of the funding model. You aren’t doing it for the big paycheques. But it also gives you the ability to work on a schedule that is really actor-friendly. For example, I decided to have intense, 5 hour days for the first 2 weeks instead of 8 hours with a break, because the actors have auditions, they have days on set etc. It’s feasible to do all that in this model.

It’s really important in this company that everybody has ownership in the room. It’s the way I like to work. My job as a director is to create an empowered room. It’s not director as boss, it’s director as facilitator.

Photo of Erin Humphry & Johnathan Sousa by Shaun Benson

Photo of Erin Humphry & Johnathan Sousa by Shaun Benson

Shaina: There’s a huge amount on offer in Toronto right now for live performance. What do you think people will get here that they won’t get anywhere else?

David: Well we’re a part of the rise of post-alternate theatre (which is what I call it), “a neo–alt”, like The Storefront Theatre, Red Sand Castle, Coal Mine, site-specific work, which has come to Toronto with a vengeance. What’s interesting to me, is that a lot of the generating forces behind these theatres are female. And for young women like Diana Bentley (producer at Coal Mine Theatre and one of my favourite actors in the world) – there are doors that aren’t open to her that are open to a certain generation of men like myself.

Instead of saying “That’s a drag,” Diana says: “Fuck it, I’m going to start my own space.” These young women are taking ownership of storytelling in a neo-feminist mode. I’m finding it particularly exciting.

I think what these theatres have to offer is access for voices that didn’t have a place to speak before. Access for new faces. Access for types of theatre.

Also, this theatre is an example of theatre owned by a community.

This theatre is not theatre-centric. It is community-centric. So the majority of the people that come live in the Danforth, Leslieville, Riverdale, Beaches area. They come because they can walk to it! And as we see an increasing neighbourhood separation because transit is so bad, people try to live, work and stay in their neighbourhood as much as possible like in New York. I think that’s really important.

Shaina: How would you describe this production in 5 words?

Watch the video to hear David’s answer:


Breathing Corpses

Presented by Coal Mine Theatre


Written by Laura Wade | Directed by David Ferry
Starring Simon Bracken, Erin Humphry, Kim Nelson, Johnathan Sousa,
Benjamin Sutherland, Severn Thompson, Richard Sheridan Willis
Set and Lighting design by Steve Lucas
Costume design by Ming Wong | Sound Design by Verne Good
Fight Director Casey Hudecki | Dialect Coach Rae Ellen Bodie

Coal Mine Theatre, 1454 Danforth Avenue, Toronto

October 23–November 13, 2016
Tuesday-Saturday @ 7:30 • Sunday Matinee @ 2pm (new this year!)

All Tickets $35 (previews $25)

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#CoalMineThree #IndieTheatre #BreathingCorpsesTO #Season3