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Posts tagged ‘Shaina Silver-Baird’

“Concord Floral: A real, raw look at teenage life.” Interview with ensemble member Rashida Shaw

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird  

SSB: How long have you been involved with this play?

Rashida Shaw: I have been involved with Concord Floral since its first workshop presentation at Canadian Stage’s Festival of Ideas and Creations in the spring of 2012. The following November, we did another workshop at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Bring The Buzz Festival. In October 2014, we presented the full 80-minute world premiere production at the Theatre Centre (co-produced by Why Not Theatre). All three iterations were drastically different from one another, yet depicted similar themes of adolescence, suburban sprawl, and modern representations of medieval images/text.

Photo by Erin Brubacher

Photo by Erin Brubacher

SSB: How has it changed from its first workshop to now?

RS: The very first workshop we did was seven pages long with very little dialogue. It relied heavily on image-based aesthetics through the use of tableaux and a projection screen that showed medieval themed paintings. The piece was largely centred around little snippets of a day at a high school and through the incorporation of live music and images; it provided a unique visceral experience for the audience.

I think this version differs from the earlier workshops as you get to learn more about each individual character: their thoughts, hopes, and fears. Having more text allows you to watch these characters go through a much more developed narrative journey. There is no projection screen and it’s a very minimal set, with a greater emphasis on sound and lightning. The first workshop was a glance into an event that took place during one day, inviting audiences into “the teenage world”. In this version, we dive to a much greater depth of what is means to be a teenager in our present day. We explore questions concerning the notion of collective responsibility, not only as young people, but as humans.

Jessica Munk, Erum Khan. Photo by Erin Brubacher.

Jessica Munk, Erum Khan. Photo by Erin Brubacher.

SSB: What has been the biggest challenge of the process?

RS: The biggest challenge of the process thus far is being true to this version’s iteration and not falling back on how I performed my role in 2014.  I’ve realized it’s been extremely difficult for me to stray away from my muscle memory of how I used to talk and move, and challenge myself to find new nuances in the role and be open to trying something different.

SSB: Why do you think this story is important?

RS: I think this story is important because it shows realistic views on what it is like to be a teenager. We are complex individuals who face heartbreak, joy, disappointment – some teenagers have to grow up before their time. The play examines topics and themes that are largely considered taboo for adults to talk about and that are especially rare for young people to be seen talking about in theatre (or any artistic medium), let alone doing. It’s important because teenagers are not what you see on a television show played by thirty year olds. They are humans living on this planet trying to figure things out just like everyone else and this show gets that.

Photo by Erin Brubacher.

Photo by Erin Brubacher.

SSB: Do you think this play is an accurate representation of your peers?

RS: I believe this play is an accurate representation of my peers because of the casual conversational style of dialogue in the play; the slang terms that come from our day-to-day life; having actual young voices and bodies on stage, and the fact that as a cast, we relate to the characters we play because they are so close to ourselves.

SSB: What’s it like working with more than one director?

RS: Well, we basically have three directors and it’s surprisingly easy and seamless for the most part. Erin Brubacher and Cara Spooner, our co-directors, are like our moms and Erum Khan, our assistant director, is like our big sister (even though she’s a year younger than me). Erin and Cara are so in sync that they usually finish each other’s sentences like weird couples or identical twins. There are also times when only one of them can be at a rehearsal and we might get conflicting notes but when they’re both back in the room one of them will say: “Oh yeah, I see what you’re saying. We should try that.” They all have different yet similar styles that mesh well for us in this process. It allows us to appreciate and understand the piece and our roles through a multitude of viewpoints. One director might ask us to try to think about a line from a new perspective, another will ask us to approach something in a different way, while the other might ask how/if a specific moment felt different and why. It’s nice having different views and a sort of 360° super director. We’re very fortunate and lucky to have three cohesive directors.

Photo by Erin Brubacher

Photo by Erin Brubacher

SSB: Why do you do theatre?

RS: In grade 5, I played The Grinch in “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and was bit by the acting bug. I do theatre specifically because it’s a living, changing thing; you never know what’s going to happen with live art and that’s what’s so exciting and what keeps it fresh. Audiences are a big part of that through the give and take between performer and viewer. When I hear their first reaction, I’m like “Ok, now we’re in the same world, now we can play.” I do theatre because I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t. It’s my greatest passion and it brings me the most joy in life (next to food of course).

SSB: Who do you think this play will speak to?

RS: Anyone who has ever been a teenager.

Photo by Erin Brubacher

Photo by Erin Brubacher

Concord Floral

A Brubacher / Spooner / Tannahill production presented by Canadian Stage


Written by Jordan Tannahill
Directors | Erin Brubacher & Cara Spooner
Assistant Director | Erum Khan
Lighting Design | Kimberley Purtell
Sound Design | Christopher Willes
Sound Consultant | Matthew Pencer
Stage Manager | Chad Dembski

A haunting tale set around Concord Floral, once a million square foot abandoned greenhouse and hangout for neighbourhood kids in Vaughan, Concord Floral re-imagines Giovanni Boccaccio’s 13th century literary masterpiece The Decameron in a contemporary Canadian suburb, in which ten teens must flee a plague they have brought upon themselves. This Canadian Stage production brings together ten youth performers from the GTA and across the country to play ten teenagers (plus a fox, a bird, a couch, and a greenhouse), in this piece about beauty, cruelty, mercy and the modern adolescent experience.

Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street)

September 27 – October 16


facebook – Canadian Stage
twitter – @canadianstage
hashtag – #csConcord




One-on-One with Sasha Singer-Wilson, co-creator of “Inside” at SummerWorks 2016

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

Shaina Silver Baird: How and why did you decide to create a one-on-one site-specific piece? What does this approach offer you that traditional theatre doesn’t?

Sasha Singer-Wilson: I am interested in revitalizing the audience/participant experience and I love creating performance in unlikely places. How can we, as theatre artists, employ an audience in our ephemeral art form? With Netflix so seductively calling from my laptop, this nature of performance offers transformational magic that I am hungry for, both as a maker and as an audience member. If I am hungry for it, I trust that others are too. With Inside, we invite our participants into an experience of close proximity and fly-on-the-wall connection, with the opportunity to witness performers in a private moment. The creation process is really unique – we build our characters and their “scores” out of interviews with our collaborators and then work slowly and organically from the kernels that stand out to us. It’s rewarding and super fun.

Shaina: What role does Cat and the Queen’s music play? Or is that a secret?

Sasha: Cat is an incredible multi-disciplinary performer. To find out how her musical skills are featured, which they are, you’ll have to come and see the show!

Photo of Cat Montgomery by Samantha Madely.

Photo of Cat Montgomery by Samantha Madely.

Shaina: Why create in theatre? Why not some other medium?

Sasha: Theatre is living and breathing. It is right here, right now. This confounds and energizes me. Theatre’s ability to gather people and give the gift of a shared experience is so powerful. Theatre’s subtlety and inherent transcendence bring grace.

Shaina: Why the name The Blood Projects?

Sasha: When Sarah Jurgens and I started creating together in 2009, we were interested in the connective tissue of stories and found our interest lay in work connected to family, to questions about life and death, and the intricacies of the human experience. We dug the idea of “projects” because we both identify as multi-disciplinary artists and wanted to create a home for whatever we made. Mostly, the blood projects makes immersive, intimate performance in unlikely places, but is interested in including film and video, musical experiences and photography.

Shaina: Describe “Inside” in 5 words:


home. heartbreak. birthday party. fly-on-the-wall. meditative.



Company – the blood projects/Cat and the Queen
Created by Cat Montgomery and Sasha Singer-Wilson with Tabby Johnson, Sarah Jurgens, Krista Mennell, Nadeem Phillip, Adrian Rebucas, Giovanni Spina, Heather Watts, and Jada White. Produced by the blood projects and Cat and the Queen.

Hi. Thank you for being interested in our show. We are Sasha and Cat. We make theatre and music. Join us and our friends on a series of eight site-specific one-on-one encounters in a secret location west-end apartment that ask who we are when we’re alone, at home.

We asked our collaborators a series of questions like “does the public presentation of yourself differ from the self you experience in private?”, “what’s one thing you’ll only do when you’re alone at home?”, and “if someone were to peek in on you, all alone, in your bedroom, what might they learn about who you truly are?” We built our piece around kernels of truth, dipped in fluorescent colours – a celebration of shared humanness in all its strangeness and simplicity and beauty. We hope you’ll join us.

Curator’s Note
“Am I most myself when I’m alone? If so, what does that say about me? Working with the available light of their site, the artists Inside offer us one to one encounters with(in) the privacy of others.” – Guillermo Verdecchia

Starting Location: Pia Bouman
6 Noble Street

Thursday August 4th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Thursday August 4th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Friday August 5th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Friday August 5th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Saturday August 6th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Saturday August 6th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Saturday August 6th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Sunday August 7th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Sunday August 7th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Monday August 8th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Monday August 8th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Wednesday August 10th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Wednesday August 10th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Thursday August 11th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Thursday August 11th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Thursday August 11th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Friday August 12th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Friday August 12th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Friday August 12th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Saturday August 13th 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
Saturday August 13th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Saturday August 13th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM

More Show Info:


web –
twitter – @bloodprojects
facebook – bloodprojects
instagram – @bloodprojects




PLUCKED: Fear, Chickens and Bluegrass! In Conversation with director Carly Chamberlain

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

Shaina Silver-Baird: Based on the description on the SummerWorks webpage, I’m very intrigued, but know very little about what happens in the play itself. Tell me a bit, from your perspective, about the show.

Carly Chamberlain: The description is intentionally ambiguous because it’s actually an impossible play to describe without diminishing it in some way. Basically, it’s an absurd fable centered around a family farm. On this farm, for generations, the women have been turned into chickens by their fear. And in this world, eggs are extremely profitable – think thousands of millions of dollars. The men on the farm are trying to harvest these eggs in order to become millionaires.

The play all takes place on a single day during a period when there have been no chickens on the farm for twenty years. There are two women in the family: a mother and a daughter. The men (a father and a grandfather who has turned into a rooster), have been waiting for over 20 years for Abigail (the mother) to turn into a chicken.

The play starts on the morning that Abigail finally turns into a chicken, and that transformation sets a series of events in motion. For example, the daughter has promised herself that when her mom eventually turns into a chicken, she’s going to run away so that she doesn’t also turn into a chicken. Each scene is loosely an hour of the day as it progresses.

In a nutshell: Plucked is about fear turning women into chickens, and the men of the family making money off of that. It’s big and political, grappling with misogyny and patriarchy, but it’s also quite personal. We watch the cycles of generations in this family, repeating the same mistakes. It begs the question: is it even possible not to become our parents? The fear of that makes us lash out and try to control things we can’t actually control. 

Shaina: What role does the bluegrass music play in the show?

Carly: I wouldn’t classify this show as a musical, because I imagine musicals to be beautifully sung expressions of emotion. And that’s not what this is.

The rooster (otherwise known as the grandfather) is a character in the scenes but also a kind of MC/storyteller. There are often songs underscoring, or interrupting scenes. So the music plays a pretty chaotic role in the storytelling. The rhythm is quite fast, as all the characters are on stage the whole time, often popping out of character to play some kind of instrument. 

Shaina: Is it all original music?

Carly: No, all the songs are bluegrass standards that are quite old. The oldest one is called “Black Eyed Susie” and it’s impossible to know who originated it. These are standards that all the bluegrass greats have played. They’re really infectious.

I haven’t been sleeping very well, because I’ve had choruses playing on loop in my head as I lay in bed. They’re total earworms. 


Shaina: I understand that you and Rachel have collaborated before?

Carly: We met at the National Theatre School while I was studying as a director and she was studying as a playwright. We were paired together to create a 15 min play – I was directing and dramaturging her piece. That play was so challenging and so exciting. It was also far from realism. For example, the opening stage direction were:

“A giant fist makes its way through a groaning door in agony.”
~ Rachel Ganz

That was the set up! I’m a pretty cerebral person and I like planning and structure. And Rachel works from a really visceral, gutsy, imaginative place. She takes a lot of risks. So I think that’s actually why we work so well together. I find I’m able to bring some structure to her images. She’s a generous writer because she doesn’t tell you exactly how you should stage her work. For example, one of the stage directions in Plucked is:

“Abigail explodes into eggs.”
~ Rachel Ganz (Plucked)

And that means whatever you want it to mean. I’m really excited by her work because it doesn’t feel safe. I never know how it’s going to go. Which is terrifying, but I feel like I have to be scared to do my best work. I can’t go in with a complete plan. It’s interesting working on this play for me, because I feel like so much of my journey developing as a director has been trying to change my relationship to fear. It’s a valuable thing, because when you’re afraid, you know you have something at risk.


Shaina: Did you start as a director?

Carly: No, I started as an actor. But I was getting to play really good roles and not feeling satisfied. I finally produced and directed a double bill of two short plays at a tiny venue. From my point of view, it was a bit of a mess because I was directing purely based on a mix of impulse and what I had liked about working with other directors, without really having a process. But it was the one time in my life when I felt like “this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” I knew there were still skills I needed to develop, so I applied to NTS and ended up getting in. Now, I’m back! 

Shaina: So this is your welcome back to Toronto project?!

Carly: Yes! No pressure! With directing I find I can’t compartmentalize the way I could with acting because I had my one part. With directing I feel like I’m vulnerable all the time, because even when I’m not in rehearsal, I’m constantly processing it. It’s kind of inevitable that it becomes my everything.

Shaina: What can people expect from Plucked?

Carly: Ultimately, Plucked is not going to be for everyone. It’s dark, it’s really irreverent and the characters are not nice people. There are parts of it that will intentionally make people uncomfortable. My expectation is that it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But that’s actually exciting to me because I go to so many plays which everyone (seemingly) loves and I don’t. It’s a really alienating experience to go to a “hit” and everyone’s jumping to their feet, and I’m like… “what?!” And I feel like a lot of us secretly experience that.

I’m just not interested in doing realism in theatre. If I want to see good realism I can watch a movie. In theatre, there are so many more exciting, fun and challenging things we can do, than try to replicate real life. My hope is that this play will appeal to the people who are like me – who go see the really conventional work and are not satisfied.

Shaina: Describe “Plucked” in five words.  

Carly:                          Dark


         Playful                                                                Uncomfortable

                                    (ever-so-slightly) Hopeful


Company: Newborn Theatre
Written by Rachel Ganz; Directed by Carly Chamberlain; Set and Costume Design by Anna Treusch; Stage Managed and Sound Design by Daniel Bennett; Produced by Laura Paduch; Dramaturged by Jonathan Garfinkel; Lighting Design by: Frank Donato; Fight Direction by Nate Bitton; Performed by Faisal Butt, Sochi Fried, Qianna MacGilchrist, Tim Machin, Tyrone Savage, Tim Walker.

Infusing comedy, bluegrass music, and a complete lack of sentimentality, Plucked is set in a world where fear turns women into chickens, eggs are high currency, and vaginas are near-dangerous possessions. Plucked skewers patriarchy without holding punches. It exposes hard truths about fear and family. It’s funny because it’s fake; it’s vulnerable, but it’s okay because it ends with a curtain call, but it’s not okay because it’s familiar. Plucked is, after all, a true story. It’s just full of lies.

With Plucked, playwright Rachel Ganz and director Carly Chamberlain make their return to Toronto after collaborating together in Montreal at the National Theatre School of Canada. Ganz’s writing rejects the convention of the “well-made play”. Through her writing, comedy, music, and magic collide to expose humour, discomfort, and a sliver of hope.

“Rachel Ganz is an appalling, compelling, intelligent and hilarious new voice in theatre. Her play, “Vacuum”, directed for maximum distress and delight by Carly Chamberlain, was an articulate howl.” -Ann-Marie MacDonald

Curator’s Note
“Crafted chaos is one of my favorite things. It’s the feeling of a deep laugh caught in the belly because you don’t want to miss the next moment, which promises to hold as much delight as the previous. All this, plus unapologetically subversive politically-inspired outbursts!” – Tara Beagan

The Theatre Centre Mainspace
1115 Queen Street West

Friday August 5th 5:15 PM – 6:45 PM
Saturday August 6th 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Sunday August 7th 9:15 PM – 10:45 PM
Tuesday August 9th 7:45 PM – 9:15 PM
Wednesday August 10th 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Friday August 12th 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Sunday August 14th 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

More Show Info:


twitter – @NewbornTheatre
facebook – NewbornTheatre
instagram – @NewbornTheatre
hashtag – #PluckedTO



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

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

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

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

SSB: How was this new musical created?

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

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

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

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

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

SSB: Describe the show in 5 words:

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

Chelsea Hotel – The Songs of Leonard Cohen

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

ChelseaHotel-photo by Mat Simpson-sm

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

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

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

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

When: February 3-21, 2016

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


Interview with Grace Thompson – Playwright & Co-Performer of “Tell Me” a 2015 Toronto Fringe Shed Show

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

SSB: Your show only allows 8 audience members in at a time. Have you performed for an audience this small before? How is it different?

Grace Thompson: The smallest audience I performed for was in 2009. I was a part of the Paprika Festival with some friends from high school and through that our play was asked to be part of the Luminato festival. Our performance space was a storage closet at the back of the Young Centre to an audience of about 15 people. This felt shockingly intimate, as there was so little separation between the audience and us. At the time, I had never experienced performing anywhere other than a traditional theatre space. Fast forward six years later and now having seen many, many site specific shows and shows with very intimate audiences, I have gained an understanding, appreciation, and love for theatre in non-traditional spaces. So this time around I feel a confidence in knowing how to speak to such a small and intimate audience and the benefits that can come from that.

SSB: Tell us a little more about the show… It seems very mysterious. What’s the structure? Is it interactive? Scripted?

GT: What you will watch is many things unfold between Kate Maguire, my co-actor and myself. With that the audience will be allowed to make their own assumptions and craft how these two people connect to each other through how the reading plays out. There will be minor audience interaction, but what we really want is for our audience to feel like they are equally a part of this experience. It allows you to question your own morals and beliefs on what it means to see into not only our own future but into someone else’s. I can guarantee you will leave with something.

SSB: The show takes place in a literal shed. What’s it like creating for this non-traditional space?

GT: Kate and I started with brainstorming ideas of what would take place in a shed, what kinds of stories would happen here. Kate came up with the idea of fortune telling. Fortune telling is always told in small intimate spaces and is often very theatrical by nature.

When I wrote this, I thought about the mystery in fortune telling. There is the question of how we tell our own fortunes. How we mostly always feel like we are going to get bad news and that we are doomed. How everyday we are preparing for our future for what we hope will happen or what we hope will never happen. This subject sparked endless hilarious conversations, which inspired most of our dialogue. We also both went to get our fortunes told which was a fun and strange experience.

Soon enough, Kate and I started talking about this subject will all kinds of people. I believe we all, in some way, can see versions of how our lives will play out but we need someone else to tell us, to confirm it. And how we search for that is through so many different outlets and different types of relationships. I think now we both feel this play is made for this space and this small audience to experience… so we are feeling very excited.

SSB: What show at the Fringe are you most looking forward to seeing?

GT: The 10/10/10 Project, The Untitled Sam Mullins Project, Rukmini’s Gold, Water Choke, and In Case We Disappear are some off the top of my head that I really want to check out!

SSB: Describe “Tell Me” in 5 words

GT: When you know, you know.

SSB: Who do you most want to walk into that shed to be a part of it all? It could be anyone!

GT: Well I know for Kate it would be David Bowie. For me, honestly anyone who feels like they are going through or have gone through a life crisis or any crisis for that matter. Come, laugh, and feel calmed by it all.

Tell Me

presented by Obliviate Theatre as part of the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival


Cast: Kate Maguire and Grace Thompson

Written by: Grace Thompson.

Stage Manager: Steven Elliot Jackson.

Where: Fringe Club, Honest Ed’s Alley

July 01 at 10 PM & 10:30 PM
July 03 at 07:45 PM & 08:15 PM
July 04 at 06:30 PM & 07:00 PM
July 05 at 05:30 PM & 06:00 PM
July 06 at 09:00 PM & 09:30 PM
July 07 at 07:30 PM & 08:00 PM
July 08 at 09:00 PM & 09:30 PM

Capacity: Only 8 people permitted each show.

Note: If there are more people outside after they are done both shows, they may add another performance!

Tickets: The show is PWYC! Someone will be outside with a cashbox. You can pay right as you go in.