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“Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak.” A Rapid-Fire Interview with the Women of Shakespeare BASH’d AS YOU LIKE IT

Indie darling Shakespeare BASH’d is gearing-up for their production of As You Like It, just in time for the spring! While the company has always put an emphasis on creating more roles for women in Shakespeare, As You Like It is one of the plays that already has a strong female role at the centre of it (the largest female role in the cannon). The show has, at its core, intelligent, powerful women and deep, important female friendships. The production has taken this a step further by changing a number of additional roles into female characters, adding more female voices to this beautiful story of growth and transformation in the Forest of Arden.

We sat down with the women working to bring this story to life and asked them some rapid fire questions about friendship, Shakespeare, and theatre.

They are from top left to right, then bottom left to right:

Jade Douris (Celia), Olivia Croft (Jacques), Hallie Seline (Rosalind), Hilary Adams (Lord, Wilma, Hymen, Co-Composer), Cara Pantalone (Adam, Corin, Oliver Martext), Lesley Robertson (Touchtone), Aubree Erickson (Oliver), Brittany Kay (Phoebe) & Bailey Green (Associate Director, Not pictured here).


Rapid Fire Questions:

Your female hero:

Aubree, Lesley, Cara, Hilary, Olivia: My Mom

Hallie: Honestly, I am constantly in awe of so many of the hard-working, loving, hilarious, talented, generous, intelligent, boundary-pushing, fierce, boss babes I have around me. So many female heroes. I see you. I am inspired by you. Keep shining.

Jade: AOC!

Brittany: Hallie Seline

Brittany Kay as Phoebe. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell

A role in Shakespeare you’d like to see played by a woman:

Lesley, Bailey, Cara: Falstaff

Aubree: Lear or Titus

Olivia: Tybalt would be fun.

Lesley Robertson as Touchstone. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell

Favourite pop culture/iconic female friendship:

Lesley: Anne and Diana (Anne of Green Gables)

Cara: The Golden Girls

Hallie: I agree with Lesley with Anne & Dianna (Anne of Green Gables), and I add: Cher & Dionne (Clueless), Lorelai & Rory (Gilmore Girls), Carmen, Lena, Tibby Bridget (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants)… I could really go on…

Jade: Buffy and Willow

Jade Douris as Celia. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell

Go-to pump up song/song that makes you feel powerful:

Bailey: “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga

Hallie: Pretty much anything by Beyonce, The Spice Girls, Laura Marling, Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco… I could go on (I’m terrible at these “choose one” answers), but for this show, let’s go with “Run the World (Girls)”

Hilary: “Eye of the Tiger”

Brittany: “Feeling Good as Hell” by Lizzo

Hilary Adams: Lord, Wilma, Hymen, Co-Composer. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell

Best advice you ever received/current mantra:

Lesley: “It’s your Jesus year!” (I’m 33)

Cara: “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love anybody else.” … can I get an amen.

Hilary: Love yourself for your mistakes and forgive yourself often. Try to accept your faults, they are part of you, and always try to be a better person, acceptance is a big part of that.

Olivia: Peace in the mind, harmony in the heart, love in every action. Sow and let grow.

Olivia Croft as Jacques. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell

Favourite Shakespeare quote about women:

Lesley, Bailey, Cara: “Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak” (As You Like It 3:2)

Jade, Hilary, Brittany: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 3:2)

Hallie: I’m quite fond of both of those but there’s also SO MANY amazing, fierce quotes about women in As You Like It, like: “Make the doors upon a woman’s wit and it will out at the casement; shut that and ’twill out at the key-hole; stop that, ’twill fly with the smoke out at the chimney.”

“You shall never take her without her answer, unless you take her without her tongue.”

Aubree Erickson as Oliver. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell

Favourite Shakespeare actress (film or theatre):

Aubree: Just one?! Emma Thompson in Much Ado. Though technically not a Shakepeare film, Claire Danes in Stage Beauty. Every woman in Julie Taymor’s Titus. Helena Bonham Carter in Twelfth Night.

Cara: Does Dame Maggie Smith count? I adore her.

Hallie: YES CARA! Maggie Smith for sure!

Brittany: Miriam Margolyes as the Nurse in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet

Cara Pantalone: Adam, Corin, Sir Oliver Martext. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell


Finish these sentences:

“I am most creative when…”

Lesley: I’m happy and relaxed.

Bailey:  I have the pressure of a deadline.

Jade: I’ve had at least one cup of coffee.

Hallie: I’m surrounded by music, art, people, nature, new ideas.

“I feel happiest when…”

Bailey: it’s the summertime in Northern Quebec, and I’m with my family, partner, and a stack of books.

Hilary: I am on the beach, beer in hand.

Brittany: I’m with my nieces. They remind me that life is full of sweet discoveries and we can always be fun and silly! Also my dog Bruce, he’s endless happiness.

Hallie: I’m in the sunshine, and by the water… especially Lake Huron.

“I feel fired up when…”

Jade: I’m at the first read-through of any play. That moment the first time everyone’s in the room together and everyone gets inspired as a group.

Hilary: I see great talent, whether I see a great piece of theatre or live musicians – it gets me ready for anything and really inspired.

Olivia: The pre-show music is bumpin’!

“In the Toronto theatre scene, I want to see…”

Aubree: more interdisciplinary works – visual/sculpture artists, musicians, physical theatre, language, whatever!

Lesley: more avant-garde, risky, unusual forms and styles.

Olivia & Hallie: more arts funding, thus better wages or compensation for time spent.

Hallie Seline as Rosalind. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell


As You Like It

Who:
Company: Shakespeare BASH’d
Directed by Drew O’Hara
Featuring: Hilary Adams, Daniel Briere, Michael Chiem, Olivia Croft, Jade Douris, Aubree Erickson, Kaleb Horn, Brittany Kay, Justin Mullen, Cara Pantalone, Lesley Robertson, Hallie Seline, Jonny Thompson
With original music composed by Kaleb Horn, and additional music composed by Hilary Adams
Associate Director: Bailey Green
Produced by Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis
Designer: Catherine Rainville
Fight Director: Nate Bitton
Assistant Fight Director: Bailey Green
Graphic Design by Matt Nish-Lapidus

What:
Welcome to the Forest of Arden and Shakespeare’s comedy of joy, wit, and transformation: As You Like It. Relish in the adventure of shepherds and courtiers in love in this energetic barroom staging, full of original music. It is truly Shakespeare’s most exceptional journey through the pastoral world of pleasure and connection.

Where:
Junction City Music Hall (2907 Dundas St W)

When:
April 23-28, 2019
Showtimes:
Tuesday, April 23 – 7pm
Wednesday, April 24 – 7pm
Thursday, April 25 – 7pm
Friday, April 26 – 7pm
Saturday, April 27 – 2pm
Saturday, April 27 – 7pm
Sunday, April 28 – 2pm

Tickets:
Sold Out online. Limited available for $25 at the door (pending availability).

Find out more: 
shakespearebashd.com

 

 

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In Conversation with Scott Emerson Moyle, director of Dauntless City Theatre’s TWO GENTLEWOMEN OF VERONA

Interview by Brittany Kay.

We sat down with Scott Emerson Moyle, director of Dauntless City Theatre’s Two Gentlewomen of Verona, to discuss the necessity for inclusive casting in Shakespeare, adaptation, and making the Bard more accessible for audiences and actors alike. 

Brittany Kay: What first drew you to the original text of Two Gentlemen of Verona?  Why is this comedy rarely staged? 

Scott Emerson Moyle: This is the third play I’ve staged in Berczy Park, but the first since a recent renovation that installed the notorious dog fountain. A site-specific staging has to respond to its location, and there was no avoiding the aesthetic of that gigantic fountain… and Shakespeare only put one live dog onstage, so there we were. I’d guess that the text is rarely staged because it has some serious problems with internal consistency (it often reads like a sloppy early draft), but I’d personally written it off because it normalizes misogyny and rape culture with its awful handling of Silvia’s story arc.

Photo Credit: Dahlia Katz

BK: Those normalizations obviously led to a much-needed adaptation, one that is an intersectional feminist reimagining. Talk to me about your process of adaptation and why you saw the play in this way?

SEM: Wanting to do the fun stuff in the play without the baggage was always going to require an adaptation of the text, which is often necessary when trying to argue for Shakespeare’s modern relevance. Since the original text largely treats the female characters as property without agency, I figured a good starting point was casting the two title characters as women. From there, the adaptation kind of took care of itself; the characters and relationships are mostly exactly as Shakespeare wrote them. The biggest change comes at the end, where Shakespeare’s original is unpleasant and unsatisfying for no apparent reason, and where the wrap-up feels forced and inauthentic. I’ve borrowed bits and pieces of text from a few sources to fill out the end of Proteus and Valentine’s story, and that involved a lot of digging around through plays and sonnets for the right fragments to borrow.

Another interesting aspect to the adaptation is in the character of Julian: the source’s character is a girl named Julia who disguises herself as a boy to follow her love Proteus to Milan. I cast a transgender non-binary actor in the role without a clear idea of how that gender-as-disguise narrative would play out, and that actor brought a handling of the character’s arc that feels much more deeply nuanced than the original play’s fairly simplistic proto-Viola story.

The “why” comes from a need to normalize female protagonists and complex relationships between female characters, which Shakespeare’s work rarely has space for. Countless men have had the chance to play Valentine and Proteus, and I wanted to do something new.

Photo Credit: Dahlia Katz

BK: That’s really incredible. In your audition call, you asked for people who felt unwelcomed or alienated by Shakespeare. Why this choice? What did this do for you in terms of casting and how has this brought success or challenges to the process? 

SEM: Everyone has the tools to speak Shakespeare – but I think we get hung up on a particular supposed “correct” approach. It can be challenging text to tackle, but there are lots of tools that can help actors navigate the technical stuff. Lots of very talented actors have so much potential in this work, but they’ve been told, implicitly or explicitly, that they don’t belong in Shakespeare, or that Shakespeare doesn’t exist to tell their stories. If we’re going to keep asserting that Shakespeare is universal, we need to stop only letting one kind of voice be heard. We have to back Shakespeare’s purported universality up with a diversity of voices.

It’s really simple: a cast with a wide range of life experience makes for richer art. The more actors have space to reflect and represent their audience, the better.

BK: I feel like this has a lot do with who you are as a company. Who is Dauntless City Theatre? What makes you different from other Shakespeare companies in Toronto? 

SEM: Dauntless City Theatre has been in operation since 2009, formerly under the name Urban Bard (with a rebrand as Dauntless in 2014). There are certainly other site-specific/immersive companies in town (Outside the March and Convergence Theatre, for example), and other companies doing classical theatre with a focus on inclusive casting (like Shakespeare in the Ruff or Theatre Why Not’s recent Prince Hamlet), and amazing groups like Buddies in Bad Times and Maelstrom Collective making theatre that centres marginalized voices, but I think we’re the only folks trying to work at the intersection of all those ideas. I want to take these great old plays and make them approachable and fun to engage with while creating room for a diversity of voices in the work.

Photo Credit: Dahlia Katz

BK: You have just been accepted into Generator’s Artist Producer Training program for the coming year. Congrats! What does this mean for the future of your company? 

SEM: I’m excited to work with a class of brilliant and talented humans, and I look forward to learning how to produce riskier and more progressive theatre in sustainable ways. This, of course, means that I will bring those skills and connections I’ll develop with Generator back to Dauntless.

BK: How has it been working in Berczy Park? What makes Shakespeare performed in parks desirable as a theatre maker and also for audiences coming to watch? 

SEM: Berczy Park can be a tricky space! We’re very close to traffic, and it’s always a challenge to get the audiences to move around and get close to the action. It’s also a highly visible space, and that means the audience always grows over the course of a performance. Working in a park is a great way to find an audience of people who, for a range of reasons, might not go to a traditional theatre space.

BK: There are elements of live music in your show (I saw some very cool Facebook videos!) Can you talk about how it is used in the performance?

SEM: The music in The Two Gentlewomen of Verona is performed on boomwhackers, which are a series of hollow plastic tubes that each produce a particular pitch when struck. Each of the ten actors has two or three of them, and they get played together to create some fairly complex music. The boomwhackers also become other items in the world of the show, the outlaws’ weapons, the Duke’s staff of office, and so on, which let our composer David Kingsmill compose a rich soundtrack that integrates tightly with the play.

Photo Credit: Dahlia Katz

BK: There’s also a real dog on stage! How has working with this cast member added to the show? 

SEM: Starbuck, who plays Crab the Dog, is actually a fantastic scene partner – attentive, present, and willing to roll with anything. Her human, Leslie McBay, plays Crab’s owner Launce, and their existing relationship translates well in performance. She’s also very patient about wearing a tiny cowboy hat, which is pretty important.

BK: What do you want audiences walking away with? 

SEM: The play talks a lot about loyalty, about honesty, and about how tough forgiveness can be; I’d love for the audience to still be thinking about how they’d handle those situations themselves. I also really value how many audiences seem to be taking at face value that Shakespeare wrote a play called The Two Gentlewomen of Verona – I hope this leaves them questioning the amount of space that male characters take up in classical theatre.

Two Gentlewomen of Verona

Who:
CAST – Uche Ama – Antonia/Thuria
Eric Benson – Lucetto / Eglamour
Tallan Byram – Outlaw Captain
Naya Guzman – Valentine
Isabel Hornstein – Speed
Jordy Kieto – Silvio
Jesselle Laurén – Proteus
Leslie McBay – Launce
Christopher Mott – Duke of Milan
Jordi O’Dael – Julian
featuring Starbuck The Dog as Crab The Dog

Scott Emerson Moyle – Director
Lucy McPhee – Stage Manager
Stevie Baker – Producer
Annelise Hawrylak – Assistant Director
David Kingsmill – Music Director
Christopher Mott – Fight Director
Stevie Baker – Costumes
Dahlia Katz – Poster Design

Where:
Berczy Park

When:
August 18, 19, 25, 26 at 7:30 PM
August 19, 20, 26, 27 at 1:00.

Tickets:
All performances are Pay-What-You-Can!

This is an immersive performance, so wear comfortable shoes! The entire show is accessible to wheelchair users.

Connect:
dauntlesscitytheatre.com

 

A Chat with Lindsay Bellaire & Phillip Psutka of Theatre Arcturus on ROUGH MAGIC at the 2017 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Madryn McCabe

We were thrilled to see that Theatre Arcturus had another show in this year’s Fringe after being amazed by their awe-inspiring production of Weird last year. We spoke with Lindsay Bellaire and Phillip Psutka about their rigorous process of creation and training and why Rough Magic is a perfect story to explore right now.

MM: Tell us about your show.

Lindsay Bellaire: A collision of air and earth, Rough Magic creates a vertical world to tell the story of Ariel and Caliban in a newly imagined prequel to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It’s an aerial theatre piece: a play written in the style of Shakespeare (mostly in verse), with aerial silks and rope weaved into the world of the characters. Ariel, an airy free-spirited sprite, touches down and makes contact with a young Caliban, a ground-dwelling, god-worshipping mortal. Meeting between air and earth as two very different beings, they reach across the boundaries that make us fear the “other”, only to find themselves enslaved in the end, where the storm is conjured that begins The Tempest.

MM: What drives you to tell Shakespeare’s untold stories, the stories he only hints at in his texts?

Phillip Psutka: I’ve always had a passion for Shakespeare and I enjoy the challenge of meticulously researching whichever play of his that I am going off of, while at the same time having to fill in the blanks of the story that I am trying to tell myself. Also, the heightened text is a natural blend with the aerial arts in that they are both larger than life, in a way. Hearing the poetic, image-based language, while simultaneously seeing the intense physicality of the characters take to the air on the apparatus creates a world for the play where one element helps the other out – I feel that the audience can buy into the sound of the verse in an original contemporary script because of the heightened physicality… literally.

Photo Credit: Larry Carroll, The Lens Man

MM: You say that, although this is an original script, it was researched meticulously through Shakespeare’s text and other source material. What was that research process like? Why was it so important to do this research and not just create from an idea?

PP: To start off, I read through The Tempest a number of times – mainly looking for clues to the back story of Ariel and Caliban. Once I had compiled all of the info on them that Shakespeare provides, I then went back through the script focusing on the characters themselves: how they react to certain situations; what kind of language and images they use; how much they speak in verse vs. prose and, when they switch from one to another, what triggers it. It’s like detective work and that’s part of the fun of it. Because I was using the Arden, I also pulled inspiration from one of the Appendices: Robert Browning’s poem Caliban Upon Setebos, which is where I took the idea of Caliban being religious. After I was through with the “Sherlock Holmes” portion of the script development, I outlined the entire show, filling in the blanks of what I wasn’t able to discover through the research before writing the first draft. I think it’s totally valid to create something completely original even if it’s based off of another work; I just enjoy the research part of it so much. More than anything, I like that idea that an audience could watch Rough Magic and then jump right into a production of The Tempest and it would be one continuous story, for Ariel and Caliban at least.

MM: You talk about telling the story of “the other” in your play. Why is that? What do you seek to say to your audience?

PP: That, even though we may live in our own worlds, it’s important to remember that others do as well, and we can never know everything that has shaped that person or being into what they are at this moment in time. I feel that the ongoing challenge of being human is to not make assumptions about others, to stop and listen before passing judgement on their situation. I’ve definitely been guilty of saying irrational and disrespectful things to someone else simply because I had the hangeries, and if it’s that easy to trigger a short response to a situation and shut another person out, I can only imagine what it must be like to try to work constructively with a leader that wants to build a wall between their country and yours and has decided that you are going to pay for it: end of story, not interested in your opinion. I believe that there is always more to learn about the human existence and the best way to learn is to listen before speaking, which is a quality I feel the world is lacking in at the moment. I can certainly do it better myself, but little reminders every now and then are helpful. I hope Rough Magic serves as one of those little reminders.

Photo Credit: Larry Carroll, The Lens Man

MM: I can tell from your press photos that this is a very physically demanding show. What is your rehearsal and training process like? What is your development process? How did you develop your show?

LB: The physical training for our shows is ongoing, even when not in rehearsals or a creation process. Outside of our theatrical productions, the aerialists in the shows are professional performers, training acts for events and teaching aerial classes – it’s not a skill that we learn specifically for the show. The physical training is 4-5 times a week, in 2-3 hour sessions, year-round (with some time taken off for rest and recovery, of course).

The scripts are written by Phillip, usually over an intense period of 2-4 weeks, then edited, read out loud, and edited further. Then the rehearsal process begins, where it becomes a collaboration between the director (whom, at this point, gets final say on all decisions), writer, actors, aerial and fight choreographers, and composer. This is actually a very small team, with the actors doubling up as chorographers and writer. Costumes and lighting are also designed somewhere in there!

For Rough Magic specifically, the script was written first, and the rigging designed to suit the story (the decision to use silks and a rope, and how they would be hung). We were lucky enough to be able to bring Kevin Hammond (former AD of the Humber River Shakespeare co.) on board as our director for a 5+ month development process. Because we were creating out of a studio space in Muskoka, our process for this show was unique in that Phillip and myself would do preliminary work on each scene, getting it on its feet using some basic exercises and following our instincts. Kevin would make a trip up for a weekend intensive every 3 weeks to further develop and sculpt each scene, offering invaluable insight and guidance into the text, and establishing the balance between air and ground work. Our Stage Manager, Lisa Sciannella, travelled up for the last few weekends of rehearsals to work on the sound cues. Her job entails knowing our choreography and some aerial vocabulary, as her sound cues are based on what we’re doing in the air. She’s also a constant safety for us, acting as an outside eye and responding to any little aches, bumps or bruises we inevitably sustain at various points throughout the process.

The music and costumes are also an important component. The music was composed by Rachel C Leger, and was created to suit the feel of the piece (nautical), with a flavour for each moment where music is used. The choreography was created separately, and married together in the last month of rehearsal. The costumes, designed by Lisa Magill (Toronto) were actually designed before most of the show was on its feet, in order to get promo shots long before opening.

MM: What would you like your audiences to know going in to see Rough Magic?

LB: You do not need to have a thorough understanding of The Tempest, or even Shakespeare in general, to follow the story. Although it is inspired by The Tempest, and based on clues from Shakespeare’s text, we purposely created a show that can stand alone and be enjoyed for its own story. For those audience members who have studied The Tempest, there is definitely an added layer.

Rough Magic

Who:
Company: Theatre Arcturus
Playwright/Creator: Phillip Psutka
Director Kevin Hammond
Cast: Lindsay Bellaire, Phillip Psutka
Choreographer: Lindsay Bellaire
Fight Director: Phillip Psutka

What:
Set on a mystical island, ROUGH MAGIC follows the innocent beginnings and volatile consequences of a relationship between two unlikely beings: Ariel, an airy sprite; and Caliban, a ground-dwelling mortal. An intricate weaving of theatre, aerial work and music, the show confronts ideas of freedom and otherness through a story inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

FROM THE CREATORS OF ‘WEIRD’
WINNER: Cutting-Edge Award (2016 Toronto Fringe)
(5 stars) “Absolutely exquisite and mind blowing in its execution.” – My Entertainment World
(NNNN) “One of the most memorable shows at the Fest.” – NOW Magazine

Where:
RANDOLPH THEATRE
736 Bathurst St, Toronto

When:
9th July – 8:45pm
11th July – 1:00pm
13th July – 12:00pm
14th July – 5:45pm
15th July – 8:00pm

Tickets:
fringetoronto.com

Connect:
t: @TheatreArcturus
f: /theatreacturus
i: @theatrearcturus

One More Time With Feeling… And A Beer, Of Course! The Cast of “The Comedy of Errors” on the final Fringe hurrah for Shakespeare BASH’d

by Bailey Green

One of my first articles for In the Greenroom was an interview about the Shakespeare BASHd production of Loves Labours Lost. I remember the amazing atmosphere of the rehearsal room and how much everyone laughed. Two years later, I could not be more thrilled to be making my Toronto Fringe debut with this incredible cast, crew and company. Here are some glimpses into our process. We cant wait to share it with you. Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Comedy of Errors 2 - Tim Welham and Kelly Penner (as Dromio and Antipholus), photo by Kyle Purcell

Tim Welham and Kelly Penner Twinning. Photo by Kyle Purcell.

Tim Welham, who plays Dromio of Syracuse and of Ephesus, on acting Shakespearean text:

As an actor living in Canada in 2016, my world view is considerably different from someone living in Elizabethan England in 1594. Four hundred years of cultural shifts makes working within the images and references of the text feel like a herculean task. Sometimes when read, the grammar seems awkward, the sentence structure appears backwards and the words sound archaic. So I well understand why confusion and frustration is a common reaction when first reading Shakespeare.

But Shakespeare’s words were never originally intended to be read. They were meant to be spoken aloud and performed; designed for a stage, and intended for ears. This is why the language comes alive in a listener’s ear; crackling and popping into being.

While it sometimes takes serious academic work to comprehend Shakespearean textual meaning, the work of embodying how a character thinks, speaks, feels and imagines is a simpler, more practical process of allowing the language to inspire your imagination and alter your mind, body, heart and soul.

This is how an onstage Shakespearean character is created: through the sounds of the words, and how they affect the imagination of both the actor and audience. This is, of course, more difficult than it sounds, but the brilliance of Shakespeare’s writing makes it possible. By allowing the words to affect an actor’s mind, body, heart, and soul, the character is birthed into being, and a unique imaginative sonic world is created in turn for the audience.

The language, and the images the words conjure, must always be the starting point when working on Shakespeare’s texts. A Shakespearean character is just like any other human being: they have a wide vocabulary to articulate their incredible humanity – and that is a gift for any actor.

Comedy of Errors 1 - Kelly Penner as Antipholus, photo by Kyle Purcell

Kelly Penner as Antipholous of Syracuse and Ephesus. Photo by Kyle Purcell.

Kelly Penner, who plays Antipholous of Syracuse and of Ephesus, on playing double:

I was pretty excited by the idea of playing these two guys. I GET the idea of two actors playing two parts, and I’m sure I could get into it, but I dislike the idea. At least I find it far less interesting, because who are you fooling, really? Not us (the audience) but you would expect us (the audience) to believe this. “Oh, those two guys are wearing the same clothes. They must be TWINS!” So when I was asked to do this I was excited by the idea and the challenge.

Continuing from the idea of the clothes I would also dislike the idea of Antipholous of Syracuse having a limp or glasses or a mustache etc, while Antiphous of Ephesus has a hump or monocle or beard. Again, you expect [the audience] to believe this? When I finally started to build my twins, I wanted things to be simpler. My cast mate/friend/part-time lover Dave Gingerich said to me after the first read that one Antipholous was country and the other Antipholous was city. Once I had those general headings to build under, it happened pretty quickly.

Now, I had an idea where they came from, how they might speak and ideas of how they would have grown up. From there, I tried to find a simple physical and vocal cue that would help give a clear switch for myself. That’s really it. After that I just tried to learn all the lines and be open to ideas and impulses.

Oh, and breathe, listen, and trust. Those old gems.

Comedy of Errors 3 - Suzette McCanny as Adriana, photo by Kyle Purcell

Suzette McCanny as Adriana. Photo by Kyle Purcell.

Suzette McCanny, who plays Adriana, on returning to the Victory Cafe, one last time:

There is nowhere in the world I would rather be July 1st than on the deep carpeted stage of the Victory Cafe. Before I was involved as an actor with Shakespeare BASH’d, I was a dedicated fan! Lining up in the sticky Fringe heat to get a spot and a beer. The energy from the upstairs bar/theatre overflowed down the stairs and drew me in.

I have been privileged to be involved in the Shakespeare BASH’d Fringe show for the last three years and in that time I have been so lucky to work on some of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays. To the Shakespeare geeks out there perhaps Love’s Labours Lost, The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Comedy of Errors would not be considered obscure but I had not seen any of them in production before I was cast in the shows. What freedom and what a treat to pour myself into a brand new work from an old friend.

The women in these shows are mature and feisty. Fireballs who are full of love and justice. Even when the 400 year old text is complicated politically or sociologically, in the hands of Julia [Nish-Lapidus] and James [Wallis], I find that Shakespeare’s love for and understanding of humanity bubbles up from the depths and cannot go unnoticed. No character is shallow or incomplete.

When I first graduated from theatre school, that first year felt impossibly long and lonely but then summer came around and that first Fringe erupted. I was overwhelmed by the tent, the community, the celebration of one another’s accomplishments! I had lived through the dreary winter and had discovered manna from heaven! All my long lost friends, all the people I admired crowded into these two weeks of joy. I didn’t know then that it was cyclical and that this feeling would be back next year and that it is a part of the Toronto Theatre ecosystem, there to sustain us and give us energy to get through the dank months of February and March.

So this year, as Shakespeare BASH’d gets ready for the most exciting party of the year and says farewell to the space that has housed their overflowing energy for years, I am comforted because I know this feeling is not going anywhere. This energy is ours forever. Thank you to the community for your talent, your energy and your enthusiasm. Merry Fringemas to all and to all a good tent! See you at the Vic!

The Comedy of Errors

Presented by Shakespeare BASH’d as part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival

comedy_group

Photo by Kyle Purcell

Who:
Written By: William Shakespeare
Company: Shakespeare BASH’d
Director: Julia Nish-Lapidus
Cast: Bailey Green, David Mackett, Suzette McCanny, Brenhan McKibben, Julia Nish-Lapidus, Drew O’Hara, Kelly Penner, David Ross, James Wallis
Creative team:
Megan Miles – Associate Director
James Walllis, Julia Nish-Lapidus – Producers
Jade Douris – Associate Producer
Kyle Purcell – Director of Marketing
Nate Bitton – Fight Director

What:
It’s the biggest party of the year and you’re invited! Join Shakespeare BASH’d in bidding a fond farewell to the Toronto Fringe the only way they know how…by having a huge party with the best audience in the city. Don’t miss their final Fringe performance: The Comedy of Errors, the Bard’s hilarious tale of shipwrecks, mistaken identity, and all out madness!

Where:
Victory Café, 581 Markham Street

When:
July 1st at 7:00 PM
July 2nd at 5:00 PM
July 2nd at 9:00 PM
July 3rd at 5:00 PM
July 5th at 7:00 PM
July 6th at 7:00 PM
July 7th at 7:00 PM
July 8th at 7:00 PM
July 9th at 7:00 PM
July 10th at 5:00 PM

Tickets: fringetoronto.com

Connect:
Web: shakespearebashd.com
Twitter: @ShakesBASHd

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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_

Artist Profile: Lesley Robertson takes on the role of King John in the upcoming production by Shakespeare BASH’d

Interview by Hallie Seline

Hallie Seline: King John has been scarcely performed up until last year when Stratford staged it. Why do you think King John is due for a ‘come-back’ and what about it stood out the most after working on it now in comparison to some of Shakespeare’s more often produced work in Canada?

Lesley Robertson: I think King John is definitely due for a come-back because I think we all need a break from the over-produced comedies for a bit, while still getting to enjoy Shakespeare’s spectacular poetry, characters, and timeless themes of humanity. I especially think it’s due for a come-back in the bare-bones, accessible way Shakespeare BASH’d is approaching the play.  The text is heavy with political maneuvering, battles over ‘right’, and religious language – it’s very dense and rooted in its history. But with the clear direction of James Wallis, I think we will make this difficult, murky-seeming play come alive for an audience through our emphasis on the story and language (without relying on expensive sets and costumes) and our youthful energy and passion to tell a story about oppression. I personally celebrate the play’s complexity and messy imperfections – I think it suits the story, which is full of political and moral errors and people switching back and forth between sides. I also think it’s a great time to tell a political story with Canada just having had a very interesting election and also a travelling Magna Carta exhibit!

HS: What have you discovered in exploring the character of King John? 

LR: I’ve thought a lot about manipulation and what is right and wrong. I’ve rarely played characters that, on the outside, might be perceived as ‘villainous’ or even not likeable. But from the inside, those people are simply acting in a manner they think best. They are doing what they think is right and they are simply going after what they want and need. So, I guess that’s to say, I’ve found it very interesting to empathize with someone that has been hated so widely and for centuries! (That’s not to say I think what John does is ‘good’ and ‘right’!) I think Shakespeare has created a deliciously complex play and I hope to imbue John with the complexity of any human being; we are all vulnerable. I hope to complicate the audience’s inherited perception of “Bad King John.”

HS: What are you most looking forward to in doing this piece in The Junction City Music Hall?

LR: The proximity between the audience and our playing space, I like being able to see audience members’ faces, and, of course, the beer.

HS: Describe this play in 10 words or less.

LR: Oh, I’m terrible at this… Crap, are you counting?… “Oppression.”

Lesley Robertson as King John. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell

Lesley Robertson as King John.

Rapid Fire Question Round:

HS: Favourite Drink at The Junction City Music Hall:

LR: I remember noting several craft tall boys that I love, but I can only remember Conductor’s Ale at the moment. Ask me again at the end of the run!

HS: Favourite rehearsal moment:

LR: When everyone laughed at me during an early movement rehearsal in which I created a giant angry horse with my body that simply yells “NEIGH!!!”

HR: Favourite place in Toronto:

LR: Other than my home, the 13th floor of Robarts Library.

HS: Where do you find inspiration?

LR: Music, literature, history, documentaries…

HS: Best advice you’ve ever gotten:

LR: Hm… My streetcar driver today said “Life is too short to be grumpy” and that was pretty great.

HS: What do you think is on your King John’s pre-show playlist?

LR: Something that really pumps me up I guess… like gangster rap… Yeah, probably some gangster rap.

King John Graphic

Directed by James Wallis

Featuring: Sochi Fried, James Graham, Bailey Green, Catherine Rainville, Lesley Robertson, Caitlyn Robson, David Ross, Matt Shaw, Tim Welham, Kate Werneburg, Jeff Yung

When: November 16 – 21, 2015

Where: Junction City Music Hall, 2907 Dundas Street West, Toronto.

Tickets: $19 online: shakespearebashd.com $20 at the door.

Connect with us!

Shakespeare Bash’d: @ShakesBASHd

In the Greenroom: @intheGreenRoom_

2014 Fringe Preview – Love’s Labour’s Lost – Shakespeare BASH’d

Interview by Bailey Green

As I entered the rehearsal hall for Love’s Labour’s Lost (presented by Shakespeare BASH’d) I was struck by the amount of people in the room. With no role double cast, the cast of 16 generated such an exuberant atmosphere that I couldn’t believe they had just finished a run. Their attitude as an ensemble reflected the youthful energy of the play.

In Love’s Labour’s Lost, the King of Navarre and his three men swear an oath to remain celibate so that they can focus on academic pursuits. Unfortunately the day after the men swear this oath, the Princess of France and her three ladies—a group of fierce, grounded, intelligent women—arrive on a political mission. Passion, poetry and chaos ensue. I sat down with the four—that’s right, four—pairs of lovers to chat about their character’s relationships, their own quirks and the upcoming Fringe production.

Love's Labour's Lost - Hallie Seline & Jesse Nerenburg - Photo Credit: Jesse Griffiths & Kyle Purcell

Love’s Labour’s Lost – Hallie Seline & Jesse Nerenberg – Photo Credit: Jesse Griffiths & Kyle Purcell

Princess of France (Hallie Seline) and the King of Navarre (Jesse Nerenberg)

Hallie’s Pet Peeve: Slow walkers.
Jesse’s Fave Rehearsal Snack: The vietnamese steamed buns from Banh Mi Boyz
Post-Show Drink of Choice: “Wine wine wine” (Hallie), Hawaiian Pale Ale (Jesse).
Describe your characters’ relationship:
Hallie: We’re both people in power. We like to outwit each other, top each other. We don’t want to admit that we’re into each other but we are. We totally are.
Jesse: We’re both the leaders of our kingdoms so that definitely plays a part. But why I’m attracted to her is because she’s not afraid to push back. I don’t see her for many pages after the first meeting, but when I do, I am really in love with her. I’ve written all of these poems about her. Once you’re in, you’re in.

Love's Labour's Lost - Suzette McCanny and Jeff Hanson - Photo Credit: Jesse Griffiths & Kyle Purcell

Love’s Labour’s Lost – Suzette McCanny and Jeff Hanson – Photo Credit: Jesse Griffiths & Kyle Purcell

Rosaline (Suzette McCanny) and Berowne (Jeff Hanson)

Suzette’s Pet Peeve: Bus windshield wipers.
Jeff’s Favourite Rehearsal Snack: Chocolate chip cookies.
Post show drink of choice: Apricot beer (Suzette), “Any drink anyone will buy for me” (Jeff)
Describe your character’s relationship:
Suzette: They have such a love/hate relationship, as in they love to get the best of one another. Rosaline would like to pretend she doesn’t love him or that she’s better than that. But she’s very intrigued by his wit. She thinks he’s smart and he can hold his own next to her. She also sees his cons and can be open about that. She can be herself with him.
Jeff: They had met before at the same party [as Longaville and Maria] and for Berowne he doubts the oath the men all swear to right from the beginning. He doesn’t really think it is going to work. Berowne’s always had control over his emotions and has never fallen madly in love. When they first meet, what Rosaline says to him, how she uses her wit and beats him at his own game, it really intrigues him. He doesn’t really get it, being in love, he’s taken aback. He almost goes through the seven stages of grief, but more like the seven stages of love. He doesn’t understand why but he does truly love her.

Love's Labour's Lost - Catherine Rainville & Joshua Browne - Photo Credit: Jesse Griffiths & Kyle Purcell

Love’s Labour’s Lost – Catherine Rainville & Joshua Browne – Photo Credit: Jesse Griffiths & Kyle Purcell

Katherine (Catherine Rainville) and Dumaine (Joshua Browne)

Catherine’s Pet Peeve: People chatting in the background while she’s rehearsing a scene
Josh’s Rehearsal Snack: Cigarettes. If he could eat ’em, he would.
Post show drink of choice: A glass of Scotch (both).
Describe your character’s relationship:
Catherine: It’s so instantaneous for everyone, but Dumaine and Katherine have moments of looking at each other and trying to figure each other out. It’s really playful. I get to be aggressive which is fun. We all tease the boys, which for Katherine is her way of playing hard to get. But she’s so obvious when she’s around him.
Joshua: We don’t have a lot of text together, or any really. But we have built this aspect of Katherine being the aggressor. I catch her checking me out at the beginning and I’m a bit more timid. I’m sort of shocked she likes me. Similarly [to the Princess and the King] we have many pages where we don’t see each other at all yet I’m madly in love and have written horrible poetry about her. She’s also pretty sassy. I like that.

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Love’s Labour’s Lost – Andrew Gaboury & Sheelagh Darling – Photo Credit: Jesse Griffiths & Kyle Purcell

Maria (Sheelagh Darling) and Longaville (Andrew Gaboury)

Sheelagh’s Pet Peeve: People who stand really close to you for no reason. Also, toe shoes.
Andrew’s Favourite Rehearsal Snack: Nuts, specifically almonds.
Post show drink of choice: Oatmeal Stout (Andrew), St. Ambroise Apricot Beer (Sheelagh)
Describe your character’s relationship:
Sheelagh: We really like each other right from the beginning. There’s no qualms, we know we’re going to get together. I play along with the Princess but whenever Longaville’s around I’m just making googly eyes and waving. Even when the rest of the girls are berating and chiding the boys, I’m just still waving at Longaville.
Andrew: We kind of met before, it seems we were at the same party. I’m the most serious in terms of the oath the men swear [to stay away from women]. And then I see Maria and I throw it all away. It’s funny watching how I try to logically get around the oath in my poetry.

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Bailey: What makes this production stand out? What will an audience member experience coming to see your show at the Fringe?

Jesse (King): Love’s Labour’s Lost is a very youthful play, it’s one of Shakespeare’s earlier work and it has a rhyming structure which is really unique. The women hold their own. And it’s not a play that is done very often. People are going to be coming out to see a show where they can have a beer and experience a classic that they may have never seen on stage before.

Josh (Dumaine): It’s zany. The men are writing really bad poetry and dressing up as “Russians”. The show is going to be fast, snappy, fun and silly, but it also has vulnerable moments. It’s really relatable.

Hallie (Princess): James [Wallis], our director, said at the beginning that the best way into this story is through yourself. These characters come alive through the energy of the people doing them. And in this cast you have a bunch of really interesting, funny, weird and smart people who come out through the words of these characters. That’s what makes it fun. I hope that will stand out to our audiences.

Suzette (Rosaline): The characters play the whole time! Let’s play this game, let’s play that game. Whenever I see a BASH’d show I feel like I’m part of the team as an audience member, that I’m part of how the story unfolds. Each time we run the show there’s new surprises. And it’s so refreshing to be in a play where my character doesn’t have to be a lost puppy who only cares about being in love. It’s a love story, for sure, but there’s an edge. My goal in life is not just “to be loved by another person.” I still feel that’s very rare.

Jeff (Berowne): People will get a sense of [director] James’ respect for the text, but there’s also a joy and a sense of ensemble and the fun that this rehearsal room has been that I feel will be evident for anyone watching. The audience hopefully should go through the journey with us.

Andrew (Longaville): There’s a real sense of great respect for the text, but also using it as a blueprint. There’s a balance of not bulldozing the words, but really using them and at the same time using yourself in the text.

Hallie (Princess): All pomp is taken out of it with a BASH’d show. It has that “Fringe” energy. You go to the Victory Cafe just a step away from the tents and everything that’s going on in the Mirvish alley. You can sit down and have a beer and listen to a classic tale that is so clear and fresh and fun and full of energy. It’s enjoyable, which is sometimes exactly how you want to spend your time. There’s also wonderful dance that happens that I cannot WAIT for each audience to experience.

Bailey: Well I for one can’t wait for the dance number.

Love’s Labour’s Lost

by William Shakespeare, presented by Shakespeare BASH’d

Love's Labour's Lost - Photo by Jesse Griffiths and Kyle Purcell

Love’s Labour’s Lost – Photo by Jesse Griffiths and Kyle Purcell

Directed by James Wallis

Where? The Victory Cafe, 581 Markham St.
When? Thursday, July 3 @7:00pm
Friday, July 4 @ 7:00pm
Saturday, July 5 @9:00pm
Sunday, July 6 @5:00pm
Tuesday, July 8 @7:00pm
Thursday, July 10 @7:00pm
Friday July, 11 @7:00pm
Saturday, July 12 @7:00pm
Sunday, July 13 @5:00pm
Tickets are $12 and can be purchased via the Toronto Fringe website: https://www.fringetix.ca/

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Follow this wild bunch on Twitter:

Shakespeare Bash’d@ShakesBASHd
Hallie Seline (Princess) – @HallieSeline
Joshua Browne@joshu_ashua
Andrew Gaboury (Longaville) – @afieldofcrowns
Jeff Hanson (Berowne) – @The_Hanman
Suzette McCanny (Rosaline) – @suzettemccanny

In the Greenroom Writer Bailey Green: @_baileygreen

** Want In the Greenroom to catch your Fringe show or have an interesting idea for an interview? Email us at inthegreenroom.ca@gmail.com! **