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Sally

Q & A with Bygone Theatre’s Matt McGrath

The biggest challenge … is simply trying to get your name out there and to get butts in seats. There are so many different theatre companies and festivals out there, it’s really easy to get lost in the whirlwind.

In anticipation of Bygone Theatre’s production of Dial M for Murder this month (August 15-17), we are pleased to present our Q & A with the play’s producer Matt McGrath. Matt founded the theatre company alongside Emily Dix, whom we interviewed back in January, 2013. Read about how their shared love of classic Hollywood films formed the basis of Bygone. And be sure to check back for a ticket giveaway contest for this exciting new production!

Read on…

Q & A with violinist Mary-Elizabeth Brown

When people really believe in what they’re playing and in the art they’re making, it really comes across to an audience. As an audience member myself, when I hear performances from people who are really engaged in their art with every fibre of their being, it really has an impact on me as a human being.

Classical Music Outside the Box PosterBack in late February (2013), we featured a Q & A with Carol Gimbel, founder and artistic director of classical music ensemble Music in the Barns. For this Q & A, Margaret had the privilege to speak with violinist and music teacher Mary-Elizabeth Brown, who described the amazing synergy that led her to become part of the ensemble. Read about her thoughts on why they’ve been able to attract all kinds of audiences to their concerts.

And be sure to check back here for a chance to win tickets to see Mary perform in “Classical Music Outside the Box,” a Music in the Barns’ concert that takes place a week from today on August 1!

Read on…

Q & A with Rebecca Ho of PushPULL Dance

Even though I’d chosen a non-dance career path, I still wanted to keep doing what I love—what I’ve always been doing—and do it at a high level.

Today’s Q & A features the other half of PushPULL Dance Inc.‘s founding members, performer and producer Rebecca Ho, as mentioned in our previous Q & A. Rebecca’s passion and enthusiasm for dance and for the work that PushPULL does infuse her responses as she shares with us her thoughts on the uniqueness of the company and of a PushPULL performance, as well as her insights on the physical challenges dancers face.

Photo credit: Raph Nogal (http://raphnogal.com/)

And heads up! We’ll be giving away tickets to PushPULL Dance’s 9th annual show, entitled this year as Wish You Were Here, which runs June 13 to June 22, 2003 at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. So stay tuned for a future post about that. Until then, check out our Q & A with Rebecca.

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Q & A with Kelly Slate of PushPULL Dance

I think what’s important with the performing arts is recognizing that creativity and artistic expression are not things limited only to those who pursue them professionally.

In our previous Q & A, Joel Ivany from Against the Grain Theatre spoke about the importance of making art accessible to anyone as the arts are for everyone. Today’s Q & A features Kelly Slate, one half of the founding members of PushPULL Dance Inc., a company that embodies this very notion.

Photo credit: Raph Nogal (http://raphnogal.com/)

Read about what drove Kelly and co-founder Rebecca Ho (who will be featured in a future post in the coming weeks) to create PushPULL Dance, which, beyond the company, is a close community of non-professional dancers from all walks of life, who meet to choreograph dances, create shows, and perform simply for the love of the art. Check out their upcoming show Wish You Were Here, and you might find yourself affected by, and infected with, the joy and passion in the dancers’ performances.

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Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre’s Joel Ivany

There is something about telling stories that is timeless.  Whether it’s a play, a musical or an opera, we are sharing in the telling of a great story.  We (hopefully) slip away from all the things pressing on our minds and enter into something new and different, which then (again, hopefully) stirs something in us afterwards and makes us think.

In the second part of our two-part Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre, founder and artistic director Joel Ivany shares with us his passion for storytelling through theatre and for making opera accessible, as well as some particular challenges of the art form.

If you haven’t checked out their work yet, may we suggest catching an hour-long sneak preview of the theatre’s upcoming production, Figaro’s Wedding, taking place today (May 16) at 12 p.m. at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts? It’s part of the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series, featuring our friends Edwin Huizinga and Carol Gimbel of Music in the Barns. And yes, it’s free!

In the meantime, this promotional video captures the spirit of their production in off-the-cuff, reality TV style as the camera follows Figaro on his way to propose to his beloved.

Read part 2 of the Q & A.

Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre’s Nancy Hitzig

Emerging companies are an essential part of the arts ecosystem and we need to produce innovative work to inspire and support the work of our bigger compatriots.

Ad-hoc performing arts collectives, such as Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), often don’t qualify for operating funds. For these collectives, the scramble for resources is an ever-present challenge. Yet it’s amazing how often the most unique and creative works, even when they’re reinventions of oft-produced classics, come out of such collectives when every production can make or break them.

One such production is AtG’s upcoming adaptation of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, titled Figaro’s Wedding (May 29-June 2, 2013, Burroughes Building, 6th Floor), which takes place in contemporary Toronto and is intended to make audiences feel as if they were attendees of a wedding rather than an opera performance. The unconventional setting and new English libretto offers a new way of connecting with an old classic, and we’re pleased to be doing a two-part feature on the team behind the scene!

In the first of the two-part Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre, general manager Nancy Hitzig gives us a glimpse of the kinds of challenges faced by ad-hoc theatre collectives.

Read part 1 of this Q & A.

Q & A with Festival of Dance Director Melanie Mastronardi

One of the main goals that I have as director of FoD is to build a strong sense of community between the dance groups at U of T, because I think the best way to build support for the dance community is to reach out to people who already share the same passion.

Are you a dancer or part of a dance group? Looking for a place to promote your work, perhaps an opportunity to network with other dancers? Submit your dance piece of any genre and style to the U of T Festival of Dance for a chance to shine, to connect, to celebrate the diversity of the University of Toronto’s dance community. They are accepting audition applications for this year’s festival until February 15.

In this Q & A with the festival’s director, Melanie Mastronardi, who is a dancer but also a PhD candidate at University of Toronto’s chemistry department, she shares with us her experience building a strong dance communities and developing new audiences. Read on…

Q & A with Sarah Thorpe and Pratik Gandhi of Soup Can Theatre

As any independent artist knows, it takes a lot of time, effort, discipline, and sacrifice to live this kind of life. But I keep at it because when a project comes together beautifully and successfully, it’s worth everything I’ve gone through to make it happen.

Sarah Thorpe, artistic director of Soup Can Theatre

Toronto-based Soup Can Theatre provides reinterpretations of older theatrical works as a way to explore contemporary issues for a contemporary audience. In the company’s upcoming double feature of one-act pieces, Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge and Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, characters in dysfunctional, even hellish relationships are trapped in the same space for the span of a game of bridge and for all eternity, respectively.

It’s a thought-provoking theme, and fortunately one that is not reflected in the theatre company’s mutually supportive environment. Quite the opposite in fact, as artistic director Sarah Thorpe and music director Pratik Gandhi can attest. Check out this Q & A double-bill as the two team up to share their experiences, perspectives, and advice.  And be sure to catch their Valentine’s themed cabaret fundraiser on February 12!

Read on…

Q & A with Ballet Creole’s Natassia Parson

It is so important to remain humble and grounded and to understand that you are an artist in a craft, and the world for which you are creating this craft is ever-changing and shifting. Be open-minded and willing to make mistakes as you explore and grow as an artist.

Picture of several dancers in action, their dresses flaring

Dancers in a Ballet Creole production

In this Q&A, Natassia Parson, general manager of Ballet Creole, tells us about the dance company’s upcoming production of Tounkande, presented in honour of Black History Month in February and will be touring in major venues as well as schools. Fusing Afro-Carribean dance aesthetics with European dance traditions, you can experience their performances as part of the free concert series at the Canadian Opera Company on March 5, 2013. Don’t miss it if you are in the area! Read on…

Q & A with Playwright Kenneth T. Williams

The best stories never begin or end with someone doing the right thing and finding out he’s right. Who wants to see that?

Profile picture of Kenneth T. Williams

Playwright Kenneth T. Williams

Weaving his story with his sometimes wry but often warm humour, Kenneth T. Williams—whose play Café Daughter runs from now until January 20 (presented by Native Earth Performing Arts)—shares with us his journey to becoming a playwright, his thoughts on the value of stories, and his go-for-broke advice for aspiring storytellers. Read on…

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