live theatre

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 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 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 Vojin Vasovic, Artistic Director of Ars Mechanica

 I would always rather our show provoke the audience to read many different meanings in what was performed than have them leave the theatre with the feeling that we did it “by the book.”

Still from Ars Mechanica’s production of “Show and Tell Alexander Bell”

Ars Mechanica is an emerging theatre company that incorporates projections, illusion (magic!), and physical movement to create new works that challenge audiences that tend to want to be active observers rather than passive bystanders. Their second show is in development, and highlights will be featured at the Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT2013) happening this weekend at the University of Toronto.

The company’s exciting use of interdisciplinary elements makes for a unique audience experience, continuing the tradition of theatre and the living arts as a way of engaging the audience. I can’t wait to check out their future productions and collaborations; it is long overdue for us to have magic, technology, and theatre on stage at the same time.  Read on to the rest of the Q&A and watch some videos of their work!

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?

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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…

Q & A with Theatre Director Emily Dix

I’ve heard a lot of people say that you should always be questioning what you’re doing and be worried you’re not good enough—I think that’s really bizarre advice. You need confidence to pull off a show, and when you’re directing, if you’re not confident in your actors and your own ability, others will see that and your show will fail.

“Why do you suspect me?” Anne Shepherd as Sister Aloysius, Jordan Gray as Father Flynn. Photo credit: Danielle Son

Being the artistic director of a small theatre company, Bygone Theatre’s Emily Dix has had to play multiple roles, among which directing is her favourite. In this Q & A, she reveals some of her thoughts on what it means to be a director and what it takes for a small company to put on a play. Read on…

Q & A with Director-Actor Victoria Urquhart

We are emerging artists; we are hungry and excited to learn and grow; and we can satisfy that hunger by using our talents and opening up our learning experiences to benefit others too.

Victoria Urquhart is the founder of Spur-of-the-Moment Shakespeare Collective, and also our 100th follower on Twitter. (Thanks to everyone for their support!) To celebrate this milestone, they are our featured performing artists in a Q & A that underscores the common challenges faced by emerging talents regardless of artistic boundaries. Read on…

Q & A with Artistic Producer Ned Loach

Finding the balance between continuing your craft and supporting it can be truly difficult, especially in the arts, but if you continue pursuing your passion, and you believe that what you’re doing needs to be heard, then people will respond.

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Ned Loach, artistic producer
and co-founder of 360 Screenings

A passion for creating art is what drives Ned Loach, who cofounded 360 Screenings, an innovative live theatre company that fuses live performance with film to produce interactive cinema experiences. He shares his passion with us in this Q & A. Read on…

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