Modern Vintage – Halloween Decorations

This place has the best modern vintage Halloween decor, including reproduction candy buckets that look like they came right out of the 1920s.

While doing some research for another blog post I’m writing I happened to come across this magical website – Christmas Traditions.

Don’t let the name fool you, they carry a wide range of gorgeous Halloween decorations as well! Unfortunately I think it’s too close to the day for me to be able to get anything, but you can bet I’m already planning next year’s decor.

Vintage style howling cat lantern.

These candy buckets have me especially excited because I have always wanted one, but the real vintage can cost upwards of $400! This is one instance where I think I’ll be happy to settle for a reproduction.

Devil Candy Bucket.

Do you know a good place to source vintage Halloween? Let us know in the comments.

E.

Top 5 Ways to Stay Fair & Sustainable When Producing Low-Budget Theatre

t’s a sad fact that all of us producers/creators have had to ask for “free” labor at some point in our creative careers. In a country that is sadly lacking in financial support for artists, it is often necessary to start off with an energy share model and have artists work on a project together with no guarantee of pay. So how do you do that and remain fair and equitable? Here are the key things to consider.

It’s a sad fact that all of us producers/creators have had to ask for “free” labor at some point in our creative careers. In a country that is sadly lacking in financial support for artists, it is often necessary to start off with an energy share model and have artists work on a project together with no guarantee of pay.

So how do you do that and remain fair and equitable? Here are the key things to consider.

1. Be Transparent

There are more shows I’ve done for little-to-no money than ones I’ve done for a fair wage (or really any at all). But there was one key thing they all had in common: transparency. When I am asked to work for an honourarium or profit share the first thing I request is to see the budget. Sometimes this is met with, “oh, well we don’t have a budget, really, it just needs to be cheap as possible”. ALWAYS a bad warning sign. If a producer hasn’t worked out their budget before approaching you (unless it’s just to ask, what would you want to be paid for something like this?) then they may not be accurately valuing their artists. Would I work on an interesting show, that has a budget of $1000, a venue that costs $700, and is asking me to work as a stage manager for a profit share? Probably. Would I do the same on a show with a budget of $10 000? Definitely not. Now, it’s not like there’s some magic number – that’s why a budget is important. A $500 show that has no venue cost and has budgeted to give the lead actor $400 and have the rest of the cast and crew work for free is not reasonable (to most of us). Likewise, there could potentially be some majorly exciting but expensive thing planned for that $10K show that really leaves no room for wages, but could provide an opportunity to work with an exciting new medium, or to be in a show likely to make lots back in ticket sales. And that’s the other thing any good budget should include – profit projections. If your “budget” shows you magically selling out a 500 seat venue for six weeks for your new work by an unknown author, I have some bad news for you. We could do an entire post on proper profit projections, but in short, if you’re a new group without the name power of a big star or popular show, you’re best to plan for 30% of your venue being filled for each show. Of course, in a 20 seat venue, that’s likely higher, but in a 500 seat one probably far lower. I like 100-200 seat theatres myself: good size for indie and generally safe to assume 30% capacity.

If your “budget” shows you magically selling out a 500 seat venue for six weeks for your new work by an unknown author, I have some bad news for you.

2. Be Flexible

When you’re paying your actors union wages it’s reasonable to ask them to follow a typical schedule – be there all day for rehearsal, not miss a day for an audition or any non-emergency reason – but when people are accommodating your budget it’s important you accommodate their schedule. That not only means working out a schedule that doesn’t interfere with their work or other commitments, it also means being approachable and flexible enough that they feel they can come to you to request a change or time off to go to an audition, or accept a one-off paid gig. My general rule of thumb is that each of my shows need about 80 hours of rehearsal. Since I can’t pay people enough to take 2 full weeks off to focus solely on a show, I spread those hours out over 2 months (up to 2 and a half if there are major holiday breaks in there, like over Christmas & New Years), and give them the entire schedule by the first rehearsal so that they can fit their other things in around it.

…when people are accommodating your budget it’s important you accommodate their schedule.

3. Be Thoughtful

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people are just thoughtless or selfish, especially when you’re the one doing a favour. Of course we all feel our shows are important, maybe they’re the greatest thing to come out since Hamlet, but if you are not paying your cast or crew a full wage, you are not doing them a favour – they are doing you one. Let me say that again: a profit-share or small honourarium is not the same as a wage, and if you talk to your cast or crew like they owe you something you’re going to have some very unhappy people, and likely some subpar work because of it. Too many times I have been offered a $50-$100 honourarium for what is upwards of 60 hours of work, and yet if I insist (or even request!) on taking a day off in my schedule to do something else, I’m met with furious emails about how I’m “being paid to do a job”. No, I’m not. I’m being asked to work for free with an agreed upon “thank you” that works out to about $1.60/hr. When I’m the one producing I make sure to remind myself of this, even if there are times when your worker is making things very difficult, because again, at the end of the day, it’s a group of people agreeing to put in time and effort with no real compensation all because the group feels it’s something worth doing. To keep up that kind of energy do things like bringing snacks to rehearsal (I’ve never met an actor who will turn down food), buy everyone a coffee, any little pick-me-up that you can fit into the budget, do it. And you know what goes a long way and is totally free? A thank you. Say it earnestly and say it regularly, and at the end of the show write out a card that lets them know how much you’ve enjoyed working with them, and that you appreciate all they’ve done.

And you know what goes a long way and is totally free? A thank you.

4. Be Improving

Not as catchy sounding but I wasn’t sure how else to phrase it – what I mean is, recognize what you could be improving on and each time you do a show make sure you are doing better in at least one of those ways. For this list we’re talking primarily about budget, so think to yourself, ok, I couldn’t pay everyone this time and I tried a profit-share – did that work? Whether it “worked” is of course subjective, but try these as benchmarks: 1. did you make what you projected and what you told your cast & crew you were aiming for? 2. if not, did you make enough to give the actors the equivalent of at least minimum wage for at least the time spent performing each show? If not, I’d say no, it didn’t work. There are certainly shows where everyone is happy if they get $100 at the end of it, because they are going into it not expecting anything and are ok with that, but even if your cast seems content this show you want to be doing better for the next one, because that’s why you asked this group to make a sacrifice: so you can mount something ambitious that will help you do something even better next time (and that “better” needs to include better pay if that’s something you’ve negotiated here).

…recognize what you could be improving on and each time you do a show make sure you are doing better in at least one of those ways.

5. Be Honest

Similar to being transparent, make sure you’re being honest, both in the lead-up and run of the show and in the reconciliation afterwards. When you’re showing your cast and crew the budget and profit-projections, be honest about where that information is coming from – did you make it up with numbers that sounded right? Is it based off your past shows? Off someone else’s? A best case scenario, or worst one? As you go through the show and work on things like fundraising and selling tickets let your cast and crew in on how that’s going, and how they could help. Don’t go over budget, BUT if somehow you think you absolutely HAVE to, talk to all involved in the profit-share first, and get their consent: they have agreed to a certain budget and you as producer no longer have total control over that as long as their pay is somehow dependent on how that budget changes. Plus, in indie theatre, we’re all used to asking favours, and that great deal that you had on a set piece that has now fallen through? tell your team! They may know how you can get an even better one. Ticket sales during the run of the show are a little tricky – some people want daily updates so they can worry along with the producers and some want to focus on their own roles. I always tell the team that I won’t be announcing it, but they are free to ask me and I will share all numbers, provided they keep that to themselves until the end of the run. It can be tempting after a good selling show to go and announce you’re well on your way, but be sure not to do that unless you know you’ve met your goals for the whole run, because ticket sales can be varied. Likewise, chances are your team knows if the audiences are small and the show is going to lose money, but that isn’t a worry to share with them. Keep morale up, tell them you as producer have things under control, but know that it is your responsibility to answer them honestly with any questions about things like their profit-share.

This should go without saying, but the same is true after a show: let everyone know the money situation even if you think it’s obvious to them. I was once hired to stage manage something and offered either a small up-front honourarium or a profit-share that, with a sell-out run could have been higher. I chose the later not because I thought there was a chance of a sell-out, but because I know how hard it is to get funds up front, and thought it was likely I could get close to the same amount with a share. Ticket sales weren’t great, but this was one my earlier shows and I didn’t bother to ask for a detailed budget up-front, and to me it didn’t seem like a very expensive show, so it was hard to judge. The run finished, I heard them saying in passing sales weren’t what they hoped, and then that was is. No follow-up, no final reporting with an apology that there were no shares but a note that they were happy with what we’d achieved, nothing. That became a team I decided not to work with again. I once had to write to my cast and admit that their profit-share amounts were going to be something like $7.85 per person – seems trivial, but, for one, they were owed that, and two, there have been times where that money would have been significant to me because it could feed me for a day. Thankfully that cast was not as desperate for money, and I believe they all offered to donate it back to the company, but had they requested it I would have been writing out several very small cheques, because that was what was agreed to, and you need to be honest about that.

They have agreed to a certain budget and you as producer no longer have total control over that as long as their pay is somehow dependent on how that budget changes.

I don’t agree with the people who say you should never ask artists to work for low or no wages, because I think there is more you can get out of art than just money, and because nearly every one of us has had to start out with nothing to try and build something to get enough attention to help us make something bigger. It’s a sad necessity of theatre in Canada. However, there are right and wrong ways to do this, and as an artist the last thing you want to do is contribute to the idea that somehow artists don’t deserve pay, or to the fact that most of us are continuously precariously employed (at best). To keep theatre sustainable we need to sustain our artists, and recognize that if they can’t continue to make their art, no other part of theatre sustainability really matters. The next time you decide to mount a show, first ask yourself, what is the least I can use to get this across? By doing that, can I pay everyone well? If you still can’t and you still think the art is worth making, be sure to follow these steps to ensure everyone you involve feels the same way and understands the same things – be a part of the sustainable solution, not the problem.

E.

Building a More Sustainable Stage Manager Kit

For the first of our Sustainable Sunday posts, we’re going to look at environmental sustainability and how we can work towards that in theatre. First up! Stage Manager kits.

For the first of our Sustainable Sunday posts, we’re going to look at environmental sustainability and how we can work towards that in theatre. First up! Stage Manager kits.

ECO Highlighter Pencil Highlighters Ecological and 100% image 1

Highlighters:

I’ve never known an SM who doesn’t have a wide variety of highlighters in their kit – unfortunately, on top of being made of plastic, these can be prone to drying out, creating a lot of unnecessary waste. Try for pencil highlighters instead – no plastic, no risk of drying out, fit easily in your pencil case. Check out Etsy for ones like these.

Sticky Notes:

As much as I hate the waste, I’ll admit, sticky notes are a big part of my life. Ideally, of course, you’d use none, or at least fewer than you likely do now, but if you’re like me and find every prompt book is doubled in size by your stickies, try some like this: 100% recycled material, 100% recyclable, and plant-based adhesive. And after the show, recycle those bad boys!

Staples:

Instead of staples, try using paper clips! I was pleasantly surprised to find these recycled ones on a Canadian site, made with 90% recycled materials.

Staples Binder Clips - Classic Colours & Sizes - 30 Packs | staples.ca

Staples (Again):

If you’re looking for something more heavy-duty than paperclips, binder clips are a great alternative. I like to have a variety of sizes and colours as I use that to sort things as well. After the show, just pop them back into your kit! I haven’t had any luck finding recycled ones, but if you come across some, post the link in the comments.

Batteries:

All SMs need at least some AA batteries in their kit, for things like flashlights, on-set practicals, what have you. These eneloop pro rechargeable batteries are praised on several sites for having great charging power and capacity – and look! You can get them somewhere other than Amazon.

Brown Kraft Paper Packaging Parcel Tape Eco Friendly image 1

Spike Tape:

Another SM necessity, unfortunately there aren’t too many eco-friendly types out there (it’s the nature of the glue needed). While you may be stuck with the usual glow & electrical tape, when you’re blocking rehearsals try for something paper based, like this.

Gaff Tape:

As mentioned above, it’s difficult to produce a truly eco friendly tape as the glue needs to be something that sticks to surfaces, without sticking too much to itself on the roll. The best I’ve found so far is this UK import that uses recyclable packaging, rubber-based adhesive and reduced chemical agents. (Of course, if you need to import it from overseas, consider the environmental costs of doing that – no perfect answer for us Canadians, yet).

LastyBands: 6 Handy and Reusable Elastic Fasteners for image 2

Cable Ties:

Now, if you’re looking for strength, admittedly, the typical plastic zip ties may be what you need to use, but when it comes to organizing your cables and keeping them safely bundled away, there’s no reason not to go reusable.

In addition to these you can also save by investing in quality items. Instead of grabbing a binder from the dollar store that needs to be replaced every show, try for a sturdier one that can be used time and again. Use pencils instead of pens (don’t forget to pack a sharpener!) or try for refillable pens. Bring your refillable water bottle, pack it all in a sturdy kit and you’re good to go!

Got more ideas for sustainable SM kits? Let us know in the comments below.

E.

National Truth and Reconciliation Day

Our support and commitments in honour of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

In preparation for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (“Orange Shirt Day”) Bygone’s Artistic Executive Director, Emily Dix, has re-read the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action report.

In searching for a way that we, as a small non-profit theatre, can best support these practises, we found that call to action number 79, under Commemoration, stood out most. It reads;

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to:​

  • Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.
  • Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.
  • Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.

Bygone Theatre’s current mandate can be read here.

​A key part of our mission and mandate is the connection of audiences to “parts of our past that remain relevant today”, and clearly the treatment of Indigenous Canadians, both past and present, is something that should be at the forefront of Canadian heritage and commemoration. While we cannot change Federal or Provincial policy (at least not yet!) we can ensure that our practises align with these goals.

Going forward, Bygone commits to the following in support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action:

  1. To include for artists and audiences, relevant Indigenous history whenever we make a presentation, production or program that cites or explores a particular place or time in Canada.
  2. To, within the next three years, hire an Indigenous artist as a consultant to help us examine and possibly revise our policies and practises to ensure we are acknowledging and respecting not just Indigenous people and their history, but their unique values, memory practises and artistic practises that could benefit our future works, regardless of subject.
  3. To acknowledge that racism and unfair practises on behalf of the government and largely our society as a whole, have, whether intentionally or not, disproportionately affected Indigenous Canadians and deprived them of opportunities that their fellow Canadians have enjoyed.

As a first step, we will now be offering free tickets to Bygone produced productions and workshops for all those who self-identify as being of Indigenous descent.

Additionally, we will continue to honour our commitment to accessibility and diversity as written on June 30, 2020.

Emily Dix
Artistic Executive Director
Bygone Theatre

Broadway World Toronto Award Nominations

Broadway World Toronto is currently accepting nominations for their regional awards, and this year they are not only giving them out for streaming productions, but also for Most Innovative Theatre, Most Anticipated Upcoming Production and Theatre You’re Most Excited To Get Back To! If you think we’d be a good fit for any of those categories we’d love your support! Nominations for those (and other awards) can be submitted here.

Will You Be A Booster?

Will you be a booster for Wayne & Shuster?

Will you be a booster for Wayne & Shuster? Bygone is looking for people who want to share their fond memories of the men or their work. If you have something you’d like to share, email us at info@bygonetheatre.com. We’ll be doing a series of short interviews to be posted on our social media channels, and possibly our future documentary. Please share the word!

Careers in the Arts Workshop

Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This workshop, geared towards high school students & recent grads, will show you the way. Oct 23, 2-4pm, $20.

Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This workshop, geared towards high school students & recent grads, will show you the way. Oct 23, 2-4pm, $20.

WHAT: Careers in the Arts Workshop

WHEN: Saturday October 23, 2-4pm ET

WHERE: Online

HOW MUCH: $20 CAD (payable via PayPal or e-transfer)

WHAT’S NEEDED: Access to a computer with a steady internet connection, a computer with a working speaker and either a microphone or the ability to type.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This unique workshop will provide students with a realistic view into the arts world, guiding them through a host of career paths and the steps to follow to get there. Bygone Artistic Executive Director Emily Dix will cover topics such as;

  • Post-secondary programs here and abroad
  • Skill building without formal education
  • Unconventional arts related careers
  • How to network in the arts
  • How to build a resume or portfolio, and more.

WHO IT’S FOR: This course has been designed for Ontario senior high school students but is appropriate for recent graduates as well. Best suited for those living in the GTA. Recommended for people aged 17-20, however there is no age cut-off.

ACCESSIBILITY: Auto-captioning is provided through the program, however it is not always the most accurate. If this is something you’d require, please reach out at info@bygonetheatre.com and we will do our best to accommodate. Program is delivered in English and is best suited to fluent English speakers. Financial assistance is available for those who require it – email info@bygonetheatre.com for more details.

WHO’S RUNNING IT: Taught by Emily Dix and Conor Fitzgerald.

School Workshops

Bygone is thrilled to be offering three new student workshops for our 2021/22 season – available in-person or online.

School Workshops | Grade 7-12 | Online or In-Person | $175 per class of 30

Bygone is thrilled to be offering three new workshops for our 2021/22 season.

Careers in the Arts: 

Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This unique workshop will provide students with a realistic view into the arts world, guiding them through a host of career paths and the steps to follow to get there. Bygone Artistic Executive Director Emily Dix will cover topics such as;

  • Post-secondary programs here and abroad
  • Skill building without formal education
  • Unconventional arts related careers
  • How to network in the arts
  • How to build a resume or portfolio, and more.

This workshop can benefit not only arts students, but any senior high school students who are considering future career paths. Also available as a large-scale presentation for an entire grade or school; contact us for pricing. 

The Audition Process:

There’s so much more to auditioning than what happens in the audition room, and how you prepare is just as important as how well you perform. Director Emily Dix will walk students through all the key aspects of the audition process, including;

  • Where to find auditions
  • How to get an agent
  • How to pick a monologue
  • How to format a performance resume
  • What to look for in a headshot
  • How to build your “brand” online
  • Audition etiquette, and more. 

Something From Nothing: How To Produce Your First Show:

Recommended for senior high school students, this workshop is a crash-course in indie theatre producing. Topics include:

  • Picking the right show
  • Casting
  • Creating a budget
  • Dealing with venues
  • Raising funds
  • Marketing, and more.

Workshops are available both in-person (in Toronto) and online via Zoom starting September 2021. Email emily@bygonetheatre.com for more details or to register a class. 

Bygone Theatre is Back from COVID Hiatus With Our 9th Season!

Bygone Theatre’s 2021/22 Season Announcement:

Toronto, ON (September 7, 2021) – Bygone Theatre plans a return to performance for our 9th season. Having taken a break from productions for a year due to the pandemic, we are now happy to announce the shows we have planned for 2022. Artistic Executive Director Emily Dix (Best Director, Broadway World Awards Toronto, 2019) is taking the helm in writing two original stories inspired by classic Hitchcock films, is set to direct a vintage radio podcast, and a show that will bring two of Canada’s greatest comedy legends back to the stage.

PERFORMANCE:

October sees the return of our popular Retro Radio Hour – this time in podcast form – sure to get you in the Halloween spirit. Our following shows currently in development are planned for 2022, and exact dates will be announced soon, as COVID protocols are put into place.

DEVELOPMENT:

Canadian comedy legends WAYNE AND SHUSTER are being brought back to the stage, performed for the first time by a new generation in a collection of their classic skits. Bygone Theatre is honoured to have the chance to work with the duo’s descendants – Brian and Michael Wayne and Rosie Shuster – to bring these much-loved sketches back for a new generation of comedy lovers.

A new play inspired by the John Steinbeck short story that was the basis for the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name, LIFEBOAT is a tension-filled WWII era drama. A civilian Allied ship is sunk in the middle of the ocean, and an unlikely group of strangers find themselves trapped together in a lifeboat, drifting aimlessly at sea. When a half-drowned man is pulled from the wreckage all seem eager to help – until it’s discovered he’s a German soldier. As the only man aboard qualified to navigate the ship, the survival of all involved seems to depend on him, but can the German be trusted, even if his life is one of those at stake? And as the days drag on and supplies dwindle, will he remain the only “enemy” on board?

In another twist on a Hitchcockian classic, THE BIRDS is a Cold-War Era thriller that examines what happens when the line between truth and propaganda becomes dangerously blurred. New York Socialite Daphne Daniels is headed to an old family cottage with her brother and husband for a weekend of R&R, but when her husband is unexpectedly delayed and their neighbours turn out to be Daphne’s old flame and his new girl, tensions run high. Things take a bizarre turn when reports of violent bird attacks start flooding the airwaves and the sudden crisis brings out everyone’s deepest fears and darkest convictions.

COMMUNITY:

We’ve been busy behind-the-scenes through our 2020/21 hiatus: we have once again been accepted into the Business/Arts Artsvest mentorship program and look forward to their training and the opportunity to have matching sponsorship funding. This August, we were thrilled to be nominated for Best Live Theatre in the Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Awards, the results of which will be announced this fall. In September we will be launching our new education initiative, a series of workshops available for students grades 7-12: Careers In The Arts; The Audition Process; and Something From Nothing: How to Produce Your First Show. Through the generous support of writer/producer/story-teller Jane Aster Roe, Bygone will be expanding and improving our Youth Production Assistant program and adding a generous honourarium to the position.

SUSTAINABILITY:

On March 26, 2021, our partner the Youth Climate Report, led by Dr. Mark Terry, was honoured with a United Nations SDG Action Award, and we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to showcase a short video outlining our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the award ceremony. We continued to develop our Sustainability Mandate and announced the three core branches of that program: Mend and Make Do; Vintage Aesthetic (Not Vintage Values); and Indie Unite. These initiatives will be the basis of this year’s web programming. We also implemented a new Diversity and Accessibility Mandate which will shape all our work going forward. Finally, we are currently raising funds to support the launch of a large-scale theatre sustainability survey that we hope will help encourage better sustainability processes not only in Toronto, but the entire theatre community.

We’ve Been Nominated!

Bygone Theatre has been nominated for Best Live Theatre in the Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Awards!

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve been nominated for Best Live Theatre for the Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Awards!

As the smallest and youngest company on the list, it’s exciting to be able to represent some of Toronto’s indie theatre.

Voting is open until September 12 – if you’ve liked what you’ve seen from us before, and can’t wait to see more in the future, please take a moment to case your vote by clicking here.