A Note from Our Artistic Executive Director

A message from Artistic  Executive Director Emily Dix regarding Bygone Theatre’s commitment to diversity and accessibility;

When I started Bygone Theatre back in 2012 my main goal was to produce engaging, character-driven theatre from the early 20th century – there were stories I wanted to see onstage that were only available at big companies, like Soulpepper, Stratford or Shaw, and I wanted something similar but on a smaller, more accessible scale. I set about making theatre with whomever I could find, and focused more on the work than those involved. Now, as Bygone Theatre enters our 9th season, it is clear we need to expand our focus and work harder to prioritize our commitments to diversity and accessibility; simply saying “all are welcome” and using wheelchair accessible spaces is not enough. We need to make concrete, measurable changes in order to better serve our community and our work.

As a company that produces “vintage theatre”, we are in a unique position when it comes to diversity. We have the opportunity to re-examine stories through a more authentic lens, looking at them not from the perspective of turn-of-the-century, primarily white audience members, but through one of historical insight, that acknowledges that the world has always contained diverse communities with fascinating stories, even if they weren’t being published or produced.

Plays from the 1920s-60s often feature racist stereotypes, that or they completely white-wash the story and show no diversity at all. When re-staging these stories it can be easy to fall into the trap of eliminating the overt racism while still maintaining the subvert – colourblind casting, 2-dimensional characters, or tokenism. Does that mean these stories are no longer relevant, or not worth retelling? No. But they do need to be redone. And that needs to be done with care.

While diversity and accessibility have always been important to us, we have admittedly existed in a bit of a bubble. Attempts to engage communities outside of my own have rarely been met with much success, and to be honest, the difficulty in doing this lead to me not making it a top priority. I do the majority of the work for Bygone on my own, and I did not know how to engage people past simply putting the message out there, and I never had time to really learn how.

Then COVID-19 happened.

After the initial upset of coming to terms with the uncertain year ahead of us, we at Bygone came to the realization that this “break” in the regular programming is exactly what we need. We are taking this time to learn and improve, not just as artists, but as people, and a part of the Toronto theatre community. We are listening to the voices speaking out against discrimination in the arts (the #InTheDressingRoom thread on Twitter was eye-opening and deeply upsetting). We are listening to the voices telling us how to be better allies. And we are taking time to make important changes and commitments, and to share that with you now as a commitment to change and accountability. This is not a final comment, it is a series of first steps. As we continue to learn and grow we will readdress these commitments, make more, and do more. I will make these a priority, and am working on learning how to do more. The following statements come from myself, and the Bygone Theatre Board of Directors:

Bygone Theatre believes Black Lives Matter.

Bygone Theatre sees the racism faced by BIPOC communities, believes their stories and stands with them in solidarity.

Bygone Theatre sees the homophobia and prejudice members of the LGBTQ2+ community faces, believes their stories and stands with them in solidarity.

Bygone Theatre sees the women who face sexism and discrimination, the members of the #MeToo movement, believes their stories and stands with them in solidarity.

Bygone Theatre sees the challenges and discrimination faced by Mad/Disabled communities, believes their stories and stands with them in solidarity.

We are making a commitment to support all these communities, prioritize their members and stories in our work, and to continue to work to become better allies. The following is our Commitment to Diversity and Accessibility, as of June 30, 2020.

BYGONE THEATRE DIVERSITY & ACCESSIBILITY STATEMENTS

OUR COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY

Auditions & Casting

  • 50% of all audition slots will be reserved for those who self-identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour)

  • Our Diversity & Accessibility statements will be included on all audition postings

  • We will begin our casting process earlier than we have in the past in order to make time to submit postings to diverse communities currently outside of our network

  • We will continue to provide character breakdowns that do not include physical attributes or race (unless essential to the story) and will promote colour-conscious casting

  • Casting will prioritize actors that have the shared experience of the character ​​

Rehearsal Process​

  • The first day of rehearsal will include a talk about equity, diversity and inclusion​

  • All cast members will be required to sign a contract that includes a code of conduct which addresses equity, anti-racism and sexual harassment – this will include a clear structure breakdown for a complaint and resolution process

  • Should we produce a show that centres around a character or story about a diverse community, we will hire a consultant or creative team member from that community to address any issues both in the play and the rehearsal room

Production Process​

  • We will prioritize the hiring of female, LGBTQ2+, Mad/Disabled and BIPOC production artists*​

  • We will prioritize businesses run by women, LGBTQ2+, Mad/Disabled and BIPOC folks when purchasing items for our company or productions

  • We will research the companies that we patronize to ensure they have values consistent with our own

*At the time of writing Bygone Theatre is without any consistent funding, and so our productions rely heavily on the support of volunteers. When we achieve a status that allows us regular operating funding we will re-address this and make a more concrete commitment to diversity numbers, but at the moment many roles are filled by our Artistic Executive Director (who often produces, directs and designs our shows) and whomever chooses to volunteer.

OUR COMMITMENT TO ACCESSIBILITY

Auditions & Casting

  • We will provide accessible auditions by prioritizing accessible spaces, and, when not available, allowing self-tapes or other opportunities for audition submission

  • We will clearly state the accessibility issues with any space we use, and will provide accommodation whenever necessary

  • We will clearly state all accessibility issues and potential solutions on all casting and production calls – for example, roles that can be fulfilled from home or that can be completed on a flexible schedule​ will be stated clearly so as to encourage those with accessibility issues to apply

  • We will continue to hold rehearsals in spaces that are accessible by the TTC

  • We will continue to create flexible rehearsal schedules that value actor’s time

Rehearsal & Production Process​

  • We will continue to encourage open communication especially around issues of accessibility, and will provide accommodation as necessary

  • We will continue to provide a judgement-free zone and will consult with cast and crew privately to ensure all of their needs are being met

  • We will provide all cast and crew with a clear breakdown of roles, responsibilities and hierarchy in order to ensure clear communication, and will include protocols for submitting concerns or complaints

Audience & Community

  • We will continue to prioritize accessible performance spaces and advertise possible accommodations

  • We will continue to provide ticket discounts to disadvantaged groups

  • We will continue to offer Relaxed Performances (dependent on show)

Bygone Theatre Rentals – Office Furniture

We recently did a production of His Girl Friday, which meant acquiring a LARGE volume of vintage office furniture and supplies; here’s some of the furniture pieces we now have available to rent.

 

  1. Vintage Wood Office Chairs: see individual pictures for details
    Rental Price: $20.00 each/wk
  2. Burgundy Faux Leather Executive Chair: see individual picture for details
    Rental Price: $30.00/wk
  3. Small Telephone Desk: see individual picture for details
    Rental Price: $15.00/wk
  4. Wood Arts & Crafts and Mid Century Modern Desks: see individual pictures for details
    Rental Price: $40.00 each/wk
  5. Metal Cabinet: see individual picture for details
    Rental Price: $15.00/wk

The styles we have available would be suitable for someone looking for something from the 1920s-60s, or something modern day with a vintage twist. Discounts available when renting multiple pieces at once, prices listed are for a single item, before HST.

Stay tuned to see some of the smaller set dressing items we have as well.

Bygone Theatre Rentals – Appliances

Bygone Theatre has finally gotten our  storage space sorted, which means we are ready to start renting out some of our great vintage pieces! Take a look at some of our larger items here; all prices listed are before HST. Please note that we are able to negotiate payment structures, and that discounts are available when renting multiple items at once. Email us at info@bygonetheatre.com with any questions, or to place an order; we require a minimum of 3 days notice for all prop rentals.

  1. Vintage Fridge: used in Wait Until Dark, gorgeous late 50s/early 60s white fridge with dusty rose interior. Inside latch has been modified to make for easier opening. Rental Price: $75.00/wk

2. Vintage Stove: used in Wait Until Dark, charming late 1940s white stove with oven.
Rental Price: $75.00/wk

3. Vintage 1950s Ringer Washer: used in Wait Until Dark, white General Electric washing machine with wringer, mid-50s, excellent condition.
Rental Price: $75.00/wk

Bygone Theatre - 1950s Wringer Washer Rental

4. Vintage 1950s Red Mini Fridge: Late 1940s/1950s, bright red mini fridge with chrome handle. Great for a photoshoot, or for a cafe/soda shop look.
Rental Price: $75/week

Bygone Theatre Red Mini Fridge

Stay tuned for much more, including vintage office supplies, props & costumes.

Cheque, please!

Our director (and production designer) Emily Dix quickly walks you through the process for making a faux cheque for theatre.

Till Next We Trod The Boards

I get a kick out of little details in things, which is why I often spend too much time on small prop details that likely won’t be noticed by anyone but myself. Today’s example? The certified cheque prop needed for Bygone Theatre’s upcoming production of His Girl Friday.

Really, it’s a pretty simple one, and since we’re seeing the cheque before it’s cashed, I’m not going to the trouble of embossing it, I did however want something from around the right date, and double-sided.

Since this show will be on a real stage, and not something that requires the same accuracy as was needed for shows like Rope, which practically happened in the audience’s lap, I just searched for 1930s or 1940s certified cheques and settled on one from 1933;

walter-winchell-signed-check-issued-to-international-news-photos-1933-16

I found this through a memorabilia site – it works great as it doesn’t have a big distracting…

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His Girl Friday Costume Designs: Finding Vintage Fabric

As any of you who have seen one of our past shows knows, I care a lot about having costumes that are as authentic looking as possible. I’ve done past posts on how to fake a vintage style with more recent clothes or patterns, and on what types of fabric were common to a certain era – but where do you go to find that fabric? As I’ve been scouring the web looking for answers to that very question, I thought I’d share my best finds here.

Reproduction Fabrics

Don’t be dissuaded by their dated looking website, reproductionfabrics.com is an amazing resource if you’re looking for vintage or antique styled patterned fabric. From the late 1700s through to the 1950s, they have a selection of fabric that covers nearly every style and colour, and for very reasonable prices. Some are actual reproductions of old patterns and some appear to be “in the style of”, either way, this should be one of your first stops if you need vintage, patterned, fabric.

American Folk and Fabric

Another good source for reproduction designs in americanfolkandfabric.com. I found they had “frillier” fabrics than Reproduction Fabrics – lots of florals in pink, that sort of thing – so depending on what you’re looking for this could be perfect, or may miss the boat.

Antique Fabric

Depending on the project, you may prefer actual vintage or antique fabric to a reproduction. In this case, you’re likely going to find smaller amounts and a higher price, and remember, the condition won’t compare to what you get from a reproduction. While for costumes I’d always opt for a modern-made fabric, I certainly see the appeal of the real thing. If you’re looking for variety, check out antiquefabric.com. Well indexed and with a wide-variety of fabrics from periods ranging from the 1800 through to the 1960s, you’re very likely to find something you’ll want. Sadly, most of the pieces I found drool-worthy were not big enough to make what I’d like. But if you want some authentic pillows or accessories, even a blouse that takes only a yard or two, this is your spot.

Spoonflower

If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, you can try creating your own design and printing it through spoonflower.com. This site allows you to upload designs that you can print for yourself on a number of types of fabric (plus wallpaper and wrapping paper), and has the additional option of allowing you to sell your designs to others through the site (you get a commission). Try searching through what others have made, or upload your own!

Most quilting sites also offer a selection of vintage & antique styles, though I’ve found it isn’t necessarily as accurate as some of these other sites. But if you know what you’re looking for and have a particular style in mind, Equilter and Hancocks-Paducah can be great resources.

Happy searching!

-E.

Mid Century Luggage Tags

One of the necessary set pieces for Wait Until Dark is a suitcase with travel stickers, and so I’ve been scouring the internet for some of my favourite mid-century designs.

It’s really unfortunate that these are no longer used by hotels and airways, because some of them were really beautifully designed, and who wouldn’t love a bag covered in them? Personally, I might print off a second set for myself and add them to my own luggage.

-E.

CREW CALL – Assistant & Volunteer Positions

Bygone Theatre is currently looking to fill several paid and volunteer positions for our upcoming productions. We have roles available for both experienced arts workers and for those interested in getting their feet wet; high school students may apply for some of these. Check out the details below, and contact Executive Director Emily Dix at emily@bygonetheatre.com with any questions.

Want to get involved but don’t see something that quite fits? Give us a shout, we are always happy to meet with new people and find ways to involve those who are interested.

The following positions are open for those looking to gain experience working in theatre, or for those who just like to be involved. Potential roles include;

  • Assistant stage manager
  • Assistant set designer
  • Production assistant
  • Marketing & social media assistant

These roles are open to those with little to no previous experience, including high school students. Students may fulfill their requisite 40 volunteer hours with these positions. Children under 18 will need to provide a signed parent permission form.

How to Apply:
Send a one-page cover letter to Emily Dix at emily@bygonetheatre.com, outlining any relevant skills or experience and describing how you would like to be involved, and what you would like to gain from the position.

 

Deadline for crew calls is February 1, 2016 at 5:00pm. Applications will be reviewed as they are received and an appropriate candidate may be accepted before the deadline; early applications are encouraged.

CREW CALL – Wait Until Dark

Bygone Theatre is currently looking to fill several paid and volunteer positions for our upcoming productions. We have roles available for both experienced arts workers and for those interested in getting their feet wet; high school students may apply for some of these. Check out the details below, and contact Executive Director Emily Dix at emily@bygonetheatre.com with any questions.

Want to get involved but don’t see something that quite fits? Give us a shout, we are always happy to meet with new people and find ways to involve those who are interested.

WAIT UNTIL DARK – MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION, APRIL 2016

We are currently accepting applications for crew members for our upcoming production of Wait Until Dark. We are looking for the following;

Stage Manager: 
Duties & Responsibilities:

  • In charge of booking rehearsal space & coordinating with cast & crew for all meetings & rehearsals
  • In charge of creating a detailed prompt book and coordinating with the designers and director to ensure all necessary items are purchased and accounted for
  • Assisting the director in rehearsals, taking notes as needed
  • Calling the show
  • Other tasks as required

Skills & Requirements:

  • Excellent attention-to-detail & multitasking skills
  • Reliable access to a method of communication, be it email or phone, and able to provide prompt replies
  • A firm but patient & polite demeanour
  • Previous stage management experience is necessary, experience in a site-specific location is preferred

Tech Director
Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Creating & programming sound and lighting design for the show
  • Working with the director to achieve her vision, while offering creative input and feedback
  • Securing any required technical elements (eg. renting equipment, ensuring there are enough extension cords, securing sound effects, etc.)
  • Coordinating with the stage manager for tech and performances

Skills & Requirements:

  • Creative individual willing to work together with the director in the creation of all technical elements
  • Strong knowledge of technical requirements and programs
  • Preference given to those who are able to assist in running the tech, as well as doing the design and set-up

Set Designer
Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Creating detailed technical designs and orchestrating the creation & load-in/set-up
  • Working with the director to achieve her vision, while offering creative input and feedback
  • Assisting the director & producer with creating a detailed budget for the set that stays within the overall show budget
  • Coordinating with the stage manager and technical designer for the build, load-in and tech, as required

Skills & Requirements:

  • Previous set-design and construction experience
  • Strong knowledge of various building supplies and techniques
  • Able to creatively design and construct a product that fits both the creative design and stays within budget
  • Must be available to build the set and assist with the load-in and strike

To apply, send a brief cover letter and resume to director Emily Dix at emily@bygonetheatre.com.

This is a non-union, profit-share production. Lead positions  also include an honourarium; email for more details.

Deadline for crew calls is February 1, 2016 at 5:00pm. Applications will be reviewed as they are received and an appropriate candidate may be accepted before the deadline; early applications are encouraged.

Check out our other blog post for assistant & volunteer positions.

 

Kill Sister, Kill! Crew Spotlight – Producer Emily Dix

How did you first get involved with KSK?

I met Jamieson Child back in late summer/early fall of 2014, when he auditioned for Rope. We hit it off in rehearsals right away, and at some point KSK came up in conversation. I remembered hearing about it when it was in Fringe a few years ago, and as I was looking for something to take to the NYC Fringe in the summer of 2015, I wanted to learn more. He had me read the script in October and I knew right away I wanted to help expand the show and bring it to New York.

What drew you to the project?

A few things. For one, it fit with Bygone’s style & mandate; a period piece, kinda dark & funny, and it was very closely tied to film as it’s inspired by vintage exploitation cinema. As well, I LOVE musicals, and really wanted to be involved in one again. Then of course there is my twisted love of cult & exploitation cinema, and I was excited by the fact that there were these 2 talented & crazy brothers who were just as into that stuff as I was, and who had taken that passion for the genre and put it towards building a really unique play. We hit it off early on and I thought we all had great complimentary skills. It just seemed like a good fit all around.

Describe your work as dramaturg, what does that entail?

It’s basically a fancy word for saying that I have to be aware of every creative aspect of the show, and that I am there sort of over-seeing the creative process. I met with Jamie & Drac a lot in the early stages and we worked out script stuff, expanding the story, breaking down beats, talking about music styles etc. Then, as we got into producing, I had to have a knowledge of the inspiration for the show to make sure that it was coming across in the marketing & overall production; being aware of the time period, the filmic references, all of that. Now, in the rehearsal stage, it’s being there to help support J with providing extra info for the actors. Being able to give period references to help fill out some gaps, to give them a strong background so they have something to build their characters off of. It’s about as broad and all encompassing as producing is, but for the other side of things.

What do you do as producer?

Everything. There are roles that are specifically mine, but at the end of the day the number one thing is making sure that everyone else is doing their job too, and stepping in to do it myself if they aren’t. As for my regular stuff? I’ve written up contracts, coordinated with the Fringe and the venue, assisted in casting & hiring, written up budgets, organized fundraisers & funding campaigns, made some posters, designed a website, worked on promoting, scheduled production meetings – you name it, I’ve done some part of it. And then I’m stage managing as well, so there’s some cross over. With that I get to be in rehearsals working closely with J the director and the cast. Really all the roles I’ve taken on just require a lot of overseeing and organizing, so while it’s an INSANE amount of stuff to get done, it actually gets a bit simpler the more I take on, because there is a lot of overlap.

What are some challenges that you’ve had to overcome?

When you’re working with artists there’s always a lot of passion & energy brought to every conversation, which is almost always good. It can make for some loud fights and big clashes though, now and then. Plus, this is a big show for a lot of us. Taking something out of city adds so many additional challenges (and costs) that it makes for a lot more stress than a usual show, and that can put a strain on relationships. I’m used to being the one directing Bygone shows as well, and so it’s a new process having to step back from that while still managing all the other stuff – not bad, but very different.

What has been your favourite part of the process so far?

Working with incredible people. I know, it sounds like a cheesy answer but it’s really true. I knew very early on that Jamieson was someone I wanted to keep working with, and he’s been a great co-worker & friend, so that’s been great. And everyone we have brought on along the way has not only been really talented but a lot of fun too. While some have gotten tense, a lot of production meetings have been filled with laughs and good times, and I’m sure as everything falls into place we’ll see more of that. I’ve always said of any show I’ve directed that I think what’s made it is having a great cast, not just in regards to talent but personality too, and I’m very happy that the same result has happened here.

Any good rehearsal anecdotes to share?

When you spend a lot of time around a small group of people, you naturally begin to let your guard down, and when you’re an artist that usually means you start to get a little weird… I couldn’t tell you how exactly it started, but for the longest time our 2nd act opening number was called “The Timbit Song” (now “Fear City”). It came about somehow when we were discussing the potential issues of a Canadian show in a US venue, and I know that we had the music down but not the lyrics. Jamieson started improvising about what the character Ronnie could sing and (brilliantly) came up with “What’s a timbit? I want a timbit! Have a timbit, what’s a fucking timbit?” and for whatever ridiculous reason that stuck so long that we now have many very formal, serious looking correspondence talking about the “Timbit Song”.

Why should people come and see the show?

This really is a unique production. The show itself is unlike any other musical I’ve seen, and it’s a lot of fun to watch. We’ve got a really talented cast & crew of young Canadian artists, and our band is made up of some very experienced (Broadway-level) NYC musicians.

How can people help support the project?

If you’re in NYC August 26th-30th, come see the show! Tickets can be purchased online. And if you can’t make it out to see it live, you can still help support the show by making a donation – every little bit helps!