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!

1920s Cocktails & Vintage Liquour Labels

I did a post earlier on making authentic props for period pieces, and this is a bit of a continuation of that. Our current production, Rope, is set in 1929 and there is a LOT of drinking in it. Some specific drinks are mentioned, so I’ve been looking into the ingredients for those:

ginandit

ginandangostura

GINANDFRENCHBy knowing what ingredients are needed, we know a. what props to have and b. how long it would take to make the drinks. As well, it gives us an idea of how easily they go down, and how much they’d affect the drinker. All this just makes for more realism and helps, I think, with the actor’s character work.

Vintage Liquor Labels

Once I had established what was needed for these drinks I started to look up some vintage labels to affix to the bottles in my prop collection. The variety and detail on some of these is amazing, and so I’ve been able to be picky, choosing ones that catch my eye and even fit our colour scheme; here’s a few that I may be using:

I’ll post some pics of the finished prop bottles when they’re done.

All for now,
-E.

What It Really Costs To Be An Actor (and to put on a show)

I came across an interesting Business Insider article today on the costs associated with working as an actor; even as someone who is well aware of the small return on a huge investment (of both time and money) I was shocked by some of the numbers.

Consider the cost of training and promotional materials, for one;

School: some go the 4 year BA route, which will cost about $20 000 in total, but even if you are forgoing traditional education for workshops or conservatory programs, expect to spend thousands here.

Headshots: these are essential for any actor and can cost a pretty penny. Expect $500+ to have them shot, plus the cost of printing. It isn’t unusual to spend close to $1000 for good quality headshots, and then of course they need to be updated whenever you change your look.

Personal Website: while free avenues like facebook and wordpress are frequently used, a lot of people choose to have a custom domain name as well; add another $100 or more a year for this.

Then of course there is the cost of any additional training you do along the way, things like haircuts, makeup etc. to keep you looking pretty, expensive dance shoes – you get the idea. It’s not cheap. And there is really no guarantee of a return.

It was the author’s salaries in the article though that really caught me by surprise; even at the high end, performing at Madison Square Garden in a multi-million dollar performance, the author was only making $527/week. $527/week for 52 weeks in a year is a whopping $27 404 annual salary; not exactly a celebrity lifestyle. Plus, consider the fact that not only do most actors not get big gigs like that, but the majority of actor’s contracts are not for a full year. So even if you’re raking in big dough for the duration of your contract, you may need to stretch 2 months of pay over an entire year.

The author was only making $527/week. $527/week for 52 weeks in a year is a whopping $27 404 annual salary; not exactly a celebrity lifestyle

Our upcoming production of Rope is certainly small budget compared to the shows mentioned above, but it’s still a considerable amount of money for those of us who are funding it while working minimum wage jobs. Our overall budget is $4500.00, and that does not include paying the actors. You can see a detailed breakdown of our budget on our FWYC campaign page.  As someone who is certainly used to working for no pay (I put hundreds of volunteer hours over 6 years into theatre work on campus before finally getting a paid, part-time position this year) I went into this knowing I likely couldn’t pay anyone involved, but still feeling really guilty about it. So that’s why we started a Fund What You Can Campaign.

Our goal is to raise the entire cost of our production – $4500.00 – so that any money we make on the show itself can be split among the cast and crew. Of course there is no guarantee of ticket sales, but if we were to sell out all of our shows we could potentially be paying everyone about $380; not a Broadway level salary, but it’s a start. To put that further into perspective, all of actors are putting in about 14 hours of performance time plus 40-60 hours of rehearsal time. So let’s say that they are working a conservative 54 hours and make at the very most $380; that’s still only $7/hour. Considerably below minimum wage.

Our goal is to raise the entire cost of our production – $4500.00 – so that any money we make on the show itself can be split among the cast and crew…that’s still only $7/hour. Considerably below minimum wage.

As a producer it is important to me to put on a successful show and to compensate those involved. As an artist and student myself, I do not have the money to do that on my own. That’s where you come in. By making a donation to Rope you will be helping to further the careers of 8 talented actors, our wonderful stage manager and Bygone Theatre itself. Every little bit counts and gets us one step closer to realizing our dreams while earning a decent wage.

Check out our Fund What You Can Campaign for Rope to make a donation to the production.

-E.

Dressing “Rope” – Costume Design Boards

Accurate period-appropriate costumes are an important thing to me, and to Bygone Theatre. I spend a considerable amount of time researching vintage fashion, and then even more time trying to figure out how to make it work on a budget. For a simple breakdown of what I’m looking for in terms of costumes for Rope I’ve created these costume boards.

Colour Scheme:
I am a fan of very specific colour schemes. While I could easily do the show with all the actors wearing any colour that suits them, when I first start planning a production, one of the first things that pops into my head is the overall design and the colours that I want to use. For Rope, I decided to go with what I’ve been describing as a “bruise” palette; dark blues, purples and greys, along with accents of green.

rope colour palette

Bruises typically have some yellow in them too, but I am avoiding warm colours in the costumes. Instead, I will have gold and brass accents, bringing in some warmth along with the metallics that were popular in the decade. I am keeping the actors mostly monochromatic, so to add interest I am using a lot of texture; wool, tweed, velvet, satin and detailed bead work will keep things visually interesting and stop them from looking too “flat”.

Brandon Wyndham
Leete Stetson stars as Brandon Wyndham; dashing, devilish and debonair. Brandon is described as not being “dressed”, ie. he is in casual attire. However, he still needs to look fashionable and expensively dressed. I am planning on putting Brandon in the very trendy Oxford Bags, along with a thick wool sweater and a bow tie.

Rope - Brandonw Wyndham Costume BoardJames Kelly
Nicholas Arnold plays the quiet, anxious, gifted but shy James Kelly. Like Brandon, James is wearing a more casual outfit at home, so I am planning on putting him in a vest without a jacket. The script gives me a few specifics to work with; he needs a waistcoat with pockets and a tie pin, which means he will be wearing a neck tie.

Rope - James Kelly Costume BoardRupert Cadell
Jamieson Child plays the crippled poet, Rupert Cadell. While Rupert comes to the party “dressed” in formal attire, he is not the type to be overly concerned with fashion, and so I picture him in slightly out-dated, less expensive clothes. Also, being a writer, I can’t help but picture Ernest Hemingway when I think of him.

Rope - Rupert Cadell Costume BoardLeila Arden
Chelsey MacLean plays party-girl Leila Arden. Leila is celebrity obsessed, superficial, and overly concerned with her looks. I see her in a typical flapper style; lots of jewels, lush fabrics, and a stylish cloche hat.

Rope - Leila Arden Costume Board

Kenneth Raglan
Producer Matt McGrath is playing boy-next-door, Kenneth Raglan. Kenneth is young, college educated, preppy and well-off. He is embarrassed by showing up to the party “dressed”, which means he is in more formal clothes than Brandon and James. I want him in blue as well, but whereas James has a lighter blue with browns and Rupert has blue and black, Kenneth will likely have matching suit, vest and pants, all in a dark greyish blue.

Rope - Kenneth Raglan Costume Board

Miss Kentley
Is played by Elizabeth Rose Morriss. Miss K is a little older and considerably more conservative than Leila, so I’ve chosen a less-flashy dress style for her. Rather than cover her in beading and fringe, I am looking for a fabric with a simple pattern; likely something floral. I think she may wear a wider-brimmed hat.

Rope - Miss Kentley Costume Board

Miss Jefferies, The Maid
Caitlin Robson is playing Miss Jefferies, the maid, who will be wearing the traditional uniform. Black dress with sleeves, a white apron, decorated with lace, and a white, ruffled headpiece.

Rope - Maid Costume Board

1920s Food Inspiration – Making Faux Food for “Rope”

Our director Emily Dix is busily making props for our upcoming production of Rope. She consulted the fabulous website, Food Timeline, for some ideas and then scoured pinterest for pictures of things that looked doable. Here are the results so far.

They may still need a few tweaks – I think the caprese skewers could use some “balsamic vinegar” – but not bad for a first go.

A Tip Of The Hat: Conveying Character With Hats

Every costumer knows that it is their job to create an outfit that showcases the actor’s character onstage. While every designer has their own method, it is doubtless that all put in hours of research trying to find just the right colours and styles. But the actor too can make small changes to the clothes they are given and in doing so drastically alter the meaning of the pieces, especially when it comes to hats.

I am currently taking a millinery class at Stratford Off The Wall. You can see some of my how-to tutorials on making hats here. Today in class while we were creating our patterns an interesting point was made; depending on the angle someone chooses to tilt and wear their hat, a variety of personalities can be conveyed, all with the same costume piece. Take for example, a man’s fedora;

In the first image, Cary Grant looks sexy and sophisticated. Maybe a business man, or even a gangster. He wears his hat tilted and low down on the brow.
Bob Hope wears his hat a bit further back on his head and at a less severe angle. This gives a more laid-back vibe, almost tired or lazy and somewhat comical.

Finally, Ray Bolger wears his at the back of his head, giving him a clownish appearance that works well with his goofy, snarky farm-hand character.

A similar effect can occur with mens’ bowlers;

The first image shows a man wearing a bowler the “correct” way, sitting right atop his head. This is a serious, sophisticated and very vintage look.

In his Boardwalk Empire outfit, Steve Buscemi looks every bit the classy gangster, thanks in part to the casual backwards tilt of his hat.

Once again, a hat worn on the back of one’s head immediately creates a clownish look, as does an ill-fitting hat, as seen in this Laurel & Hardy shot.

Women’s hats can do the same thing;

For a serious, mysterious look, Joan Crawford wears a severe looking hat, tilted low on her brow with a minimal side tilt.

Lucille Ball looks sultry and sophisticated in a hat with a fashionably jaunty tilt.

The smiling woman also wears a hat tilted far to the side, but hers is further back on the brow, giving a playful, energetic vibe.

Finally, Judy Garland is the picture of youth and innocence in this cap that sits at the back of her head, wrapped around her ears.

When costuming it is always important to remember not just what your actors will be wearing, but how they will wear it. Subtle changes in attitude can be reflected through minimal costume changes; a man could start the play with his fedora tilted low, looking professional and suave. After a frantic day, he may push it further back on his head, while wiping his brow. During a madcap comical scene later on, the hat could end up right on the back of his head and even slightly squished (likely combined with a loosened tie or un-tucked shirt). That’s just a random example, but you get the idea.

So if you feel your costume is lacking a little “something”, give your actor a hat and let them play with it. It may just top things off perfectly.

Want to make your own vintage hat? Check out our A.D. Emily Dix’s tutorial on how to make a custom hat pattern from scratch!

-E.