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;

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

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Cast Spotlight: Steve Hobbs

steve-hobbs-high-rez-headshotComedian Steve Hobbs plays sweet but bland insurance salesman, Bruce Baldwin, in His Girl Friday; this is his first production with Bygone Theatre.

Bio: Steve Hobbs is an actor/comedian and a long-time Toronto improviser. A graduate of the Second City Conservatory sketch and Long-form programs, he’s known for his stage performances in hit Toronto Fringe shows like “Behold the Barfly!” (2016, 5N’s – Now Magazine) and performed, co-wrote and produced in “Everything Is Fine” (2014, 4N’s – Now Magazine, 4.5 stars – The Torontoist). In improv, he plays monthly in the James Bond-themed “Double Oh!” show, previously headlined Impatient Theatre Co. comedy nights with “El Fantoma”, and has been featured internationally in various comedy festivals (Detroit Improv Festival, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, NYC’s Del Close Marathon). Off-stage, he’s been a writer for The Second City Network, CBC Punchline and the Beaverton, as well as co-wrote the 48 hour film project 2016 finalist “Fumbled”. When he’s not performing, he’s coaching and teaching as part of the Second City Toronto faculty.

How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

I heard about the production through Emily Dix herself at Bygone, but she also close ties to a director/producer team that I go way back with to past Fringe successes and beyond. They kind of recommended me and played match maker a little bit, which was nice. Small world!

What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?

The theme of professional versions of ourselves clashing with our romantic ideals is something that I not only identify with personally, but it’s also pretty trendy these days (have you SEEN La La Land??). His Girl Friday nails the frustrating balancing act for me, and grabbed me as a lighter, more fun exploration of that same dichotomy and realities.

What’s your favourite old movie?

Uh oh. I know I should probably say “Casablanca” or something, but honestly, its probably more like that 60’s Adam West batman film. Bombs, sharks…it’s basically Casablanca.

Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

I haven’t been in a production set in this particular era before, but I’ve been in multiple successful Fringe shows (“Behold, the Barfly!”, “Everything is Fine”) and make TV/youtube/stage appearances fairly often. I play in a monthly James Bond themed improv show as well, and guest as a comedian when I can.

Why should people come and see the show?

This show has a stellar cast, fast talking drama and comedy, and my character goes to jail a lot. It’s a winner, come watch!

Anything else you want us to know?

It’s my first time working with Bygone, and I’m PUMPED.

See Steve onstage this March in His Girl Friday tickets available online. 

Cast Spotlight: Sean Jacklin

sean-jacklinSean Jacklin plays hardboiled newspaper editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant in the film) in our upcoming production of His Girl Friday; this is Sean’s first production with Bygone Theatre.

Bio: Sean is a graduate of both George Brown College and the University of Guelph’s theatre training programs. While not acting, Sean also fancies himself a playwright, theatre technician, director and musician. Sean will be appearing shortly alongside Epigraph Collective in their show Don’t Look Back and as part of the Mercury Song series in Bright Lights, City Nights. Recent credits include: Deputy Governor Danforth in The Crucible (Kindling Collective), Eric Birling in An Inspector Calls and Harry Pepper in Barefoot in the Park (The Classic Theatre Festival), The Inspector in The Enchanted, Foigard in The Beaux’ Stratagem, Aristarch in The Suicide, and Augustus Lorton in Lady Windermere’s Fan (George Brown College)

How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

I actually heard about Bygone theatre last year when they were putting up Wait Until Dark. I had finished a run of that show the summer before and knew someone in it as well. This production (His Girl Friday) I learned about from Alex Clay. He messaged me saying the show needed another actor and I remember thoroughly enjoying the movie (and always loved Cary Grant) so I joined up!

What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?

The show is so witty and quick that I had to jump on the opportunity to play Burns. So much of the humour is influenced by the old vaudevillians (The Marx Bros., The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy etc.) and I was practically raised on that so it felt pretty natural to say yes to the show. 

What’s your favourite old movie?


Duck Soup. Hands down the best Marx Bros. film and one that leaves me in stitches every time I watch it. It’s also interesting to note when it was made. 1933, the same year a certain sad wannabe dictator was made chancellor of Germany. The whole movie is a send up of militarism and idiotic diplomacy. A movie well suited to our times as well I’d say (sadly).

Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

I’ve worked with the Classic Theatre Festival in Perth, ON for the past 8 years or so on and of, both on stage and off and their mandate is to do the golden hits of Broadway and the West End so there is some overlap between their shows and Bygone theatre’s show. Most recently with them I played Eric in An Inspector Calls and Harry Pepper in Barefoot in the Park. More locally I played Deputy Governor Danforth in The Kindling Collective’s production of The Crucible  back in October and graduated from George Brown College’s theatre program last April, where I performed in Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Suicide, The Beaux’ Stratagem, and The Enchanted.

Why should people come and see the show?

If you love comedy, come to the show. If you want to see a show that stands out above some of its contemporaries when it comes to gender dynamics it is also an interesting piece. Most of all it’s gonna be a fast paced barrel of fun, and nobody should miss out on that.

Anything else you want us to know?

If you are looking for something completely different come to the Mercury Cafe on Queen E. March 10 and 11 for Bright Lights, City Nights. It’s a song series/play that myself and some of my George Brown colleagues have crafted about life in the city and all that entails. It’s a low-key but fun kinda thing. Alternatively I am also working with Epigraph Collective on Don’t Look Back, a verbatim theatre piece centred on the millennial generation and it’s struggles with life, love, and the baby boomers. It’s been incredibly eye opening interviewing different people to get material for the show and seeing how many different perspectives there are on certain issues and also how many similarities in opinions there are.

Tickets are on sale now for His Girl Friday – buy before Feb. 15th to take advantage of our Earlybird Discount.

Cast Spotlight: Chris Peterson

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Bio: I’m originally from the U.S. and have been in Canada for almost 5 years. I’ve gone away and come back to acting a few times in my life, including studying at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC and performing in theatre/film projects there before taking a 10-year break to have a “real” job, etc., including 8 years as a Digital Producer (among other things) at Nickelodeon/MTV. After being laid off 2.5 years ago for my second time since moving to TO and my fourth time overall, I decided to return once again to my first love of acting and never leave again. Since then, performances have included August: Osage County (Alumnae), Four Hours (Alumnae New Ideas Festival), Sorry, Wrong Number/The Hitchhiker (Plain Stage), and Alone Together (Scarborough Players).  Starting Thursday after HGF closes, I will also be part of David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Proof at the Red Sandcastle Theatre. In addition to theatre/film/tv projects, I’m also a puppeteer with The Concerned Kids charity (so if you’ve got kids, book us to perform at their school!). More at chrispeterson.me and facebook/chrispetersonactor.

How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

Much of the last couple of years has been spent immersing myself in the TO performing scene and I am always learning about new (to me) theatre companies, etc. Last year I learned about Bygone from the audition listing for their production of Wait Until Dark, but I was involved with the amazing August: Osage County at Alumnae so wasn’t able to submit. This time I happily was.

What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?

I hadn’t seen the original film, but I’m a definite fan of films from that era and the fast-paced action and humour. I also love the sound and rhythms of the dialogue and transatlantic accent. Even the characters who seem maybe not-so-great in this story are completely lovable, plus any reason to think about Cary Grant is a good reason.

What’s your favourite old movie?

There are still plenty I need to see, but off the top of my head – Singing in the Rain, Funny Face, and Casablanca.

Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

Last May I was in a double bill of The Hitchhiker and Sorry, Wrong Number with Plain Stage Theatre, both originally part of Orson Welles’ radio program. Most recently, I was part of Unit 102’s Operation 24 this past December – 6 plays cast, written, directed, learned, and performed in 24 hours – which was crazy and amazing.s

Why should people come and see the show?

It’s funny and maybe even more important lots of fun, it’s got a great (and huge) cast and production team, and these older stories/films are called classics for a reason. Bring your parents/grandparents.

Anything else you want us to know?

Come see the show, and then go see Proof (it won a Pulitzer for a reason, and I get the feels at every rehearsal) either of the following two weekends, and then please keep on supporting local theatre and comedy and dance and art! Also, keep an eye/ear out for the new serial podcast Frequency which should be launching this month.

See Chris onstage March 2-5, and help support him and the show by making a donation through FWYC.

Cast Spotlight: Ryan Kotack

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You may remember Ryan Kotack from past Retro Radio Hours, or from his role as a Policeman in Wait Until Dark.

Bio: Originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ryan Christopher Kotack studied professional theatre at University of Guelph to then pursue a film/ TV career in Toronto. You may have seen him in shows such as the medieval drama REIGN & science fiction thriller DEFIANCE. His selected film credits include; IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES, ANTISOCIAL 2 & AGAPE. He stars as ASIM in the award-winning short film BOSNIAK, currently screened by AIR CANADA.

 How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

After enduring many auditions of mine, Emily finally caved in last spring and offered me a small role in Bygone Theatre’s WAIT UNTIL DARK. Clearly, she does not learn from her mistakes. Here I am once again.

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Ryan Kotack in Wait Until Dark

2. What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?

The pace. The comedy. The characters!

3. What’s your favourite old movie?

King Kong. One of the greatest love stories ever told about a monkey.

4. Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

I love period pieces. I minored in history in University. My fourth year graduating theatre class produced a war-era collective creation called Sincerely Yours. The story focused on broken relationships in Hollywood, during the United States involvement in WWII, while propaganda movies began to shape America.

Recently, I played a Scottish Military Advisor to the Regent of Scotland in the television show REIGN. They gave me a sword, we had an amazing dialect coach on set. It was such a privilege and I loved it all.   

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Ryan Kotack (far left) in Reign.

5. Why should people come and see the show?

You get a chance to travel to the era of Cary Grant and it is a guaranteed laugh! On a more serious note, the show is very relevant in portraying the power of the press. How does the media shape our reality? Have we progressed or regressed from WWII? 

6. Anything else you want us to know?

I am currently studying the Advanced Meisner Technique under Adrian Griffins. This man studied at the Neighbourhood Playhouse in New York City with Sanford Meisner. 

Help support Bygone Theatre by making a donation through our FWYC campaign – all proceeds go towards this great show with a large & talented cast!

Cast Spotlight: Michael Barkey

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Michael Barkey is playing reporter Endicott in our upcoming production of His Girl Friday; this will be his first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio: Michael Barkey, who plays the role of Endicott, is proud to join the cast of His Girl Friday. His most recent theatre role was as Marc in Sandworms! at Alumni Theatre.  His favourite role of 2016 was as Detective Carling in the feature length, sci-fi film Transmission, to be released in 2017.  Michael has trained at George Brown College, Second City, and Armstrong Acting Studios. He is a trained linguist, a licensed electrician, and has held diverse work and volunteer positions around the world.

1. How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

I discovered the casting call for the production on a casting website and applied right away. I didn’t know about Bygone Theatre before this but it’s clearly one of the best companies in Toronto!

2. What made you want to be involved? / What do you love about the story?

His Girl Friday is hilarious, see, and I love a good laugh. This is a chance to work on comedic timing, accents, and period specific themes.  The story is well crafted, and has substance and social relevance.  How grand that this is a screwball comedy but also touches on some darker themes such as greed, selfishness and corruption. 

3. What’s your favourite old movie?

At the moment, I’d say “The Big Sleep”.  Of the many amazing film noir stories, this classic stars a hard-boiled detective and has the delicious blend of an intricate plot, an undercurrent of desire and sexuality, and a cynical perspective of human nature that keeps me coming back for more. 

4. Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

This is definitely the first time I’ll be acting in a stage adaptation of a classic film that was itself an adaptation of a play to begin with. What a treat!  

My most exciting recent role is in the independent, sci-fi, noir film “Transmission” due for release later in 2017.  You can find our more about this made-in-Toronto, soon-to-be-cult-classic, at the following website:

www.famousmotionpictures.com/films/transmission

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Michael Barkey in TRANSMISSION, Famous Motion Pictures/ Matthew Scott

5. Why should people come and see the show?

Come to see His Girl Friday for the damn good story and come for the laughs!  Come for the fast-paced passion, deceit, and moral ambiguity. You’ll also get a steamy glimpse into the world of the newspaper business in the early 20th century, with all it’s dubious practices.  Asking questions about the media and journalism is crucial these days and boy, this was quite the chapter in the history of the dissemination of information to the public.  Anything to get the story!

See Michael onstage this March in His Girl Friday – tickets on sale now.

Cast Spotlight: Alex Clay

Alex Clay plays newspaper man McCue in our upcoming production of His Girl Friday.

Bio: Alex studied at the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto, collecting degrees with all his might until he realized that the safest and most stable route for him was definitely acting. Alex debuted as Jason in Guelph Little Theatre’s Rabbit Hole. He then played Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a park somewhere. Next, he discovered the world of acting in short plays with Special Delivery at Theatre InspiraTO festival, Remembrance at Social Capital, and Lifeboat at Small But Mighty Productions. Alex then got his creep on. First, as a dimwitted camera operator turned enigmatic demon in Interview with a Demon, then as a teenage prodigy turned psychopathic murderer in The Dialogues of Leopold and Loeb. This summer Alex made his Toronto Fringe Festival debut in Inch of Your Life: Episode 1…stay tuned folks! Most recently, he trekked to Windsor to play Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. Alex is thrilled to be making his Bygone Theatre debut with this amazing group of artists.

1. How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?
I do my best to keep up with as many theatre companies in Toronto as I can, so at some point I stumbled upon Bygone Theatre and I really liked their mandate and play selection, so I began following them on social media. I have a few friends who have worked with them in the past as well. When I saw the casting call for His Girl Friday I was excited to see that their newly adapted script was made available. I read the script, loved it, auditioned, and here we are!

2. What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?
There is a strong female lead; Hildy Johnson is badass. It’s a classic screwball comedy. Many of the characters are so self involved that in the context of the play it’s funny, but it’s also a statement that still resonates today about how people can become desensitized by the tedium of their jobs. Media coverage is a hot issue these days and this play provides an insider look at the coverage of a high profile case.

3. What’s your favourite old movie?
This is a really tough one. I’m a huge fan of Hitchcock, including Rope and Dial M for Murder, both of which Bygone Theatre has produced. But if I had to go with one it would probably be Fritz Lang’s mystery thriller M…or Jean Renoir’s pacifist war film La Grand Illusion…or Vittorio De Sica’s heart wrenching Bicycle Thieves. I told you this was a tough one. These three films could probably not be any more different from one another, but they all have really interesting things to say about the human condition. La Grand Illusion is a film about the First World War that subtly reveals the looming danger of Hitler (released in 1937), and Fritz Lang ably shows the dangers of a mob mentality when a child murderer is on the loose, and De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves is partly responsible for breathing life into a new way of filmmaking. This is ground breaking, revolutionary, must-watch material. #selfidentifiedfilmnerd

4. Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?
Around this time last year I was in a new play by Brad Walton called The Dialogues of Leopold and Loeb which is only similar in so far as it was set only about a decade prior to His Girl Friday. This script demands a fairly fast paced delivery of the lines, which is something I became accustomed to in working on Massimo Pagliaroli’s Inch of Your Life: Episode 1 at last year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. I look forward to working with Massimo and his great cast and crew on the upcoming instalments in that series.

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Former Bygone member Tom Beattie and actor Alex Clay in The Dialogues of Leopold and Loeb.

5. Why should people come and see the show?
People should see this show because there is nothing else quite like it, certainly not on the stage in Toronto anyway. It’s got humour, mystery, intrigue, and phenomenal period appropriate costume and set design. The tickets are quite affordable and we are performing at a relatively new and up and coming venue, the home of Native Earth Performing Arts, Aki Studio at Daniels Spectrum. Check out Métis Mutt before it closes on February 5th!

6. Anything else you want us to know?
Go to the theatre, if not this show, then some other one (but definitely still consider this one). The performance of a play only lasts 60, 90, 120 minutes, whatever its runtime may be, and then it ends and will never be seen again. You can do a one-month run and no two shows will be the same. It’s alive, it’s breathing and it’s brought to you by talented (often local) artists. I could not be more proud of what I do, and I do it for you. Support the arts!

Cast Spotlight: Matthew Hallworth

Matthew Hallworth plays reporter Roy Bensinger in our upcoming production of His Girl Friday.

Bio: Matthew is a Toronto-based Producer, Writer, Actor, Improviser and Singer. He is a largely supportive member of the Toronto Improv Community both on stage and as a Stage Manager at The Second City. His most notable work is “Fumbled” a short film created as part of the 48 Hour Film Project which he was Producer, Writer and Actor on and won “2nd Runner Up” and “Best Ensemble”.

1. How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?
I have been familiar with Bygone Theatre for some time because of their Retro Radio Hour shows, I just had to jump on the opportunity to do a fast-talking 1940’s piece!

2. What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?
I’ve always had a fascination with classic comedies and as a modern comedic performer; I feel its important to be in touch with these classic styles as so many elements are still very much crucial today. I love all the layers to this work; the love triangle, the sleazy reporters, the big plot changes and the fun of all of it!

3. What’s your favourite old movie?
The Great Dictator (1940) I’m a huge admirer of Chaplin’s work and this one really speaks to me as a brave political satire which mocked Hitler before the world knew him to be a monster. Everyone knows the famous speech at the end, but the film all around is a beautiful work of slapstick and screwball comedy, all the bits with Chaplin and Jack Oakie still make me laugh hysterically. 

4. Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?
I was once cast in a slapstick production which unfortunately never came to be! I’m mainly an Improviser and perform throughout the city, I recently Produced and Directed Miracle on the Danforth, an Improvised Holiday Special at the Social Capital. In March you can see me in Round 2 of the World’s Biggest Improv Tournament with my esteemed partner, Sean Browning. 

5. Why should people come and see the show?
The comedy, drama and relationships in this piece are timeless; add to that the presence of a strong female character (Hildy) and, well, this is going to be a great time! 

See Matthew onstage this March in His Girl Friday. Buy tickets now.

Cast Spotlight: Ashlie White

529520_10153462184710023_1936804906_nAshlie White is playing down-on-her-luck Mollie Malloy in our upcoming production of His Girl Friday; this will be her first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio: Ashlie originally hails from Alberta, where she received her diploma in Theatre Arts from Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton. Some of her favorite credits include: Martha (The Secret Garden), Clairee (Steel Magnolias) Penelope Pennywise (Urinetown), Lucy (You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown), as well as spending 4 seasons with the Edmonton Opera Chorus. Ashlie has been active with The Confidential Musical Theatre Project appearing in their productions of Nine (Toronto), and Kiss Me Kate (Port Perry). Ashlie is thrilled to be making her ByGone Theatre debut in His Girl Friday.

How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

I had seen several postings on Facebook about Bygone Theatre and had been intrigued by their Retro Radio Hour radio plays. It immediately looked like something I wanted to be involved with.

What made you want to be involved? What do you love about the story?

I have always loved classic films. When I first saw the posting I had heard of His Girl Friday but never actually seen it. Once I read the script I fell in love with the fast paced writing farce like plot.

What’s your favourite old movie?

I’d have to say Singing’ In the Rain. I love old MGM musicals

Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

I co-produced and acted in a production of The Attic The Pearls and 3 Fine Girls this November. In February I am playing Blanche in Plain Stage Theatre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Why should people come and see the show?

This show has everything! Drama, comedy, crime, romance and classic 1940’s style.

You can see Ashlie onstage March 2-5, 2017, at the Aki Studio, Daniel’s Spectrum. Tickets on sale now at www.nativeearth.ca/hisgirlfriday.