Rope – Cast Spotlight – Chelsey MacLean

While Rope is Chelsey MacLean’s first Bygone Theatre production, she and director Emily Dix met each other in high school and first worked on a play together in 2007! Chelsey plays the dim-witted Leila Arden.

1. What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
I had actually been directed by Emily Dix before, for my first play! I had always looked up to Emily and she inspired me to try my hand at directing the following year. I was eager to work with Emily’s professional and artistic skills once again with the added benefit of us bringing our new training to the table. I was also excited for this project as I am a big Patrick Hamilton fan (Let’s do Gaslight next!).

 

2. What is your favourite part of working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
My favourite part of working in a site specific play is that both actor and audience can build a relationship with their environment, which I think brings both parties closer together; the actor endows the very setting the audience sits in while the audience has the advantage of not only watching a reality unfold, but find themselves immersed in it. I believe the real time aspect furthers the suspension of disbelief as the audience does not feel interrupted, and the actor can have the treasure of experiencing the minutia of their character’s moment to moment thought process.
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
To prepare for Rope, I read a few of Patrick Hamilton’s works to familiarize myself with his style, researched the history and setting of the play, then the history and setting of where our production places Rope to find connections/ contrasts; understanding the norms for women at this time in history was quite helpful. As I further explored Leila Arden and her film buff nature, I have happily taken up watching movies from the 1920’s as an additional step to understanding her influences.
4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
I really value the cast of Rope. Every rehearsal I have the gift of learning a little something from each member of this diverse group of actors and those pieces add up to creating a fantastic experience.
5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
Everyone should come see Rope and support local theatre because its a provocative mix of terror, comedy, and psychological intrigue set in our very own Toronto with a timeless story that entertains and questions! Why watch another Whodunnit, when you can be in the room to witness what unfolds once “it” is done? Besides, Leila Arden saw it once, and she thought it was good, dear; why absolutely marvelous!

Want to see Chelsey grace the stage as the lovely Leila Arden? Get tickets through TO Tix, show runs November 21-29, 2014 at the Gibson House Museum

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Rope – Cast Spotlight – Jamieson Child

Our next cast spotlight is on the talented Jamieson Child who plays the lame poet, Rupert Cadell in Rope.
1. What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
The social traffic we commute, our relationships and head games we as people play on an everyday basis give me reason enough to stay interested in living sometimes. Its even more intriguing when you look at individuals who are capable of murder.  What we think about in private and what we do in public… Rope is a play surrounding these topics; it provides a looking glass into the anatomy of the act of killing with full conscious realization and it’s downfall. What is not to like?
2. What challenges have you faced working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
It’s challenging to be so confined to your play space with the other actors and drama of the story as it unfolds being in one room. There isn’t much breathing room. However this only later adds to the suffocating tension, which is the perfect mood to be in for this story.
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
To prepare for playing Rupert I:
– Started walking with a limp.
– Keep repeating my lines in an attempt to find my own characters articulate and uncomfortable 1930’s dialect.
– Take a supply of vitamins and ‘brain foods’ to enhance my otherwise dull cognition
– Drink a lot of coffee.
– Try not to look at myself in the mirror.
– Have been trying to find the comfort zone in being a complete inappropriate ass to everyone in the play.

4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
I have most enjoyed building up a new foundation around myself based on the character I’m playing, and uncovering his own traits within myself. All of which are a little too revealing the more I go on. Also this is a great cast and crew truly, so loosening up and bonding with them is an experience I traditionally loath going into but have started to cherish 🙂

5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
Why should YOU come out to see real humans acting up in stimulating theatre at your very feet, with your hard earned movie/ beer/ Tigerbeat magazine/ McD’s dollars in a play called Rope? Read all the above, or watch the Alfred Hitchcock film and honestly say you aren’t a little tickled.
Want to check out Jamieson on stage? Get your tickets now through TO Tix.

Rope – Cast/Crew Spotlight – Matthew McGrath

Bygone Co-Founder/Producer Matt McGrath is stepping onstage for this production, performing the role of the young and innocent Kenneth Raglan. We asked Matthew about some of the challenges he is facing taking on roles on and off stage.
1. What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
I have wanted to be a part of this show for years. It has always been one of my favourite Hitchcock films. When I learned it was also a play, I knew I had to put it on.
2. What challenges have you faced working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
As a producer the main challenge has always been raising funds, and getting people to care about the show as much as you do, so they’ll want to come see it. As an actor, for this show specifically, it is trying to stay interesting on stage during large chunks where you say nothing, but to not be distracting either. It’s harder than it looks!
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
Watched tons of downton abbey and Boardwalk empire.
4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
Watching the dynamic between the three leading men evolve.
5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
To see a Canadian twist on a classic show. There are top notch performances, and the venue is beautiful and one of a kind!

You can see Matt onstage November 21-29th at the Gibson House Museum. To buy tickets to Rope check out TO Tix.

Rope – Cast Spotlight – Leete Stetson

Leete Stetson has worked on every Bygone show to date; he was music director and part of the choir in Doubt: A Parable, played Tony Wendice in Dial M For Murder and has performed in each of the Retro Radio Hour shows. Leete joins us again as the sinister Brandon Wyndham in Rope.

1. What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
The lovely and talented Emily Dix. To date, I think I’ve been involved in just about everything Bygone Theatre has done. Emily and I have many interests in common, one of which is Alfred Hitchcock who did a film adaptation of this play.

2. What challenges have you faced/OR/ what is your favourite part of working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
My favorite part of working on play that runs in real time is that you don’t have to make up what happens to the character in between scenes. The biggest challenge of working on a play that runs in real time is that you don’t get to make up what happens to the character in between scenes.
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
I’ve sat in the dark late at night and had deep conversations with the air about death and the futility of existence. Then, I’ve turned on the lights and read the script until I could say almost all of my lines in the right order.
4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
I like the parts where I’m waxing philosophic with Rupert/Jamieson Child. He’s a good listener. My second favourite part of the rehearsal process is yelling at Emily when I disagree with her.
5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
It’s not very often that you get to see a play in as beautiful a location as the Gibson House museum. It’s not very often that you get to see a play whose scope is as pinpoint-focused as one room, one evening. It’s not very often that you get to see a play with as talented a group of actors as Nicholas Arnold, Jamieson Child, Caitlin Robson, Elizabeth Rose Morriss, Matt McGrath, Chelsey MacLean and Ian McGarrett

 

Want to see more of Leete? Get your tickets to Rope through TO Tix.

“Rope” Tickets Now On Sale!

Tickets are now on sale for our upcoming production of Rope; buy them online at TO Tix.
As this is a site-specific venue, seating is extremely limited and we encourage you to purchase in advance.

Performance Dates & Times:
Friday November 21, 7:30pm
Saturday November 22, 2:00pm
Saturday November 22, 7:30pm
Friday November 28, 7:30pm
Saturday November 29, 2:00pm
Saturday November 29, 7:30pm

Run time aprox 90 minutes.

Venue:
Gibson House Museum,
5172 Yonge St., Toronto
Wheelchair accessible
Mature themes, recommended for ages 12+

Tickets:
$20 general admission
Available online at TOtix.ca and at the TO Tix box office at Yonge Dundas Square.
Limited number of tickets available at the door; cash only.

Check us out on facebook for more information
#BTrope

Say Hello To The Cast of “Rope”!

This weekend we had our auditions for our November production of Rope; what an amazing group of talented people! Some tough decisions had to be made but it’s made for what I’m sure will be a stellar cast. So say hello to the cast of Rope!

Leete Stetson as Brandon Wyndham

Leete Stetson

Leete Stetson

You may remember Leete Stetson as Tony Wendice in last August’s production of Dial M For Murder.

Bio: Last year, Leete Stetson played Tony Wendice in Bygone Theatre’s production of Dial M for Murder, and assisted with Doubt and the Retro Radio Hour series. Despite what you may assume from his previous work with Bygone, he has murdered hardly any people. Leete is also the General Manager of Theatre Double Take and one third of the creative force behind the comedy/mystery podcast Duotang Chesterfield’s Mystery Theatre. In his spare time, he serves you coffee.

Nicholas Arnold as James Kelly

Nicholas Arnold

This is Nicholas Arnold’s first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio:  Nicholas Arnold is an award-winning writer, director and producer in the film industry as well as a professional actor in theatre and film. Nicholas produced his first documentary at the age of 14 and followed that with his feature directorial debut, “The Vicious Circle,” a film on bullying and hatred, by the time he was 17. Recently, Nicholas premiered his second feature film, “William’s Lullaby,” this time focusing on depression and grief and how it affects child-hood development. As an actor, Nicholas was awarded the Bancroft Theatre Guild Award for Acting Excellence for his 2008 portrayal of “Sparkle” in Judith Thompson’s gritty drama, Habitat. He has also toured Ontario with his one-man show, A Tribute to Jerry Lewis and in 2012 toured the Southern US in The Best of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Jamieson Child as Rupert Cadell

Jamieson Child

Jamieson Child


This is Jamieson Child’s first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio: Jamieson Child is an actor/ filmmaker/ playwright and graduate of Ryerson University’s Film Studies program. He has directed, co-written, and appeared in three shockingly funny shows created with his brother, one of which, Kill Sister Kill, premiered to startled reviews at the 2013 Toronto Fringe. Some past theatre credits include Cosi and You Are Here (Alumnae Theatre), and Orsino in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Ruckus Magazine). He is an original member of the New Drama Company (www.newdramacompany.com). This is Jamieson’s first experience on stage with Bygone Theatre. He is very pleased to join such great company for Rope. Enjoy the show.

Chelsey MacLean as Leila Arden

Chelsey MacLean

Chelsey MacLean

This is Chelsey MacLean’s first Bygone Theatre production, however, she worked with director Emily Dix back in 2007 on a play called Stalls.

 Bio: Chelsey MacLean is thrilled to make her Bygone Theatre debut in the role of Leila Arden. Past credits include Theatre Sheridan: Make-Up Artist in Merrily We Roll Along, Dance Ensemble/ Swing in Chicago, Bessie Bletcher in Colours in the Storm and ensemble in Oklahoma! The Singer’s Theatre: Mimi Maquez in Rent and Yvonne in Miss Saigon. Chelsey is a recent graduate of the Sheridan Music Theatre Performance Program and is grateful to her Sheridan family of faculty and friends.

Matthew McGrath as Kenneth Raglan

Matt McGrath

Matt McGrath

Producer Matt McGrath is thrilled to be acting in his first Bygone production!

Bio: Matt has been acting on stage for over a decade; for five years he performed in productions with the Youngest Shakespeare Company. He attended Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts for their drama program, and graduated from U of T with a degree in Cinema Studies and English.

Selected Stage Credits: “Excuse You” (Theatre On A Though/Toronto Fringe); “Young Frankenstein” (Alexander Showcase Theatre); “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” (Hart House Theatre); “Absolute Alice” (Stratford Factory Productions/Toronto Fringe); “Hairspray” (St. Michael’s College); “Pigeons In Love” (InspiraTO Festival); “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Victoria College Drama), “The Philadelphia” (Victoria College Drama).

Ian McGarrett as Dr. Kentley

Ian

Ian McGarrett

You may remember Ian McGarrett (by voice at least) from Bygone’s production of Dial M For Murder; he played Thompson and all the voices on the phone and radio.

Bio: It was my grandmother who instilled in me an interest in theatre. I can remember when I was seven or so, acting out improvised scenes with her based on bits from The Beverley Hillbillies in which she was Miss Hathaway and I was Mr. Drysdale. My grandmother was a schoolteacher and introduced me quite early to Shakespeare, reading from The Merchant of Venice, Portia’s speech about the quality of mercy and all that glisters etcetera. Although I maintained my interest in theatre and even did some volunteer work at the Tarragon and Factory Lab but owing to inordinate stage fright we have to skip fifty years before I first appeared on stage. Three words. “Sir. Yes, sir!” but for that I got to take a bow and I was hooked. I next auditioned for Nuts and got a callback, hoping to play the court’s security guard or maybe the stenographer, only to be surprised when the director asked me if I was okay with playing the District Attorney. That’s fairly well up to date, not much of a bio and all I can say is… still hooked.

Elizabeth Rose Morriss as Miss Kentley

Elizabeth Rose Morriss

You may remember Elizabeth Rose Morriss from our Retro Radio Hour. She also worked with director Emily Dix on the Newborn Theatre production of Noble Savages several years ago.

Bio: Elizabeth Rose Morriss has degrees in Music Theatre (Acadia University) and Education (Nipissing University). She has been involved with the Civic Light Opera Company since 1999, playing roles including Magnolia in Show Boat, Marsinah in Kismet, and Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes. Elizabeth has appeared in the Toronto Fringe Festival in Lord of the Rings: the Musical: the Musical (2007), SQUAT: A Super Secret, Back-Alley Musical (2013), and Group Therapy (2014). Other credits include the two-person comedy Romantic Fools at the Queen Elizabeth Dinner Theatre, Newborn Theatre’s 2012 Odds & Ends Festival at the Tarragon Theatre (with director Emily Dix), a recurring role as Mina in Dracula at Casa Loma, and Bygone Theatre’s 2013 Retro Radio Hour. Elizabeth is thrilled to be working with Bygone Theatre again!

Caitlin Robson as The Maid

Caitlin Robson

Caitlin Robson

This is Caitlin Robson’s first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio: Caitlin Robson is a Toronto-based emerging artist. Recent acting credits include Anna in Karenin’s Anna at Toronto Fringe (Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Production and outstanding Ensemble, NOW Magazine; Fringe Highlight, The Torontoist); Judith in Equivocation, Persephone Theatre (nominated for eight SAT awards) Caitlin is also an experienced drama instructor, and an independent director and producer. Thanks to her friends and family for all their love and support!

Production Crew
Emily Dix – Director

Emily Dix

Emily Dix

Our Artistic Director is going to be directing this production; she has directed all Bygone Theatre shows to date.

Bio: Emily is a founder member and the Artistic Director/Producer of Bygone Theatre. She has worked as an actor, director, stage manager and designer. In August of 2014 she traveled to New York with Promise Production to stage manage their production of “No Visible Scars” for the New York City International Fringe Festival. Emily is in charge of all of Bygone’s artistic decisions, as well as marketing and promotion.

​Selected Directing Credits: “Festival of Dance” (Hart House Theatre); “Dial M For Murder” (Bygone Theatre); “Festival of Dance” (assistant director, Hart House Theatre); “Revelation” (assistant director, New Ideas Festival, Alumnae Theatre); “Doubt: A Parable” (Bygone Theatre); “Plasterface” (Newborn Theatre); “Noble Savages” & “Children Don’t Cry” (Newborn Theatre, Odds & Ends Festival); “Pigeons In Love” & “Bucket” (InspiraTO Festival); “The Night of the Iguana” (assistant director, Hart House Theatre); “Hairspray” (St.Michael’s College); “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Victoria College Drama Society); “Stalls” (Sears Drama Festival); “Liars” (Sears Drama Festival).

Devon Potter – Stage Manager

Devon Potter

Devon Potter

Devon Potter is our stage manager for Rope; this is her first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio: Devon is a Toronto-based Stage Manager, Producer, theatre reviewer, writer and sometime performer who has been involved in theatre for the better part of two decades.  When not doing or reviewing a show, she spends her time watching Indie films and dreaming of life in Paris.  Selected credits include:  As Stage Manager:  Parade (StageWorks Toronto), South Pacific, My Fair Lady (Scarborough Music Theatre), Miss Caledonia (Lunkamud/Summerworks Theatre Festival), The Cat of Kensington (Cats in the Cradle/Toronto Fringe Festival FringeKids!), A Quest of Character (Kid-Safe Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival FringeKids!).  As Co-Producer:  Nine (Scarborough Music Theatre).  As Production Assistant:  The Canadian Premiere of Martin Crimp’s The City (Actors Repertory Company).

Leopold and Loeb – The Real-Life Case Behind “Rope”

The original “Thrill Killers” Leopold and Loeb were part of the “Crime of the Century” killing of Bobby Franks; the real-life inspiration for half a dozen books, movies, and plays, including Bygone’s next show, Rope. Here’s a quick rundown of the crime and notorious killers.

The Crime of the Century
Nathan Leopold und Richard Loeb

The murder was labeled the “crime of the century” by the press because it was so unusual, so unprecedented for its time; two young men, from well-to-do families planned and orchestrated the murder of an innocent young teen, purely for the thrill of it. These were not gang members, were not foreigners or minorities; they were wealthy, good looking and brilliant, and the public just could not reconcile the concept of these two young men being ruthless murderers.

It was Chicago 1924 when Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb decided to kill; there was no clear motive, although theories range from that of a sex-for-murder agreement to seeing the entire incident as a game. They had planned the majority of the crime for over six months, but it wasn’t until the day of the murder that the two selected the victim; 14 year old Bobby Franks. While he was chosen at random, Bobby was familiar to the boys whose family’s new each other; still, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The murder was fast and brutal; after luring Bobby into their car, one of the men attacked him from behind, delivering a fatal blow to the head. In an attempt to mislead police, they stripped the body naked and covered it in acid, hoping to disfigure the corpse that they left abandoned in a wooded area not far away. Despite months of careful planning, a relatively simple mistake lead to their capture; Leopold dropped his glasses at the crime scene, and as they were made with a particularly unusual style of hinge they were quickly traced back to the young man. In the brief time before their arrest, Leopold and Loeb had attempted to demand a ransom from Franks’ parents, but this too was done messily. For two young men certain of their brilliance and ability to commit the “perfect crime”, they made quite a few amateur mistakes.

Nathan Leopold

Nathan Leopold

Nathan Leopold – Born November 19, 1904

 

With a reported IQ of 210 , Nathan Leopold was an undisputed genius. Interested in ornithology, he was already making his name known in the field and had a bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately a combination of his love for Loeb and his dark interest in things like Friedrich Nietzsche‘s concept of supermen or the Übermenschen lead him down a twisted path to murder. He believed that “legal obligations did not apply to those who approached ‘the superman‘” and to him both he and his lover, Richard Loeb, fell into that category.

“Loeb’s friendship was necessary to me– terribly necessary”

When quested about his motive for the crime, the youth replied; “to the extent that I had one, was to please Dick”. In the case of Nathan Leopold, nothing was too horrid a task if it would please his beloved Richard.

Richard Loeb

Richard Loeb

Richard Loeb – Born June 11, 1905

 

While still exceptionally bright, Richard Loeb was not as intelligent as Nathan Leopold. Despite being the University of Michigan’s youngest graduate at the age of 17, he was often described with unflattering terms; “lazy”, unmotivated”, and “obsessed with crime”. All points suggest that he was the mastermind in the crime, and that he took advantage of Leopold’s love for him, manipulating the young man to act in a way he would never have done on his own. Loeb had committed numerous crimes in his youth, but none that involved injuring another human being; until the day he murder the innocent Bobby Franks.

Quotes from the psychiatrists (the called alienists) at the trial paint a picture of the man;

“It was Richard Loeb who was the ‘mastermind’. Nathan Leopold, the intellectual prodigy, was his virtual slave”

“Leopold is a victim of autoism, a type which centers and defies the ego. Loeb is a case of non-emotional psychosis.”

“They are a supreme case of ‘folie a deux’, or insanity of two. Leopold might have escaped all trouble had it not been for Loeb. Loeb would certainly have reached nearly the same end at which he is now”.

Clarence Darrow

Darrow_Seated_SS

The case quickly became less about the trial itself, and more about the defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, and his fight against the death penalty. For more information of the trial’s specifics, check out the Darrow Collection.

 

 

 

 

Inspired Works

Thrill-Me


A play inspired by the crime, Thrill Me

Various works have been inspired by the shocking true story of the Leopold and Loeb murder; Patrick Hamilton wrote Rope which was in turn adapted for a Hitchcock film of the same name, and which we are basing our production off of. There is also Thrill Me, a a musical more directly related to the case.

grangerrope5

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, based off the play by Patrick Hamilton

While the case was tragic and horrific, it goes to show that mankind has a fascination with the darkest parts of a human’s mind. To see our take on this concept, check out Rope at the Gibson House Museum this November.

Want to help produce the show? Check out our FWYC campaign to make a donation.

-E.

Vintage Labels: Creating Authentic Props with Public Domain Images

When dressing a period set, one of the first problems you may encounter is how to have vintage items that don’t look old. While your show may be set in 1920, you of course don’t want a can of beans that looks like it has actually been around since the 20s – rusted, peeling label, dents etc. And of course, to buy a mint condition vintage item you’re likely looking at spending far too much. Still, the importance of period-specific props shouldn’t be overlooked, so here are some handy hints on creating your own authentic looking props:

grapenuts1

  1. Research The Food and Packaging Materials Used In The Period: Foods come in and out of fashion, just like anything else. Start off researching what was popular during your period: The Food Timeline is a great resource for this. They even have a section on popular brands advertised during the decade. From there, look up how your items were packaged; looking at a show in the 1920s or earlier? You’re not going to see plastic. Go for cans, glass bottle and boxes. War-time also had an effect on the materials used, and women were encouraged to make their own preserves. If you’re setting something during one of the World Wars, try have some homemade items on hand.
  2. Think About What Your Characters Would Use: A play about a bachelor doesn’t need a jar of baby food, and a family-centered drama may have more crowded cupboards than one about a single man. You can of course go much more in-depth with this; read though carefully to see if there’s any references to food and think about what types of things make sense for your show when you consider cultural and ethnic background, socioeconomic status, trends etc. This can be a fun exercise to do with your actors too. Sometimes the more details you think of (ie. my character loves pickles but can’t stand mustard) the more nuances you come up with.
  3. Use Authentic Vintage Labels: Finally, nothing will help make an authentic prop more than a real vintage label. See below for my list of favourite sites to score great graphics.

My Favourite Sites for Free Printable Labels: 4964821_orig

  1. The Old Design Shop:  Not only do they have a section on labels, they have just about every category you could think of if you’re looking for some general inspiration. Check out the Food & Drink section and you can see what kind of bottle or can you should affix your label to.
  2. The Graphics Fairy: Beautiful vintage labels and other graphics, many of them turn-of-the-century French. Not as many food labels, but there are beautiful stock images of things like vegetables, if you were interested in designing your own.
  3. The Candy Wrapper Museum: If you’re looking for some authentic candy wrappers, look no further! This well organized site has everything you could need from just about any time period. The only issue is they are scans of old (often crumpled) labels, so I would suggest using them as a guide and photoshopping them to clean them up a bit.

Of course, if you’re handy with photoshop, you can always google vintage labels and try to replicate one yourself. There are lots of free fonts and filigrees to help  you out, and that way you can customize your prop exactly how you want.

6a00d83451ccbc69e201a3fced05fe970bRelated Sites:
If you’re looking for vintage posters, say to decorate a store front or to put in a replica magazine or newspaper, check out Free Vintage Posters. They also have some great WWII ads.

Another good resource is Free Vintage Art, again, not for labels, but for some other beautiful, free vintage stock photos.

And finally, if you’re finding the whole concept of “public domain” a little daunting, check out Public Domain Treasure Hunter; they spell it out for you 🙂

 

For this post, I focused simply on creating canned and boxed goods, bu you can make things like cookies and sandwiches as well. Stay tuned for another post on authentic, non-packaged period foods.

-E.