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!

Retro Radio Hour – Spring Fling!

On Thursday May 14, 2015, Bygone will be presenting the 5th show in the retro radio series, Retro Radio Hour – Spring Fling. We are back at the SoCap and as always, tickets are only $5 cash at the door. This week’s show features; Emily Dix, Matt McGrath, Elizabeth Rose Morriss, Ian McGarrett, Mikey Zahorak, Peter Grant Mackechnie, Nicole Byblow, Astrid Atherly and Joseph Vita with magic by Leigh Beadon.

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.


Friends of Bygone – Photographer Danielle Son

One of the most valuable friends a theatre company can have is a good photographer! So much time, money, and effort goes into a show, but by it’s nature theatre’s fleeting; every performance is different, and can never be perfectly recreated. And when the run is over, all that is left are some photos to keep the memory alive, which is why we’re so happy to have the talented Danielle Son working with us once again so that our show can be preserved and remembered!

Danielle first worked with us in January 2013 on “Doubt: A Parable”, taking phenomenal pictures like this:

Anne Shepher as Sister Aloysius and Jordan Gray as Father Flynn, 2

Anne Shepherd and Jordan Gray in “Doubt: A Parable” – photo by Danielle Son

When we did our fundraiser in May, “Retro Radio Hour”, Danielle stopped by to get some great live event photos like this one:

Rebecca Russell and Leete Stetson in "Retro Radio Hour" - photo by Danielle Son

Rebecca Russell and Leete Stetson in “Retro Radio Hour” – photo by Danielle Son

Yesterday she swung by rehearsal and snatched some amazing photos like this chilling shot from the “Dial M For Murder” fight scene:

Rebekah and Jason Manella in rehearsal for "Dial M For Murder" - photo by Danielle Son

Rebekah and Jason Manella in rehearsal for “Dial M For Murder” – photo by Danielle Son

You can check out all her “Dial M for Murder” rehearsal stills here on our facebook page.

And be sure to check out her website for some of her other work!

“Dial M For Murder” – Rehearsal Photos

We’re doing runs all week so I thought I’d nab some quick rehearsal photos – here’s the cast in their new “Dial M For Murder” t-shirts!

Remember, the show runs August 15-17 at the Robert Gill Theatre. Tickets are available through TO Tix and we highly encourage you to buy in advance!

If you like these pics, check out our facebook page for more!

The cast of "Dial M For Murder"

The cast of “Dial M For Murder”

Kenton Blythe as Max Haliday

Kenton Blythe as Max Haliday

Leete Stetson and Rebekah Manella as Tony and Margot Wendice

Leete Stetson and Rebekah Manella as Tony and Margot Wendice

Jason Manella as Captain Lesgate

Jason Manella as Captain Lesgate

Reg Matson as Inspector Hubbard

Reg Matson as Inspector Hubbard

The Glamourous 50s – Dressing “Dial M For Murder”

I’ve been lucky with costumes for all my shows because I have a mother who will sew just about any pattern I pick out, including some of the finicky vintage ones. I get the fun job of picking the patterns and the fabric, and she does all the actual construction.

With “Dial M for Murder”, we have a new challenge, however; how to compete with the beautiful costumes in the famous Hitchcock version of the tale, starring the lovely Grace Kelly.

Grace Kelly's stunning red dress in Hitchcock's "Dial M For Murder".

Grace Kelly’s stunning red dress in Hitchcock’s “Dial M For Murder”.

In most of the production shots I’ve found online from other theatre company’s performances, they’ve kept Margot Wendice in that iconic red dress. “The Woman in Red” concept has a lot of connotations however, and I’m not sure that they fit the play as well as they do the film (watch both and you’ll notice a key difference in the first scene, I won’t ruin it for you now). So after deciding not to put her in red, I looked for a colour that would be a standout on our actress. With ebony hair and green eyes, I settled on forest green.

A forest green dress for Margot Wendice.

A forest green dress for Margot Wendice.

When doing women’s period costumes it’s important to remember a couple key things; women in the 1950s were built differently than we are today (often shorter and a little heavier) and they wore undergarments that really accentuated an hourglass figure (ie. a corset or girdle and those awesome pointy bras). To really get the right look, you not only need the right dress on top, you need the right things underneath.

Dressing the men has been a little more difficult. While sticking everyone in a suit and giving them a fedora may be the simplest way to get an overall retro look, there’s a lot more to men’s fashions than the general idea that everyone back then looked “classier”. The biggest thing I wanted to achieve was a nice contrast between Max (the tv writing American) and Tony (the British ex-tennis star). I think both men need to be attractive and well dressed, but in completely different ways. Tony is posh and wants to be upper class, while Max is casual, cool and all-American. Choosing to put Tony in a double-breasted suit and Max in a sports jacket and dress pants, I hope, helps to convey this idea.

As we get together the last of the costumes I’ll start to post some pictures of the finished products. Til then, adieu!


Dial M For Murder – Crew Spotlight – Grace Semedo Mendes

Check out our interview with one of the “Dial M” team – Grace Semedo Mendes!

Grace Semedo Mendes

Grace Semedo Mendes

1. How did you get started volunteering for theatres?

I’m passionate about theatre and as my day job is far from anything related to this area, I needed a little more creativity in my life. Three years ago, 2 friends of mine decided to create a non-profit theatre company in order to raise money to help children in hospitals (mainly by financing some equipment) and help with medical researches on rare diseases (by donating money). I offered my help and ended up acting in the shows, helping with stage management, with grant writing and doing the administrative work.

  1. What is your favourite part of volunteering in theatre?

What I like about volunteering for theatre companies is to be around people that share the same passion for theatre as me. I also like the fact that there is so much to do that you can get involved in a lot of different positions.

  1. Any advice for other people looking to volunteer in this field ?

« Just do it » 🙂

  1. What are you most excited for in regards to “Dial M For Murder”?

I can’t wait to work for this show and see the actual results. That would be my first time volunteering in Toronto so I am excited about every aspects of the show as everything is new to me!

We here at Bygone are thrilled to have Grace on board for “Dial M For Murder”! Stay tuned for more cast and crew spotlights!

Retro Radio Hour – Prizes!

ImageWe’ve been posting so many awesome raffle and silent auction prizes on facebook that it’s getting hard to keep track of them all, so we thought it would be best to sum them all up here:

Silent Auction Prizes:

  1. Executive Producer Credit On Our Next Show:
    Want all the glitz and glamour of being a producer, without any of the work? Why not bid on prize #1, an Executive Producer Credit on our next show! Being an Executive Producer means you get credit on facebook, twitter, our website and in the program. You get to join us at the cast party and you get two free comps to the show! What’s not to love?​
    Value: Priceless 😉
    Bid Starting At: $200.00
  2. Two 45 Minute Monologue Coaching Sessions with Director Douglas Beattie: Two 45 minute sessions with director Douglas Beattie, to work on a monologue of the actor’s choice.​​This is a perfect opportunity for aspiring and accomplished actors alike to get some advice from a veteran in the theatre world. Douglas Beattie is best known for his work on the long-running Wingfield series (directed by Doug, written by Dan Needles and performed by Rod Beattie). In addition to directing the Wingfield shows, Doug has been guest director at the Stratford Festival, the Belfry Theatre (Victoria), Lighthouse Festival (Port Dover ON), Theatre Orangeville, the Blyth Festival, the Piggery Theatre (North Hatley PQ), Thousand Islands Playhouse, Gryphon Theatre (Barrie ON), and the Grand Theatre (London ON). He is the founding Artistic Director of Guelph’s Touchmark Theatre and President of Douglas Beattie Theatrical Productions Ltd.
    Value: Hour long sessions with many coaches generally cost about $100/hour
    Bids Starting At: $50.00
  3. Custom Portrait by Artist Philip Rice:
    Philip Rice is a talented Toronto artist and the man behind our awesome “Doubt: A Parable” poster. Philip has generously offered to create a custom portrait for the highest bidder! ​
    Value: $100.00
    Bids Starting At: $20.00
  4. 2 Season Subscriptions from Scarborough Music Theatre:
    Scarborough Music Theatre has generously donated 2 season subscriptions to their 2013/2014 season: “Spamalot”, “Little Women”, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”.
    Value: $110.00
    Bids Starting At: $40.00
  5. A Pair of Tickets to a Jays Game
    Generously donated by an anonymous supporter, we have a pair of tickets to the June 22nd Jays game against the Orioles, section 114.​
    Value: aprox $100
    Bids Starting At: $35.00
  6. Mega Tea Set: Donated by Brian and Margaret McGrath, we have a box of 50 assorted whole leaf pyramid teabags from Tealeaves, and a 4 piece tea set; a mug with with a lid, saucer and tea infuser.
    Value: aprox $50
    Bids Starting At: $10.00
  7. Retro Comedy DVD Collection:
    Donated by Matt McGrath, we have a Monty Python’s Flying Circus 2 DVD box set (the second set) and a Comedy Classics 5 DVD box set, with films by The Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Cosetello and Danny Kaye.
    Value: aprox $45
    Bids Starting At: $10.00
  8. Five Prints by Photographer Chris Robinson:
    Generously donated by Chris Robinson, we have 5 of his awesome prints.
    Value: The photographer doesn’t generally sell these, so that makes them priceless!
    Bids Starting At: $10.00

Raffle Prizes:

  1. $20 Gift Certificate to The Lakeview Restaurant, donated by Maja Rakocevic.
  2. $30 Gift Certificate to The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub, donated by Maja Rakocevic.
  3. Generously donated by the East Side Players, 2 tickets to their production of “Over the River and Through the Woods”, on the night of the winner’s choice!
  4. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre has generously donated 2 tickets to their upcoming production, “Of A Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical”
  5. Generously donated by Angelwalk Theatre & KooGle Theatre Company, 2 tickets to “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”.
  6. ​Cahoots Theatre has graciously donated 2 tickets to their upcoming production of “Sister Mary’s A Dyke?!”.
  7. Generously donated by David Beattie, two cds from local artists: Charlene Nafziger’s “Now Is The Time” and George Meanwell’s “The Easy Straight”.
  8. Donated by the author, a signed copy of Andrew S. Thompson’s In Defence of Principles: NOG’s and Human Rights In Canada.