A Note From Our Artistic Executive Director at the Start of Our 10th Season

On Saturday November 26, 2022, we opened our first production of our 10th season, The Birds, at Hart House Theatre. As my speech was somewhat improvised and a little scattered and emotional, I wanted to share a cleaner version of it now – there’s a reason I’m usually the one behind the camera/stage, and writing this out is sure to be a better way to ensure I share all I want to say.

As you likely know if you are reading this, my name is Emily Dix and I am the Artistic Executive Director of Bygone Theatre, a company I founded in October 2012 along with Matt McGrath and Tom Beattie. Both of them have since moved on, but I’m happy to say that many of the wonderful people I work with today have been with the company in some capacity or another for years, and I hope that continues to be the case. In 2015 we became a non-profit and formed our first Board of Directors: Elizabeth Stuart Morris was Chair, Leete Stetson was Vice Chair, Elizabeth Rose Morriss was Secretary and Conor Fitzgerald was Treasurer. While our Chair and Vice Chair were only with us for a season, Conor has gone on to become Bygone Chair and Elizabeth, who has worked with Bygone in various capacities since the very beginning, is still our Secretary. We have since added to our board Dr. Mark Terry as President, and Vinay Sagar as a member. This team has provided guidance and support in countless ways, and because of them we were able to become a registered charity in the summer of 2022. I would like to extend my thanks to all who have helped in the formation of this company – it isn’t as glamourous a role as some of the creatives, but it is essential, and we couldn’t do it without you.

Through the years Bygone has produced numerous one-night-only performances in addition to our mainstage shows. These include many “Finn and Friend” productions, staring the incomparable Tom Finn and his hilarious brother, Kevin Finn, as well as a series of retro game shows hosted by the one and only Bob Burnhart (aka actor and dialect coach, John Fleming). We have also produced over a dozen “Retro Radio Hour” shows that feature the talents of dozens of lovely singers and actors, both those who have been featured in mainstage shows and those who joined us for a one-off performance. These smaller performances still require a tremendous amount of talent, planning and work, and many have been mounted as fundraisers, meaning those involved have donated their time to help grow the company. To everyone who has been involved in one of these events of which there really are too many to count, thank you.

Our last major production was The Rear Window, performed at Theatre Passe Muraille back in March of 2019. It had been our biggest show to-date, and while a major financial risk, it was one that we felt we needed to take. The show was a success with great reviews and a total of 11 Broadway World Toronto nominations, four of which led to wins: Best Direction of an Equity Play – Emily Dix; Best Original Lighting Design – Wesley Babcock; Best Leading Actor – Tristan Claxton; and Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Kate McArthur. Unfortunately, what we had hoped would be a big jump forward in the growth of our company was quickly stalled in 2020, at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, we had to press pause, and went for over 2 years without producing a live show.

During our production hiatus, we shifted focus to develop the other aspects of our company. We always knew we wanted to work towards charitable status, and so we put all our time and effort into building our Sustainability and Diversity & Accessibility Mandates, and our education program. With the help of Dr.Mark Terry, we partnered with the Youth Climate Report, and became the first theatre company to publicly commit to following all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. When the YCR was awarded an honourable mention at the 2020 UN SDG Action Awards, we were given the opportunity to share a video that outlined our commitments. Since then, we have further narrowed and focused our mandate into three main areas: Mend & Make Do; Vintage Aesthetics, Not Values; and Indie Unite. We reaffirmed our commitment to accessibility, and committed to providing clearer breakdowns in all casting and production calls, highlighting specific skills, abilities, potential challenges and possible solutions. We majorly expanded our commitment to diversity, and instituted quantifiable goals such as reserving 50% of auditions slots for BIPOC performers, and providing free admission to all Bygone shows and events for anyone who identifies as being of Indigenous descent. We also provide free advertising space to Indigenous-led organizations, and are seeking funding to be able to hire an Indigenous artist as a consultant as we continue to expand this mandate.

In 2021, we were awarded the Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Award for Best Live Theatre, and were runner-up for NOW Magazine’s Best Small Theatre – if you like the work we do, voting is currently open for the Broadway World Toronto Awards, and while we did not produce anything last season we are nominated for Best Local Theatre in both the Professional and Non-Professional categories – you can cast your vote here.

With the help of a generous donation last season from Jane Aster Roe of Aster Roe Productions, we were able to start two new initiatives; a revival of our Retro Radio Hour series, now to be in podcast form; and the expansion of our Youth Production Assistant program. As with all of our new programs and initiatives, our top priority is with providing payment and support to artists, who have been disproportionately affected during the past few years of the pandemic. With that goal in mind, our first charitable campaign was the creation of our Artist Fund, which gave 100% of funds raised directly to our artists. It is our goal to re-fill this fund with the ticket sales from each show, as well as through fundraising campaigns, so that we can work towards always providing industry standard rates to all the artists we engage. This year, we raised over $12,000 which went directly to the cast of The Birds – thank you to everyone who donated, and if you would still like to give your support, donations can be made via our Canada Helps page.

Throughout the pandemic we provided a series of free webinars on topics ranging from producing to vintage design – these will become a regular part of our programming. This season, thanks to a major donation from IG Financial, we are launching a new program: Empower Your Tomorrow: Financial and Business Literacy for the Arts – stay tuned for details. We are also thrilled to be providing a series of workshops through our venue partnerships with Hart House Theatre.

Finally, this season will include two more mainstage productions: The Yellow Wallpaper, a mix of ambulatory theatre and digital projection being presented at Campbell House Museum, March 2023; and Wayne & Shuster, Live! which will bring Canadian comedy legends Wayne & Shuster back to the stage with the support of their children, Michael and Brian Wayne and Rosie Shuster, thanks to sponsorship from Alterna Savings and a venue partnership with Hart House Theatre, May 2023.

Now that we’re all caught up on the craziness that is the last few years, it’s time to say thanks to those who have helped create what is not only our first show of our 10th season, but the first back since our COVID-19 hiatus, AND our first show as a registered charity: The Birds.

First, to the staff of Hart House Theatre. To Doug Floyd, who took a chance on a small company and let us come into a space we simply could not have afforded on our own – thank you for the encouragement and support, and for giving us a chance to show what we can do. This literally wouldn’t be happening without you. To Gillian Lewis, who is actually the HHT Education & Production Coordinator, but who seems to do basically every job there is. Thank you for helping with everything from organizing workshops to finding props and for the constantly positive attitude and excellent hugs. To Brian Campbell for his guidance and support as we get used to being back in a theatre, and a union house at that – thank you for your patience. To Lindsey Middleton for all the last-minute help when my computer decided to die THE WEEK of opening – thank you for being on-the-ball, keeping a cool head, and finishing the program I should have had done 3 weeks prior. To Parker Nowlan, for being an absolute superstar. I don’t even know where to start. Parker has done everything from set building to programming the lights and has been there to save the day numerous times through this process (starting with emergency printing at our callbacks). Thank you for all your help, and most of all, for doing it with a smile and the patience of a saint. To Brendan (oh my god how do I not know your last name??), who programmed our sound and took my rambling, very non-technical notes and requests and made it all work – thank you for also being super patient, and for making last-minute adjustments more times than I’d like to count. And to all the front of house staff, the Hart House volunteers, and the cleaning staff who’ve dealt with our cluttered backstage – it takes a huge group of talented and dedicated people to run something like Hart House Theatre, and I am thankful to all of you.

Warning – this is where I may start to get sappy.

To our cast and crew, starting with our team of production assistants. Thank you to Ainsley Munro for late-night flat painting, to Sarah Allen who shadowed Wes and helped with odd set and prop tasks that ranged from dressing to running to Rotblotts for more tape. To Kiana Josette, who is working with us in various producing capacities and who took stunning production photos and all the pictures of our opening night gala. To assistant/apprentice director Julia Edda Pape, who attended nearly every rehearsal and provided great vision and insight, as well as helping in a variety of PA roles, and who was a part of the workshopping of the script. Thank you for being consistent, reliable, hardworking and talented – you are going to go far. To our ASM/Associate Producer Jane Aster Roe, who has worked with us in some capacity since 2016 – thank you for doing everything from raising funds to selling tickets, setting props and doing coffee runs – your willingness to do whatever needs to be done has been invaluable and is very much appreciated. To my mother, Karen Henderson, who sewed the lovely dress you see on Daphne at the top of the show and to Tegan Ridge, who came in last-minute with some hair & makeup suggestions – thank you. A major part of Bygone’s image is our historically accurate aesthetic, and that couldn’t have been achieved without you.

To Wes Babcock, our set designer who eventually came on as lighting designer as well, and had to work with tight deadlines and an even tighter budget – thank you for not only doing your job wonderfully well, but for helping with all the dozens of things that were decidedly not your job, like helping with sound cues and InDesign files – I know you weren’t the production manager, but you were definitely a production manager. More importantly than that, you’ve been an amazing friend, as you always have been, and I appreciate you lending an ear not only to my worries and questions about the show, but to my complaints about life in general. I’m so happy to have known Wes for many, many years, and hope to have him in my life for many more to come – I promise every time we will pay you more than the last.

To our wonderful stage manager, Kate McArthur, who is one of the most beautiful people I know. I am so proud of you and all your work on this, jumping into a role you hadn’t filled in years, you’ve done an amazing job and shown you really can do anything. Thank you for being a constant support in every way, you’re one of my closest friends and I could not have maintained my sanity this past month without you. I look forward to spending this entire year creating things with you.

To my fantastic cast – Anna Douglas, who I have not known for long, but who I could immediately see was the perfect Daphne. Anna approaches her work with a focus and dedication that is truly admirable, and while I rarely have time to point it out in rehearsals, I see new details and nuances every time she runs a scene, and those are noticed and appreciated. Her commitment to the show and determination to make it a success has been clear since day one. Thank you, Anna, for the attention-to-detail, thoughtfulness and thoroughness in all that you do.

To Alex Clay, another one of my closest friends, and someone who I have been lucky to work with several times before. Alex read the very earliest versions of this script and has been a sounding board throughout the entire process. Thank you for the lunch-time phone calls to go over ideas, and for coming to each rehearsal focused and ready and full of incredibly lame jokes that always make me laugh. I’m so happy to see you in a role that allows you to show such range, and excited for everyone to see what a talented and capable actor you are. I’m so happy to have you in my life.

To Oliver Georgiou, who I knew was “Mitch” about 5 seconds into his audition. Oliver is wonderful onstage and off – not only is he a talented and engaging actor, he is a thoughtful and supportive team member who has done everything from running warm-ups to bringing me allergy medicine the day after I complained about a dusty theatre. Oliver’s additions to the script have been essential, and the ending is what it is thanks to him. Thank you for supporting and elevating all my ideas, and for being a great listener and a wonderful person to be around.

To Kiera Publicover, who is one of the most wonderfully laid-back actors I’ve ever had a chance to work with, thank you for being a constantly positive and calming presence – much needed in a show as intense as this. Kiera took what could have easily been a small, two-dimensional part and built it into a fully-formed, engaging and endearing character that is exciting to watch. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you go on to do. Thank you as well for your assistance with editing the Land Acknowledgement, and for the suggestions of Indigenous organizations to support.

To Chad Allen, who I had worked with briefly before years ago when he swooped in last minute to save the day by playing several small roles in His Girl Friday. Chad is a true pro, and has excellent taste in coffee. Thank you for always bringing focus and dedication to all you do, and for being such a positive and guiding presence in rehearsals – I look up to you, and not just because you’re a giant and an “old man”. Chad has also taken a small role and turned it into a character worthy of a spin-off. Thank you for always going above and beyond.

Last, but certainly not least, to Conor Fitzgerald, Bygone’s Chair, my fellow Producer, and my partner in every aspect of life. Thank you for creating business plans and spreadsheets, for driving ridiculously far away for obscure auction pick-ups, for keeping me supplied in Diet Coke, and for supporting me during every stage and mood and thing. It sounds so cheesy to say he is my other half, but it really is true, and I could not do any of the things I do without him.

To all who have helped Bygone become what it is today, and to all who have supported The Birds in anyway, thank you. I hope you enjoy our show and our season, and all the big things to come.

  • Emily Dix
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The Birds Are Here!

Thank you to everyone who made our opening night a success – you can see The Birds onstage at Hart House Theatre from now until December 10, 2022. Visit Hart House Theatre or Bygone Theatre for tickets and more information.

Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels and Alex Clay as her brother David Harper. Photo by Kiana Josette.
“It isn’t for me, David, it’s for you!”. Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels and Alex Clay as David Harper.
Oliver Georgiou as Mitch Brenner.
Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels.
Kiera Publicover as Annie Hawthorne and Oliver Georgiou as Mitch Brenner.
Chad Allen as Hank and Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels.

Crash Course in Indie Theatre & Fringe Festival Producing

Join us for another free workshop, a crash-course in indie theatre & Fringe Festival producing!

Artistic Executive Director Emily Dix & Bygone Chair Conor Fitzgerald run this condensed version of their popular Producing 101 workshop, with a special focus on producing for Fringe shows.

Learn about scheduling, creating budgets, fundraising, marketing, and more in this interactive workshop that invites participants to come with their own show-specific questions.

Open to all, aimed towards artists working in the Greater Toronto Area.

Participation is free, but donations towards our 2022/23 season would be appreciated.

ACCESSIBILITY:

The workshop is being delivered in English with visual aids and automatically generated captions. If you require specific accommodation, please email us in advance (info@bygonetheatre.com) and we will do our best to provide you the full experience.

REQUIREMENTS:

Access to a computer with internet connection. Participants are encouraged to turn on their cameras to ask questions or make comments, but this is not required. Questions may be submitted via text as well.

No experience necessary, but will be most beneficial to those with at least a cursory knowledge of Toronto and the indie theatre community.

Please register here if you plan to attend.

Careers in the Arts Workshop

Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This workshop, geared towards high school students & recent grads, will show you the way. Oct 23, 2-4pm, $20.

Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This workshop, geared towards high school students & recent grads, will show you the way. Oct 23, 2-4pm, $20.

WHAT: Careers in the Arts Workshop

WHEN: Saturday October 23, 2-4pm ET

WHERE: Online

HOW MUCH: $20 CAD (payable via PayPal or e-transfer)

WHAT’S NEEDED: Access to a computer with a steady internet connection, a computer with a working speaker and either a microphone or the ability to type.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This unique workshop will provide students with a realistic view into the arts world, guiding them through a host of career paths and the steps to follow to get there. Bygone Artistic Executive Director Emily Dix will cover topics such as;

  • Post-secondary programs here and abroad
  • Skill building without formal education
  • Unconventional arts related careers
  • How to network in the arts
  • How to build a resume or portfolio, and more.

WHO IT’S FOR: This course has been designed for Ontario senior high school students but is appropriate for recent graduates as well. Best suited for those living in the GTA. Recommended for people aged 17-20, however there is no age cut-off.

ACCESSIBILITY: Auto-captioning is provided through the program, however it is not always the most accurate. If this is something you’d require, please reach out at info@bygonetheatre.com and we will do our best to accommodate. Program is delivered in English and is best suited to fluent English speakers. Financial assistance is available for those who require it – email info@bygonetheatre.com for more details.

WHO’S RUNNING IT: Taught by Emily Dix and Conor Fitzgerald.

The Loot Collective Presents Joe Orton’s LOOT

Press release for the Loot Collective’s production of Joe Orton’s “Loot”, supported by Bygone Theatre. Running Mar. 8-17, 2018 at the Alumnae Theatre, Toronto.

FOR IMMEDATE RELEASE:
MONDAY JANUARY 8, 2018

The Loot Collective Presents Joe Orton’s 1960s Farce

LOOT

TORONTO, ON (Monday January 8, 2018) – Bygone Theatre has partnered with the Loot Collective to support their production of Loot, running March 8-17th, 2018 at the Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley St., Toronto. This is a Canadian Actor’s Equity Association production under the Artist’s Collective Policy. Directed by Emily Dix.

SYNOPSIS

England, 1965; Only hours before her intended burial, the late Mrs. McLeavy is removed from her coffin by her son, Hal (Kevin Forster), and his best pal, Dennis (Kenton Blythe), who have together just robbed a bank and need the coffin to stash the loot. The boys try to hide the corpse from the recently widowed McLeavy (Patrick Young) and his deceased wife’s nurse, Fay (Sarah Thorpe), but with Inspector Truscott (Scott McCulloch) hot on their heels, their plan quickly begins to unravel. Absurdity abounds in this dark, 1965 farce that examines attitudes surrounding death, police integrity, and the Catholic church.

ABOUT THE CAST

Patrick Young Bygone Theatre Loot
Patrick Young is Mr.McLeavy in “Loot”.

Patrick Young (Mr.McLeavy) has had an extensive career on and off stage, and may be best known in Toronto for his work at Sheridan College, where he founded the joint actor training program with the University of Toronto Mississauga. He is the author of 4 award-winning biographical plays, and has an extensive directing resume. Past acting credits in Toronto include Flicks, The Relapse and the original production of Automatic Pilot.

 

Scott McCulloch Bygone Theatre Loot
Scott McCulloch is Inspector Truscott in “Loot”.

Scott McCulloch (Truscott) has had a career spanning over 30 years, 100 plays and nearly 50 films. Recent credits include the immersive production Hogtown at Campbell House, the Wolf Manor Theatre production of Three Sisters, and the Thought For Food production of The Trial of Judith K for which he received a Broadway World Toronto nomination of Best Performance by a Male in a Featured Role.

Kenton Blythe Bygone Theatre Loot
Kenton Blythe is Dennis in “Loot”.

Kenton Blythe (Dennis), was most recently seen in the Toronto Fringe hit, Grey. Other stage credits include the Starvox Entertainment production of Evil Dead: The Musical, and a stint at the Shaw Festival, where he was seen in Juno and the Paycock and Cabaret. You may also remember Kenton from Bygone Theatre’s 2013 production of Dial M For Murder.

Sarah Thorpe Bygone Theatre Loot
Sarah Thorpe is Fay in “Loot”.

Sarah Thorpe (Fay) is a multi-talented theatre artist and a core creative member of Soup Can Theatre. She created and performed in the award-winning one-woman show Heretic, a modern retelling of Joan of Arc, in 2015, and has more recently been seen in Toronto Fringe Hit, Behold! The Barfly! and Gut Girls at Alumnae Theatre.

Kevin Forster Bygone Theatre Loot
Kevin Forster as Hal in “Loot”.

Kevin Forster (Hal) is a graduate of the Ryerson Theatre School and has been featured in several productions at the Lower Ossington Theatre, including The Buddy Holly Story, Always ABBA and The Little Mermaid. He has also performed at Hart House Theatre and in the Toronto Festival of Clowns.

Jonah McGrath Bygone Theatre Loot
Jonah McGrath is Meadows in “Loot”.

Jonah McGrath (Meadows) is a recent graduate of the Brock University Dramatic Arts program. Recent credits include Play by Samuel Beckett, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and Chekov’s The Man in the Case.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Emily Dix Bygone Theatre Director Producer
Director/ Producer, Emily Dix.

Emily Dix is a founding member and the Artistic Executive Director of Bygone Theatre. As a producer, she has worked with Tarragon Theatre and Theatre 20, and has produced all of Bygone Theatre’s productions to date. She got her start directing at the University of Toronto, working on shows such as the Hart House Theatre production of The Night of The Iguana as an assistant director, and directing a number of shows for the campus colleges. Bygone Theatre directing credits include; His Girl Friday; Vaudeville Revue; Wait Until Dark; Rope; Dial M For Murder and Doubt: A Parable. In addition to directing, Emily does the costume design for all of Bygone Theatre’s productions.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
Thursday March 8 – Saturday March 10, 8:00pm
Tuesday March 13 – Saturday March 17, 8:00pm
Saturday March 10, Sunday March 11, Saturday March 17, 2:00pm matinee

Tickets: On-sale now. Available at https://loot.bpt.me

Media Contact: Producer Emily Dix, Emily@bygonetheatre.com, 647-343-5965
Twitter: @BygoneTheatre |FB: Facebook.com/BygoneTheatre |Insta: @BygoneTheatre

For group sales, press access or to request accommodation, please email Emily@bygonetheatre.com.

 This production is being produced by The Loot Collective and is being supported by
Bygone Theatre.