Friends of Bygone – Theatre Double Take – Barely Staged Reading Series

Artistic Director Emily Dix will be working closely with the Theatre Double Take team the next few months while she stage manages TDT’s  “Madeleine Robin Known as Roxanne “. But first, TDT presents part of their Barely Staged play reading series; Artistic Director Grace Smith tells us all about it.

swtm_poster_smallWhat is your role with Theatre Double Take and the Barely Staged Reading Series event “Stalwart Women and Tempestuous Men”?
For Theatre Double Take, I am the Artistic Director and co-founder.

For “Stalwart Women and Tempestuous Men”, I am first and foremost the producer! I also, along with Theatre Double Take’s GM Leete Stetson, selected the plays we’ll be reading. Technically, I think also count as Director for this event, to the extent that a staged reading can be said to have a director…

Give us Theatre Double Take’s history – how and why did it get started?
I’ve always had a fascination with literary and dramatic adaptations, whether they be drastically adapted new works or just a framing device or production concept that casts a new light on the original. I loved analysing adaptations, I love seeing how the tiniest change from one medium to the next can have huge thematic ramifications, and I just love seeing a new take on older source material. As such, in my own writing and producing, I’m drawn finding ways to incorporate classic works, historical materials, and well-known characters.

The seeds of Theatre Double Take began many years ago in Halifax, when I wrote, directed and produced a modern adaptation of Euripides’s Hippolytus for the Atlantic Fringe Festival. This was under the production company name ‘Cilantro Dream Theatre.’ The play wasn’t very good (neither was the company name). Fast-forward to Toronto in 2012, I started working on an adaptation/mash-up of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, once again using the ‘Cilantro Dream’ name for lack of a better one.

I soon realized that adaptations were my thing, and deciding that Cilandro Dream Theatre was a rather silly name, fellow co-founder Leete Stetson and I settled on Theatre Double Take. (We both claim it was our idea).

As a graduate student, I also dig how you can incorporate research or a ‘thesis’ into adaptations. For me, this company is a great way to merge my scholarly and creative pursuits.

Give us a quick run-down of “Stalwart Women and Tempestuous Men”
You’ll come in, get some free noms and drinks, chat with other theatre folk. Then, over the course of about 90 minutes we’ll present two one-act plays: first “Lake Doré” by J.E. Middleton, and then “The Second Lie” by Isabel Ecclestone McKay. There will be room for discussion after both plays have been read, as well as general socialization. All in all, it’ll be a low-key, chill sort of event; late-comers are welcome, you can eat and drink while listening to some rarely heard plays – what’s not to enjoy?

As far as my research shows, there hasn’t been a production of either of this plays in some time (they were first performed in 1930 and 1920, respectively) so this is a rare chance to hear them out loud!

What has been your favourite part of working on “Stalwart Women and Tempestuous Men”?
Looking through old anthologies of plays to select a couple for reading was great fun! We found a few really bizarre ones before settling on “Lake Doré” and “The Second Lie,” some of which we’ll probably use for future Reading Series events. One 19th century play I found began with a character being pushed off a cliff!

Also, getting to talk to our cast about the scripts has been great; they’re a smart bunch!

Any fun rehearsal/performance stories or anecdotes you’d like to share?
Well, it’s a reading so not much rehearsal involved… but there have been some fun coincidences with the cast!

First, about have of the cast is people we know from the Dalhousie Theatre Department, from which both Leete and I graduated. So, it’s been a reunion of sorts.

Ken MacAlpine, who is reading in both plays on the 29th, also played the lead in that Hippolytus adaptation way back in Halifax years ago… so he’s been there, in a sense, since the very beginning!

We also had one actress unfortunately drop out (due to totally respectable reasons, and she was very apologetic). Leete and I said to each other, “What about Claire St-Francois?” who we knew from Dalhousie and I had just learned was living in Toronto. I told myself I would email her next time I had a free moment, and then went about my day. Wouldn’t you know it, just that night I ran into her at a show! Luckily, she said ‘yes’ and has been a great addition to our reading cast.

Where and when can everyone see the show?
8pm on October 29th, at The Box (98 Niagara St, near Bathurst St and King St W).

Anything else we should know?
The 1921 Hart House production of “The Second Lie” starred none other than Vincent Massey, later to become the Governor General! I’ve posted that fact in a couple places, but I keep bringing it up because I think it’s pretty neat.

Dial M For Murder – Actor Spotlight – Leete Stetson

Leete is starring in “Dial M For Murder” as the deviously charming Tony Wendice. Leete has previously worked with Bygone Theatre, both as the music director for “Doubt: A Parable”, and as a performer in their “Retro Radio Hour” fundraiser.

Leete Stetson aka Tony Wendice

Leete Stetson aka Tony Wendice

Bio: Leete Stetson is an alum of the Victoria Conservatory of Music and Dalhousie University, graduating in 2009 with a BA with combined honours in music and theatre. In Toronto, he has worked with Hart House, Alumae Theatre, Charcoal Sketch Productions, Cilantro Dream Theatre and Bygone Theatre, though this is his first time acting in a Bygone show.

1. How did you get started in theatre?
I started acting in highschool, more as a lark than anything, to complement my training as a singer. Throughout highschool, I found more and more that I liked it and wanted to pursue it as a career.

2. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?
Rehearsing. Delving into the script and finding connections with the other actors.

3. What are some challenges you face as an actor?
The fact that I’m just not that talented.

4. Any advice you want to give to others pursuing acting?
Anything anybody is willing to teach you, learn that.

5. What are you most excited for in regards to “Dial M for Murder”?
It’s an incredibly fun and funny group of people that I look forward to getting to know better. And also the material is a lot of fun, and I’m excited about finding all those little moments that can be enhanced with looks, gestures and unexpected profanity.