“Rope” – All Wrapped Up

It’s a little late to be doing the “that’s a wrap!” blog but as a producer, the work for Rope just ended for me the other day. Now that I’ve finally got the time to take a break and reflect I thought I’d give a little summary of how the show went.

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

We were very lucky to sell out 5 of our 7 performances, and all were loved by our audiences. We got a lot of positive feedback; here are some of the review highlights:

“The story’s best known in its film adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock, but there’s some point in seeing the theatrical original, especially in Bygone Theatre’s site-specific staging at North York’s Gibson House Museum…Under director and costume designer Emily Dix, the visual details, including millinery by David Dunkley, are generally understated but impressive. She’s also given the action a local flavour with mentions of Upper Canada College, Yonge Street and Rosedale. Most importantly, she generally keeps the tension taut: will someone discover what’s in the trunk?…Stetson brings an increasingly frenetic fervour to the murderer that nicely balances Child’s cold, analytical surmises…Matthew McGrath has charm as another party guest, while Chelsey MacLean adds a touch of flapper raciness to the production.” – Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine

“The supporting cast are excellent: Matthew McGrath’s dandyish Kenneth is the perfect partner for Chelsey MacLean’s note-perfect Lelia, a bubbling and coquetteish flapper gal with lips for days and eyeliner to match. Ian McGarrett, as the victim’s father, has an interesting presence which detaches him from the rest of the company — a not-unpleasant effect. David Dunkley’s millinery is also a highlight: there are only two ladies’ hats, but where this company dug up such marvellous and contrasting costumes is beyond me…the character work is outstanding, particularly MacLean’s high-spirited modern bohemian, Stetson’s sinister schoolboy, and a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em flourishes from Elizabeth R. Morriss’ Miss Kentley.”
Mike Anderson, Mooney on Theatre

I’m very happy with how the show went and couldn’t be prouder of the cast & crew. I had the chance to work with some amazing people and can’t wait for our next production – stay tuned for details on that.

If you want to see more Rope footage check out our facebook page for photos by Danielle Son, or see our mini montage of footage here:



Rope: Opening Weekend

On Friday Rope opened to a packed audience; our Opening Night Gala was a hit and the show was a smashing success. I’m so proud of all those who have been involved and it was wonderful to finally see everything fall into place onstage. This Saturday November 22nd we have two performances; a 2:00pm matinee, which as of late Friday night is 78% sold out and a 7:30pm evening show, which is currently 93% sold out. It’s great to have such full houses and we open the show is received well!

If you would like to get tickets to this weekend’s performance, check out TOtix.ca. Tickets can be purchased online up to 2 hours before the event. After that, tickets can only be purchased at the door; cash only, please.

If you are unable to join us for opening weekend, not to fear! Next Friday November 28th we have a 2:00pm PWYC matinee for Arts Workers and a 7:30pm performance. On Saturday November 29th we have a 2:00pm matinee and we close that evening at 7:30pm.

All photos courtesy of the talented Danielle Son; check out her website here: http://www.logosphotography.org/.

To see the rest of the production stills check out our facebook page.

More updates coming soon!

“Rope” Opens in One Week!

On September 15, 2014, the cast of Rope met for our first read-through. After a single reading, I knew I had made the right casting choices. We had an incredibly talented group of actors, and thankfully, everyone got along from the start.

First read-through, September 15, 2014
First read-through, September 15, 2014

We got into rehearsals right away, and quickly started making interesting discoveries about the text. The onstage chemistry grew fast, and offstage new friendships started to form.


We put together an awesome fundraiser, Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! and got to see everyone’s comic side.

Jamieson Child, Nicholas Arnold, Emily Dix & Caitlin Robson
Jamieson Child, Nicholas Arnold, Emily Dix & Caitlin Robson

And a glamourous side as well.

Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! cast

As the show progressed, and intensity grew, I started to get really pumped about the show. Despite seeing scenes over a dozen times, these guys were giving me chills. I knew we had something great.

In one week we will open at the Gibson House Museum. It has been 2 months of hard work but it has certainly been worth it. Don’t miss your chance to see this amazingly talented cast; Leete Stetson, Nicholas Arnold, Jamieson Child, Chelsey MacLean, Matt McGrath, Ian McGarrett, Elizabeth Rose Morriss and Caitlin Robson.

Join us for our opening night gala at 7:00pm on Friday November 21; show starts at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance through TO Tix.


Friends of Bygone – The Gibson House Museum

Bygone is thrilled to be partnering with the historic Gibson House Museum for our upcoming production of Rope. The 19th century home is a beautiful setting for this site-specific production. For those of you who are not familiar with the museum, here are some highlights and fun facts;

Built in 1851, Gibson House was the home of Scottish immigrant David Gibson and his family. He was a land surveyor who helped map early Toronto. Wanted by the government for participating in the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, Gibson was forced to flee to the United States where he and his family remained for 11 years. On their return to York County, the Gibsons built this beautiful home and once again became active members of their rural community.

Visitors can step back in time and explore this elegant farmhouse. Its serene Georgian-style exterior belies the dramatic lives of the Gibson family.

Gibson House Museum is one of 10 historic museums operated by the City of Toronto. Toronto’s Historic Sites engage visitors, inspire passion, challenge ideas and connect the past to the present. (information taken from the City of Toronto website, 2014)

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Gibson House Museum in North York is a red brick Georgian Revival farmhouse located on land that was acquired by the Gibson family in 1829. David and Elizabeth Gibson lived in a wood frame house on the site until they were forced to flee to the United States during the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. The building that now stands was constructed in 1851 after the family’s return to Toronto, and was home to David and Eliza’s household as well as their son Peter Silas Gibson’s family until 1916. The house was occupied by a series of owners and tenants until the Township of North York acquired the property in 1965. Gibson House was restored and opened as a heritage museum on June 6, 1971.

Gibson House is owned by the City of Toronto, and is managed and operated by the City’s Cultural Services.

Statement of Heritage Value

  • The David Gibson House is located at 5172 Yonge Street in Municipal Ward 23. It is a designated heritage site under by-law 27975 passed by the North York City Council on December 15, 1980.
  • Gibson House is associated with the domestic and public lives of David and Eliza Gibson, who were prominent members of the rural Willow Dale community in the North York township and significant figures in the history of Upper Canada. Gibson House is one of a number of nineteenth-century rural farmhouses that survived the major urban development that accompanied the city’s expansion into North York in the twentieth century. The building has been modified over time to suit the needs of several generations of the Gibson family, as well as those of various later owners and tenants.
  • Gibson House is an example of the late Georgian architectural style, and has undergone extensive renovations and restorations since its construction. The building’s exterior retains a number of original features, while the internal layout and period-room restorations are based on historical documents from the Gibson Gibson House Museum family and contemporary furnishings in similar houses from the mid-nineteenth century.
  • The Gibson property has produced a number of archaeological findings, including artefacts dating from the mid- to late nineteenth century that are associated with the domestic lives of the Gibson family and those of the house’s later inhabitants.
  • Gibson House was once part of an active and progressive working farm, and was a significant feature within the Willow Dale community nine miles from the town of York. The expanding city gradually absorbed the farmland and villages of North York. Gibson House is now surrounded by a thoroughly urban landscape, and serves as a reminder of the borough’s early settlements and rural history.

Character Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage value of this site include:

Historic Value

  1. Gibson House is historically significant for its connection to the Gibson family. The Scottish immigrant David Gibson (1804 – 1864) immigrated to Quebec in 1825 and worked as a surveyor in Upper Canada for many years. Gibson assisted in mapping much of early Toronto, including the city’s streets and sidewalks, and was also a successful farmer and an influential politician in his local district. David was a member of the Legislative Assembly in 1834 and 1836, as well as a leader of the Reform movement. After the Rebellion of 1837 he was forced to live as a fugitive in Upper Canada before escaping to the United States. His wife, Elizabeth Milne Gibson, and their four children joined him after the first Gibson House was burned by Government soliders. Eliza Gibson traveled regularly to Upper Canada to collect rents from the family’s properties until David’s father James and half-brother William arrived from Scotland and began to manage the Willow Dale farm. The Gibson family returned to Upper Canada in 1848, and moved into the second Gibson house in 1851.
  2. The Gibson property was willed to David and Eliza’s daughter, Margaret Jane, upon David’s death in 1864. The property then passed to Margaret’s brother Peter Silas and his wife Eliza Holmes, who raised their ten children in the house. Most of the historic Gibson farm was sold for sub-division in 1913, except for an acre at the south east corner where the Gibson House and Gibson Park are located, and a third of an acre on the south east corner that was deeded to Peter Silas’ eldest son, Harold Holmes, upon his marriage in 1897. Harold built a large red brick house on this site that was used as the new family home and then as a public library until its demolition in 1957.
  3. The Gibson farmhouse was rented to relatives of the Gibson family in the 1920s. In 1942 the house was sold to local contractor Noel Knowles who modernized the building and introduced a number of extensive renovations. After Mr. Knowles’ death in 1952 the house was sold and then rented to a series of tenants. In 1960 the North York Historical Society was founded by a group of citizens who had come together to advocate for Gibson House. The Township of North York purchased the remaining Gibson House property in 1965 for $1.00 and other considerations “for the purpose of a museum, historic site, or public park,” and in 1966 the building underwent exterior and structural restorations under the direction of the restoration architect B. Napier Simpson.
  4. The site was used as a storage facility until 1970, when the North York Council chose to restore and operate Gibson House as a heritage museum in response to the National Centennial in 1967. Council entered into a private restoration agreement with Brigadier-General J.A. McGinnis of the Toronto Historical Board, and the house interior was recreated under the direction of the Museums Advisor Dorothy Duncan to reflect the Gibsons’ home circa 1851, based on contemporary documents from the period. The Gibson House Museum opened to the public on June 6, 1971.
  5. Gibson House is associated with the Gibson family, and the development of the rural North York communities. This relationship is represented by an extensive archival collection that includes the personal papers, correspondence, and journals of David Gibson, as well as documents relating to the history of the house as a museum, other members of the Gibson family, later tenants, and inhabitants of local communities. Collections are stored on-site, and are also available at the Archives of Ontario, the North York Library, the North York Historical Society Archives, the City of Toronto Archives, and the National Archives of Canada. Some materials are also in the private possession of descendants of the Gibson family.
  6. The Museum’s artefact collection includes a small but significant collection of Gibson artifacts, including David Gibson’s surveying instruments and a tall case clock the works of which were removed from the first frame house by Eliza Gibson before fire consumed her house. The remainder of the collection was purchased or acquired from local donors and consists of materials representative of the various local homes, farms, and businesses of the mid-nineteenth century.

Architectural Value

  1. Gibson House was built with quality materials, and its design reflects the lifestyle of an established family with a leading place in their community. It is an example of Upper Canadian Georgian architecture, and also includes a number of variations based on diverse stylistic choices and later additions to the original building. The house is two-and-a-half storeys high, with a five-bay façade and rectangular plan, and includes evenly placed, symmetrical windows, a later kitchen extension, and a full basement. The building was constructed on a fieldstone base with red bricks made on the property, and the exterior includes a number of decorative components, including the yellow brick bands, the white brick voussoirs over the windows and doors, and the corner quoins, as well as the gables with black brick motifs. The Neo-Classical doorway with elliptical fanlight transom, rectangular sidelights, and two-panel Greek revival door is also original, while the porch has been restored according to nineteenth-century photographs.
  2. The house interior was renovated and subdivided to accommodate various tenants in the mid-twentieth century, and subsequent restorations represent the building as it might have appeared in 1851. The interior plan follows the conventional Georgian pattern of a centre hall with straight stairway and symmetrically disposed rooms, although much of the internal layout has been restored and interpreted based on building receipts, bills, and lists as well as references to the house and construction in letters and diaries. The restoration was also informed by Gibson artifacts in the museum’s collection as well as objects still in family hands, oral history interviews with the Gibsons’ surviving grandchildren, and comparisons to similar contemporary houses.

Archaeological Value

  1. Much of the Gibson House site has been disturbed by ongoing habitation and nearby urban development, however buried archaeological remains have been unearthed since the property’s restoration as a heritage museum. Site staff and volunteers have uncovered a variety of objects associated with nineteenth and early-twentieth century domestic life, including building materials such as nails and bricks, toys, ceramics, and a leather harness with metal attachments. These artefacts are stored on site, and may be associated with the Gibson family.
  2. In November to December 2008 a Stage 1-2 archaeological assessment was undertaken at the Menkes Gibson Square development property (5170 Yonge Street) to the south of Gibson House. The Stage 2 archaeological survey discovered additional nineteenth century Euro-Canadian artefacts such as miscellaneous building materials and ceramic sherds in test pits along a strip of undisturbed soil south of the house. These preliminary findings suggest that further archaeological deposits associated with occupants on the Gibson property may be found during the course of future excavations. All site planning related to Gibson House should be undertaken with reference to potential archaeological
    features, in conjunction with the City of Toronto’s Master Plan for Archaeological Resources.

Contextual Value

  1. Gibson House is one of the few surviving features of historic Willow Dale, a small crossroads community that was situated on Yonge Street nine miles from the town of York. Willow Dale was originally known as Kummer’s (or Cummer’s) settlement, and contained a population of 150 in the late 1850s. Willow Dale and its neighbouring North York communities benefited from their placement on Yonge Street, one of the earliest and most heavily traveled transport routes in Upper Canada. Local mills prospered due to the rivers of the Don Watershed that supplied an essential resource for settlers and created a distinctive natural landscape; David Gibson petitioned the government to open a community post office in the mid-nineteenth century, and suggested the name Willow Dale in honour of the numerous willow trees that grew in the district.
  2. Gibson House was a significant structure in rural North York and is connected to the life and history of the Gibson family, as well as the development of the Willowdale community. The building’s survival and restoration in the twentieth century demonstrates its enduring local importance, and its wider significance as a historic landmark and cultural resource in the City of Toronto.
  3. A Tolman Sweet apple tree, the last remaining tree from the orchard that David Gibson established in 1832, stands on the parkland south of Gibson House. Cuttings Gibson from the two Tolman Sweets and a Snow Apple that were standing in the late 1980s were used to establish a number of trees that now stand in Dempsey Park.


All information gathered from the City of Toronto website, http://www1.toronto.ca.

Want to see the home in a totally new way? Join us for Rope November 21-29, 2014 and see the show mounted in the Gibson House parlor. Tickets available now through TO Tix.

Rope – Cast Spotlight – Ian McGarrett

Time for another Cast Spotlight! Ian McGarrett plays retired professor Dr. Kentley in our upcoming production of Rope. Just last year Ian performed for the first time onstage in our production of Dial M For Murder, and now is back again for another “killer” show! Here’s what he has to say so far;

What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
 I learned a lot and had a great deal of fun working on Bygone Theatre’s production of Dial ‘M’ for Murder. Towards the end of that production Emily mentioned she wanted to put on a production of Rope and her enthusiasm for it got me initially interested. When I saw that it was actually going to happen I was tempted to contact Bygone and see if they had cast Dr. Kentley even though I had a prior commitment which might interfere. Fortunately, my procrastination wasn’t punished. Emily emailed me and, well, how could I say no.
What have you done to prepare for your role?
I grew a beard. Or rather, I didn’t shave the beard I grew for a role in another production I am in.

What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
I like rehearsals because I get to see the production developing and coming together.

Why should everyone come and see Rope?
 Who doesn’t like a good story about murder?
Rope runs November 21-29th, 2014 at the Gibson House Museum. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through TO Tix. Seating is extremely limited, so ordering in advance is encouraged. For more show information check us out on facebook or twitter, or see our website.

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 – Crew Spotlight – Director Emily Dix

It’s that time again! Time for our Cast and Crew spotlights for Rope. First up, Bygone Artistic Director/Producer and director of the show, Emily Dix.

1.What first attracted you to Rope?

I’ve been a Hitchcock fan since I was a kid. Growing up I had some darker interests and was always drawn to mystery and horror; my parents, worried I’d see too much gore too young, steered me towards the classics. As an adult I studied film at UofT, and the more that I watched Rope the more I was drawn to the story. One day, while watching the film with my co-founder Matt McGrath, I noticed a note in the opening credits; based on the play by Patrick Hamilton. I was thrilled. We looked up the play, found that, despite some differences, it was still amazing, and it’s been on my radar and to-do list since then. That was back in 2011.

2. What challenges have you faced working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?

A lot of the same issues that I had when we did Doubt back in January 2013; plays are written (generally) to be on a stage and to have SFX like lighting and sound. I wasn’t too concerned with this initially because I thought, well, real-time should look like real-life, what’s the issue? But being in a museum we do have a lot of limitations and things to consider. Also, ending a play that has a dramatic finish when you can’t simply “go to black” is a challenge. But we manage alright.

3. What have you done to prepare for your role?

As Artistic Director/Producer, preparing for my role basically means preparing the entire show. Over a year ago I started some basic design ideas and looked for venues. Once we had a venue and dates set, I finalized costume designs and started working on raising funds and casting the show. Now I’ve got rehearsals where I do all the basic directing stuff, I spend evenings doing admin things like balancing budgets and filling out the ticket selling paperwork, and then of course there is the marketing. A lot of time is spent on the computer. I spend hours daily updating social media, writing to the cast, contacting other companies to cross-promote, completing props lists, updating online event listings; no one task is particularly difficult but there is a LOT to do.

4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?

I love my cast. I say this every time, but it really is true. I think the best thing that I ever do for one of my shows is cast a group of amazing people; I’ve done it before and it’s happened again. Everyone is so unbelievably talented and they’re a really fun group. Despite working on a heavy play with some dark and very serious concepts, rehearsals are always fun and everyone is getting along. I always look forward to going to them and I never want them to end. It’s a great group.

5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?

Aside from all the usual things – amazing cast, beautiful costumes, and a phenomenal script – you should come and see Rope because it really is different from anything else you’re going to see in the city. The venue is unique and perfectly suited to the show. The play is not one that is done very often, so chances are no one else has seen it performed live (plus, we’ve made some changes as it is now public domain). Rope is unique because it addresses issues of morality, murder and equality without forcing them down your throat; it’s never preachy, it doesn’t talk at you about these things, it simply lets the audience in on a dialogue about it. Sitting right there amidst the party guests the audience is invited to join the conversation and make up their own minds, question themselves on what they would do if they were in that position. I think it’s a neat concept.

Rope run November 21-29th, 2014 at the Gibson House Museum. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through TO Tix. Seating is extremely limited, to ordering in advance is encouraged. For more show information check us out on facebook or twitter, or see our website.

Auditions! Bygone Theatre’s Next Production: “Rope”

We are casting for our upcoming production of “Rope”, to be performed at the Gibson House Museum in Toronto (near Shepherd Station) November 2014. There will be a total of 7 performances, taking place between November 21 and 29th. This show is non-union, non-paying; honorariums may be provided depending on the success of our fundraising and of the show.

An edge-of-your-seat suspense drama, Rope tells the story of two privileged young men, Brandon and James, who decide to murder a classmate for the sheer “thrill of it”. After hiding the body in a trunk in their living room, they throw a party, inviting the deceased’s friends and family (his father, Dr. Kentley, his sister, Miss Kentley, his friends Kenneth and Leila, and his TA, Rupert). Tensions build as the men struggle with gloating and guilt, leading to the eventual discovery of the crime by Rupert, their former TA.

Brandon – charming, confident, dangerous. Mid 20s
James – talented pianist, a follower. Mid 20s
The Maid – flexible with age, race and sex
Kenneth – a “good boy”, Early 20s.
Leila – a “party girl”. Early 20s
Dr. Kentley – A distinguished doctor & former professor. 50+
Miss Kentley – An aloof young woman. 20s.
Rupert Cadell – A cynical, crippled poet. Late 20s.

**NOTE** As the play is now in public domain, we are making some adjustments to the characters. For an idea of the story, please read Patrick Hamilton’s “Rope” (1929). There may be some flexibility with minor characters in terms of age, race, and in the place of the maid, sex. Decisions will be made after auditions.

If you are interested in auditioning for the show, send your headshot and resume to Artistic Director Emily Dix at Emily@bygonetheatre.com, by August 30.  Auditions will be held September 6 and 7th and details will be sent by email to those chosen for auditions.