Cast Spotlight: Alex Clay

Alex Clay plays newspaper man McCue in our upcoming production of His Girl Friday.

Bio: Alex studied at the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto, collecting degrees with all his might until he realized that the safest and most stable route for him was definitely acting. Alex debuted as Jason in Guelph Little Theatre’s Rabbit Hole. He then played Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a park somewhere. Next, he discovered the world of acting in short plays with Special Delivery at Theatre InspiraTO festival, Remembrance at Social Capital, and Lifeboat at Small But Mighty Productions. Alex then got his creep on. First, as a dimwitted camera operator turned enigmatic demon in Interview with a Demon, then as a teenage prodigy turned psychopathic murderer in The Dialogues of Leopold and Loeb. This summer Alex made his Toronto Fringe Festival debut in Inch of Your Life: Episode 1…stay tuned folks! Most recently, he trekked to Windsor to play Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. Alex is thrilled to be making his Bygone Theatre debut with this amazing group of artists.

1. How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?
I do my best to keep up with as many theatre companies in Toronto as I can, so at some point I stumbled upon Bygone Theatre and I really liked their mandate and play selection, so I began following them on social media. I have a few friends who have worked with them in the past as well. When I saw the casting call for His Girl Friday I was excited to see that their newly adapted script was made available. I read the script, loved it, auditioned, and here we are!

2. What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?
There is a strong female lead; Hildy Johnson is badass. It’s a classic screwball comedy. Many of the characters are so self involved that in the context of the play it’s funny, but it’s also a statement that still resonates today about how people can become desensitized by the tedium of their jobs. Media coverage is a hot issue these days and this play provides an insider look at the coverage of a high profile case.

3. What’s your favourite old movie?
This is a really tough one. I’m a huge fan of Hitchcock, including Rope and Dial M for Murder, both of which Bygone Theatre has produced. But if I had to go with one it would probably be Fritz Lang’s mystery thriller M…or Jean Renoir’s pacifist war film La Grand Illusion…or Vittorio De Sica’s heart wrenching Bicycle Thieves. I told you this was a tough one. These three films could probably not be any more different from one another, but they all have really interesting things to say about the human condition. La Grand Illusion is a film about the First World War that subtly reveals the looming danger of Hitler (released in 1937), and Fritz Lang ably shows the dangers of a mob mentality when a child murderer is on the loose, and De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves is partly responsible for breathing life into a new way of filmmaking. This is ground breaking, revolutionary, must-watch material. #selfidentifiedfilmnerd

4. Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?
Around this time last year I was in a new play by Brad Walton called The Dialogues of Leopold and Loeb which is only similar in so far as it was set only about a decade prior to His Girl Friday. This script demands a fairly fast paced delivery of the lines, which is something I became accustomed to in working on Massimo Pagliaroli’s Inch of Your Life: Episode 1 at last year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. I look forward to working with Massimo and his great cast and crew on the upcoming instalments in that series.

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Former Bygone member Tom Beattie and actor Alex Clay in The Dialogues of Leopold and Loeb.

5. Why should people come and see the show?
People should see this show because there is nothing else quite like it, certainly not on the stage in Toronto anyway. It’s got humour, mystery, intrigue, and phenomenal period appropriate costume and set design. The tickets are quite affordable and we are performing at a relatively new and up and coming venue, the home of Native Earth Performing Arts, Aki Studio at Daniels Spectrum. Check out Métis Mutt before it closes on February 5th!

6. Anything else you want us to know?
Go to the theatre, if not this show, then some other one (but definitely still consider this one). The performance of a play only lasts 60, 90, 120 minutes, whatever its runtime may be, and then it ends and will never be seen again. You can do a one-month run and no two shows will be the same. It’s alive, it’s breathing and it’s brought to you by talented (often local) artists. I could not be more proud of what I do, and I do it for you. Support the arts!

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Rope – Cast Spotlight – Nicholas Arnold

Time for another cast spotlight! Nicholas Arnold plays James Kelly in our upcoming production of Rope – check out his thoughts on the show.
1. What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
Since seeing Hitchcock’s “Rope” way back in the day, I promised myself that if I ever saw a production of Rope happening I would jump at the opportunity to be in it and low-and-behold, I see Bygone Theatre’s posting for it back in September. It was a no-brainer. I had to audition. And I was gunning for one of the killers from the very beginning. To me the play is an exciting an opportunity and challenge as an actor, taking place in one location with a very tense and gradual build to its climax. It was clear from previous works listed on their website that Bygone Theatre loved tackling plays that pose these sort of challenges for both the cast and their audiences. All of this convinced me that I had to audition.
2. What challenges have you faced/OR/ what is your favourite part of working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
I think we’re starting to face these challenges now as a cast. It’s a complicated play with a lot of logistical planning required. When you are on the entire time, that can be a challenge in and of itself, but add drinking and eating to that as well as creating the natural atmosphere of a 1920s party and it becomes very complicated. It’s a delicate dance that we do and so pacing ourselves throughout that is something we are working hard to master. I definitely have my own personal challenges with my role as well, getting considerably more intoxicated as the evening progresses and losing my nerve to the point of insanity. It’s a work-out really. You leave rehearsals feeling like you just spent an hour or two in the boxing ring. Physically, you feel the effects that playing those scenes have on you. So it takes a bit of endurance.
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
I researched the real of case of Leopold and Loeb extensively upon learning that I received the part. As well as general info about the 20s – what was going on at the time, politically and in and around the general setting. Aside from that, most of my preparation – if not all of it – comes from diligent reading and studying of the script. It’s all there in the lines. Everything I need to know about my character and everything my character needs to know about the others. So it just comes down to reading and reading and reading. I’ve read and studied my script more times than I can count and will continue to do so right up until opening night, and likely even during the run.
4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
I’m enjoying getting to know the other cast members. They are an extremely talented bunch and its really enjoyable playing these scenes with them. They all fit into their roles so well. It’s fun to watch from the shadows – where I spend most of my time in the play 😉

5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
What’s better than seeing an intense murder mystery play out in real time in a real 1920s house? This particular production of Rope is going to offer an intense sense of realism that you won’t find on any other stage. And this cast brings it, firing with guns blazing. They are intense and gritty with their delivery and I truly think the audience will love watching it as much as I love being in it. So come see it!

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.

Dial M For Murder – Crew Spotlight – Jackie McClelland

Jackie McClelland is our props master and one of our set designers for “Dial M For Murder”!

Jackie McClellandBio: Jackie is a set and prop designer specializing in period work for both film and stage. Selected credits include: Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy, Romeo and Juliet, Bent (Hart House Theatre); Twelfth Night (Canopy Theatre Company); Into the Woods (Bravo Academy); Little Women (First Act Productions); A Ladylike Murder, City of Angels (Victoria College Drama Society); Sundance (Two Wolves Theatre, Toronto Fringe Festival).

1. How did you get started with set design?

I started out studying film, actually, but got involved in theatre in my spare time. I played a few small roles in school shows – chorus parts, mostly – before making the transition backstage.

 2. What is your favourite part of the creative process?

It’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing — I love brainstorming and doing tons of research right off the bat, but it’s just as satisfying to put my hands to use building, painting, and decorating.

3. What are some challenges you face working as a set designer?

There are almost always limitations in terms of budget and time. In a perfect world, I would have limitless money and hours to spend crafting a perfect set and filling out all the little details that draw in the audience. Getting around these hurdles, though, is part of what makes this job great. I love when someone is impressed by something that I “MacGyver’d” for practically no money!

4. Any advice for other people looking to pursue set design?

I honed my skills building props before moving up to set design and dressing. It gives you the opportunity to work directly with the set designer and learn a lot from their experience – I definitely recommend it.

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

I’m a big Hitchcock fan, but I’ve always felt that Dial M for Murder is a story that belongs more on stage than it does on screen. There’s the potential to create a lot of tension through staging and I hope to enhance that as much as possible with the set. I also love working on period pieces and have a special soft spot for Mid-Century Modern design. It’s gonna be great!

AUDITIONS – “Dial M For Murder”

Dial M Auditions Cover

Bygone Theatre is holding auditions for their upcoming production of Frederick Knott’s “Dial M For Murder”.

The show runs from August 15-17, 2013, with an 8:00pm evening show each night and a Saturday matinee at 2:00pm. It will be performed in the Robert Gill Theatre, at the corner of College and St. George in Toronto.

The show is non-union, non-paying.

Synopsis (from Dramatists Play Service):

Tony Wendice has married his wife, Margot, for her money and now plans to murder her for the same reason. He arranges the perfect murder. He blackmails a scoundrel he used to know into strangling her for a fee of one thousand pounds, and arranges a brilliant alibi for himself. Unfortunately…the murderer gets murdered and the victim survives. But this doesn’t baffle the husband: He sees his hireling’s death as an opportunity to have his wife convicted for the murder of the man who tried to murder her, and that is what almost happens. Luckily, the police inspector from Scotland Yard and a young man who is in love with the wife discover the truth, and in a scene of almost unbearable suspense they trap the husband into revealing his guilt, thus freeing Margot.

Character Breakdown:

Tony Wendice: 30-38yrs, British accent an asset. A former professional tennis player, Tony is controlling, jealous and manipulative. He is slightly snobbish and very upper class. He plans an elaborate scheme to have his wife, Margot, killed because of jealousy over her affair with Max.

Margot Wendice: 25-30yrs old, British accent an asset. Margot is the charming and naïve wife of Tony. Margot has no idea that her husband knows of her affair with Max, and never suspects her husband of the least bit of wrongdoing.

Max Halliday: 25-35yrs. An American murder mystery writer, Max had an affair with Margot a year ago and is still in love with her. He is bright, charming, but decidedly middle class.

Captain Lesgate: 30-45yrs. An old college schoolmate of Tony’s and a convicted criminal. He is desperate for cash and has rather loose morals. He is hired to murder Margot.

Inspector Hubbard: 30-50. A British police inspector. A bit eccentric but ultimately a good man and a thorough, thoughtful detective.

Thompson: 20-50yrs. A police officer. Minor role.

Drop-in auditions are taking place in the PC Studio of the Fringe Creation Lab (720 Bathurst St., Toronto) on Friday May 24, 6:00-9:00pm and Saturday May 25, 4:00-7:00pm. Mandatory call-backs are Sunday May 26, 5:00-7:00pm (also in the PC Studio).

Actors should prepare a brief (1-2 minute) monologue that is appropriate for the show (think about both the time period and the style). They may be asked to do a cold read, and should be familiar with the play. Please bring a headshot and a resume, and be prepared to fill out a form with your general availability.

Hope to see you there!