Rope – Cast Spotlight – Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Today’s cast spotlight is with Elizabeth Rose Morriss who plays the aloof Miss Susan Kentley in Rope. Elizabeth has previously worked with Bygone Theatre on their Retro Radio Hour shows.

1. What first attracted you to Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
I really enjoyed working with Emily on “Noble Savages,” which she directed for Newborn Theatre. When she started Bygone Theatre, I was eager for the chance to work on a play with her again! I admit, I wasn’t familiar with Rope when Emily announced that it would be Bygone’s next production, but as soon as I read it I was interested in being part of it.

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 have worked on a couple site-specific plays before—Brant Theatre Workshop’s recurring production of Dracula at Casa Loma, and SQUAT: A Super-Secret Back-Alley Musical at Cinecycle warehouse in the 2013 Fringe Festival. My favourite part of productions like these is having such an incredible backdrop for the production, to have a real castle, warehouse, or turn-of-the-century house to stage your play in is a rare treat, and adds a whole new dimension to the performance. The biggest challenge for me is staging the piece in rehearsal spaces, and then having to translate it to the actual site. It’s a lot easier to visualize entrances and exits and blocking for a traditional theatre space than for a non-theatre space which you haven’t seen.

3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
Susan Kentley is a smaller role, and being such a quiet, uncommunicative character means she has very few lines. That means there are a lot fewer obvious clues about her character, so I’ve had to look very closely at the script for the few lines and stage directions she does have, as well as anything any other character says about her, in order to figure her out. Then it’s a matter of looking at the time she does spend onstage with that in mind, and figuring out her reactions to things, and her reasons for saying—or not saying!—what she does.

4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
Watching each of the characters come to life, as each actor works through their own process. It’s fun to see people making discoveries and choices. And we always end up having some laughs along the way!

5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
Great script, talented cast, cool venue—it should be an excellent show!

Rope – Cast Spotlight – Caitlin Robson

Time for another cast spotlight! The lovely Caitlin Robson plays Miss Jefferies, the maid, in Rope.
1. What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope
I was finishing a directing workshop next door in the Fringe Lab. When I stopped by, Nick (who plays James) was sitting out front waiting to be seen. He encouraged me to crash, and so I did! I almost missed a date to do the callback– it was worth it!

2. What challenges have you faced/OR/ what is your favourite part of working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
The biggest challenge about putting on this play is trying to recreate our set in our rehearsal spaces. Luckily, all the cast members have a great imagination, and our director, Emily, pulls out all the stops when it comes to having props on hand to practice with.

3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
3 years of serving experience. Yeah, I’m method.

4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
My favourite part of the rehearsal process has been getting scenes on their feet and trying them every way possible– especially the “wrong” way. It’s amazing the gold nuggets a script yields when you play with it.
5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
You should come see Rope if you love Hitchcock, suspense, horror and all things vintage and antique!

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 – Chelsey MacLean

While Rope is Chelsey MacLean’s first Bygone Theatre production, she and director Emily Dix met each other in high school and first worked on a play together in 2007! Chelsey plays the dim-witted Leila Arden.

1. What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
I had actually been directed by Emily Dix before, for my first play! I had always looked up to Emily and she inspired me to try my hand at directing the following year. I was eager to work with Emily’s professional and artistic skills once again with the added benefit of us bringing our new training to the table. I was also excited for this project as I am a big Patrick Hamilton fan (Let’s do Gaslight next!).

 

2. What is your favourite part of working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
My favourite part of working in a site specific play is that both actor and audience can build a relationship with their environment, which I think brings both parties closer together; the actor endows the very setting the audience sits in while the audience has the advantage of not only watching a reality unfold, but find themselves immersed in it. I believe the real time aspect furthers the suspension of disbelief as the audience does not feel interrupted, and the actor can have the treasure of experiencing the minutia of their character’s moment to moment thought process.
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
To prepare for Rope, I read a few of Patrick Hamilton’s works to familiarize myself with his style, researched the history and setting of the play, then the history and setting of where our production places Rope to find connections/ contrasts; understanding the norms for women at this time in history was quite helpful. As I further explored Leila Arden and her film buff nature, I have happily taken up watching movies from the 1920’s as an additional step to understanding her influences.
4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
I really value the cast of Rope. Every rehearsal I have the gift of learning a little something from each member of this diverse group of actors and those pieces add up to creating a fantastic experience.
5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
Everyone should come see Rope and support local theatre because its a provocative mix of terror, comedy, and psychological intrigue set in our very own Toronto with a timeless story that entertains and questions! Why watch another Whodunnit, when you can be in the room to witness what unfolds once “it” is done? Besides, Leila Arden saw it once, and she thought it was good, dear; why absolutely marvelous!

Want to see Chelsey grace the stage as the lovely Leila Arden? Get tickets through TO Tix, show runs November 21-29, 2014 at the Gibson House Museum

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.

Rope – Cast/Crew Spotlight – Matthew McGrath

Bygone Co-Founder/Producer Matt McGrath is stepping onstage for this production, performing the role of the young and innocent Kenneth Raglan. We asked Matthew about some of the challenges he is facing taking on roles on and off stage.
1. What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
I have wanted to be a part of this show for years. It has always been one of my favourite Hitchcock films. When I learned it was also a play, I knew I had to put it on.
2. What challenges have you faced working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
As a producer the main challenge has always been raising funds, and getting people to care about the show as much as you do, so they’ll want to come see it. As an actor, for this show specifically, it is trying to stay interesting on stage during large chunks where you say nothing, but to not be distracting either. It’s harder than it looks!
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
Watched tons of downton abbey and Boardwalk empire.
4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
Watching the dynamic between the three leading men evolve.
5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
To see a Canadian twist on a classic show. There are top notch performances, and the venue is beautiful and one of a kind!

You can see Matt onstage November 21-29th at the Gibson House Museum. To buy tickets to Rope check out TO Tix.

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.

Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! Wraps Up at the Black Swan Comedy Bar

A huge thank you to all those who came out to Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! Thursday night. The show was a huge success and it was great to get the talented cast of Rope up onstage.

Check out our youtube channel for video footage of the night, and be sure to come support the cast again when we mount Rope at the Gibson House Museum this November!