“Rope” Tickets Now On Sale!

Tickets are now on sale for our upcoming production of Rope; buy them online at TO Tix.
As this is a site-specific venue, seating is extremely limited and we encourage you to purchase in advance.

Performance Dates & Times:
Friday November 21, 7:30pm
Saturday November 22, 2:00pm
Saturday November 22, 7:30pm
Friday November 28, 7:30pm
Saturday November 29, 2:00pm
Saturday November 29, 7:30pm

Run time aprox 90 minutes.

Venue:
Gibson House Museum,
5172 Yonge St., Toronto
Wheelchair accessible
Mature themes, recommended for ages 12+

Tickets:
$20 general admission
Available online at TOtix.ca and at the TO Tix box office at Yonge Dundas Square.
Limited number of tickets available at the door; cash only.

Check us out on facebook for more information
#BTrope

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1920s Cocktails & Vintage Liquour Labels

I did a post earlier on making authentic props for period pieces, and this is a bit of a continuation of that. Our current production, Rope, is set in 1929 and there is a LOT of drinking in it. Some specific drinks are mentioned, so I’ve been looking into the ingredients for those:

ginandit

ginandangostura

GINANDFRENCHBy knowing what ingredients are needed, we know a. what props to have and b. how long it would take to make the drinks. As well, it gives us an idea of how easily they go down, and how much they’d affect the drinker. All this just makes for more realism and helps, I think, with the actor’s character work.

Vintage Liquor Labels

Once I had established what was needed for these drinks I started to look up some vintage labels to affix to the bottles in my prop collection. The variety and detail on some of these is amazing, and so I’ve been able to be picky, choosing ones that catch my eye and even fit our colour scheme; here’s a few that I may be using:

I’ll post some pics of the finished prop bottles when they’re done.

All for now,
-E.

What It Really Costs To Be An Actor (and to put on a show)

I came across an interesting Business Insider article today on the costs associated with working as an actor; even as someone who is well aware of the small return on a huge investment (of both time and money) I was shocked by some of the numbers.

Consider the cost of training and promotional materials, for one;

School: some go the 4 year BA route, which will cost about $20 000 in total, but even if you are forgoing traditional education for workshops or conservatory programs, expect to spend thousands here.

Headshots: these are essential for any actor and can cost a pretty penny. Expect $500+ to have them shot, plus the cost of printing. It isn’t unusual to spend close to $1000 for good quality headshots, and then of course they need to be updated whenever you change your look.

Personal Website: while free avenues like facebook and wordpress are frequently used, a lot of people choose to have a custom domain name as well; add another $100 or more a year for this.

Then of course there is the cost of any additional training you do along the way, things like haircuts, makeup etc. to keep you looking pretty, expensive dance shoes – you get the idea. It’s not cheap. And there is really no guarantee of a return.

It was the author’s salaries in the article though that really caught me by surprise; even at the high end, performing at Madison Square Garden in a multi-million dollar performance, the author was only making $527/week. $527/week for 52 weeks in a year is a whopping $27 404 annual salary; not exactly a celebrity lifestyle. Plus, consider the fact that not only do most actors not get big gigs like that, but the majority of actor’s contracts are not for a full year. So even if you’re raking in big dough for the duration of your contract, you may need to stretch 2 months of pay over an entire year.

The author was only making $527/week. $527/week for 52 weeks in a year is a whopping $27 404 annual salary; not exactly a celebrity lifestyle

Our upcoming production of Rope is certainly small budget compared to the shows mentioned above, but it’s still a considerable amount of money for those of us who are funding it while working minimum wage jobs. Our overall budget is $4500.00, and that does not include paying the actors. You can see a detailed breakdown of our budget on our FWYC campaign page.  As someone who is certainly used to working for no pay (I put hundreds of volunteer hours over 6 years into theatre work on campus before finally getting a paid, part-time position this year) I went into this knowing I likely couldn’t pay anyone involved, but still feeling really guilty about it. So that’s why we started a Fund What You Can Campaign.

Our goal is to raise the entire cost of our production – $4500.00 – so that any money we make on the show itself can be split among the cast and crew. Of course there is no guarantee of ticket sales, but if we were to sell out all of our shows we could potentially be paying everyone about $380; not a Broadway level salary, but it’s a start. To put that further into perspective, all of actors are putting in about 14 hours of performance time plus 40-60 hours of rehearsal time. So let’s say that they are working a conservative 54 hours and make at the very most $380; that’s still only $7/hour. Considerably below minimum wage.

Our goal is to raise the entire cost of our production – $4500.00 – so that any money we make on the show itself can be split among the cast and crew…that’s still only $7/hour. Considerably below minimum wage.

As a producer it is important to me to put on a successful show and to compensate those involved. As an artist and student myself, I do not have the money to do that on my own. That’s where you come in. By making a donation to Rope you will be helping to further the careers of 8 talented actors, our wonderful stage manager and Bygone Theatre itself. Every little bit counts and gets us one step closer to realizing our dreams while earning a decent wage.

Check out our Fund What You Can Campaign for Rope to make a donation to the production.

-E.

Dressing “Rope” – Costume Design Boards

Accurate period-appropriate costumes are an important thing to me, and to Bygone Theatre. I spend a considerable amount of time researching vintage fashion, and then even more time trying to figure out how to make it work on a budget. For a simple breakdown of what I’m looking for in terms of costumes for Rope I’ve created these costume boards.

Colour Scheme:
I am a fan of very specific colour schemes. While I could easily do the show with all the actors wearing any colour that suits them, when I first start planning a production, one of the first things that pops into my head is the overall design and the colours that I want to use. For Rope, I decided to go with what I’ve been describing as a “bruise” palette; dark blues, purples and greys, along with accents of green.

rope colour palette

Bruises typically have some yellow in them too, but I am avoiding warm colours in the costumes. Instead, I will have gold and brass accents, bringing in some warmth along with the metallics that were popular in the decade. I am keeping the actors mostly monochromatic, so to add interest I am using a lot of texture; wool, tweed, velvet, satin and detailed bead work will keep things visually interesting and stop them from looking too “flat”.

Brandon Wyndham
Leete Stetson stars as Brandon Wyndham; dashing, devilish and debonair. Brandon is described as not being “dressed”, ie. he is in casual attire. However, he still needs to look fashionable and expensively dressed. I am planning on putting Brandon in the very trendy Oxford Bags, along with a thick wool sweater and a bow tie.

Rope - Brandonw Wyndham Costume BoardJames Kelly
Nicholas Arnold plays the quiet, anxious, gifted but shy James Kelly. Like Brandon, James is wearing a more casual outfit at home, so I am planning on putting him in a vest without a jacket. The script gives me a few specifics to work with; he needs a waistcoat with pockets and a tie pin, which means he will be wearing a neck tie.

Rope - James Kelly Costume BoardRupert Cadell
Jamieson Child plays the crippled poet, Rupert Cadell. While Rupert comes to the party “dressed” in formal attire, he is not the type to be overly concerned with fashion, and so I picture him in slightly out-dated, less expensive clothes. Also, being a writer, I can’t help but picture Ernest Hemingway when I think of him.

Rope - Rupert Cadell Costume BoardLeila Arden
Chelsey MacLean plays party-girl Leila Arden. Leila is celebrity obsessed, superficial, and overly concerned with her looks. I see her in a typical flapper style; lots of jewels, lush fabrics, and a stylish cloche hat.

Rope - Leila Arden Costume Board

Kenneth Raglan
Producer Matt McGrath is playing boy-next-door, Kenneth Raglan. Kenneth is young, college educated, preppy and well-off. He is embarrassed by showing up to the party “dressed”, which means he is in more formal clothes than Brandon and James. I want him in blue as well, but whereas James has a lighter blue with browns and Rupert has blue and black, Kenneth will likely have matching suit, vest and pants, all in a dark greyish blue.

Rope - Kenneth Raglan Costume Board

Miss Kentley
Is played by Elizabeth Rose Morriss. Miss K is a little older and considerably more conservative than Leila, so I’ve chosen a less-flashy dress style for her. Rather than cover her in beading and fringe, I am looking for a fabric with a simple pattern; likely something floral. I think she may wear a wider-brimmed hat.

Rope - Miss Kentley Costume Board

Miss Jefferies, The Maid
Caitlin Robson is playing Miss Jefferies, the maid, who will be wearing the traditional uniform. Black dress with sleeves, a white apron, decorated with lace, and a white, ruffled headpiece.

Rope - Maid Costume Board

Say Hello To The Cast of “Rope”!

This weekend we had our auditions for our November production of Rope; what an amazing group of talented people! Some tough decisions had to be made but it’s made for what I’m sure will be a stellar cast. So say hello to the cast of Rope!

Leete Stetson as Brandon Wyndham

Leete Stetson

Leete Stetson

You may remember Leete Stetson as Tony Wendice in last August’s production of Dial M For Murder.

Bio: Last year, Leete Stetson played Tony Wendice in Bygone Theatre’s production of Dial M for Murder, and assisted with Doubt and the Retro Radio Hour series. Despite what you may assume from his previous work with Bygone, he has murdered hardly any people. Leete is also the General Manager of Theatre Double Take and one third of the creative force behind the comedy/mystery podcast Duotang Chesterfield’s Mystery Theatre. In his spare time, he serves you coffee.

Nicholas Arnold as James Kelly

Nicholas Arnold

This is Nicholas Arnold’s first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio:  Nicholas Arnold is an award-winning writer, director and producer in the film industry as well as a professional actor in theatre and film. Nicholas produced his first documentary at the age of 14 and followed that with his feature directorial debut, “The Vicious Circle,” a film on bullying and hatred, by the time he was 17. Recently, Nicholas premiered his second feature film, “William’s Lullaby,” this time focusing on depression and grief and how it affects child-hood development. As an actor, Nicholas was awarded the Bancroft Theatre Guild Award for Acting Excellence for his 2008 portrayal of “Sparkle” in Judith Thompson’s gritty drama, Habitat. He has also toured Ontario with his one-man show, A Tribute to Jerry Lewis and in 2012 toured the Southern US in The Best of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Jamieson Child as Rupert Cadell

Jamieson Child

Jamieson Child


This is Jamieson Child’s first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio: Jamieson Child is an actor/ filmmaker/ playwright and graduate of Ryerson University’s Film Studies program. He has directed, co-written, and appeared in three shockingly funny shows created with his brother, one of which, Kill Sister Kill, premiered to startled reviews at the 2013 Toronto Fringe. Some past theatre credits include Cosi and You Are Here (Alumnae Theatre), and Orsino in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Ruckus Magazine). He is an original member of the New Drama Company (www.newdramacompany.com). This is Jamieson’s first experience on stage with Bygone Theatre. He is very pleased to join such great company for Rope. Enjoy the show.

Chelsey MacLean as Leila Arden

Chelsey MacLean

Chelsey MacLean

This is Chelsey MacLean’s first Bygone Theatre production, however, she worked with director Emily Dix back in 2007 on a play called Stalls.

 Bio: Chelsey MacLean is thrilled to make her Bygone Theatre debut in the role of Leila Arden. Past credits include Theatre Sheridan: Make-Up Artist in Merrily We Roll Along, Dance Ensemble/ Swing in Chicago, Bessie Bletcher in Colours in the Storm and ensemble in Oklahoma! The Singer’s Theatre: Mimi Maquez in Rent and Yvonne in Miss Saigon. Chelsey is a recent graduate of the Sheridan Music Theatre Performance Program and is grateful to her Sheridan family of faculty and friends.

Matthew McGrath as Kenneth Raglan

Matt McGrath

Matt McGrath

Producer Matt McGrath is thrilled to be acting in his first Bygone production!

Bio: Matt has been acting on stage for over a decade; for five years he performed in productions with the Youngest Shakespeare Company. He attended Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts for their drama program, and graduated from U of T with a degree in Cinema Studies and English.

Selected Stage Credits: “Excuse You” (Theatre On A Though/Toronto Fringe); “Young Frankenstein” (Alexander Showcase Theatre); “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” (Hart House Theatre); “Absolute Alice” (Stratford Factory Productions/Toronto Fringe); “Hairspray” (St. Michael’s College); “Pigeons In Love” (InspiraTO Festival); “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Victoria College Drama), “The Philadelphia” (Victoria College Drama).

Ian McGarrett as Dr. Kentley

Ian

Ian McGarrett

You may remember Ian McGarrett (by voice at least) from Bygone’s production of Dial M For Murder; he played Thompson and all the voices on the phone and radio.

Bio: It was my grandmother who instilled in me an interest in theatre. I can remember when I was seven or so, acting out improvised scenes with her based on bits from The Beverley Hillbillies in which she was Miss Hathaway and I was Mr. Drysdale. My grandmother was a schoolteacher and introduced me quite early to Shakespeare, reading from The Merchant of Venice, Portia’s speech about the quality of mercy and all that glisters etcetera. Although I maintained my interest in theatre and even did some volunteer work at the Tarragon and Factory Lab but owing to inordinate stage fright we have to skip fifty years before I first appeared on stage. Three words. “Sir. Yes, sir!” but for that I got to take a bow and I was hooked. I next auditioned for Nuts and got a callback, hoping to play the court’s security guard or maybe the stenographer, only to be surprised when the director asked me if I was okay with playing the District Attorney. That’s fairly well up to date, not much of a bio and all I can say is… still hooked.

Elizabeth Rose Morriss as Miss Kentley

Elizabeth Rose Morriss

You may remember Elizabeth Rose Morriss from our Retro Radio Hour. She also worked with director Emily Dix on the Newborn Theatre production of Noble Savages several years ago.

Bio: Elizabeth Rose Morriss has degrees in Music Theatre (Acadia University) and Education (Nipissing University). She has been involved with the Civic Light Opera Company since 1999, playing roles including Magnolia in Show Boat, Marsinah in Kismet, and Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes. Elizabeth has appeared in the Toronto Fringe Festival in Lord of the Rings: the Musical: the Musical (2007), SQUAT: A Super Secret, Back-Alley Musical (2013), and Group Therapy (2014). Other credits include the two-person comedy Romantic Fools at the Queen Elizabeth Dinner Theatre, Newborn Theatre’s 2012 Odds & Ends Festival at the Tarragon Theatre (with director Emily Dix), a recurring role as Mina in Dracula at Casa Loma, and Bygone Theatre’s 2013 Retro Radio Hour. Elizabeth is thrilled to be working with Bygone Theatre again!

Caitlin Robson as The Maid

Caitlin Robson

Caitlin Robson

This is Caitlin Robson’s first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio: Caitlin Robson is a Toronto-based emerging artist. Recent acting credits include Anna in Karenin’s Anna at Toronto Fringe (Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Production and outstanding Ensemble, NOW Magazine; Fringe Highlight, The Torontoist); Judith in Equivocation, Persephone Theatre (nominated for eight SAT awards) Caitlin is also an experienced drama instructor, and an independent director and producer. Thanks to her friends and family for all their love and support!

Production Crew
Emily Dix – Director

Emily Dix

Emily Dix

Our Artistic Director is going to be directing this production; she has directed all Bygone Theatre shows to date.

Bio: Emily is a founder member and the Artistic Director/Producer of Bygone Theatre. She has worked as an actor, director, stage manager and designer. In August of 2014 she traveled to New York with Promise Production to stage manage their production of “No Visible Scars” for the New York City International Fringe Festival. Emily is in charge of all of Bygone’s artistic decisions, as well as marketing and promotion.

​Selected Directing Credits: “Festival of Dance” (Hart House Theatre); “Dial M For Murder” (Bygone Theatre); “Festival of Dance” (assistant director, Hart House Theatre); “Revelation” (assistant director, New Ideas Festival, Alumnae Theatre); “Doubt: A Parable” (Bygone Theatre); “Plasterface” (Newborn Theatre); “Noble Savages” & “Children Don’t Cry” (Newborn Theatre, Odds & Ends Festival); “Pigeons In Love” & “Bucket” (InspiraTO Festival); “The Night of the Iguana” (assistant director, Hart House Theatre); “Hairspray” (St.Michael’s College); “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Victoria College Drama Society); “Stalls” (Sears Drama Festival); “Liars” (Sears Drama Festival).

Devon Potter – Stage Manager

Devon Potter

Devon Potter

Devon Potter is our stage manager for Rope; this is her first Bygone Theatre production.

Bio: Devon is a Toronto-based Stage Manager, Producer, theatre reviewer, writer and sometime performer who has been involved in theatre for the better part of two decades.  When not doing or reviewing a show, she spends her time watching Indie films and dreaming of life in Paris.  Selected credits include:  As Stage Manager:  Parade (StageWorks Toronto), South Pacific, My Fair Lady (Scarborough Music Theatre), Miss Caledonia (Lunkamud/Summerworks Theatre Festival), The Cat of Kensington (Cats in the Cradle/Toronto Fringe Festival FringeKids!), A Quest of Character (Kid-Safe Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival FringeKids!).  As Co-Producer:  Nine (Scarborough Music Theatre).  As Production Assistant:  The Canadian Premiere of Martin Crimp’s The City (Actors Repertory Company).

Leopold and Loeb – The Real-Life Case Behind “Rope”

The original “Thrill Killers” Leopold and Loeb were part of the “Crime of the Century” killing of Bobby Franks; the real-life inspiration for half a dozen books, movies, and plays, including Bygone’s next show, Rope. Here’s a quick rundown of the crime and notorious killers.

The Crime of the Century
Nathan Leopold und Richard Loeb

The murder was labeled the “crime of the century” by the press because it was so unusual, so unprecedented for its time; two young men, from well-to-do families planned and orchestrated the murder of an innocent young teen, purely for the thrill of it. These were not gang members, were not foreigners or minorities; they were wealthy, good looking and brilliant, and the public just could not reconcile the concept of these two young men being ruthless murderers.

It was Chicago 1924 when Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb decided to kill; there was no clear motive, although theories range from that of a sex-for-murder agreement to seeing the entire incident as a game. They had planned the majority of the crime for over six months, but it wasn’t until the day of the murder that the two selected the victim; 14 year old Bobby Franks. While he was chosen at random, Bobby was familiar to the boys whose family’s new each other; still, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The murder was fast and brutal; after luring Bobby into their car, one of the men attacked him from behind, delivering a fatal blow to the head. In an attempt to mislead police, they stripped the body naked and covered it in acid, hoping to disfigure the corpse that they left abandoned in a wooded area not far away. Despite months of careful planning, a relatively simple mistake lead to their capture; Leopold dropped his glasses at the crime scene, and as they were made with a particularly unusual style of hinge they were quickly traced back to the young man. In the brief time before their arrest, Leopold and Loeb had attempted to demand a ransom from Franks’ parents, but this too was done messily. For two young men certain of their brilliance and ability to commit the “perfect crime”, they made quite a few amateur mistakes.

Nathan Leopold

Nathan Leopold

Nathan Leopold – Born November 19, 1904

 

With a reported IQ of 210 , Nathan Leopold was an undisputed genius. Interested in ornithology, he was already making his name known in the field and had a bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately a combination of his love for Loeb and his dark interest in things like Friedrich Nietzsche‘s concept of supermen or the Übermenschen lead him down a twisted path to murder. He believed that “legal obligations did not apply to those who approached ‘the superman‘” and to him both he and his lover, Richard Loeb, fell into that category.

“Loeb’s friendship was necessary to me– terribly necessary”

When quested about his motive for the crime, the youth replied; “to the extent that I had one, was to please Dick”. In the case of Nathan Leopold, nothing was too horrid a task if it would please his beloved Richard.

Richard Loeb

Richard Loeb

Richard Loeb – Born June 11, 1905

 

While still exceptionally bright, Richard Loeb was not as intelligent as Nathan Leopold. Despite being the University of Michigan’s youngest graduate at the age of 17, he was often described with unflattering terms; “lazy”, unmotivated”, and “obsessed with crime”. All points suggest that he was the mastermind in the crime, and that he took advantage of Leopold’s love for him, manipulating the young man to act in a way he would never have done on his own. Loeb had committed numerous crimes in his youth, but none that involved injuring another human being; until the day he murder the innocent Bobby Franks.

Quotes from the psychiatrists (the called alienists) at the trial paint a picture of the man;

“It was Richard Loeb who was the ‘mastermind’. Nathan Leopold, the intellectual prodigy, was his virtual slave”

“Leopold is a victim of autoism, a type which centers and defies the ego. Loeb is a case of non-emotional psychosis.”

“They are a supreme case of ‘folie a deux’, or insanity of two. Leopold might have escaped all trouble had it not been for Loeb. Loeb would certainly have reached nearly the same end at which he is now”.

Clarence Darrow

Darrow_Seated_SS

The case quickly became less about the trial itself, and more about the defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, and his fight against the death penalty. For more information of the trial’s specifics, check out the Darrow Collection.

 

 

 

 

Inspired Works

Thrill-Me


A play inspired by the crime, Thrill Me

Various works have been inspired by the shocking true story of the Leopold and Loeb murder; Patrick Hamilton wrote Rope which was in turn adapted for a Hitchcock film of the same name, and which we are basing our production off of. There is also Thrill Me, a a musical more directly related to the case.

grangerrope5

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, based off the play by Patrick Hamilton

While the case was tragic and horrific, it goes to show that mankind has a fascination with the darkest parts of a human’s mind. To see our take on this concept, check out Rope at the Gibson House Museum this November.

Want to help produce the show? Check out our FWYC campaign to make a donation.

-E.

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.

SYNOPSIS:
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.

CHARACTERS:
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.

AUDITION PROCESS
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.

Crew Call! Bygone Theatre’s Next Production: “Rope”

It’s that time again! We are looking to put together our production team for our next major show, Rope. There will be a total of 7 performances held between November 21-29, 2014 (exact dates are still being confirmed) at the Gibson House Museum. We are looking for the following;

  1. Stage Manager:
    1. Do you love lists and schedules? Are you a master-multi-tasker? Do you have previous experience as a stage manager (or assistant stage manager on more than one occasion)? Then we want to hear from you. The SM will be in charge of organizing rehearsals, sending rehearsal reports, taking minutes at production meetings, hiring ASMs and calling the show. Expect to be at the majority of the rehearsals. Must be available for all show dates.
  2. Technical Designer:
    1. Are you a skilled technician with a flair for creativity? Are you comfortable working in a site-specific space that doesn’t include traditional sound and lighting equipment? Drop us a line. While there will likely be limited lighting design, we are looking for someone to help build a unique sound design. Ideally the designer will also be available to run the sound cues, but this may be flexible. Expect several meetings leading up to the show, as well as attendance at the dress and tech rehearsals.
  3. Promotions Assistants:
    1. Are you social media savvy? A marketing guru? Do you have a better understanding of Vine and Twitter than our AD does (chances are, most do)? Call us up. We are looking for people to assist with social media updates, blog posts, youtube videos and postering. Experience is not necessary, just a good understanding of the social media platforms.

Benefits:
Aside from working with the awesome people at Bygone Theatre, you will get a chance to work on a show that is being produced with the help of the City of Toronto; this means better publicity and a much farther reach than our previous shows. We cannot guarantee any pay at this point in the project, but we are hoping to raise enough funds to be able to provide all those involved with an honouraium. We are more than happy to help spread the word about any of your own projects and will write letters of recommendation if requested. For high school students looking to get their mandatory 40 hours of volunteer time, we can provide that for you, as well as serve as a teaching tool for those interested in getting involved in local theatre. This is a non-union performance.

If you are interested in being involved, send a cover letter and resume to Artistic Director Emily Dix at emily@bygonetheatre.com with the subject line, Rope Production Crew: (Position Applying For).

The application deadline is Monday September 1, 5:00pm.

Set Design Inspiration – Art Deco

Recently I did a blog post on set design inspiration in a Mid Century Modern style  and referenced our production of “Dial M For Murder” that was set in the mid 1950s. As we start to get ready for our next show, Patrick Hamilton’s “Rope”, written in 1929, I’ve been thinking about another major design trend; Art Deco.

The term Art Deco refers to a visual design period that originated in France after World War One. While it was still seen into the early 1940s, the style is most commonly associated with the 1920s and 30s. It featured bold, geometric patterns, rich colours, metallics, and modern Machine Age imagery. It is associated with modern glamour and mass production (which did not have the negative connotation then that it often does today).

Now for a recap – when starting to research a period’s design aesthetic, I start by looking at the following three elements:

  1. Silhouette: What sort of general styles and silhouettes were common, and where can we find those in both vintage and modern pieces?
  2. Colour: What colours were popular at the time? And in particular, what colour schemes would have been used then that are rarely used today?
  3. Accents: Are there any accent pieces (lamps, phones, statues, vases etc.) that are frequently associated with the decade?

They always say there are three things everyone wants when putting together a show; for it to be good, fast and cheap. The catch, of course, is that you can only ever have two of the three. For most of us in the theatre world, “cheap” is a necessity, and personally I always want “good” as well, which means I have to put a lot of time into researching and sourcing materials. If you want to have a great looking set, start early. Very early. And take your time looking around not only vintage stores (they can be pricey) but thrift stores, garage sales, and hell, even checking out what people throw out on garbage day. You know what they say, “one man’s trash…”.

Time to start the research bit:

Art Deco Palette: 1920s and 30s Colours:

Colour schemes of the Jazz Age were anything but subtle; while many pastels and secondary colours were in use they were often used as a background against bold, contrasting pieces. Sherwin Williams has a great section on authentic period colours that you can check out for some specifics. Purples and blues were very popular, as were accents of red or orange. Black trim alongside a tropical colour like peacock blue or a bright mint green was common.

Possibly more important than the colours were the patterns used on anything from walls to curtains to furniture. Intricate geometric patterns, often featuring shell or fan shapes adorned often multiple pieces in a Art Deco room. Tiled floors in black and white were also a common feature.

 

Of course, not all homes of the 1920s and 30s were complete examples of the Art Deco style, however, many had some features that can be associated with the look; in the photos below, you can see examples of minimal Art Deco features (like the tile work in the kitchen floors or on the bathroom wall) alongside rooms that are the epitome of the look (like the gorgeous bedroom and the circular interior entryway).

Art Deco Silhouette: 1920s and 30s Furniture

Art Deco furniture is about glamour and bold statements; each piece is like a work of art. Complex geometric designs alongside beautiful organic curves created a look of extravagance. Often different types of wood were mixed within one piece, creating interesting patterns and design, and mirrored furniture and metallics were all the rage.

Art Deco Vibe: 1920s and 30s Accent Pieces

Bronze sculptures are a staple of the Art Deco look. Gorgeous women (often either naked or wearing a flapper-style outfit) sometimes held a light, or simple stood there as a beautiful accent. Greyhounds were the “it” dog, and are often seen on anything from lamps to ashtrays.  Panthers were also a common sculptural subject. The lamps of the period were more about artistic beauty than practically shining light in the room.

Bygone’s Art Deco – How to Fake The Look Today

As we prepare for “Rope” I have started a pinterest board collecting some of my favourite examples of Art Deco; you can see it here, and I will update this once our set design begins.

For those of you trying to do this look before then, here are some tips on how to fake it and do it on the cheap:

Painting a Art Deco design on a simple tray

Painting a Art Deco design on a simple tray

 

Art Deco Tray: The simplest and easiest way to create a Deco piece is with paint. If you’re new to stenciling, try starting with something small, like a tray, and if that is successful you can move on to a larger piece like a dresser. HGTV has a great tutorial here to get you started.

 

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Moldings create architectural detail.

Art Deco Molding: If you’re doing a show with flats, try adding some architectural detail above doorways or windows. This can be done with wood or even cardboard. For a great tutorial on this look (one meant for the home, remember, cheaper materials could be used onstage), check out The Joy Of Moldings.

 

1980s Finds: Finally, as always, when setting a stage on the cheap, your local thrift shop is your best friend. The 1980s saw a revival of Art Deco style and so you may be able to come across some pieces on the cheap. Look for things with the right “bones” – changing the colour of a dresser or adding a throw pillow on a sofa is easy, but you don’t want to take on anything that doesn’t have your desired silhouette. If you don’t have a lot of money for set pieces, but want to make an impact, stenciling designs on the flats may be a good way to go.

Again, not everyone in the 1920s or 30’s had art Art Deco home – country styles were common in the 1920s, and during the Great Depression of course, homes were rarely decorated with anything new. So before you start to collect deco pieces for your set, make sure that it fits the show – this style is associated with the upper class, new money, “modern young things”. A great look but not for everyone.

-E.

 

 

Vintage Labels: Creating Authentic Props with Public Domain Images

When dressing a period set, one of the first problems you may encounter is how to have vintage items that don’t look old. While your show may be set in 1920, you of course don’t want a can of beans that looks like it has actually been around since the 20s – rusted, peeling label, dents etc. And of course, to buy a mint condition vintage item you’re likely looking at spending far too much. Still, the importance of period-specific props shouldn’t be overlooked, so here are some handy hints on creating your own authentic looking props:

grapenuts1

  1. Research The Food and Packaging Materials Used In The Period: Foods come in and out of fashion, just like anything else. Start off researching what was popular during your period: The Food Timeline is a great resource for this. They even have a section on popular brands advertised during the decade. From there, look up how your items were packaged; looking at a show in the 1920s or earlier? You’re not going to see plastic. Go for cans, glass bottle and boxes. War-time also had an effect on the materials used, and women were encouraged to make their own preserves. If you’re setting something during one of the World Wars, try have some homemade items on hand.
  2. Think About What Your Characters Would Use: A play about a bachelor doesn’t need a jar of baby food, and a family-centered drama may have more crowded cupboards than one about a single man. You can of course go much more in-depth with this; read though carefully to see if there’s any references to food and think about what types of things make sense for your show when you consider cultural and ethnic background, socioeconomic status, trends etc. This can be a fun exercise to do with your actors too. Sometimes the more details you think of (ie. my character loves pickles but can’t stand mustard) the more nuances you come up with.
  3. Use Authentic Vintage Labels: Finally, nothing will help make an authentic prop more than a real vintage label. See below for my list of favourite sites to score great graphics.

My Favourite Sites for Free Printable Labels: 4964821_orig

  1. The Old Design Shop:  Not only do they have a section on labels, they have just about every category you could think of if you’re looking for some general inspiration. Check out the Food & Drink section and you can see what kind of bottle or can you should affix your label to.
  2. The Graphics Fairy: Beautiful vintage labels and other graphics, many of them turn-of-the-century French. Not as many food labels, but there are beautiful stock images of things like vegetables, if you were interested in designing your own.
  3. The Candy Wrapper Museum: If you’re looking for some authentic candy wrappers, look no further! This well organized site has everything you could need from just about any time period. The only issue is they are scans of old (often crumpled) labels, so I would suggest using them as a guide and photoshopping them to clean them up a bit.

Of course, if you’re handy with photoshop, you can always google vintage labels and try to replicate one yourself. There are lots of free fonts and filigrees to help  you out, and that way you can customize your prop exactly how you want.

6a00d83451ccbc69e201a3fced05fe970bRelated Sites:
If you’re looking for vintage posters, say to decorate a store front or to put in a replica magazine or newspaper, check out Free Vintage Posters. They also have some great WWII ads.

Another good resource is Free Vintage Art, again, not for labels, but for some other beautiful, free vintage stock photos.

And finally, if you’re finding the whole concept of “public domain” a little daunting, check out Public Domain Treasure Hunter; they spell it out for you 🙂

 

For this post, I focused simply on creating canned and boxed goods, bu you can make things like cookies and sandwiches as well. Stay tuned for another post on authentic, non-packaged period foods.

-E.