A Note From Our Artistic Executive Director at the Start of Our 10th Season

On Saturday November 26, 2022, we opened our first production of our 10th season, The Birds, at Hart House Theatre. As my speech was somewhat improvised and a little scattered and emotional, I wanted to share a cleaner version of it now – there’s a reason I’m usually the one behind the camera/stage, and writing this out is sure to be a better way to ensure I share all I want to say.

As you likely know if you are reading this, my name is Emily Dix and I am the Artistic Executive Director of Bygone Theatre, a company I founded in October 2012 along with Matt McGrath and Tom Beattie. Both of them have since moved on, but I’m happy to say that many of the wonderful people I work with today have been with the company in some capacity or another for years, and I hope that continues to be the case. In 2015 we became a non-profit and formed our first Board of Directors: Elizabeth Stuart Morris was Chair, Leete Stetson was Vice Chair, Elizabeth Rose Morriss was Secretary and Conor Fitzgerald was Treasurer. While our Chair and Vice Chair were only with us for a season, Conor has gone on to become Bygone Chair and Elizabeth, who has worked with Bygone in various capacities since the very beginning, is still our Secretary. We have since added to our board Dr. Mark Terry as President, and Vinay Sagar as a member. This team has provided guidance and support in countless ways, and because of them we were able to become a registered charity in the summer of 2022. I would like to extend my thanks to all who have helped in the formation of this company – it isn’t as glamourous a role as some of the creatives, but it is essential, and we couldn’t do it without you.

Through the years Bygone has produced numerous one-night-only performances in addition to our mainstage shows. These include many “Finn and Friend” productions, staring the incomparable Tom Finn and his hilarious brother, Kevin Finn, as well as a series of retro game shows hosted by the one and only Bob Burnhart (aka actor and dialect coach, John Fleming). We have also produced over a dozen “Retro Radio Hour” shows that feature the talents of dozens of lovely singers and actors, both those who have been featured in mainstage shows and those who joined us for a one-off performance. These smaller performances still require a tremendous amount of talent, planning and work, and many have been mounted as fundraisers, meaning those involved have donated their time to help grow the company. To everyone who has been involved in one of these events of which there really are too many to count, thank you.

Our last major production was The Rear Window, performed at Theatre Passe Muraille back in March of 2019. It had been our biggest show to-date, and while a major financial risk, it was one that we felt we needed to take. The show was a success with great reviews and a total of 11 Broadway World Toronto nominations, four of which led to wins: Best Direction of an Equity Play – Emily Dix; Best Original Lighting Design – Wesley Babcock; Best Leading Actor – Tristan Claxton; and Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Kate McArthur. Unfortunately, what we had hoped would be a big jump forward in the growth of our company was quickly stalled in 2020, at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, we had to press pause, and went for over 2 years without producing a live show.

During our production hiatus, we shifted focus to develop the other aspects of our company. We always knew we wanted to work towards charitable status, and so we put all our time and effort into building our Sustainability and Diversity & Accessibility Mandates, and our education program. With the help of Dr.Mark Terry, we partnered with the Youth Climate Report, and became the first theatre company to publicly commit to following all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. When the YCR was awarded an honourable mention at the 2020 UN SDG Action Awards, we were given the opportunity to share a video that outlined our commitments. Since then, we have further narrowed and focused our mandate into three main areas: Mend & Make Do; Vintage Aesthetics, Not Values; and Indie Unite. We reaffirmed our commitment to accessibility, and committed to providing clearer breakdowns in all casting and production calls, highlighting specific skills, abilities, potential challenges and possible solutions. We majorly expanded our commitment to diversity, and instituted quantifiable goals such as reserving 50% of auditions slots for BIPOC performers, and providing free admission to all Bygone shows and events for anyone who identifies as being of Indigenous descent. We also provide free advertising space to Indigenous-led organizations, and are seeking funding to be able to hire an Indigenous artist as a consultant as we continue to expand this mandate.

In 2021, we were awarded the Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Award for Best Live Theatre, and were runner-up for NOW Magazine’s Best Small Theatre – if you like the work we do, voting is currently open for the Broadway World Toronto Awards, and while we did not produce anything last season we are nominated for Best Local Theatre in both the Professional and Non-Professional categories – you can cast your vote here.

With the help of a generous donation last season from Jane Aster Roe of Aster Roe Productions, we were able to start two new initiatives; a revival of our Retro Radio Hour series, now to be in podcast form; and the expansion of our Youth Production Assistant program. As with all of our new programs and initiatives, our top priority is with providing payment and support to artists, who have been disproportionately affected during the past few years of the pandemic. With that goal in mind, our first charitable campaign was the creation of our Artist Fund, which gave 100% of funds raised directly to our artists. It is our goal to re-fill this fund with the ticket sales from each show, as well as through fundraising campaigns, so that we can work towards always providing industry standard rates to all the artists we engage. This year, we raised over $12,000 which went directly to the cast of The Birds – thank you to everyone who donated, and if you would still like to give your support, donations can be made via our Canada Helps page.

Throughout the pandemic we provided a series of free webinars on topics ranging from producing to vintage design – these will become a regular part of our programming. This season, thanks to a major donation from IG Financial, we are launching a new program: Empower Your Tomorrow: Financial and Business Literacy for the Arts – stay tuned for details. We are also thrilled to be providing a series of workshops through our venue partnerships with Hart House Theatre.

Finally, this season will include two more mainstage productions: The Yellow Wallpaper, a mix of ambulatory theatre and digital projection being presented at Campbell House Museum, March 2023; and Wayne & Shuster, Live! which will bring Canadian comedy legends Wayne & Shuster back to the stage with the support of their children, Michael and Brian Wayne and Rosie Shuster, thanks to sponsorship from Alterna Savings and a venue partnership with Hart House Theatre, May 2023.

Now that we’re all caught up on the craziness that is the last few years, it’s time to say thanks to those who have helped create what is not only our first show of our 10th season, but the first back since our COVID-19 hiatus, AND our first show as a registered charity: The Birds.

First, to the staff of Hart House Theatre. To Doug Floyd, who took a chance on a small company and let us come into a space we simply could not have afforded on our own – thank you for the encouragement and support, and for giving us a chance to show what we can do. This literally wouldn’t be happening without you. To Gillian Lewis, who is actually the HHT Education & Production Coordinator, but who seems to do basically every job there is. Thank you for helping with everything from organizing workshops to finding props and for the constantly positive attitude and excellent hugs. To Brian Campbell for his guidance and support as we get used to being back in a theatre, and a union house at that – thank you for your patience. To Lindsey Middleton for all the last-minute help when my computer decided to die THE WEEK of opening – thank you for being on-the-ball, keeping a cool head, and finishing the program I should have had done 3 weeks prior. To Parker Nowlan, for being an absolute superstar. I don’t even know where to start. Parker has done everything from set building to programming the lights and has been there to save the day numerous times through this process (starting with emergency printing at our callbacks). Thank you for all your help, and most of all, for doing it with a smile and the patience of a saint. To Brendan (oh my god how do I not know your last name??), who programmed our sound and took my rambling, very non-technical notes and requests and made it all work – thank you for also being super patient, and for making last-minute adjustments more times than I’d like to count. And to all the front of house staff, the Hart House volunteers, and the cleaning staff who’ve dealt with our cluttered backstage – it takes a huge group of talented and dedicated people to run something like Hart House Theatre, and I am thankful to all of you.

Warning – this is where I may start to get sappy.

To our cast and crew, starting with our team of production assistants. Thank you to Ainsley Munro for late-night flat painting, to Sarah Allen who shadowed Wes and helped with odd set and prop tasks that ranged from dressing to running to Rotblotts for more tape. To Kiana Josette, who is working with us in various producing capacities and who took stunning production photos and all the pictures of our opening night gala. To assistant/apprentice director Julia Edda Pape, who attended nearly every rehearsal and provided great vision and insight, as well as helping in a variety of PA roles, and who was a part of the workshopping of the script. Thank you for being consistent, reliable, hardworking and talented – you are going to go far. To our ASM/Associate Producer Jane Aster Roe, who has worked with us in some capacity since 2016 – thank you for doing everything from raising funds to selling tickets, setting props and doing coffee runs – your willingness to do whatever needs to be done has been invaluable and is very much appreciated. To my mother, Karen Henderson, who sewed the lovely dress you see on Daphne at the top of the show and to Tegan Ridge, who came in last-minute with some hair & makeup suggestions – thank you. A major part of Bygone’s image is our historically accurate aesthetic, and that couldn’t have been achieved without you.

To Wes Babcock, our set designer who eventually came on as lighting designer as well, and had to work with tight deadlines and an even tighter budget – thank you for not only doing your job wonderfully well, but for helping with all the dozens of things that were decidedly not your job, like helping with sound cues and InDesign files – I know you weren’t the production manager, but you were definitely a production manager. More importantly than that, you’ve been an amazing friend, as you always have been, and I appreciate you lending an ear not only to my worries and questions about the show, but to my complaints about life in general. I’m so happy to have known Wes for many, many years, and hope to have him in my life for many more to come – I promise every time we will pay you more than the last.

To our wonderful stage manager, Kate McArthur, who is one of the most beautiful people I know. I am so proud of you and all your work on this, jumping into a role you hadn’t filled in years, you’ve done an amazing job and shown you really can do anything. Thank you for being a constant support in every way, you’re one of my closest friends and I could not have maintained my sanity this past month without you. I look forward to spending this entire year creating things with you.

To my fantastic cast – Anna Douglas, who I have not known for long, but who I could immediately see was the perfect Daphne. Anna approaches her work with a focus and dedication that is truly admirable, and while I rarely have time to point it out in rehearsals, I see new details and nuances every time she runs a scene, and those are noticed and appreciated. Her commitment to the show and determination to make it a success has been clear since day one. Thank you, Anna, for the attention-to-detail, thoughtfulness and thoroughness in all that you do.

To Alex Clay, another one of my closest friends, and someone who I have been lucky to work with several times before. Alex read the very earliest versions of this script and has been a sounding board throughout the entire process. Thank you for the lunch-time phone calls to go over ideas, and for coming to each rehearsal focused and ready and full of incredibly lame jokes that always make me laugh. I’m so happy to see you in a role that allows you to show such range, and excited for everyone to see what a talented and capable actor you are. I’m so happy to have you in my life.

To Oliver Georgiou, who I knew was “Mitch” about 5 seconds into his audition. Oliver is wonderful onstage and off – not only is he a talented and engaging actor, he is a thoughtful and supportive team member who has done everything from running warm-ups to bringing me allergy medicine the day after I complained about a dusty theatre. Oliver’s additions to the script have been essential, and the ending is what it is thanks to him. Thank you for supporting and elevating all my ideas, and for being a great listener and a wonderful person to be around.

To Kiera Publicover, who is one of the most wonderfully laid-back actors I’ve ever had a chance to work with, thank you for being a constantly positive and calming presence – much needed in a show as intense as this. Kiera took what could have easily been a small, two-dimensional part and built it into a fully-formed, engaging and endearing character that is exciting to watch. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you go on to do. Thank you as well for your assistance with editing the Land Acknowledgement, and for the suggestions of Indigenous organizations to support.

To Chad Allen, who I had worked with briefly before years ago when he swooped in last minute to save the day by playing several small roles in His Girl Friday. Chad is a true pro, and has excellent taste in coffee. Thank you for always bringing focus and dedication to all you do, and for being such a positive and guiding presence in rehearsals – I look up to you, and not just because you’re a giant and an “old man”. Chad has also taken a small role and turned it into a character worthy of a spin-off. Thank you for always going above and beyond.

Last, but certainly not least, to Conor Fitzgerald, Bygone’s Chair, my fellow Producer, and my partner in every aspect of life. Thank you for creating business plans and spreadsheets, for driving ridiculously far away for obscure auction pick-ups, for keeping me supplied in Diet Coke, and for supporting me during every stage and mood and thing. It sounds so cheesy to say he is my other half, but it really is true, and I could not do any of the things I do without him.

To all who have helped Bygone become what it is today, and to all who have supported The Birds in anyway, thank you. I hope you enjoy our show and our season, and all the big things to come.

  • Emily Dix
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The Birds Are Here!

Thank you to everyone who made our opening night a success – you can see The Birds onstage at Hart House Theatre from now until December 10, 2022. Visit Hart House Theatre or Bygone Theatre for tickets and more information.

Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels and Alex Clay as her brother David Harper. Photo by Kiana Josette.
“It isn’t for me, David, it’s for you!”. Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels and Alex Clay as David Harper.
Oliver Georgiou as Mitch Brenner.
Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels.
Kiera Publicover as Annie Hawthorne and Oliver Georgiou as Mitch Brenner.
Chad Allen as Hank and Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels.

Our First Ever Charitable Campaign

Bygone Theatre is now a registered charity, and our first ever campaign is promising 100% of funds raised directly to artists.

Bygone Theatre’s last show was in 2019. Throughout the pandemic, we pressed pause on producing live theatre so that we could develop our company and strengthen our values, preparing to come back bigger and better than ever.

We developed a diversity & accessibility mandate to promote equity. We committed to the United Nations SDG Action Plan to ensure we are contributing to a sustainable world. And we became a registered charity to ensure that we had the structures in place to grow and support our community.

Now, as we prepare for our next season, we are looking for your help to create a sustainable Fund that will allow us to guarantee our artists fair wages all season long.

Over the past ten years, we have created outstanding theatre working with phenomenal actors who joined our productions in a profit-share format. We were voted Toronto’s Best Live Theatre (Toronto Star Readers’ Choice, 2021), were runner-up for NOW Magazine’s Best Small Theatre (2021), and our last production, The Rear Window, was nominated for 10 Broadway World Toronto awards, and won 4: we have done a lot with a little. This fund will allow us to hire our actors at Equity DOT rates – whether they are union members or not.

We are a small company – we have no operational funding and no salaries, the majority of our admin and production work is done by our Artistic Executive Director and Chair; we have learned over 10 years how to generate marketing, press, and create fantastic scenic design for cents on the dollar. But now it’s time to move into the next chapter, and we want to put artists first.

$25,000 will allow us to commit to industry standard rates all season – we will commit to reinvesting the profits of every show to top up this fund and provide fair wages for every show after.

In this way, you will help not just Artists today, but those we engage with on future productions.

Donations can be made directly through our Canada Helps page.

Thank you for your time and support.

  • The Bygone Theatre Team

Bygone Theatre’s Youth Production Assistant Program 

Now looking for high school students to join our Youth Production Assistant (YPA) program!

Bygone Theatre is excited to announce our newly expanded Youth Production Assistant (YPA) program. Since 2012, we have welcomed high school students to volunteer on productions, giving them the chance to gain hands-on experience while they earn their mandatory 40 volunteer hours. This year, thanks to sponsorship by Jane Aster Roe (an artist and former YPA), we have expanded this program into a fully-fledged training position which includes assessments, a certificate of completion, and a $400 honourarium to help offset travel costs or time taken away from other jobs or commitments. It is our hope that this training program will give students the chance to see what a career in the arts entails before they make the commitment of attending a post-secondary program or jumping into the workforce. We offer a supportive, encouraging environment which highlights the students interests and needs to create a position that is truly custom-tailored to them. 

This season we will be selecting 2 students for our YPA program. Those who are not selected will still have the ability to volunteer on the production if they so choose. 

Past participants have done things like: 

  • Design and build a key prop piece for a show 
  • Build and paint scenic flats 
  • Learn how to run the tech booth and call the show 
  • Learn how to create props and help track them through a show 
  • Attend rehearsals and shadow the director 
  • Create social media content 
  • Work backstage as an assistant stage manager 
  • Run the concessions or assist with front of house duties 
  • Learn how to create a stage manager’s prompt book 
  • Learn how to build a budget in excel, and how to track finances 

If there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t on that list, let us know! 

Requirements: 

  • Must be enrolled in high school in Ontario (preferably the GTA) 
  • Must be able to attend some rehearsals or events in Toronto (note: depending on the student’s interests, a large portion of this may be able to be completed remotely, however ability to attend some in-person sessions is required) 
  • Must be triple vaccinated against COVID-19 (this is a requirement for all of our cast and crew this season) 
  • Must be passionate about theatre and be considering pursuing a career in the arts  
  • Enthusiastic and willing and learn! 

Assets: 

  • Strong English language skills 
  • Experience in theatre production 
  • Experience using social media for marketing and promotion 
  • Strong organizational skills 
  • Creativity  

In addition to being interested in the typical theatre things (acting, directing, set design etc.) those with the following interests may find this position rewarding: 

  • Visual arts 
  • Fashion 
  • Hair and Makeup 
  • Writing 
  • Business or Management 
  • Mathematics 
  • Construction 
  • Graphic Design 
  • Social Media 
  • Video Production 
  • Crafts 
  • Teaching 

This position will be highly tailored towards the participants interests and skills, so applicants should be honest in their cover letter about what they can bring to the position and what they hope to learn – in-experience is not a drawback! The purpose of this program is to give students hands-on training in a supportive environment and to help them prepare for further training or a potential career in the arts. Students will be taught a wide range of things like how to create a prompt book, call a show, sell and market a show, direction techniques and more, but their own interests and abilities will be what focus the majority of their participation.  A series of short pass/fail assessments will be given to ensure the student has gained or advanced their skills, and they will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program. 

Diversity and Accessibility 

Bygone Theatre encourages students of all backgrounds, skills and experience to apply: the number one thing we are looking for is someone with an interest they want to pursue. Bygone is run by English-speaking artists, and so the ability to communicate in English is required, however, ESL students are encouraged to apply as we prioritize finding tasks that benefit all involved and many roles will not rely heavily on English language skills. Bygone Theatre prioritizes the selection of marginalized artists, and encourages those who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+ and Mad/Disabled to apply: feel free to share in your cover letter any ways in which you identify, though this is completely optional. To learn more about our commitments to diversity and accessibility, visit our website, bygonetheatre.com/diversity-accessibility. If you will require us to provide any assistive devices for your participation, please let us know in your application.   

We understand that marginalized people sometimes feel as though systemic barriers, or those specific to their identity will prevent them from participating in programs such as these. We highly encourage all those who have an interest to apply, and if there is a concern you have that you worry may disqualify you, please let us know. We are very open to adapting and finding solutions to ensure participation. 

How To Apply: 

Send a 1-page cover letter, resume, and the contact information for 1-2 references to emily@bygonetheatre.com. Your cover letter should focus on what you hope to gain from the program and what areas you are most interested in. Your resume can highlight experience and skills – don’t worry if it’s not robust, listing things like volunteer positions, personality traits (eg. Positive, focused) and any programs you know how to use (from Excel to TikTok!) is all helpful. References should be able to comment on your general attitude and commitment towards projects – teachers, coaches or bosses are appropriate, parents or friends are not. Please be sure to give a brief explanation as to what the relationship is and provide an email and phone number. 

Slots for the YPA are limited due to our limited funding, however volunteer positions are always available. Those who are not selected for the YPA may still choose to volunteer for their mandatory 40 volunteer hours required to graduate. 

DEADLINE IS FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 16, 2022 at 5:00PM. 

Will You Be A Booster?

Will you be a booster for Wayne & Shuster?

Will you be a booster for Wayne & Shuster? Bygone is looking for people who want to share their fond memories of the men or their work. If you have something you’d like to share, email us at info@bygonetheatre.com. We’ll be doing a series of short interviews to be posted on our social media channels, and possibly our future documentary. Please share the word!

Careers in the Arts Workshop

Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This workshop, geared towards high school students & recent grads, will show you the way. Oct 23, 2-4pm, $20.

Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This workshop, geared towards high school students & recent grads, will show you the way. Oct 23, 2-4pm, $20.

WHAT: Careers in the Arts Workshop

WHEN: Saturday October 23, 2-4pm ET

WHERE: Online

HOW MUCH: $20 CAD (payable via PayPal or e-transfer)

WHAT’S NEEDED: Access to a computer with a steady internet connection, a computer with a working speaker and either a microphone or the ability to type.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Interested in working in the arts, but don’t know where to start? This unique workshop will provide students with a realistic view into the arts world, guiding them through a host of career paths and the steps to follow to get there. Bygone Artistic Executive Director Emily Dix will cover topics such as;

  • Post-secondary programs here and abroad
  • Skill building without formal education
  • Unconventional arts related careers
  • How to network in the arts
  • How to build a resume or portfolio, and more.

WHO IT’S FOR: This course has been designed for Ontario senior high school students but is appropriate for recent graduates as well. Best suited for those living in the GTA. Recommended for people aged 17-20, however there is no age cut-off.

ACCESSIBILITY: Auto-captioning is provided through the program, however it is not always the most accurate. If this is something you’d require, please reach out at info@bygonetheatre.com and we will do our best to accommodate. Program is delivered in English and is best suited to fluent English speakers. Financial assistance is available for those who require it – email info@bygonetheatre.com for more details.

WHO’S RUNNING IT: Taught by Emily Dix and Conor Fitzgerald.

Crew Spotlight: Larry Silverberg

Larry Silverberg is one of the producers of Twas The Cab Before Christmas.

What made you want to be involved in the cabaret?

I want to be involved because I love to support the incredible TALENT we have in this show. They MUST be seen.

What’s your favourite part of the holiday season?

The great spirit of the Christmas season. Family, spirituality, songs and Entertainment.

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

Too many to name one. Some of the most beautiful, sensitive songs have been written for Christmas.

Why should everyone come see the show?

Everyone should see this show because of the great talent that will be showcased , fun, entertaining and particularly Tom Finn. Who is one of the Great Entertainers of Our Time…. so much wonderful Stage Presence and skill

Tickets are already 50% sold out – get yours now, here.

Cast Spotlight: Vince Deiulis

Vince Deiulis is the feature of today’s Cast Spotlight, come see him perform onstage December 1, 2017 in ‘Twas the Cab Before Christmas.

Bio: Vince Deiulis has trained with some of Canada’s brightest theatre talents including: Gil Garratt, Hume Baugh, Maja Ardal and Anna Chatterton. Recent credits include: Nerve (Shining Star Theatrical Co.), Blue Remembered Hills (Good Old Neon), It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (The LOT), Out in the Open, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (To Be Determined Theatre Co.). Vince is also a volunteer puppeteer with The Concerned Kids Charity of Toronto.

What made you want to be involved in the cabaret?

Tom asked… and who can say no to that face?

What’s your favourite part of the holiday season?

Mulled wine and shortbread cookies.

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

Any Christmas song that is Dubstep remixed.

Why should everyone come see the show?

You won’t see anything like it. In Toronto or on this planet.

Anything else we should know?

You can follow Vince on Twitter: @VinceDeiulis and Insta: vinnie_edwardo

Bygone Theatre Rentals – Appliances

Rent vintage appliances for your film, photoshoot, or play. Check out Bygone Theatre for pricing & details.

Bygone Theatre has finally gotten our  storage space sorted, which means we are ready to start renting out some of our great vintage pieces! Take a look at some of our larger items here; all prices listed are before HST. Please note that we are able to negotiate payment structures, and that discounts are available when renting multiple items at once. Email us at info@bygonetheatre.com with any questions, or to place an order; we require a minimum of 3 days notice for all prop rentals.

  1. Vintage Fridge: used in Wait Until Dark, gorgeous late 50s/early 60s white fridge with dusty rose interior. Inside latch has been modified to make for easier opening. Rental Price: $75.00/wk

2. Vintage Stove: used in Wait Until Dark, charming late 1940s white stove with oven.
Rental Price: $75.00/wk

3. Vintage 1950s Ringer Washer: used in Wait Until Dark, white General Electric washing machine with wringer, mid-50s, excellent condition.
Rental Price: $75.00/wk

Bygone Theatre - 1950s Wringer Washer Rental

4. Vintage 1950s Red Mini Fridge: Late 1940s/1950s, bright red mini fridge with chrome handle. Great for a photoshoot, or for a cafe/soda shop look.
Rental Price: $75/week

Bygone Theatre Red Mini Fridge

Stay tuned for much more, including vintage office supplies, props & costumes.