Friends of Bygone – UC Follies

Bygone Theatre has a lot of close ties with the UC Follies; they co-produced our first production, “Doubt: A Parable” back in January 2013, and were a sponsor for our most recent production, “Dial M For Murder“. Deborah Lim, director of their current production, “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” also assisted backstage on “Dial M”. Here we ask her a few questions about her show:
 
51fc1baa5a5caCaesarWhat is your role with the UC Follies and “Julius Caesar”?
I’m working as the artistic director of UC Follies this year and I’m directing Julius Caesar.
 
Give us the UC Follies history – how and why did it get started?
The UC Follies is University College’s student-driven theatre troupe, entertaining University of Toronto’s St. George campus community for over 100 years with one simple goal: to provide an inclusive space for students to bring their talents outside of the classroom, and onto the stage. The UC Follies began its summer season in 2011 to provide opportunities for students who wanted to participate during the summer.
 
Give us a quick run-down of “Julius Caesar”
One of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar tells the story surrounding Caesar’s rise and fall. Taking modern ideas and applying them to the classic story, UCFollies is proud to present a dark re-telling of the beloved story of Julius Caesar.
 
What has been your favourite part of working on “Julius Caesar”?
My favourite part of this process has been working with such a talented and committed team. I’ve been working on this play for over a year as an abstract concept inside my head. But to have a cast and creative team who is able to take my ideas and run with them is truly rewarding.
 
Any fun rehearsal/performance stories or anecdotes you’d like to share?
We had a part in the play that involved a play parachute that we had to eventually cut out, but one rehearsal during our break, like children on a playground, we played the parachute games and all hid under the (not very large) parachute. It was a fun return to childhood.
 
Where and when can everyone see the show?
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar runs September 13, 14, 19-21 at 7:30pm in the UC Quad (15 King’s College Circle; centre of the building, west entrance). Tickets are $10 general, $8 students/seniors.
 
Anything else we should know?
For more information, visit UCFollies.org
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Friends of Bygone – Photographer Danielle Son

One of the most valuable friends a theatre company can have is a good photographer! So much time, money, and effort goes into a show, but by it’s nature theatre’s fleeting; every performance is different, and can never be perfectly recreated. And when the run is over, all that is left are some photos to keep the memory alive, which is why we’re so happy to have the talented Danielle Son working with us once again so that our show can be preserved and remembered!

Danielle first worked with us in January 2013 on “Doubt: A Parable”, taking phenomenal pictures like this:

Anne Shepher as Sister Aloysius and Jordan Gray as Father Flynn, 2

Anne Shepherd and Jordan Gray in “Doubt: A Parable” – photo by Danielle Son

When we did our fundraiser in May, “Retro Radio Hour”, Danielle stopped by to get some great live event photos like this one:

Rebecca Russell and Leete Stetson in "Retro Radio Hour" - photo by Danielle Son

Rebecca Russell and Leete Stetson in “Retro Radio Hour” – photo by Danielle Son

Yesterday she swung by rehearsal and snatched some amazing photos like this chilling shot from the “Dial M For Murder” fight scene:

Rebekah and Jason Manella in rehearsal for "Dial M For Murder" - photo by Danielle Son

Rebekah and Jason Manella in rehearsal for “Dial M For Murder” – photo by Danielle Son

You can check out all her “Dial M for Murder” rehearsal stills here on our facebook page.

And be sure to check out her website for some of her other work!

Dial M For Murder – Crew Spotlight – Jayden Hsueh

Jayden has previously worked with Bygone Theatre as one of the altar boys in “Doubt: A Parable”, and assisted with front of house at our “Retro Radio Hour” fundraiser. He is stage managing “Dial M For Murder” and also assisting with set design.

Stage Manager Jayden Hsueh.

Stage Manager Jayden Hsueh.

Bio: Jayden graduated from the University of Waterloo and is currently pursuing a Master of Science at the University of Toronto.  During the last year, Jayden has been involved with the UC Follies as a head builder and was cast in Bygone’s production of “Doubt: as a choir boy.  After working with so many fantastic individuals, Jayden is excited to work on another show with Bygone Theatre.

Dial M For Murder – Crew Spotlight – Michael Bazzocchi

Michael has worked with Director Emily Dix before, but this is his first time working with Bygone Theatre. Michael is one of our set designers for “Dial M For Murder”.

Set Designer Michael Bazzocchi.

Set Designer Michael Bazzocchi.

Bio: Michael Bazzocchi has been designing sets for international competition and theatre for the past five years. He is beginning a Masters of Applied Science in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Toronto, having just completed an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering (BASc in Eng.Sci) at U of T. Most recently, Michael’s set design for a cloud factory received 1st Place at the Destination Imagination Global Finals competition for its unique incorporation of mechanical movement and bubbles into a 16ft tall semi-trapezium dome. Michael has experience designing sets for a variety of architectural and theatrical styles including large artistic set pieces in the Victorian, Gothic, Greek and Seussical styles.  He particularly enjoys enhancing dramatic performances through the innovative incorporation of mechanical components into his set designs. In his spare time Michael also enjoys doing community service. Michael is the current President and one of the founding members of the Trek for Teens Foundation for homeless youth. Michael is very excited to be involved in Bygone Theatre’s production of Dial M for Murder and looks forward to working with the cast and production team to develop a very entertaining and professional show.

Dial M For Murder – Crew Spotlight – Matt McGrath

Matthew McGrath is one of the Producers for “Dial M For Murder” and is a founding member of Bygone Theatre. He produced “Doubt: A Parable” and performed in “Retro Radio Hour”.

Producer Matt McGrath

Producer Matt McGrath

Bio:

Matt Mcgrath has been acting on stage for over a decade. 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 Thought/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).

1. How did you get started with Producing?
I started a company and gave myself a fancy sounding title.

2. What is your favourite part of the creative process?
Watching the actors grow into their characters.

3. What are some challenges you face working as a Producer?
Finding a boat load of money so we can put on the best show we possibly can.

4. Any advice for other people looking to pursue Producing?
Find several wealthy benefactors asap.

5. What are you most excited for in regards to “Dial M For Murder”?
Getting to see a talented group of actors perform in front of a beautiful set at the lovely Robert Gill Theatre. Don’t get much better than that.

Dial M For Murder – Crew Spotlight – Jackie McClelland

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

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

1. How did you get started with set design?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rehearsal Process – Retro Radio Hour

Every show brings its own challenges, and with the plays collected for our upcoming Retro Radio Hour I encountered some that were new to me.

When working on larger scale shows like Doubt, Hairspray or Arsenic and Old Lace, I often found I didn’t have time to do all I wanted to do. Character exercises were neglected, and warm-ups abandoned in favour of instead focusing on blocking, or a specific moment that was troublesome to an actor. I had hundreds of ideas that had to be narrowed down to dozens, and even then rarely explored fully. The biggest creative challenge was knowing when to not bring up something that might have lead to an interesting discussion, simply because we needed to focus our energy elsewhere.

This wasn’t quite the same for some of the smaller one acts, like Plasterface, Pigeons In Love or Bucket. Here, timing seemed more important than character because everything was just a snippet of a larger picture, tiny vignettes that were sometimes more visually interesting than thought-provoking. Here we spent significant time discussing what we wanted to come across, and then working to find ways to make that read onstage, in simple, clear terms. It may sound less creative, but it was actually a very helpful process, and something I keep in mind now when working on larger projects as well – it’s all well and good to have grand ideas and intention, but the audience needs to understand where that’s all coming from too.

Other short plays like Noble Savages and Children Don’t Cry provided different challenges, like simply understanding what the hell the writer intended. We spent countless rehearsals just talking about possible scenarios, and in the end decided we need to just pick one and stick to it. Thankfully, it worked.

But now, working on 5 very different scripts at once (not to mention rehearsing the songs, worrying about schedules, marketing the show and trying to keep costs down so we can actually PROFIT from this – a rare thing in theatre) I have problems I’ve never faced before. The main one being, how do I get across to my actors the sound and style I’m looking for, without simply making them mimic?

I’ve tried very hard in the last couple years to eliminate “do this” from my directing vocabulary. While it’s sometimes very hard to step back and watch someone do something one way, when you know (or so you think) they’d be better if they’d “just do it more like this”, I’ve found that ultimately, letting my actors find things themselves makes for much happier people and much better results. I’ve tried to keep all my directing to asking questions (even if they are rather pointed, like, “are you thinking of something right now? or just trying to look like you’re thinking of something?”, you know who you are :-P) and suggesting scenarios, often playing devil’s advocate for the sake of conversation. However, in this limited time frame, and with scripts that are little more than soap operas (funny ones, it’s true, but still simplistic), I’ve found I need a new method of directing.

At first, I felt a little useless at rehearsals; as there was no real character work being done (aside from deciding on the kind of voice someone would be doing), I didn’t have much to contribute past, “good job” or “we need to tighten that up”. As someone who likes to really get into the text I found that rather frustrating. However, as time has gone on, I’ve found it’s actually really interesting to watch a group of people collectively form a play. By taking a step back as a director, my actors, more than ever, were left to explore things on their own. While this is something I always encourage, here the tight time frame meant that there wasn’t any real discussion about it, they just each adjusted themselves slightly with each reading. What’s really amazing is, they seem to all sense the same thing, and each one gets better, and moves more towards the same unified piece on their own, without even discussing it! While it may minimize my role, it’s been great to see confirmed the thing I’ve suspected for a few years now; the best thing I can do as a director is to cast amazing actors and let them do their thing. My shows have turned out great because my actors are always great, and I can’t wait to watch them rock these shows again, come May 11.

~E.D.