Valentine’s Day Gifts for Theatre Lovers

Standard

Valentine’s day is just around the corner & I suspect many of you are scrambling to pull together something better for your loved one than the cliched flowers & chocolate. While I see lists for things like “Valentine’s Day Gifts for Geeks” or “Sports Lovers”, “Food Lovers”, us theatre folk are sometimes neglected this time of year. But while it may not pop up in the trending section on Buzzfeed, it’s certainly worth a list in my books, because really, what lends itself better to romance than theatre? Here are a few of my personal suggestions for Valentine’s gifts for the theatre lover in your life:

  1. Tickets to a Play:
    Ok, so this one is kind of a no-brainer, but it needs to be on the list because, for non-theatre folk, it may at first seem like too expensive a gift. While you can pay hundreds of dollars to see a big Broadway-type show at Mirvish, for a fraction of the price there are dozens of brilliant small stage productions in the city. Look up Toronto favourites like The Storefront Theatre to get an eclectic mix of shows from groups like Theatre Brouhaha and Red One Theatre. For musicals, The Lower Ossington (LOT), First Act Productions and many University groups often have a good sampling. Why not make it a theatre weekend? For the price of a pair of tickets to something like Book of Mormon you could instead hit up four or five local shows. Yes, it may be riskier than a big budget show, but you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. And at the very least you will get a chance to support some local artists and see what’s going on in the Toronto theatre scene.
  2. A Collection of Romantic Plays:
    What’s sweeter than a book of plays that says “I love you” in a beautiful, poetic way? Whether you go for some contemporary musicals (maybe throw in the soundtrack as well?) or scour vintage stores & Etsy for a hardcover Shakespeare, this is a gift that can be kept for a lifetime. Wanna get extra sappy? Pull some quotes from the book to put in a card, or leave a note for your special someone on a particularly romantic page.
    il_340x270.704826730_raw2
  3. A Vintage Theatre Poster:
    If you’re ever looking for a stunning poster to brighten up your walls, your first search should be for vintage theatre posters. From the intricate designs of the 1910s & 20s, to the bold, minimalistic 50s and 60s, there really is a design to match anyone’s style and taste. Check out Ebay or Etsy to get a vintage copy, or just hit up a local framing shop and you can likely nab a cheap print. Give it to them framed, for extra brownie points.
  4. Theatre Inspired T-Shirts:
    I’ll admit, I was surprised at just how many of these I could find. From shirts made up for major Broadway shows, to more obscure prints done by fellow theatre buffs, there’s really quite a range. If you know someone’s favourite show, try searching it first, otherwise, you can’t really go wrong with a classic musical or Shakespearean quote.
  5. Theatre Inspired Socks:
    What, socks aren’t romantic? Ok, maybe not to everyone, but as someone who, a.) always has freezing cold feet & b.) has made a point of wearing colourful or patterned socks her entire life (when you’ve had to wear a uniform for most of your jobs, you look for little ways like that to rebel), a cool pair is something to be cherished. Plus, look at these things! At the very least you’ll get points for creativity.
  6. Theatre Inspired Jewellery:
    From references that only fans will get (quick – what does the “24601” on that necklace mean?) to simpler statements like “theatre geek”, there is a VAST array of jewellery available for the theatre fan in your life. If you’ve got a musical lover for a beau, try a custom charm bracelet that features the Playbills of all the shows they’ve seen. (give up? It’s from Les Mis).
  7. Theatre Decor:
    Does your theatre lover have a home or a room to decorate? Then pillows, blankets, knick knacks and more can be added to your list. Rather than getting a cheap souvenir from a show, why not go all out and get a funky pillow, or even devote an entire bedspread to a favourite show. If you want something a little less intense, try a keepsake box for tickets or playbills.
  8. A Musical Theatre Scorebook:
    If your special someone is musically inclined, then a score book can be especially fun. While it may be easy to download movies & music online, the same can rarely be said for sheet music. I would recommend the Singers Musical Theatre Anthology Collection; they’ve got tons of songs & come with accompaniment cds. Tip: make sure you know their singing range before buying, if you’re getting a book for a vocalist. Unlike the scores for an entire show, they tend to be grouped as being for altos, or sopranos, etc.
  9. Theatre Classes:
    For actors and theatre production workers alike, there are a remarkable lot of classes and courses available in the city and surrounding areas. I’ve taken millinery & prop food courses from Off The Wall in Stratford, and our here places like The Social Capital Theatre offer various types of improv classes. Depending on the time of year you may find some really cool workshops as well, so I’d suggest hitting up google and seeing what catches your eye.10425384_987580231271930_1545698752391215054_n

    10. A Theatre Themed Night:
    If you have a particular show you know your lover likes, why not set up a night that revolves all around it? Start off with food inspired by the show; love Cabaret? eat all German dishes. A fan of Wicked? Sip some green cocktails. You get the idea. Then, nerd out while watching a filmed version (or live if you can!) and singing along; look up the lyrics beforehand if you have to. You can go as far with this as your imagination & pocketbook can take you, and whatever you do, putting in the effort to have a night all about something that your partner loves, whether it’s your sort of thing or not, is going to be one of the sweetest things you can do. After all, it really is the thought that counts.

 

Got any ideas you think are missing from this list? Give me a shout! Let’s help our fellow theatre folk out.

-E.

Advertisement

My 2014 – Looking Back at a Crazy Theatre-Packed Year

Standard

It’s been a busy year, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing people. 2014 started off with me pumped to get more involved with new theatre groups and it certainly happened. Here’s a brief look back at my theatre-packed 2014.

Madeline Robin Known As Roxane

In February of 2014 I stage managed the Theatre Double Take production of Madeline Robin Known As Roxane. I got to work with my buddy Leete Stetson (who has been in every Bygone Theatre production so far) and his girlfriend, writer/director Grace Smith. I was reunited with Alex Simpson, an actress who I’d met through a Newborn Theatre festival a while back and got to work with Tennille Read who I had seen perform in a Soup Can Theatre show; it’s a small world, and it’s great when you see those with talent and commitment continuing to get work. The show was a new experience for me as it was in-the-round, had a bizarre set and I was running sound & lights as the SM. I learned how to work a new lighting program and got to know Anthony Neary, a great SFX artist from Ottawa. In a very short time I met a lot of people and learned a lot of new things.

1902859_817089691651527_1412917793_n

Tennille Read & Alex Simpson

261746_815908531769643_720748280_n

Tennille Read & Alex Simpson

UofT Festival of Dance

For the third year in a row, I was involved in the Festival of Dance (FOD) at Hart House Theatre. This time I was the Artistic Director and I started up the Festival of Dance Executive Council. I worked on the show and its related workshops throughout the year, and the performance in March was a huge success; great performances and sold-out shows. I made a ton of connections in the dance community, and it was fun to be directing something that wasn’t my usual theatre, plot-driven type show.

1797369_381087865363051_1340544635_nMillinery Course at Stratford Off The Wall

In July I took my second Off The Wall course. Having enjoyed the Faux Food one I took with Deb Erb in 2013, my mother & I decided to sign up for a millinery course. We learned how to make a buckram hat and I improved my sewing skills.

DSCF1636

The start of my buckram hat.

 

The millinery class with their completed buckram hats.

The millinery class with their completed buckram hats.

New York International Fringe Festival

In July I was hired as the stage manager for the Promise Productions show No Visible Scars. After a few rehearsals and a preview performance we took the show to the New York International Fringe Festival, and had the opportunity to stay in the city for nearly a month.

I won’t talk about the show itself, because frankly there was nothing positive that came from it aside from the fact that I learned it is important to get legal contracts done up in writing, and to get to know who you’re working for before you commit to living with them. However, the experience in NYC was still a great one, and I met some amazing people while there.

My ASM Astrid Atherly & technical director Craig Nelson were both a joy to work with, and tons of fun for site-seeing; the same can be said for actress Tea Nguyen.

We saw A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway and I was ecstatic to meet the cast after the show and get some great pics. I met the talented team behind His Majesty the Baby and saw one of my all-time favourite fringe shows. Got to know comedian Xavier Toby¬† who is brilliant onstage and off and saw the phenomenal musical King of Kong which starred Amber Ruffin (who is now making a name for herself on Late Night With Seth Myer) and Lauren Van Kurin; both ladies are extremely talented and were just a joy to talk to. Love meeting people who are both talented AND nice!

Got to know the city, a bit, and did some shopping. After only 3 weeks it felt like home. Can’t wait to go back.

Poculi Ludique Societas

In September I was hired as a Production Assistant for Poculi Ludique Societas (PLS) the Medieval & Renaissance drama group at UofT. I’ve gotten to dig through the jam-packed costume room (LOVE it) and help out with marketing as well as costuming. I still can’t believe I get paid to do this.

9748_803321019710768_343411291827305845_n

Retro Radio Hour – Suspense!

DSC_0577In October we produced our third radio show, Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! We used the cast of our mainstage show, Rope and performed the one-night fundraiser at the SoCap. It was great to see everyone looking all dolled up and playing some funny bits; a nice break from the heavy drama of Rope.

Rope

In November Bygone produced their 3rd mainstage production; Rope. I had wanted to direct the show since 2012, and the work that went into this one spanned about a year. I directed, produced, did all the marketing, the costume design, the props; pretty much everything you can think of. It was an insane amount of work but deeply gratifying, and with a brilliant cast and on-the-ball SM we pulled off a great show that not only sold out nearly every performance, but one that got great reviews as well. Even better than that, I met some folks that I know will stick around and who I can’t wait to work with again. One in particular has proven to be a great friend, and I am currently working on producing a show that he has written (details to come in the new year).

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

The Social Capital Theatre

In December I found myself back at the SoCap/Social Capital Theatre where we had performed Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! I am now working as their PR Manager, promoting the stand-up/improv/sketch comedy shows the bar produces weekly.

logo-socap

Another sign of how small a world it is? One of the managers, Carmine Lucarelli, was in Sundance a show that I did the costumes for back in 2012. I had learned about the gig through Matt McGrath (my fellow Bygone producer) who had acted in a show with Two Wolves producer Jesse Watts that year. Through that production I met Carmine as well as Alexis Budd (who later did the fight direction for Dial M For Murder, and who I acted alongside with in the Hart House production of Romeo and Juliet) and Geoff Kolomayz (who has been involved in our Retro Radio Hour series). It really is who you know. But it’s not about meeting the people at the top at Mirvish or Soulpepper, it’s about making great connections, friends, with the talented folks who are doing exactly what you are; starting off taking any work they can get, and pushing themselves to always do bigger & better things.

On top of all this, I graduated university, my boyfriend and I got engaged, bought a house in Brampton, bought a car, two budgies & bunny. We took a trip to Punta Cana and started planning for a wedding. Honestly, when I first sat down to write this I thought, I didn’t do that much this year, then I got scanning my calendar and thought, holy crap, how DID I do all this this year? That’s the amazing thing about working in something you love – it never feels like work. So while my calendar has been packed full the last 12 months I wouldn’t want it any other way, and I look forward to heaping even more on my plate in 2015, to spending more time with the incredible friends I’ve made this year and to making more in the year to come.

-E.