In this final episode of Stageworthy, host Phil Rickaby talks with theatre and opera director, playwright and educator, Peter Hinton-Davis. In addition to his work work as a director, playwright, and educator, from 2005-2012, he took over as the artistic director of English theatre at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, shaping how Canada conceptualizes its national theatre. He is currently directing Coal Mine Theatre’s Dion, running until March 3 at Toronto’s Coal Mine Theatre.
Stay tuned to the end of the episode for some thoughts from Phil Rickaby on the ending of Stageworthy.
Director, dramaturg and playwright Peter Hinton-Davis has worked across Canada with many theatre companies. He has been the Associate Artistic Director at Theatre Passe Muraille and the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto, Artistic Director of the Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver, the Dramaturg in Residence at Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal, and Artistic Associate of the Stratford Festival. From 2005 to 2012 he was Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre English theatre, where he created a resident English theatre company, with actors from across the country, and programmed the NAC’s first season of Canadian plays.
His own plays for the stage include Façade, Urban Voodoo (written with Jim Millan) and a trilogy of three full length plays entitled The Swanne — George III: The Death of Cupid (2002), Princess Charlotte: The Acts of Venus (2003), and Queen Victoria: The Seduction of Nemesis (2004). Eleven years in the making, all three plays premiered under his direction at the Stratford Festival. In 2006, he co-created with Domini Blythe, and directed the solo work, Fanny Kemble, about the life of the famous British actress and abolitionist.
In this episode, Shifting Ground Collective founding members, Joshua Kilimnick, Shannon Murtagh, and Colette Richardson join me to unpack the story behind their latest production, “Merrily We Roll Along.” Their journey reflects not just the highs and lows of the creative process, but also the resilience and enthusiasm needed to bring a classic Stephen Sondheim musical to Canadian audiences, all while nurturing new talents and weathering the storms of the pandemic.
They also discuss the reality of running an indie theater company, balancing day jobs with their artistic aspirations. From the excitement of pub nights where show tunes reign supreme to the challenges of staging ambitious productions, they reveal the collective spirit that powers their endeavours. They also discuss a new musical in development, “Statistics,” a production intertwining the personal and the historical, where academic pressure meets the remarkable story of Rosalind Franklin.
Founded in the spring of 2022, Shifting Ground Collective is Toronto’s newest home for emerging musical theatre voices. Their work spans developmental processes for new Canadian musicals, concert and cabaret programming, and full-scale productions of beloved musical theatre favourites – all with a focus on spotlighting the next-generation of great Canadian musical theatre talent. Shifting Ground has quickly developed a following and network that has positioned them to shape the future of the Canadian musical theatre sector, and was named one of the top 10 Breakthrough Artists of 2023 by the Toronto Star.
Steven Mayoff (he/him) was born in Montreal, lived in Toronto for 17 years and moved to Prince Edward Island in 2001. His fiction and poetry have appeared in literary journals across Canada, the U. S. and abroad. His books include the story collection Fatted Calf Blues (Turnstone Press, 2009), the novel Our Lady of Steerage (Bunim & Bannigan, 2015), the poetry chapbook Leonard’s Flat (Grey Borders Books, 2018) and the poetry collection Swinging Between Water and Stone (Guernica Editions, 2019) and the novel The Island Gospel According to Samson Grief (Radiant Press, 2023). As a lyricist, he has collaborated with composer Ted Dykstra for many years. Their musical reimagining of Euripides tragedy, The Bacchae, entitled Dion a Rock Opera, will receive its world premiere at the Coal Mine Theatre in February 2024.
This week, as we count down the final episode of Stageworthy, host Phil Rickaby talks with the passionate Emilio Vieira, who takes on the role of Palamon in Shakespeare BASH’d unique production of “Two Noble Kinsmen.” Together, we explore the thrills and challenges of performing one of the Bard’s less frequently staged plays. Emilio reveals the intricacies of making Shakespeare’s language resonate with contemporary audiences and discusses the emotional highs and lows his character endures in this tale of honour and forbidden desire.
Embark on a behind-the-scenes journey with me as we examine the craft of adapting Shakespeare for today’s audiences. We contrast the festival stage’s grandeur with the intimacy of smaller productions and dissect the professional growth that comes from long-term engagement with Shakespearean drama. Moreover, the conversation turns to survival—both of the actor during an arduous theatre season and the creative spirit during the pandemic. We shed light on the birth of the SuddenSpark Collective and its aspirations, offering an inspiring look at the resilience and creativity of theatre professionals in unprecedented times.
Emilio Vieira is an actor/ creator currently working on Shakespeare BASH’d’s Two Noble Kinsmen, playing at the Theatre Centre from January 25 to Feb 4, 2024. Emilio is about to embark on his 7th season with the Stratford Festival playing Antonio in Twelfth Night, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet and Richard Dazzle in London Assurance. Other credits include: Richard II, Grand Magic, Richard III, The Miser, Coriolanus, The Tempest, Napoli Milionaria!, Tartuffe, Macbeth, All My Sons, Bunny (Stratford Festival); The Three Musketeers (RMTC); Towards Youth: a play on Radical Hope (Crow’s Theatre); Tartuffe, Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Titus Andronicus (Canadian Stage); february: a love story (Sudden Spark Collective/Globus Theatre); Cymbeline (Shakespeare BASH’d). Emilio has appeared on HBO’s Titans and some indie projects you haven’t seen. He continues to voraciously audition for film and television without much success. During the pandemic, Emilio, and his creative collaborator Ellen Denny launched Sudden Spark Collective, a company aimed at producing heartwarming stories as soup for the pandemic soul. Their two projects, february: a love story, and Above Ground Floor had successful digital debuts with great acclaim. Both went on to stream with Stratfest@Home, garnering international attention and meriting them an interview with Tom Power on CBC’s Q. Emilio is a proud graduate of York University’s Acting Conservatory and studied under the direction of Martha Henry and Stephen Ouimette at the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre.
In this episode, Phil Rickaby talks with the outstanding Deborah Drakeford and unpacking the Canadian premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith’s “Rockabye.” From the first costume fitting that sets the stage for character metamorphosis to the electric anticipation of performing an original rock anthem, this episode is a tribute to the craft. The camaraderie within the Actors Repertory Company, nurtured by director Rob Kempson is palpable as Deborah recounts the collective effort in breathing life into “Rockabye.” This is a toast to the ensemble’s magic and her own evolution as resident artist and co-artistic producer with ARC.
The conversation also turns to the resilience of actors amid the pandemic, sharing her own tussle with COVID-19 that brought unexpected twists to a production in Sudbury. The episode wraps with a heartwarming glimpse into the enduring marriage Deborah and her husband Oliver Dennis, as they juggle the scales of professional ambition with the weight of family life. Their story is a masterclass in harmony, a dance of mutual support and understanding that keeps the show going, long after the applause fades.
Deborah Drakeford is a proud member of ARC, having been a Resident Artist for the past 18 years. Deb assumed the role of Co-Artistic Producer of ARC in July 2020. She has performed in many ARC shows, including A Kind of Alaska, The City, Bea, Moment, Pomona, Human Animals, Oil, Gloria, Martyr and upcoming, Rockabye.
Deb has been lucky enough to work across Canada from BC to PEI.
Other fun credits include Redbone Coonhound (Tarragon Theatre), Doubt (BNE Productions), Shirley Valentine (Thousand Islands Playhouse and Capitol Theatre), The Penelopiad and The Importance of Being Earnest (Grand Theatre), Portia’s Julius Caesar (Shakespeare in the Ruff), Innocence Lost, Great Expectations, Waiting for the Parade and A Christmas Carol (among others) (Soulpepper), Hedda Noir (Theatre Northwest) Rabbit Hole, Same Time Last Year and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Sudbury Theatre Centre). Deb has been Dora nominated 11 times (individual and ensemble).
She has also done tv, film, and voice, most recently appearing in HBO’s Station Eleven and recording the audiobook The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields.
Deb holds a BEd and teaches for YPT, Soulpepper and for the TDSB. She makes her home in Toronto with her lovely husband, actor Oliver Dennis, and their two amazing kids, Charlotte and Philip.
After careful consideration, I have made the difficult decision to end Stageworthy after episode 400. Before I get into the why, I want to take a moment to celebrate the fact that by the time I hit 400 episodes, over the eight years of the podcast, I will have spoken to 859 Canadian theatre artists (give or take some repeat guests), sometimes one on one, sometimes in groups, but that’s an impressive number of people (if I do say so myself).
When I started Stageworthy in 2016, I was inspired by theatre podcasts I had heard that covered the US theatre scene, and I wasn’t seeing much of that in Canada. There was also the sad fact that there wasn’t a lot of theatre coverage here, and Canadian theatre artists rarely got to be interviewed in any media. My goal with Stageworthy was to elevate the voices of Canadian theatre makers, to give theatre lovers a chance to hear from the artists they see on stage, and to help the artists get heard by their fellow creators across Canada. I wanted to share the talented artists we have in this country with the country.
I made a commitment when I started to put out an episode every week. And with the exception of a couple of times when I put the podcast on hiatus, I did that, as challenging as it sometimes was. And by February 13th, I will have done it four hundred times.
So why am I choosing to stop now? There are several reasons. For one thing, I’m tired. Eight years is a long time, and four hundred episodes is a lot. All while balancing a demanding full time job, my own writing and performing, as well as a personal life. I wanted Stageworthy to be as low impact as possible, so I rarely edit the conversations, and just tag on an intro and an outro. But even with that, there’s the time finding guests, booking the time with them, and doing the interview. That’s still a lot of time that I’m not getting paid for. And, while I am putting this effort into Stageworthy, I’m cutting into the time I could be spending working on my own projects. Also, over the eight years of doing the podcast, I was never able to fully cover the costs of the podcast, let alone pay myself for my time. And I can’t keep doing that.
There are things I did want to do with Stageworthy. I would love to have been able to explore theatre scenes across the country: to actually go and experience theatre around Canada, and talk to as many of the people who make it as I can. I thought of doing a series on the history of theatre in Canada, a look back to understand the present. There were other ideas too. But each of my ideas for special episodes or projects would take more time than I can give, and would require more money to do well.
So, I’m going to say goodbye to Stageworthy so that I can concentrate on my own creative work. I have loved getting to meet all the artists I have interviewed. Every one of them is an incredible artist, and I encourage you to go into the past episodes and get to know an artist whose name you don’t know. The archive will remain on the Stageworthy website, and on all the platforms you currently listen on.
Perhaps there will be an opportunity to do something with Stageworthy later on. Perhaps a pop-up podcast now and then. But this is the end of Stageworthy as a regular podcast.
If you have been a listener of Stageworthy, whether a regular listener or an occasional one, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It has been my genuine pleasure to present this podcast. Thank you for listening. And to each and every one of my guests, thank you for making the podcast something worth listening to.
To kick off 2024, Stageworthy host Phil Rickaby convenes a round table discussion of Fringe Festival performers. The months of November and December are when a lot of the festivals on the Canadian Fringe circuit hold their lotteries, and so a lot of performers are planning out their summer touring schedules. In this round table discussion, Phil is joined by Keith Brown, Jess Gorman, Tim Murphy, Sarah Ivanco, Kendall Savage, Georgia Findlay, and Evan Bawtinheimer. These performers share the shows that they will be bringing to Fringe festivals this summer, seasoned touring artists share secrets and tips with artists newer to Fringe touring, and everyone talks frankly about the trials and triumphs of the Fringe experience, spotlighting the excitement and nerves that accompany taking a show on the road. From the logistics of coordinating tours between Montreal and Ottawa to the strategic planning necessary for North America’s largest fringe in Edmonton, our guests reveal the behind-the-scenes efforts that fuel their passion for performance. So, whether you’re a theatre enthusiast or an aspiring artist, this episode offers a front-row seat to the dreams, doubts, and determination that shape the exhilarating world of Fringe Festivals.
What does it take to script an audio drama that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats? What goes into creating compelling characters and casting the perfect voice actors? Join us as we unravel these fascinating aspects of audio drama with our guests Kevin Shea and Jill Harper, creators of the successful project, Feedback. They share with us not just their creative process and the challenges they face, but also their dislikes and likes about traditional radio dramas.
Have you ever wondered how the world of customer service operates or what causes customer rage? We’re diving into these topics too, unearthing the tactics deployed by call centers to hinder customer goals and sharing personal anecdotes about our own experiences. Plus, we’ll be talking about our audio drama project, from its inception in a humble basement to a full-fledged production. Our conversation with Kevin and Jill continues as they share their journey of creating the character Akbar and the nuances of casting for an audio drama.
Finally, we delve into our guests’ personal journeys and their love for theatre and filmmaking. Kevin and Jill share their childhood experiences that shaped their passion for storytelling and discuss the role of imagination in their work. They reflect on making audiences laugh and the joy that brings them. If you’ve ever been curious about the world of audio dramas or the joy of creating something that truly engages and entertains – this episode is for you. Tune in and take a peek behind the scenes of this exciting medium.
Kevin Shea wrote the fiction podcast “Feedback: a comedy of impeccable service,” the experimental play “Consumption Patterns,” and, with Wade Bogert-O’Brien and Scott Christian, the musicals “Hero & Leander,” “A Misfortune,” and “Teresa.” He is Editor-in-Chief of The Kevin, which publishes sporadic essays on arts and culture.
Jill Harper is an award-winning theatre director and dramaturg, and the co-founder of Cue6 Theatre. Selected directing credits: Cue6 Theatre’s “Dry Land” (Globe and Mail’s Top 10 Theatre shows of 2018); “pool (no water)” (Dora Awards for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Performance – Ensemble); and “Byhalia, Mississippi” (as a part of a 7 city World Premiere Conversation); “Detroit” (Coal Mine Theatre) “White Heat” (English Theatre Berlin); “Consumption Patterns” (Next Stage Theatre Festival); “Meet Cute” (Roseneath Theatre) – Dora nomination for Outstanding Direction; “Hazardous Materials” (Equity Library Theatre Chicago); In fall 2023 Jill and Cue6 released the narrative podcast “Feedback” by Kevin Shea which reached #5 on Apple podcasts’ Fiction podcasts chart
In this episode, host Phil Rickaby, talks with Sex T-Rex member, Lowen Morrow. Together, we explore everything from the dynamic theatre scene in Canada to the origins of D&D live shows, the joys and challenges of self-promotion in the entertainment industry, and much more.
Lowen gives us insight into Sex T-Rex’s hit show Swordplay, discussing its physical comedy and evolution over time. Later, we explore the origins of D&D live. Also in the discussion we explore the evolving role of gender identity in their performances, and hear their thoughts on working in a theatre troupe over a long period of time, and how that can be like being part of a family, with all that that entails
Don’t miss out on the latter part of the episode where we discuss the fascinating world of puppetry and producing in the film and TV industry. It’s a jam-packed episode you wouldn’t want to miss!
Lowen Morrow is a trans masculine theatre and filmmaker, physical comedian, actor, improviser, and puppeteer based in Toronto. They are a core member of comedy company Sex T-Rex: winners of over two dozen awards including 2x Just for Laughs’ Best Comedy and Second City’s Outstanding Comedy awards. Lowen has toured Canada, the US and parts of China with Mermaid Theatre and was awarded the Honourary My Theatre Award for excellence in puppetry. Recently they played the titular character in Tarragon Theatre’s Orphan Song, workshopped a new production of Pinocchio with Bad New Days, and were featured in Featured Creatures’ upcoming film, Dead Lover set to debut next year. Currently they are producing and performing in Swordplay a play of Swords with Sex T-Rex and directing an improvised show for young audiences with Bad Dog Theatre called Captain Galactic as part of Bad Dog’s Comedy on Queen Festival. Coming up they will be co-producing and curating Blockbuster Week- an improvised comedy festival with Bad Dog Theatre and are about to enter pre-production for their short film, Mothballs.
Get ready for a holiday treat! This week, host Phil Rickaby chats with Katie Kerr and Matthew Stodolak, as they share the behind-the-scenes details of their new holiday musical, “Chris, Mrs.”, a delightful fusion of elements from The Santa Clause and The Sound of Music. We also discuss their unique musical backgrounds and how their differences complement each other perfectly in creating a heartwarming musical experience.
Venture with us as we examine the journey of creating a new Christmas musical in the era of COVID. We highlight the importance of human connection and family traditions during the holiday season and how the pandemic inspired the focus of our musical. Discover how the limited number of original Christmas musicals opened up an opportunity for us to contribute to new holiday traditions. We also share our personal experiences with theatre and Christmas, including our sources of inspiration for the songs in the musical.
The final part of our conversation provides insights into the business side of theatre production, which is often overlooked. Our guests share their experiences with fundraising, balancing creativity with business, and the challenges they faced along the way. We also talk about their collaborative journey in adapting the novel “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” into a musical, highlighting the importance of audience engagement and maintaining the dramatic force of the show. Tune in for a captivating look into the creative and business aspects of theatre production, and get ready to be swept away by the holiday spirit!
Katie Kerr is the Program Manager for the inaugural season of The Nation Centre of New Musicals at Theatre Aquarius. She is also a producer of Boldly Productions. Her professional theatre career spans over a decade, performing in theatres from coast to coast. Theatre credits include: 8 seasons at the Charlottetown Festival, The Grand, Drayton Entertainment, Theatre Aquarius, and Western Canada Theatre. From staples like Anne of Green Gables to new works like Come From Away, Katie continues to make her mark on Canadian music theatre with the world premiere of Chris, Mrs. She has her degree from Sheridan College and has been active as a writer and director for years.
As a musician, Matthew Stodolak has been active as the Music Director at Canada’s Wonderland and a keyboard player for a number of productions at Drayton Entertainment and Theatre Aquarius. He is a Producer at Boldly Productions, and the Founder Boldly Media marketing agency. Prior to this he was the Digital Marketing Manager of the Toronto Star and currently is a Professor of Marketing at Seneca College. He holds a Masters of Teaching from the University of Toronto and Bachelor of Music from McMaster University. He currently sits on the University of Toronto Alumni Association Board of Directors.