Here at Intermission we strongly believe that providing a platform for theatre artists to elaborate on the ideas behind the work they are making is important to establish a dialogue with current and potential audience members.
This March we entered our fourth year, so we’re revisiting some of the work that has most spoken to our readers and our community. While we wait for theatres to open again, we hope you can find enjoyment in the work our contributors have made over the years.
#30 The Understudy by Carly Street
First published February 8, 2017.
“Every working actor on Broadway nods conspiratorially when you say you’re “covering” for another actor on Broadway—usually a famous one. They know that 1) you’ve got bills to pay, 2) you need the weeks to gain your health insurance through Actors’ Equity, or 3) you’re actually interested in the play and the artists involved.”
#29 What I’ll Never Forget by Anita Majumdar
First published October 6, 2017.
“Here’s something you should know about me: my long-term memory is insanely good. When it comes to things that have happened or things people have said to me, I remember everything.”
#28 But What Is a Female Hero Myth? by Chala Hunter
First published November 10, 2016.
““Okay, if you flip all the genders of the characters in the play, now do you see how it’s a hero myth?” A flashbulb starts to go off in slow time behind their eyes. It rapidly accelerates into a sigh or exclamation, signalling the deep satisfaction that comes from understanding. From recognition.”
#27 MS Won’t Stop Me From Dancing by Patricia Allison
First published September 29, 2017.
“I have always been ambitious. From a young age, I pursued every new adventure, every twist and turn in my career, with a full heart. When I made up my mind to do something, I barrelled forward. I prided myself on being physically strong, overly eager, and passionately driven in my work.
And then, in April, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.”
#26 Kate Sandeson. This is You. Everybody Look at Her. by Fab Filippo
First published July 18, 2016.
“As far as I’m concerned, Kate, you were on stage with me and I want everyone to know it. And what’s more is I know you’re going to hate it.”
#25 7 Memorable Directions From Past Directors by Nora McLellan
First published February 10, 2017.
“Nothing could prepare me for my theatre debut: La bohème, eight years old, the Vancouver Opera. We had been told to sweep back at the end of act two, as a two-ton curtain was to fall down very quickly. I remember the moment: the audience (about two thousand people), the huge cast, an enormous orchestra. I was so entranced by the excitement of being there. There were loud sounds, bright lights, and colourful costumes… And everyone was sweeping back, everyone except me.”
#24 Remember to Breathe by Rae Ellen Bodie
First published September 6, 2016.
“Despite the fact that I had gleefully signed up to do an MFA in Acting as well as a diploma in Voice & Speech, in that moment I wanted to run screaming out of the studio, never to return. It was that or kick the shit out of something.”
#23 I’m Talking About You by Adam Lazarus
First published August 4, 2016.
“How many of you have had an affair or cheated on your partners? Spread an STI? Swore at your kid? Hit your kid? Punched a wall in front of your kid?
I don’t need to know what your little secrets are. I know you have them. We all have secrets.”
#22 The Greatest Showmance by Steffi DiDomenicantonio
First published August 1, 2019.
“Hi, my name is Steffi and I’m a showmanceaholic (Hi, Steffi.)
I live my life mostly addiction and vice free. I’ve never smoked, I don’t drink much, I don’t do drugs (except for that one time in college I ate too many pot cookies) and I’m naturally a caffeinated person so I have no use for coffee. The only thing I’m addicted to is falling in love with my co-stars. The showmance has been the personal epidemic of my love life.”
#21 Creative Appropriation by Holger Syme
First published April 13, 2017.
“For the past two weeks, I have been observing Ravi Jain and his ensemble rehearse Hamlet. The room looks and sounds like Toronto: more women than men, a wide spectrum of skin tones and accents—and even languages, since Horatio is played by a deaf actor communicating in ASL. Hamlet is played by a woman, Ophelia by a man. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by women, Claudius by a man, Gertrude by a woman. Diversity here is a given, not a matter for debate.”
#19 Spotlight: Ravi Jain by May Antaki
First published August 28, 2016.
““I’m really lucky,” Ravi Jain says often in the hour we spend together at the Theatre Centre on Queen Street West, cooped up in the green room. But spending just sixty minutes with the respected theatre actor, director, and producer, it’s clear his success is about so much more than luck.”
#18 Spotlight: Weyni Mengesha by Bahia Watson
First published May 12, 2017.
“The kitchen is filled with empty glasses and half-full bottles and loose voices and women who don’t live there keeping it tidy, keeping it moving. Suddenly, the music cuts out and drumming begins. A crew of percussionists enter the dance floor and a circle of space forms in front of them. A brown-skinned woman in all yellow, with curls tossed atop her head like a pile of clipped roses, answers their call. She enters the ring, shoulders pulsing, knees bent, hips living in the belly of the beat. She smiles and it’s immediately obvious: she’s really pretty. Then she laughs at herself shyly and disappears back into the crowd. The dance floor swallows the drummers, bodies glistening, spirit caught. The woman in yellow is Weyni Mengesha. This is her house, and inside it, the people are free.”
#17 Spotlight: Tom Rooney by Christine Horne
First published September 7, 2017.
“I was awkward and nervous around him, and I found it difficult to make eye contact for a good while. But given the roles we were playing—he was Trigorin, the successful writer, and I was Nina, the budding actress who falls disastrously in love with him—I think my discomfort was probably useful. Once I got over my initial starstruckedness, however, playing opposite him was a bona fide dream. “You’re my favourite,” I remember telling him after our opening performance. “Like, ever.” And that continues to be true.”
#16 It’s Time to Talk About Mental Health by Anusree Roy
First published April 7, 2017.
“Little Pretty and The Exceptional is a play set in Toronto that examines the life of a father and his two daughters. As the play unfolds, we realize that one of them is in the depths of a mental health crisis. It’s not a play about schizophrenia, because that’s ineffective to me. It’s about the human element. What is schizophrenia to a family? Who are we in a really troubling circumstance? Who do we become when we are faced with things that are bigger than we can comprehend?”
#15 Actor Training in Canada: An Appeal for Change by Christine Brubaker and Jennifer Wigmore
First published June 19, 2018.
“In the wake of #MeToo and #TimesUp, harassment has become daily headline news, and we find ourselves in uncharted waters. Allegations of misconduct and abuse of power in the entertainment industry, and more specifically in theatre schools, have put focus on the need for seismic change. Power dynamics are shifting, making this an opportune moment to examine the environment in which we train actors.”
#14 “How Old Are You?” An Age-Old Question of No Importance by Bahia Watson
First published July 11, 2016.
“My mother never told me her age. She never really wore makeup either. One day, while rifling through her cool 80s earrings, I accidentally caught a glimpse of her driver’s license and immediately proceeded to blink my eyes, shake my head, and pretend it didn’t happen. After all the years of wondering, I was surprised to learn that I didn’t actually want to know. That I liked not knowing better. That not knowing was actually more fun.”
#13 Spotlight: Jon Kaplan by Allegra Fulton
First published March 17, 2017.
“In the early 1980s, I returned to Toronto after time working in New York and Europe, and a brief stint out west. NOW Magazine had just burst onto the scene, doing a kind of Village Voice thing, and a certain Jon Kaplan was their theatre critic. He saw me in a show called Slow Dance on the Killing Ground and gave me a very nice mention. That was how Jon first came into my life.”
#12 The Dissection of a Mad Black Actress by Rachel Mutombo
First published April 26, 2017.
“I am Black and I am exhausted. Exhausted of feeling like an inconvenience for casting. Exhausted of being treated like an exotic animal in a zoo. I applied to theatre school to train as an actor and yet every day feels more like training to be a civil rights activist.”
#11 She Cries by Lauren Holfeuer
First published March 3, 2017.
“I get a lot of satisfaction from crossing stage directions out of my script. I used to be too scared to do this because I worried I was being unfaithful to the playwright or the story. Now I have a big black marker and no problem using it on the page.
But it’s not just any stage direction I’m crossing out; it’s a very specific one.
I take my marker and go searching for the ever-dreaded and seemingly inevitable stage direction SHE CRIES.”
#10 Spotlight: Krystin Pellerin by Richard Ouzounian
First published June 2, 2016.
“Lady Macbeth tears into a plate of shockingly rare meat and a goblet of blood red wine.
To tell the truth, it’s just a rather demure bunless hamburger and a small glass of Pinot Noir, being consumed in a deserted Stratford pub on a chilly late spring evening. But Krystin Pellerin approaches everything in her life with such intense vitality that it seems like just the kind of meal the haunted Scottish noblewoman would have downed before sending Duncan off to his death.”
#9 The Problem With “The Show Must Go On” by Nathan Carroll
First published May 11, 2018.
“It’s cold in Winnipeg in February.
The sun is streaming in through the window, it’s just past noon, and I’m on the phone with a counsellor from the Crisis Response Centre. I’m sobbing so hard that it’s a struggle to form sentences. Doing my best to steady my voice, I try to communicate what I’m feeling to the stranger on the other side of the line: that my anxiety is so overwhelming I don’t want to exist, that every waking moment is consumed by guilt and panic, that I don’t want to be me anymore. I don’t know what she can say or do that other people haven’t already tried, but this phone call feels like one of my last options.”
#8 Telling the Story of the Murder Trial that Changed the Country by Maija Kappler
First published May 17, 2018.
“Lynne Harper was a middle child: she had one older brother and one younger. She was small for her age. She was born in New Brunswick, but because her father was in the Air Force, she moved around the country a lot. In 1959, when she was twelve, Harper lived on an Air Force base in Clinton, Ontario, a small town near London. She made lots of friends there—she was an energetic kid, a quality that led some people, looking back later, to describe her as a live wire. Others called her bossy. She was a Girl Guide, and she liked playing baseball. She had crushes on boys in her class and was occasionally self-conscious about a scar on her face from a childhood accident. Sometimes she argued with her parents.”
#7 Female Kings by Mikaela Davies
First published September 15, 2016.
“When I first heard about Breath of Kings at Stratford, an adapted six-hour epic of four of Shakespeare’s history plays, I looked up all the female roles and asked to audition for Lady Percy. Not surprisingly, the part was already booked, but I was offered an audition for Katharine the Princess of France. My French was in unusually good shape having recently spent hours on the phone arguing with the Quebec government tax department, and I got the job. I knew this would be an ambitious ensemble project with actors wearing multiple hats, but what I did not anticipate was that the female actors would also be playing male roles. Out of the fourteen parts I was assigned, six were male, including Katharine’s brother, the Dauphin.”
#6 Spotlight: Kim Coates by Tony Nappo
First published February 14, 2018.
“Kim Coates is not afraid of failure. In fact, from the outside, it would seem that failure is afraid of him. At the very least, it seems to respectfully avoid him. But the boy who has done Saskatoon so proud can’t help but taunt failure every now and again just to keep things interesting.”
#5 Naked Men on Naked Stages by Jesse LaVercombe
First published May 12, 2016.
“I’m going to be performing in Salvatore Antonio’s newest play, S h e e t s, at Videofag, and, along with the rest of the cast, I’m going to be naked.
To be clear, I’m not worried about the size of my dick.
I’m not. It’s fine; it’s normal.
I’m at least 60 percent sure it’s normal and fine.”
#4 $5 or $75, That Is the Question by Owais Lightwala
First published July 20, 2017.
“What stories we tell, who gets to tell them, and for whom. These are the questions we’ve asked at Why Not Theatre for the past ten years. In terms of the last one—“for whom”—we constantly strive for greater accessibility for new audiences by creating works with diverse casting (non-traditional and non-professional), presenting international works from underrepresented cultures, and working in languages other than English. We also look to present work that’s financially accessible and have tried numerous ticket pricing experiments to find the best balance between access for audiences and sustainability for us.”
#3 Wrestling with “Success” by Christine Horne
First published April 14, 2016.
“The week of September 20, 2012, I was on the cover of NOW Magazine for their fall theatre preview. I was opening a play with Nightwood Theatre, starring in a new two-hander opposite one of my acting idols, the great Susan Coyne. I had recently closed Iceland, a sold-out SummerWorks hit that would later go on to win the playwright, Nicolas Billon, the Governor General’s Award. I also couldn’t pay my rent.”
#2 Leaving Troubling Characters on the Stage by Mairin Smit
First published June 23, 2017.
“We had just finished rehearsal for a play I was directing. The actors were packing their bags and heading out into the hot and sticky summer day, some off to work and others back home. One actor lagged behind. She approached me, wide-eyed, her hands shaking. “I can’t leave,” she said. “You have to help me.””
#1 Confessions From Theatre School by Megan Robinson
First published February 17, 2017.
“The moment I found out I got into theatre school, my high school anxieties and fears quieted. Acceptance into the three-year conservatory-style program felt like a seal of approval for my career, permission to put trust in a future where I would work professionally. As I looked at the letter in my hand, at nineteen, I allowed myself to think: I am good.”