Paul Jonathan Saguil receives the most unusual calls…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 by nightwoodtheatretoronto

Paul as beatnik Mustardseed

“I receive the most unusual calls…”

That is how I was introduced to Nightwood Theatre and The Lawyer Show.

Our firm’s office manager had just spoken to Rebecca Peirson, Nightwood’s Director of Marketing & Audience Development, and she was passing along the info to the would-be thespians among us about the casting call for this strange production.  As is the case with many of my fellow castmates, I had always had “the bug” and somehow managed to find different ways to have a relationship with acting (and/or artists). But while my various brushes with theatre / performing over the years – including, inter alia, channeling Tom Cruise’s Lt. Daniel Kaffee (from A Few Good Men) in a Grade 7 mock trial, taking an acting class as an undergraduate elective, living with an actor for 2 years, and writing song parodies for charity / the enjoyment of drunken law students – helped a bit, none of it could have really prepared me for this experience. Indeed, little did I know when I scheduled my audition in January that I would end up in practically the same state as my last foray on stage – shirtless (although, thankfully, only nearly so this time) and ridiculously attempting a dance routine in tight pants before family and friends.

How it got to that point – well, that’s more a story for the  special edition DVD (or not). Suffice it to say that the past six months of working on this production  – from the audition to the first reading to the numerous rehearsals, stumble/run-throughs, singing/dancing (m)uck-ups, fairy/donkey love-ins, and everything in between  – has turned out to be quite a fun and interesting ride. It has truly been a tremendous privilege working with the creative team at Nightwood and this talented cast (especially my fellow Beats) . Although we may not be quitting our legal day jobs (or scooping up Dora awards like a certain someone I know) anytime soon, thanks to Kelly, Monica, Denyse, Pragna, Christine, Diana, et al, this crew of patches has been translated into players fit to perform before an Athenian court. If and when another most unusual call goes out in the future, I’ll definitely be one of the first in line to jump and say “Ready!”

Congratulations to everyone for their incredible work and thanks to all the generous sponsors/patrons for helping with this worthy cause!


Cathy Milne knows ‘It’s All Coming Together…’

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 by nightwoodtheatretoronto

Warm up exercises on the Berkeley Theatre Stage

Having never been involved in a serious theatrical performance (High School seems so long ago to me…) last night’s “Cue to Cue” (or Q2Q for the ‘texting’ generation) was a real learning experience. This was our first night of work in the Berkeley Street Theatre and Christine coached us on the importance of sending our voices to the top of the house. The actors were costumed and instantly our roles came to life. Denyse and her crew had carefully selected outfits both fitting of the period and helping to tell the story – the “Beats” in unique combinations of black, white and red; Helena and her beloved Demetrius in co-ordinated blues; the court looking splendid. Our Director, Kelly and Choreographer Pragna tweaked – moving dancers around the stage, changed the tilt of hats so the light hit faces just so, slowing pace on set changes. Sound, lighting and all the cues were methodically co-ordinated by Monica. The set, scenery and props were added and enhance the show that, thus far, we have only practiced in the studio. The excitement is clearly building amongst the actors as we get closer to performance weekend. Two more rehearsals and then it’s show time!

Peter Hamiwka describes his Midsummer Beat experience in Kerouac fashion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 3, 2010 by nightwoodtheatretoronto

Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebbs

 an excerpt from On The Stage   

 [with apologies to Jack Kerouac and On The Road]

             …May evening near the railroad earth, in a spare, reclaimed Distillery rehearsal studio haunted by the spectre of virtuous Victorian industry, the sun’s last dusky rays streaming through factory glass and casting silent mottled shadows on wooden floors worn smooth from the tread of dancemakers making dance, a beatific company of seriously inquisitive and bravely earnest lawyers meets diligently to create artistic precedent, angel-haired litigators assaying the Bard’s ancient roles, putting a new twist to the staging with a fifty-year old setting; the Athenian nobility proud and unwavering and stubborn like dogged litigators arguing Supreme matters, shark-skinned narrow-lapelled and martini-ed, the youthful lovers headstrong and foolish, governed by dear hearts and wild herbal confusion, the rudest of mechanicals stumbling in nerdy naivety, oblivious in their bumbling, Quince and Snout, timid Lion and hysterical Moonshine, bedevilled Bottom playing the ass in proud bewilderment; snap, snap, snap, too cool beatnik faeries swaying to a ferocious bongo beat, running and leaping through a star-lit forest, children of a warring haughty king and sensuous queen, mischievous imp infusing opposites with hallucinogenic nectar, chaos and confusion and comic relief, a roundel and a lulla, lulla, lullabye; bemused production team, playing on a strange and different stage, lovey-inflected theatrical direction, all-seeing, all-knowing, all-contained stage management, Value Village costumes and Esquivel sound cues, try-it-all encouraging smile assistance, pushing and prodding and stretching and angular choreography, copper coffee pot vocal warm-ups, text coaching unfurling hidden Elizabethan language meaning, archaic becoming familiar, unusual becoming natural, words on the page slowly being transformed into characters on the stage, satisfaction sweetly savoured as amateur professionals find satori in Shakespeare’s enchanted world and enchanting words, lonesome travelling and dharma bumming, and dance, and pose, and dance, and pose, and dance, and pose, and go, go, go




Snout Sings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by nightwoodtheatretoronto

Barb Gordon sings at the beloved Montreal Bistro

The Lawyer Show has been a “Dream” come true, not only to have the opportunity to perform with professionals such as the gang at Nightwood Theatre (and my legal compadres, of course); but to fulfill an inner drive that I’ve had to perform in theatre since my days in the undergraduate theatre program at York University (I’m not telling how many years ago – but I think many of your readers may have been born by then).  On top of which, I’ve had the honour of being cast as one of the Mechanicals, which in this production means clown work. This has enabled me to channel my hitherto unknown inner “Harpo”; another dream come true (I had a dog named Harpo – that’s how much I love that guy).  The experience has also informed another side line of mine: jazz singing.  I once worked with a vocal coach whose focus was to try to reach the more theatrical part of me, but I had trouble accessing it.  I’m now completing a second CD and the work with Kelly and Monica et al has been instrumental in developing the more theatrical side of my vocals for the album.  Working to get my head around who “Snout – the Wall” is and how he/she/it would behave and respond has given me insight as to how to develop the inner workings of each tune on the album. My album producer and I are both ecstatic with what is happening in that context.  All said – I’m an extremely happy camper to have been involved with The Lawyer Show.  Thanks to you all at Nightwood not only for your brilliant conduct of this process; but for enabling me to participate.

Barb as Snout



Brent Vickar: A Father Speaks

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 28, 2010 by nightwoodtheatretoronto

Brent holidaying in Europe

 When I counted among my group of former actor-friends, nothing made them crazier than civilians saying “you have all those lines to memorize….how do you do it?” Now I know why this made them crazy. Learning the lines is the easy bit. Once the lines are there, one has to learn to walk and talk at the same time. Next, we’re directed to incorporate something from our own experience in creating a character. So, for Egeus…..what can I draw upon that’s frustrating; whom can I conjure who has defied me the way Lysander and Hermia have? I think and I hope I can get there. Engaging with my colleagues onstage is easy in theory; doing it is not. But that’s what makes this journey exciting. And scary. 

 I auditioned with the perspective that theatre people have given me some magic moments, and are deserving of the utmost respect. Times ten now. Kelly and her team are all business. This is a good thing.  Although I wondered at the outset whether a group of amateurs such as we are could make this production one I’d want friends and co-workers to see, I no longer wonder. Having seen what my fellow actors are capable of with careful guidance, I’m now of the view that this is going to be pretty amazing. We’re all pushing the limits of what we can do. 

So, back to the magic of the theatre. I’m  grateful for the opportunity to speak some lines and do some business on the same stage where I’ve watched Seana McKenna, Daniel MacIvor, Fiona Reid and a host of others do what they do. Art is about making connections, isn’t it? I discovered recently that the mid-century novelist Djuna Barnes wrote a novel called “Nightwood”…..sound familiar? Kelly confirmed that the name of this company originated with that book. And that the production of “The Danish Play” that wowed many of us a few years ago was indeed a Nightwood play. Wouldn’t have known any of this if I hadn’t showed up to audition.  Now we’re all a part of it. 

And finally…..having some difficulty rehearsing on my own during our hiatus week, as the cats who share a home with my partner Don and I don’t particularly care for Shakespeare. So, out to the back yard.  Maybe the neigbours will be interested? Now, do what you do, courtiers and lovers and beat-fairies. And let’s have real martinis in Act 5, shall we? 

Egeus suited up

Kenway Yu gets outfitted

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 21, 2010 by nightwoodtheatretoronto

Kenway in costume

So I think we’re just past the halfway mark.  We had what was described as a “stumble through,” that is, a full rehearsal.  Due to the bizarre structure of Shakespeare’s original script, most of us have become only familiar with one third of the play and performers.  It was great to see everyone again and to see how things have improved by leaps and bounds from the initial read through on the very first day.

I was very impressed by my fellow cast mates’ energy.  While we only practice together for a few hours a week compared to full-time actors, most people had their lines memorized and the choreography was largely in place.  In particular, the Athenians fought, chased, and loved with full-force.  I was a little worried with all the jumping on each other that someone was going to get dropped on their head.

We also got fitted for costumes. I can honestly say that I’ve never worn a beatnik outfit.  Some minor alterations were going to be done to ensure a perfect fit.  And from what I gather, everyone will have at least a couple unique touches.  I didn’t expect such treatment for a fundraising performance.  Now that’s dedication!

Don’t forget to check out our article from May 19th in the Financial Post!

Llana Nakonechy Gets Ready for the First Run Through

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 14, 2010 by nightwoodtheatretoronto

Llana Nakonechny

My parents were less than enthusiastic when I told them I wanted to study acting in my undergrad. We made a bargain that I could get my Bachelor of Fine Arts if I agreed to go on to law/med/any “real professional” school thereafter. Figuring it would be good to have something to fall back on if I didn’t rocket to stardom, I agreed.   

As always, mom and dad were right.    

Many days, the “characters” my family and estates law practice are not unlike those in a Shakespearean play. There are star-crossed lovers with warring families in law; people pretending to be someone they are not; sons who have strained relationships with their mother and new step fathers; parents who dote on the least genuine of their children; spouses consumed by jealously over their partner’s real or imagined infidelities; fiancées who doubt the nuptial choice made for them by their parents and businesspeople in financial trouble with their lenders.   

When my clients give evidence at trial there is hubris, gnashing of teeth, wringing of hands, accusations, denials and lots of tissues. Everything but rapiers at twenty paces.    

My firm, Dickson MacGregor Appell, is one of the largest all women firms in Canada so I was very interested to audition for Nightwood Theatre – another all woman shop. Kelly, Monica, Denyse, Hilary and all the production crew have been very patient and encouraging.  During rehearsals we cast off our “suits” and fairy dance (or donkey dance) like crazy. Pragna has choreographed our beat scenes to tell the story with our bodies as well as the language.   

Lawyers are used to talking in a way that others don’t always understand. But rarely are we required to be “off book”. Our text coach, Christine has been a huge help not only in helping me understand what Titania is saying and why, but in giving me the confidence to take the time to “chew the tough words”. Sometimes nerves make you just want to get the words out. But it is more persuasive to give the audience time to think about them.   

This Sunday is our first run through. I’m very keen to see what is happening in the other parts of the forest …     

Llana Nakonechny and Danny Kastner in Rehearsal with the Fairies