I commend Johnny’s strength and perseverance with this piece. I saw new sides of Johnny that night back in 2014; and I learned that if you have a story to tell, you should tell it. Someone, somewhere will want to hear it. And I think we are learning through the Hamilton Fringe audiences just how eager they are to listen.
Johnny Salib // Creator & Performer
Johnny is a multidisciplinary artist from Toronto, Ontario. He studied at Humber College for Theatre Performance and George Brown College for Playwriting. Johnny began his theatrical career in musical theatre and appeared in shows such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (Lea Polson’s Theatre), Noye’s Fluude (CBC Television), and starred as Harry Potter in A Very Potter Musical (CCAA). As Johnny grew older he began distancing himself from musical theatre and joined DCYT, a theatrical troupe established in Toronto, touring Ontario as Peter Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Johnny, also being a sound designer and composer, has designed/composed for shows like Jamie’s Gone (Broken Soil Theatre) which received Best of Venue (Hamilton Fringe Festival 2013, The Citadel Theatre venue) & Best of Hamilton Fringe (Hamilton Fringe Festival 2013), Deficiency Syndrome (The ITP) and A Drop Of Water (Slice of Pi). To this date he has released three soundtrack albums and one full length album titled Distant Star. Johnny is currently the Artistic Director of Sisyphean Productions, a Toronto based theatre company that is focused on the development and creation of new works. He has been part of the creation of their projects: Mirror, Mirror; Invisible; and Oasis Love (second runner up at the Hamilton Fringe Festival New Play Contest 2015). Johnny is not only an artist, but also runs queerdeer media, an organization that provides services for queer events, artists, news, and more. He founded four projects with queerdeer: Our Queer Art, a website that features LGBT and queer artists as well as the art pieces that they create; Our Queer Stories, a website that features stories on coming out, overcoming obstacles, self-exploration, etc; Our Daily Queer, a website that provides news articles about LGBT related issues; and Our Queer History; an educational website created to help you learn more about the events, people and places that make up the LGBT and queer historical past. More about Johnny at www.johnnysalib.com
Franny McCabe-Bennett // Director & Dramaturge
Franny McCabe-Bennett, originally from Oakville, is a director, producer, actor, singer, storyteller and comedian working in the GTA. She co-founded the award-winning feminist comic theatre duo Two Juliets where she co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in XOXO: THE Relationship Show. Franny wrote and directed “Birthday” in the inaugural Theatre Relay project, directed the sold-out run of Zombie Prom at the University of Guelph and was the Assistant Director for Sky Gilbert’s The Shakespeare Experiment: As You Like It and Reconciliation (The Cabaret Company/Buddies In Bad Times Theatre). Her new one-woman-show was recently featured in a workshop at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, Toronto. Franny is a multidisciplinary artist and has trained in physical theatre, clown, improv (Second City Toronto), classical text and more. She played Pheobe in The Beaver Den, participated in the inaugural Theatre Relay project and appeared as The Nun in Hush, part of the 2013 Gay Play Day Festival at Alumnae Theatre, in Kitchen Party Nervous Breakdown (The Cabaret Company) and as Bad Idea Bear/Mrs Thistletwat in Hammer Entertainment’s production of Avenue Q. As a member of the Monday Funday Creation Group, she has workshopped the roles of Phebe in As You Like It, Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Baptista in The Taming of the Shrew. Favourite acting credits include: We Walk Among You workshop (Artichoke Heart Collective), Gulliver’s Travels (Humber Theatre, dir. Tatiana Jennings), Catherine in Proof*+ (BurlOak Theatre Group), Jeanie in Hair* (West End Studio Theatre), and Julie in Perfect Wedding** (West End Studio Theatre). She has been studying singing with acclaimed Broadway and cabaret veteran Judith Lander for over 10 years. Franny also works as a vocal coach and vocal director for musical theatre. Training: University of Guelph graduate, Humber College drop out. *Oakville Drama Series, Best Female Performance: Nominee. +Theatre Ontario, Association of Community Theatres (Central Ontario): Honourable Mention, Acting. **Oakville Drama Series, Best Female Performance: Recipient. More about Franny at www.frannymcb.com
Jazz Kamal // Lighting Designer
Jazz Kamal is a Toronto based Lighting Designer and theatre collaborator, celebrating 10 years of working in theatre. She is known for her bold designs, live concert improvised and musically intuitive lighting. Her flare for dramatic lighting techniques, vibrant colours, and moody palettes comes through every show she designs. Jazz has designed for various independent, not-for-profit and commercial theatre and dance companies since 2008. As Jazz is also an artist, she always strives to heighten the visual experience of any show she designs, while bringing the performers’ worlds and visions to life. Her designs have been acclaimed by Michael Rudinoff the Dean for Visual & Performing Arts at Sheridan College and various loved directors and theatre practitioners in Toronto. Her credits include: Sheridan Pop Critiques Concert, Musical Theatre Program (December 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), Rhubarb Festival; Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (February 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), Femme Playlist, b-current’s AfteRock series (November 2014), Insatiable Sisters (formerly known as Strange Sisters), Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (November 2014), Do I Have To Do Everything My F***ing Self?, Summer Works 2014, Lower Ossington Theatre, Rock.paper.sistahz Festival, b-current, Wychwood Barns (May 2016)
Claudia Carino // Producer
Claudia Carino is a graduate of the Theatre Performance program at Humber College where she trained in physical, ensemble based theatre. She is a singer, a musician, an intermediate certified stage combatant, and an avid athlete. Her recent performance credits include Abbey in Invisible (Sisyphean Productions), Marianne Bachmeier in This Is For You, Anna (Hart House Theatre), Rachel Gold in Mother (Save Me A Seat Collective), Cook/ensemble in Caucasian Chalk Circle, Ippolit Terentyev in an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, Silvia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Humber Theatre), Mme. Giry in The Phantom of the Opera (St. Peter Music Theatre). Having always thrived in leadership roles, Claudia combined her passion for performance and keen interest in business administration to take on various theatre production roles while at Humber including Front of House Manager (Humber Theatre) and Head of Marketing for her final production with her graduating class (Mother) as well as being a core member of the acting ensemble. Continuing as a multi faceted theatre creator, Claudia appeared as a performer and a producer in the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival, in a collaboratively created show entitled A Drop of Water with her Fringe company Slice of Pi, of which she is co-founder. Claudia is excited to bring Oasis Love to The Hamilton Fringe as part of Sisyphean Production
Molly C. Eskew // Apprentice Producer
Molly C. Eskew is currently finishing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts at Boston University. She discovered her love of acting at a young age, actively participating in all types of shows, musicals and productions available to her. Upon entering high school, she found a love for directing and directed three shows before starting her training at BU. There she has been able to grow and cultivate herself as a multi-faceted artist and ensemble member by taking part in shows, writing projects and devised works. Her most recent directed work was part of Fools Fall In; The Directors’ Project where she directed a ten min piece and acted in another, working with 8 other directors to create a cohesive evening of theatre. Recently, she just completed a semester at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts where she studied classical acting and voice, historical dance and stage combat. While there, she was able to explore challenging Shakespearean roles like King Henry from Henry V and the lesser known Timon from Timon of Athens. Molly is incredibly excited to be joining the production team of Sisyphean Productions for Oasis Love and looks forward to the new adventure!
Wendy Miller // Stage Manager
Wendy Miller lives in Scarborough, and has stage managed for several community theatre groups over the past 16 years – Onstage Productions, Scarborough Theatre Guild, Scarborough Music Theatre, Stage Centre Productions and Scarborough Players. Her training has been both on-the-job – working with several very supportive and collaborative directors such as Lorraine Green-Kimsa, Dot Routledge and Larry Westlake, as well as through courses taken at Stage Managing the Arts (SMArts) with Janelle Rainville and Winston Morgan. She was delighted to win an ACTCO Thea in 2014 for stage managing The King and I for Scarborough Music Theatre and to be nominated in 2015 for stage managing for Anne of Green Gables (also for SMT). A background in computer science and 16 years of work in administration have provided many useful stage management skills. Wendy loves the process of theatre and helping to bring an idea to life. Thanks to Johnny for including her on this Fringe adventure!
*Oasis Love will be on stage at Theatre Aquarius from July 14-24, 2016. To buy tickets please visit the following website.
“‘We’re so perfect!’ No we’re not! We’ve just made the issues invisible! POOF! We’ve made us invisible!”
Visibility is a new and growing concept for me and in today’s culture. It hasn’t become one of those popular, colloquial terms that we hear everyday like “bae” or “shooting”. And that is very unfortunate. And that is one of the main questions in Invisible, the question of why are things deemed important only when they are presented in the media. Why are we not striving to look beyond the information that is forced upon us, and seek our own answers to our own questions? Why do we accept what is right in front of us when we know it’s often a lie or untrustworthy?
I attended a pre-show discussion before a theatre performance here in Toronto a couple years back, and during the seminar, the speaker brought up the idea of media and the news and what drives it. Why we watch it. Why the stories we hear are all the same stories about violence and disaster. It came down to one word: fear. Our governing bodies are purposely instilling fear into us so that we can be controlled and easily manipulated. Perhaps so we learn to fear each other and turn to our leaders whom we “trust”. Everyday I question what our world would look like if we went just one day of only positive news and media broadcasts. But that’s a different discussion. Back to visibility.
For me, as someone who hasn’t yet found myself fighting for visibility in my life, I feel visibility goes hand in hand with awareness and empathy. We can fight for visibility all we want, but it will go unnoticed if society doesn’t open its eyes and show awareness and empathy for what people are fighting for. All I ask of my peers, and myself, is to have awareness for those around you, for those who differ from you, and for those who are like you, and to try and understand why things are the way they are. We can’t break the rules until we’ve lived within them. For me this piece is about questioning what is before you, and striving to see more. Fight for better answers, fight for more information, don’t let your opinions be made for you. All lives matter. Everyone deserves respect. And that respect will come from awareness and empathy. People are fighting everyday to be heard, and it is our duty to listen.
Invisible plays on September 25 & 26 as part of Gay Play Day at Fraser Studios. You can find tickets here.
“Where do I start? What does it mean to be invisible? Well don’t you ever feel invisible? Don’t you ever feel like no matter how much you scream no one really listens?”
Why Invisible? Why now? I think the idea of visibility comes up a lot more now a days. We have all of these social media platforms that give individuals the “freedom” to speak up, the freedom to share their problems or successes. We have events that are specifically created for a group of people. We have webpages designed to give space to individuals who feel like they’re not being heard, but is it enough?
I spend a lot of my spare time exploring my city. As I explore I take pauses to people watch, as I’m interested in human interactions. (Probably the biggest cliché you will ever hear from a theatre maker.) Invisible was originally inspired by the interactions I’ve seen with homeless folk over the years. It started with a monologue of how one day you’re might be on top of the world, successful, but the next you may lose your job and be left with nothing, leaving you virtually invisible to the rest of the world. Homelessness is a huge issue in most cities, and it baffles me that we don’t have more information or resources to prevent it. I spent a lot of my elementary and high school days in homeless shelters, volunteering with my parents to make sandwiches. While volunteering, I got the opportunity to listen to a number of the individuals’ lives.
“I met some guy the other day who used to be an engineer, he lost his job, he lost his wife, he lost his house, he fucking lost it all and now he’s invisible!”
I grew up with society telling me that homelessness was caused by laziness. That homeless people were all abusers looking to spend your money on the next quick fix, but after volunteering in the shelter for so long I started realizing that a lot of people were just victims to bad circumstance. I will never forget the day the computer engineer handed my dad a copy of Windows XP and gave him advice on how to make our computers better without spending a lot of money. That’s moment everything became so real for me, especially because my dad spent years building and fixing computers; so to see a man who once wore his shoes in the state that he was in was heartbreaking. It re-humanized the issue for me.
So why not talk about it? Why not use my privilege to spark the conversation. I know I’m grateful for the work other communities have done for mine. I also know there is a fine line to how much you can talk about an experience you never had. That’s where Invisible started growing. I started questioning the visibility among communities I’m part of or communities that directly effect me. More on that to come though.
Invisible plays on September 25 & 26 as part of Gay Play Day at Fraser Studios. You can find tickets here.
I guess the time has come for me to post on this fancy new website. I’m not usually one for blogging, so this time around I have members of the team joining me in creating posts and content. Sisyphean Productions has gone through a number of changes in the past few months, but isn’t that the way life is? We’ve drawn up a number of future plans, but we’re ready to share at least two projects with you.
Sisyphean Productions is proud to present Invisible as part of Gay Play Day on September 25th & 26th, 2015 at Fraser Studios. Gay Play Day is a festival of theatre by playwrights from the LGBTQ community. The show Invisible is a dialogue about what it means to want and need visibility among marginalized communities. Although the show has a heavy theme, it features two quirky best friends who love to have fun. More information to come as updates come your way!
It’s no secret that Oasis Love is being produced this year. This monster of a piece has been through so many rewrites and now is a monster we are taming. Today Claudia, our amazing producer, and I had spent time finishing up all of the designs for our posters and post cards and we have ordered them! I. Am. So. Pumped! This is going to be a great show, and I cannot wait to have you all come see it! Press kits are going out tomorrow, and rehearsals are in progress. As Claudia says, “Be ready. So much blue is coming your way.” It’s true. My costume is also all blue, but at least it’s matching! I also promise to keep you all updated with pictures and images from rehearsals. I don’t have any today, other than the one that I posted on instagram, but I’ll start bringing my camera into the rehearsal space. God bless my parents for buying me that point-and-shoot in grade 9 because I thought I would be a photographer. Oh! The important part! Oasis Love happens on October 8-10th at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and the tickets are already on sale here. So please come join us!
At the end of the day, we’re planning on becoming more active as a company so please keep your eyes peeled for us. We have some kick ass projects under wraps, but do know we’re hard at work planning for adventures!