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Journey Down the Rabbit Hole - Meet our Director - Sophie Ann Rooney

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”
― Leo Tolstoy

Sophie Ann Rooney is an award winning filmmaker for her short film ‘Fallen Fighter’. She is also one of Toronto's top acting coaches and the owner of RAW studios where most of her classes continue to have waitlists due to their popularity. 

Sophie is Sterling Theatre Company’s Co-Founding Artistic Director; producing 27plays in just over two years. She has directed theatre in Paris, Vancouver and most recently directed ‘MACBETH’ which sold out every show.

With an all RAW cast, we are incredibly grateful to have Sophie on board. We can't wait to bring Sophie's techniques to our rehearsal process and her vision for Rabbit Hole to life. 

Director's Note for Rabbit Hole: 

When one experiences grief, one may want to escape down a rabbit hole, or feel like Alice spinning out of control tumbling to the ground. To out-live your child is one of the biggest fears as a parent, and for those who have lived it, with the range of emotion, thoughts and physical toll, it could easily be unsurmountable. This play deals with family grief but also shines a light on white prejudice and privilege.

The playwright is sending a message here, trust me. Some may argue that these characters are not the easiest to love (they could be right) we should certainly question their integrity and bigotry, especially as I am a strong believer that art should reflect the time (Donald Trump, am I right?).

However the given circumstances this family is living (the death of their child) is shared amongst a large portion of the world, therefore Rabbit Hole is a universal story that needs to be told and honoured with human sensitivity and empathy with lightness and darkness portrayed, with the heart and integrity the playwright intended which serves as a reminder for us to check our privilege no matter how hard we deem our lives. Nathan, Rhea, Lindsey, Tyler and Courtney are the perfect team to tell this story.

You can keep in touch with Sophie on Twitter:  @RAWacting & @SophieAnnRooney well as on her Instagram HERE. You can connect with her RAW Studio on Facebook HERE

To order advanced tickets (at a discounted price) check out Rabbit Hole's Eventbrite page!!!  There are 17 performances to choose from. 

If you'd like to take advantage of exclusive opening/closing night parties with complementary Frisky Beaver Wine and hors d'oeuvres, dinner/theatre packages with Braised or Triple A, behind the scenes time with the cast or would like to donate directly to Bereaved Families of Ontario please check out our Indiegogo Campaign HERE.

See you at the theatre!

 

 

 

 

 

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Journey Down The Rabbit Hole - Meet Courtney Deelen

Courtney is a sarcastic, powerhouse, who swears like a sailor and doesn't want you to know about her sensitive side. Tough, a bit brash and slightly intimidating on the outside with a soft, vulnerable center; Sexy, burnt marshmallow is the perfect way to sum up who Courtney is and the characters she most truthfully portrays. 

A graduate of St. Clair College's Musical Theatre Performance program, Courtney began training with Matthew Harrison of The Actor's Foundry and fell in love with film and television, deciding to completely change the focus of her career path.

She now studies with Sophie Anne Rooney at her RAW Acting Studio and is incredibly excited to be working with an all RAW cast! Since working with Sophie, Courtney has reached new heights in her work and credits Sophie for helping her find her true artist. Credits include, "Suits", "Murdoch Mysteries", "Reign", 'Jazz Hands' and 'Life With John'. She is currently filming a supporting lead role in 'Becoming Burlesque'.

She was recently featured in an exclusive interview with Cinemaisseur.com. You can read the full interview with them HERE.

1. What drew you to this story? 

The relationships between the characters, is what originally drew me to the show. They’re all equally complex people and the audience meets them at an incredibly vulnerable time. You’re getting an inside look at how this particular family unit works. Everything they do to each other comes from a place of love, whether it hurts the others or not. The show is brilliantly written, and I  can't wait to tell the story.

2. Tell us a little bit about your character. 

Becca is the central character of the show. Most of the chaos revolves around her emotions as she travels through the loss of her son.

3. How are you similar/ different to your character?  

We are both very passionate and stubborn people. We want things our way, we speak our minds (holding nothing back) and we wear our hearts on our sleeves. We are different in the fact that I don’t have a child. We have both experienced significant loss though, therefore my challenge with Becca is substituting my loss for hers in order to honour her journey throughout the show. 

4. What has been the biggest challenge so far tackling the subject matter involved in the play? 

Consistently traveling into a dark mindset in order to play Becca truthfully is incredibly challenging emotionally. But knowing that I can put the weight of Becca’s sadness away at the end of a rehearsal or show, and knowing that I have the most supportive group of people around me (my cast and Sophie) keeps me safe. It’s my job to expose my heart with this character. If I don’t, then I’m not honouring those parents who are living this reality every day.

5. Why do you feel this is an important story to tell? 

I believe this is a story that everyone can relate to in some way or another. Everyone has experienced a loss. Being exposed to the experiences of others, encourages us to have empathy and a deeper understanding for one another. 

Child loss is not something that people typically want to talk about, but it is an important subject that deserves a voice. With this play, we have the perfect opportunity to speak out on this subject. Bereaved Families of Ontario is a non-profit organization that also deserves more attention. We are thrilled to use this story to help raise awareness for an organization that has supported 1000’s of people who have experienced loss in some way.

6. Do you have a favourite rehearsal memory yet? 

Most definitely when Tyler, Rhea and I got to speak with women from BFO, and to hear their stories. I could have talked with these 7 women all day long. They welcomed us with open arms. Answered questions, shared their experiences, and gave us their blessing. I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life and I will do everything in my power to honour them with our portrayl of this story.  

You can check out Courtney's IMDB page HERE and keep in touch with her on Twitter and Instagram.

To order advanced tickets (at a discounted price) check out Rabbit Hole's Eventbrite page!!!  There are 17 performances to choose from. 

If you'd like to take advantage of exclusive opening/closing night parties with complementary Frisky Beaver Wine and hors d'oeuvres, dinner/theatre packages with Braised or Triple A, behind the scenes time with the cast or would like to donate directly to Bereaved Families of Ontario please check out our Indiegogo Campaign HERE.

See you at the theatre!

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Journey Down the Rabbit Hole - Meet Nathan Taylor

Rabbit Hole is Nathan's introduction to the Toronto theatre scene! He is proud to share that he was the recipient of Sophie Ann Rooney's RAW studio scholarship for 2017 and is incredibly excited to fine tune his acting technique and push his artist to new limits while immersed in classes at RAW.

You can find Nathan behind the lens snapping photos at some of Toronto's top industry events so be sure to check out some of his amazing photography featured on his Instagram page. Nathan recently became an ACTRA Apprentice after booking an OSPA commercial, so keep an eye out for Nathan on your T.V screen. Past TV credits include “Motive and Murders” on DiscoveryID. 

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Exclusive Interview with Nathan who plays Jason.

1. What drew you to this story?

What draws me to the story of Rabbit Hole is the amount of truth that can be told within it, from the perspective of a family losing a child at a young age. It's heart wrenching material, a story that makes people feel uncomfortable but should be known and expressed because the world isn't perfect.

2. Tell me a little bit about your character.

My character is Jason Willete, a teenager about to leave his family to go off to college. He loves science and has good friends at school who care about him. A determined and caring person. 

3. How are you similar/ different to your character?

I'm similar to Jason in the way, I've been through high school, I've got good friends, I love science like him, and I care about other peoples feelings over my own, even in dire situations.

4. What has been the biggest challenge so far tackling the subject matter involved in the play?

Rabbit Hole is an important story to tell because in the world we live in now, people are told to forget about their past more often and focus on the future, but this story shows the past shapes our futures. As a family and as people, events that have happened within our lives are never forgotten, they always leave a mark that doesn't just fade away like people expect. This story shows, the time will pass but the hurt never disappears. 

5. Do you have a favourite rehearsal memory yet?

The first time reading through the play, Lindsey thought I was 15 because I put on my younger voice while reading. That was funny. Plus the food was good and we drank wine afterwards.

You can follow Nathan on Instagram HERE

To order advanced tickets (at a discounted price) check out Rabbit Hole's Eventbrite page!!!  There are 17 performances to choose from. 

If you'd like to take advantage of exclusive opening/closing night parties with complementary Frisky Beaver Wine and hors d'oeuvres, dinner/theatre packages with Braised or Triple A, behind the scenes time with the cast or would like to donate directly to Bereaved Families of Ontario please check out our Indiegogo Campaign HERE.

See you at the theatre!

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Journey Down the Rabbit Hole - Meet Tyler McMaster

Tyler McMaster is a Canadian actor originally from Vancouver. Recent credits include principal roles on "Killjoys" and "Murdoch Mysteries". He also wrote, produced, and stars in The Last Day, an ambitious short film recently featured at the Toronto International Short Film Festival. 

Selected film/tv credits include Gangland Undercover, Remedy, Lost Girl, and J.J. Abrams' Fringe. On stage, he's participated in productions of American Buffalo, 12 Angry Men, Psycho Beach Party, and WestSide Story. 

He considers his training an ongoing process of plucking and thieving techniques and experiences, as he continuously grows what works for him. In this regard, he lists Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston's path as one of his inspirations. Training with Matthew Harrison of The Actor's Foundry was a ''game changer'' for him. He currently trains with Rabbit Hole Director,  Sophie Ann Rooney at her RAW acting studio in Toronto which ''inspires daily in its artistic truth and madness.'' He credits Sophie for ‘opening doors I didn’t know existed as an artist. Her studio facilitates boundless artistic growth, egoless truth, and play”.

Exclusive interview with Tyler McMaster who plays Howie.

1. What drew you to this story?

It's universal. I love stories where I can relate to several characters on different levels. This is one of em. It evokes questions that resonate long after you read it, or see it. See it. Hey, come see it.

2. Tell me a little bit about your character.

You want to grab a pint with Howie. He's the "firm handshake, eye contact, help you move" kinda guy. He's all heart. A shit dancer but will gladly bust a move if it'll get a chuckle.

3. How are you similar/ different to your character?

I'm different than Howie when it comes to dancing. I'm a PHENOMENAL dancer. Also, I lie. Similarities include heart and empathy. We would do anything for family but could probably reach out and open up a bit more. 

4. What has been the biggest challenge so far tackling the subject matter involved in the play?

Probably letting go of  the idea that it's a subject matter that can be ''tackled''. It's so personal and ever changing. There is no ''right way'' to deal with loss so I'll try to find my truth in these beautiful words and do the story justice. 

5. Why do you feel this is an important story to tell?

Grief can have some negative and messy connotation but I think there's beauty in it. It stems from love. So, it's a story about love that also has some laughs. There's only so many cat youtube videos you can watch. Oh except for this one with a cat and a cardboard box.....ah never mind. 

6. Do you have a favourite rehearsal memory yet?

Aemon (plays my 4 year old son Danny) and I shovelling chocolate fondue into our gobs. I felt ill for 3 hours but he passed out on the car ride home. He's a lightweight.

You can check out Tyler's IMDB page HERE and see more of his work HERE on WorkBook Live.
 

To order advanced tickets (at a discounted price) check out Rabbit Hole's Eventbrite page!!!  There are 17 performances to choose from. 

If you'd like to take advantage of exclusive opening/closing night parties with complementary Frisky Beaver Wine and hors d'oeuvres, dinner/theatre packages with Braised or Triple A, behind the scenes time with the cast or would like to donate directly to Bereaved Families of Ontario please check out our Indiegogo Campaign HERE.

See you at the theatre!

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Journey Down the Rabbit Hole - Meet Lindsey Middleton

Lindsey Middleton is best known for playing Vanessa on the internationally award winning, Toronto based web series, Out With Dad. Lindsey also co-produced her own spin off series called Vanessa’s Story and recently won the 2015 IAWTV Award for Best Female Performance in a Drama for her role. 

Lindsey is also a very active member in the Toronto theatre community. A graduate of U of T Mississauga and Sheridan College's Theatre and Drama Studies Program, a co-funder of Well Fought Theatre Company and Theatre By Committee. Lindsey recently starred in Theatre By Committee’s remount of FAITH and be sure to look for her in the new IPF winning web series Squadron 86.

Lindsey has also co-created a brand new documentary web series HappyHer focused on sharing women’s stories about happiness from all over the world. To watch some exciting news about their upcoming adventure click HERE.

Exclusive Interview with Lindsey who plays Izzy. 

1. What drew you to this story? 

How it can make you laugh and cry in the same sentence, I believe that is the best story telling.

2. Tell me a little bit about your character. 

Wild Child Izzy. A bit of a "fuck up" (in her own words) and an unpredictable, wild child that I am so excited to play!

3. How are you similar/ different to your character?  

I enjoy a party as much as the next person (maybe a little bit more than the next person), but Izzy and I definitely differ in her lack of direction. I've also been very focused on what I want to accomplish, though it is good to let go and have fun. Maybe Izzy will teach me something valuable. 

4. What has been the biggest challenge so far tackling the subject matter involved in the play? 

We all want to do it justice, and if you can't do a character justice then why do it at all?

5. Why do you feel this is an important story to tell? 

I think it is important to share stories and talk about the hardships in your life. For years I believed that "loose lips sink ships", but now I'm all about sharing, learning and understanding people through their and my own stories of what makes us the people we are, whether that be the good or the bad.

6. Do you have a favourite rehearsal memory yet? 

All the dinner rehearsals. I get to eat so much in this show and rehearsal. Who doesn't like that?

You can follow Lindsey on Twitter and Instagram and check our her IMDB page HERE. Be sure to also her HappyHer adventures HERE!

 

To order advanced tickets (at a discounted price) check out Rabbit Hole's Eventbrite page!!!  There are 17 performances to choose from. 

If you'd like to take advantage of exclusive opening/closing night parties with complementary Frisky Beaver Wine and hors d'oeuvres, dinner/theatre packages with Braised or Triple A, behind the scenes time with the cast or would like to donate directly to Bereaved Families of Ontario please check out our Indiegogo Campaign HERE.  

See you at the theatre!

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Journey Down the Rabbit Hole - Meet RHEA AKLER

Rhea Akler is a graduate of the York University Theatre Program in Directing. Her love of acting ultimately overshadowed her degree and she has not looked back since. Rhea was nominated for an ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female for the short film, Undercurrent, which she wrote and co-produced.  Recent film/TV/web series credits include The Strain, The Returned, V Morgan Is Dead and Winter Garden. 

Recent Theatre credits include The Dumbwaiter for Stratical Theatre, and in May, Rhea will debut a new play by Sophia Fabiilli, called Liars at a Funeral. Rhea is thrilled to be returning to the stage to share this moving story of Rabbit Hole alongside this beautiful cast of actors.

Exclusive Interview with Rhea Akler who plays Nat. 

1. What drew you to this story?

This is a moving story of a family shook by a tragic accident. In a matter of seconds, their lives have been changed forever. The loss of a child is beyond comprehension. Will they, somehow, some way, in time, find their way? This struggle to exist beyond loss is what is compelling to witness. Loss and death are themes which are not often talked about in our society. Especially when it comes to the loss of a child. This is a chance to begin this dialogue.

2. Tell me a little bit about your character.

Nat is the matriarch of the family and a bit of a spitfire. I kinda love her!  She's passionate, funny (although not always trying to be!), a straight shooter, a little self-involved, loves a glass of wine (or 4) and is resilient in the face of loss (she lost her only son 11 years ago). Although she has made her fair share of mistakes, she has always done her best as a mother.  She loves her children deeply and fiercely and would do anything to support and protect them.

3. How are you similar/ different to your character?

I am a mother, so naturally Nat and I have that in common. I too love my kids beyond the hemisphere and back and would do anything to protect and support them. I think I am down to earth like Nat and passionate about subjects which move me. Although perhaps in my earlier years I may have been more self involved, I am proud to say I have moved towards a mindful state of being (a continuous journey). 

4. What has been the biggest challenge so far tackling the subject matter involved in the play?

The most difficult thing to tackle with this subject matter is relating it to the loss I have experienced in my own life and any imagined loss of my children. I find it extremely painful to fathom this thought. And I can instantly see why people are afraid to speak of this subject. It's unbearable to even imagine, but our job as artists is to present it in order to communicate and honour it.

5. Do you have a favourite rehearsal memory yet?

LoL - still in process. Though, outside of rehearsal, Courtney, Tyler and I had the privilege of meeting with 7 mothers (who are also peer counsellors) from the Bereaved Families of Ontario. They shared their personal stories of loss which profoundly moved me. I had a leaky water faucet in the corner of my right eye which was turned on throughout the encounter. That experience will stay with me forever and hopefully be infused, like osmosis, in the work we do on stage, and I'll try to honour their stories.

You can check out Rhea's IMDB page HERE and you can see more of her work on Vimeo.

To order advanced tickets (at a discounted price) check out Rabbit Hole's Eventbrite page!!!  There are 17 performances to choose from. 

If you'd like to take advantage of exclusive opening/closing night parties with complementary Frisky Beaver Wine and hors d'oeuvres, dinner/theatre packages with Braised or Triple A, behind the scenes time with the cast or would like to donate directly to Bereaved Families of Ontario please check out our Indiegogo Campaign HERE.

See you at the theatre!

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