Saturday, September 28, 2013

Coffee Talk with Jennifer Suratos

Meet Jennifer Suratos who plays the "Teacher/Reporter" in Speech & Debate! Normally a musical theatre performer, we are happy to have her with us on this production as her Twenty Something debut!

(Jennifer and Apollo's head at the British Museum)

Tell us your I wanna be an actor story...

I'm a bit of a fraud in that I never really, truly wanted to be an actor. But theatre has just been so much fun that once I tried it, I couldn't leave. Then first time I fell in love was with Enjolras in a big, professional production of Les Miserables at the Queen E. My 14 year old self swooned. The more I learned about theatre, the more I loved it. I mainly do musicals, so this show is a nice change for me, and a real challenge too. I admire people who commit their lives to the craft of acting, it's tough!

What is your favourite role to date and why?

I have many favourite roles, but my most favourite - right now - was the last one I did: Miss Jones in "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." It was in Stanley Park this past summer with Theatre Under the Stars. I got to do a fun number with just me and all the good-looking men in suits. Plus it was an outdoor stage, so that was fun. One night a bug flew up my nose but hey, the show must go on.

(Jennifer in "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" at TUTS)

If you could be part of any theatre production in the world, what would that be?

Something with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I am a huge fan of Shakespeare, though I have not yet attempted to perform any of his work. I have studied him quite a bit in school so to do any kind of work with the RSC would be a dream.

Why do you think Speech & Debate is an important story to tell?

It's important because it accurately represents real teenagers and the issues they go through. These three teens are quirky, unique, intelligent - and all trying to find their place in the world. I wish I was this weird and wonderful in high school. Instead I was falling in love with fictional characters from musicals.


If you had one piece of advice for aspiring young actors, either just starting a training program or going to their first audition, what would that be?

Don't be afraid to make mistakes - just give 'er! It's part of learning and honing your craft. And it makes you human.

I couldn't agree more. Make sure you see Speech & Debate at Studio 1398 from Oct.2-12! Tickets available at or at the door!

-Jess Van Elk
Producing Assistant

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Coffee Talk with Scott Button

Meet Scott Button playing "Howie" in Speech & Debate as his Twenty Something Theatre debut! We are very excited to have him with us!

(Scott [far left] in a wedding photo booth with friends)

Tell us your I wanna be an actor story...

I went through a phase of re-creating famous movie and TV scenes with my friends when I was growing up. After seeing the movie "Psycho" when I was nine or ten, I re-created the famous shower scene and presented it at a party my parents were having. I played both the murderer and Janet Leigh getting stabbed, and cast my friends as various inanimate objects (shower curtain, door, bathmat, etc.) It was great.

(On stage in Wild Honey at UBC with Christine Quintana and Ben Whipple)

What is your favourite role to date and why?

I really enjoyed playing "John" in A Gaggle of Saints, from Neil Labute's trio of short plays, BASH. It's a dual monologue about a young, mormon couple's weekend trip to New York - where some crazy, scary stuff goes down. Recently, I had a blast performing The Story of You and Me, which was performed as part of the site-specific play installation, Hive 3: New Bees. I co-wrote the piece with my good friend Christine Quintana, who performed in it with me. It was fifteen minutes long, made for an audience of two, and set in a winnebago from the '70s. It was fun.

If you were given the opportunity to play any role in the world, what would it be and why?

There are too many! Roles from Shakespeare, Chekhov, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter...

(Jumping for joy with cast mates Agnes Tong and Curtis Tweedie while on tour for Night Light (Green Thumb Theatre))

Why should people come out to see Speech & Debate

It's very funny - growing up can be brutal and the play pulls no punches. Despite this, it's an incredibly compassionate and hopeful story. There's also singing, dancing and flesh-coloured body suits (spoiler alert).

(Scott fending off a hair sprayer at a crowded night club)

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring young actors, those starting a training program or going to their first audition, what would it be? 

For those starting a training program, all I can say is don't compete - with others or yourself. And enjoy the people that you get to work with! 

That's some good advice! Make sure you see him on stage from Oct.2-12 (Tuesday-Saturday) in Studio 1398! Tickets on sale now -

Jess Van Elk
-Producing Assistant

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Coffee Talk with Claire Hesselgrave

Meet Claire Hesselgrave who plays the role of "Diwata" in Speech & Debate! She moved here from Washington five years ago where she received her BFA in Acting from UBC and began her journey in Vancouver's theatre community! We are excited to have her with us as her Twenty Something debut!

(Claire [right] with Eric Freilich in Wild Honey at UBC)

What is your I wanna be an actor story... 

I remember performing plays and operas for my mom at a very young age. I was a pretty shy kid in public, but in the safety of my own home, I would let 'er rip. I danced my whole life and our annual show in June was something I always looked forward to. Ballet storytelling is, without a doubt, where it all started. However, it wasn't until high school drama class that I started performing with words. That was awesome. And I haven't stopped talking since.

What is your favourite role to date and why? 

We did Chicago in in my senior year of high school. I played Velma Kelly the only way I knew how: loud and proud. Sure, I played an attitude most of the time, was a terrible listener and had no idea what breath support meant, but I had so much fun. A first and a favourite, for sure.

(Claire and her friend Leeann)

What are you most excited about in playing the role of "Diwata" in Speech & Debate

I'm looking forward to playing a 17-year-old girl who says and does what I wish I could have when I was in high school. She's a bold one. Fierce, for sure.

If you were given any opportunity in the world to do that is un-related to theatre, what would that be? 

International dogwalker? Based out of Kauai, perhaps.

(Claire at her wedding with her dog, Buster [Photo Credit: Kirk Mastin])

Why do you think Speech & Debate is an important story to tell? 

Teenagers are incredible. They're stubborn, they're fragile, they're invincible, they dream big, and they don't take things lightly. Karam has written three real teenagers without any sitcom, patronizing bullshit. Speech & Debate is important because it is genuine. It's full of truth, humour, and heart. How lucky are we?

(Claire on holiday)

I completely agree! Make sure you don't miss Claire belting out some tunes in Speech & Debate from October. 2-12 at Studio 1398! This dark comedy will be unlike any thing else gracing a Vancouver stage this year! Tickets are available now through

-Jess Van Elk
Producing Assistant

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Coffee Talk with Christina Dao

Meet Christina Dao! She is our awesome costume designer for Speech & Debate! We are very excited to have her with us on this production and it was fun getting to know her...keep reading!

(Christina Dao)

What inspired you to pursue costume design?

I actually fell into theatre and costume design by accident. My mother was a fashion designer while I was growing up, so I always loved clothes and evolving my own personal style, but prior to attending theatre school, I didn't know the first thing about theatre. I had never sewn a piece of clothing and I didn't even really know how to draw. In university, I took a couple of theatre courses as electives because I thought they might be fun and here I am four years later, still kickin' it in theatre. Still learning. Always learning!

What has been your favourite design project so far and what is your dream project?

My favourite design project so far has been Rhinoceros, which was presented by Theatre UBC in the winter and directed by Chelsea Haberlin. It was a huge and challenging show but the reward was so worth it. My dream project would probably be an epic TV series like Game of Thrones. Or Mad Men! I love the costumes on Mad Men. Janie Bryant is one of my idols. I love when designers inject a bit of their own personal style into their costumes.

Christina and a loved one! 
If you could do anything in the world that is un-related to theatre, what would that be?

Be that guy on the Food Network who goes around North America eating at different diners. Guy Fieri. That would be dope.

What is something really good you've seen recently?

It's not out yet, but I just finished working on a film about Eadweard Muybridge. It is going to be amazing and you should definitely look out for it next year.

(Christina with her friends, Florence Barrett [centre] and Polina Boltova [right])
What is your favourite thing about Speech & Debate and why should people come see it?

It's extremely intelligent while also being very funny. The cast is stellar and I have not seen a play like this performed in Vancouver before!

I agree, I'm pretty excited for this production! Make sure you see Christina's costume work in Speech & Debate from October 2-12! Thats all for now folks, watch out for our next coffee talk!

-Jess Van Elk

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Can we get to the creative part now?

Huge thanks to new & old friends for making the Double Play Party a rockin’ way to spend Saturday night! The silent auction was a hit, Shank Lovebone had the audience doing an extended acapella singalong to Hit Me Baby One More Time, and the keg was bested by a determined coalition of aspiring Cicerones. We even sold a couple more passes right at the stroke of midnight…

The Double Play Party

Due to one thing and another and another, we are sad to report that Kathryn Kirkpatrick will not be performing in Speech & Debate. Fortunately, Kathryn is going to be onstage at the Firehall Arts Centre this Fringe with her brand new solo show I Am The Bastard Daughter of Engelbert Humperdinck, so you can see her then!

I Am The Bastard Daughter of Engelbert Humperdinck
Written & Performed by Kathryn Kirkpatrick

Jenn Suratos has joined our cast and we are very excited to get to work with her!

We cast Speech & Debate all the way back in January. There’s been a lot of planning. A lot of running around by our tireless production assistant, Jessica Van Elk. Craig Alfredson is tackling the bulk of our design work (lights, projections, and set), and he and I braved the early morning the other day to circle around the space at Studio 1398. The transition from pre-planning to rehearsals is one of my favourite parts of this whole enterprise.

Stephen Karam's Speech & Debate
Oct. 2 - 12 at Studio 1398, Granville Island
Photo by David Cooper