#289 – Sarah Marchand and Breanna Maloney

Cooking for Grief
After a sudden death in his family, Rob is forced to come to terms with his own identity and the actions that inform his role as a son, partner and friend. He returns to group therapy— after a sudden hiatus— on the heels of a fractured realization of self.  As the members of Group work together in their healing process, they find common ground in their experiences with loss, pain and addictions. Cooking for Grief explores familial relationships, toxic masculinity, and what it means to accept healing into one’s life

Breanna Maloney (she/her) is an actor, writer and indie theatre producer based in and around Toronto. Coming from a background in movement and devised theatre, her current practice focuses on the research and exploration of shame, grief and the healing process through use of dialogue and movement. Recently, Breanna has contributed writing to Tall Tale Theatre’s Night Terrors podcast,  the Windsor-Essex Nature Poetry and Environmentalism zine and The Tank NYC’s_ Rule of 7x7_.  Breanna is a co-founder of Skipping Stones Theatre, a Toronto-based, independent collective whose mandate is to explore stories through the lens of mental health and neurodiversity. Breanna is a graduate of  East 15 Acting School (MFA) and the University of Windsor (BFA). Recent credits include:  Imposter’s Sin Room (Hamilton Fringe, 2021), A Christmas Carol (White Mills Theatre), Hamlet(s) (Skipping Stones Theatre) and Crave (Pure Carbon Theatre).****

Twitter: @bree_maloney
Instagram: @bree_maloney

Sarah Marchand is an award-winning performer, producer, and founder of Alma Matters Productions. She has worked in television (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Umbrella Academy), and theatre extensively. Select awards include: The Hnatyshyn Foundation’s Emerging Artist Grant (Best Actress in English Theatre), The Second City’s Tim Sims Encouragement Fund Award (nominated), and the Carolyn and Richard Renaud Grant for Acting. She received her BFA in Acting at Concordia University and her MA in Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. Sarah recently completed Nightwood Theatre’s 19-20 Young Innovators Program and is currently a participant in the Women in Film and Television (WIFTV) Actor Career Mentorship program under the guidance of Carly Pope.

Select Recent Credits: Winter of ‘88 (NNNNN) Nowadays Theatre, 2020 Next Stage Festival (Performer/Co-Producer), Swim Team (NNNN) Nowadays Theatre, SummerWorks Performance Festival (Producer/Assistant Director), Drink of Choice (Toronto Fringe Patron’s Pick) Produced by Alma Matters Productions.

In keeping with her creative mandate, Sarah’s work continues to produce and create works that explore mental health, intersectional feminism, queerness, and body image.

Twitter: @sarahamarchand
Instagram: @sarahamarchand

Twitter: @almattersprod
Instagram: @almattersprod



Breanna Maloney, Sarah Marchand, Phil Rickaby

Phil Rickaby  00:00

Welcome to Episode 289 of Stageworthy I’m your host, Phil Rickaby. Stageworthy is a podcast about people in Canadian theatre featuring actors, directors, playwrights and more. Thank you for listening. If you’ve been listening to Stageworthy for a while, or maybe you are a first time listener and you’re listening through a link on the website, did you know that you can subscribe so that you never miss an episode? You can do that by searching for Stageworthy on Apple podcasst, Google podcasts or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts and clicking the handy subscribe button. And that way every week, the newest episode of Stageworthy will be delivered right to you. And if you subscribe, let me know that you’re a new subscriber. You can drop me a line on Twitter and Instagram @philrickaby. And My website is philrickaby.com. And you can find Stageworthy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @stageworthypod and the website where you can find the archive of all 289 episodes is at stageworthypodcast.com. Did you know that I have a Patreon supporting my work on a new audio drama. Patreon is a membership platform that helps people like you support creators. For a monthly subscription fee that goes directly to the artist you can help an artist create something new. For me, I’m taking my subscribers on the entire creation journey for a new audio drama for the Christmas season. Through posts, video and live stream, Patreon subscribers will come with me for the entire process from brainstorming to writing to recording right through to the release of the new project. And for some subscription levels. I’ll even create a special early release version of the project just for them. You can follow along patreon.com/PhilRickaby. My guests this week are Sarah Marchand and Breanna Maloney, they joined me to talk about their online production of Breanna’s play Cooking for Grief. Check out Almamatters productions for all the details. How are you both doing?

{there is a heavy sigh}

I would just like to say that that that sigh. just heard is is one of the most 2020 2021 things ever.

Sarah Marchand  02:37

Yeah, it’s this nice formality to say, how are you doing? But like I feel deep down. Everyone’s like, I don’t know, like I wake up and it’s the same day all over again.

Phil Rickaby  02:48

Like, yes, I’m here.

Sarah Marchand  02:51

But good overall, I suppose is the correct answer.

Phil Rickaby  02:55

I kind of feel like I wish that we could just sort of get rid of the idea that like when somebody says, How are you doing? That? We have any obligation to say good. Alright, we’re not. I love that. Yeah. No. If only we could just be like, godhead or no? Yeah, that’s like, What’s on your mind? Yes. Just exactly how you’re feeling like? Do you have an hour? Well, I mean, in theory, Yes, we do. Yeah, we’ll just talk about how I’m doing for the next hour. I mean, that I mean, listen, this is this is part of it. This is part of it. It’s the the the fact that like, with everything going on with the state of theatre and everything else. Who knows how we are? Right? Yeah, we’re in this together. Yes, Yes, we are. Yeah. Why don’t we start off by telling me about where this product project that you’re working on? Does it have a title?

Breanna Maloney  04:04

Yes. It is called cooking for grief.

Phil Rickaby  04:08

cooking for grief. Okay, that’s great. And what? Tell me a little bit about the genesis of the project before we talk about the two of you coming together to work on it.

Breanna Maloney  04:19

Mm hmm. Um, yeah. So, oh, gosh, I guess the Genesis occurred, I want to say, three or four years ago, um, it really I guess what, but it goes back further actually. So, in 2013, I was in my I was in my second year of undergrad. And I went I was at Theatre School. So there was just a lot. There were a lot of big changes that I experienced in that year and one of the biggest ones was the loss of my father. And that was it was very sudden and unexpected. And it really, really shook my my whole world. And I think one of the things that I think one of the things I mean, for anyone who’s who’s lost someone extremely close to them can probably relate that, that everything your whole, I think your peripheries kind of change in, in that in the first few weeks of having suddenly lost someone really close to you. Um, but there’s also just I don’t know, there’s things that, that I noticed it happening around me that I, and maybe it was because I was in shock for so long, but I felt like I was in shock for a long period of time. But I think what, I think that that was one of the deal dealing with dealing with the grief of having lost my father and also noticing around me how, when particularly my, my family was dealing with it was something that I mean, obviously, I wasn’t, I didn’t, it was just it was just something I was noticing. And it was really, it’s really just how we all as individuals grieve and it’s, it’s different for everybody. But I think one of the things that that I had been reflecting on and continuing to struggle with was was how to how to connect with certain family members and how to how to grieve essentially, which sounds it’s like, Hear hear myself say that sounds really silly. Because like, what does that mean? How do we how do we grieve? How do we express loss and sadness and all of these feelings, but I noticed especially with, with one family member, in particular, who I’m really close with, like, there was there was just this suppression. And then later, I noticed that there was a suppression from me too. I mean, I went, I went right back to school. I think maybe a week after it happened, I I went to school, I was four hours away from Toronto, which is where I was living, and I went back almost immediately to finish my year, because I think that’s what I that was my I guess you could say survival tactic was to just just carry on and, and, and bury myself in work, which is what I did for the next two years. And then a couple years after that, but kind of realising that nobody or not nobody, but it was really difficult for for my family to connect in the way of expressing our, our loss and our sadness. And and then I started to notice more like in my family, particularly on my dad’s side that like, it was that a lot of those family members didn’t really want to talk about sadness and talk about feeling this loss. And that’s started to become a recurring theme that I noticed around me and my life, and I have noticed it in other places that weren’t just that were just personal to me. And, and this whole idea of what it means what does it mean to grieve and how do we express that, but also, how has our society kind of made it really difficult for us to express emotions? And so I think that is the questions that made me want to start to write about this topic. And these questions.

Phil Rickaby  08:51

Yeah, no, it’s it’s grief is one of those things that we generally as a society don’t know how to deal with because we don’t talk about it. We don’t like there’s no, nobody prepares for and so often, even if people are expecting a death, they don’t talk about and let’s just put it let’s just not think about let’s not think about it, because everybody wants to get to the part where they’re okay. as quickly as possible. And the problem with that is that you end up just not dealing with it. And then years later, you have this breakdown for one have another word where either eight or something happens and you have to you have to deal with it. Did you find that writing this play helped you to get out what you really needed to, to say to feel about about all of this.

Breanna Maloney  09:48

It did this play originally it was I didn’t think it was I wasn’t really intending for it to to go anywhere. I don’t know if it was at first it was it was therapeutic for me, like I will say it. It was personal. And then and then I started to think about it as like, well, what if maybe maybe other people are feeling this way? Maybe there’s other people who feel like they they can’t you know, express things or maybe it maybe there’s other folks who have who have family members who, who who also can’t who aren’t in the arts. And then and then I think, I think in writing it at first, I don’t even know if I would have called it a play, it was more just like, random dialogue, maybe. It was, it was just like, it was just these little tidbits of things that I needed to write down to kind of get out to know that they were happening and to know that these weren’t just things happening in my head. And then, and then I thought, hmm, no, I think that actually, maybe, maybe there’s something here. And I think like in almost I guess, maybe we call it like, then that became a draft, what would have been the first draft is like, no, that’s what this is a play. And then. So of course, like, then, things changed. In some circumstance, like things were changed. That wasn’t I could like, have a little bit of a little bit of space, I guess. So that it wasn’t too too too close. You know, but it did start from a very, it did start from a place of like, I guess, catharsis and needing to express it. So in that sense, yes, it was helpful. It was also difficult, because once I realised that I did want to, but I wanted to say something with this piece than it was like, Okay, this is something I’m committing to, I need to make sure I can do this in a way that’s like, safe for my own mental health and for my own emotional well being. And so that meant lots of breaks. And I think that’s why it’s taken me so long, and so many drops to do it.

Phil Rickaby  11:52

I know when I was the, I wrote a solo play years ago to deal with grief. And in order to be able to protect my own, you know, my own myself, my heart, my, my, like, my soul, I had to, I’ve had to fictionalise some of it. It came from a very true place, but a lot of it was fictionalised in a way that just sort of like, the themes were the same. The themes allowed me to to deal with it. But it also allowed me to protect some stuff that was probably too personal, too. Like, I didn’t need to be like going through therapy every night when I perform the play. So, like, fictionalising it really helped with that.

Breanna Maloney  12:34

Absolutely. Yeah. And I think I think that’s, I think that’s what I meant when I said like, getting into like the first and what would be the second draft was realising that it needs to this okay, if this is going to be a play, and if it’s going to be a piece of art there it needs it can’t be just therapy, it needs to be actually again, for me, it might being based in something that was fictional, while keeping the themes very much similar into into into still grounded in the themes, but the characters in the circumstances are fictional. So yeah, that’s a thank you for reciting that. Yeah.

Phil Rickaby  13:10

Now, this was something that you this happened to you, your father passed away during when you were theatre school? How was this school with that? Or did you just like you went in? It’s like, You acted as though nothing can happen it and nothing. Nothing got in the way or was the school supportive? Because I’ve heard stories of people who, who lost parents while the theatre school on the school was not at all supportive?

Breanna Maloney  13:36

Hmm. Yeah, I have to. Um, my classmates were very supportive. I was actually living with I had three roommates when I was in second year. And they were they were all in my, in my class. And, and so because I found out I found out what when I was in my, my house with those roommates, they, they were there for me, and I was very, very lucky to have all of their support. And so inevitably, like my class found out and then teachers found out Well, I mean, I I did tell my teachers, I emailed them from home saying, Hi, I’m not going to be in class for the next week, at least, which to me, because and I say that with a bit of a smile on my face, but it’s actually it’s, there’s this idea when you’re in theatre school that that you can’t you theatre school, and I shouldn’t say theatre school, but like classes and your training is at the utmost important thing when you’re there and you cannot miss class you cannot be late you cannot. And while I respect some of the but I respect what what that’s meant to do. It’s meant to train actors to you know, be be disciplined and be accountable for themselves. And beyond be organised. I do think that there can sometimes be a lack of compassion when, when things in our lives happen and and we’re all human and you know, I do so I think some of that was missing. And so I guess when I was telling my teachers that this thing had happened to came out as it came out, I realised now that it came out as more of an apology, and more fear of what the consequences might be for me missing classes instead of like, instead of thinking like, No, no, this is you need to take a break, like, no,

Phil Rickaby  15:39

it’s not healthy. I remember when I was in theatre school, I was sick, like legitimately sick, like I was, so I couldn’t keep anything down all of this stuff. So I took a day off from school, I said, I can’t come into school, and they called me after that day and said, If you miss another day, you’ll have to leave the school. And like, that kind of shit is the kind of shit that theatre schools are teaching their kids you know, teaching like unhealthy. Like I understand the need for dedication, but sometimes your body and your your emotions and everything, you have to stop. Yeah, so how did you and Sarah get together on this project?

Breanna Maloney  16:19

Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, my gosh, it’s been such a journey. Wasn’t it at the I think it was at the bar when we first talked about it.

Sarah Marchand  16:30

I actually remember you are helping us with a rehearsal. So like I am, I’m primarily an actor, I started off in acting, I did act in school. Also, just to add on. Yes, it is such a toxic mentality that we learn in university, like, it doesn’t matter if you’re sick, you have to go to class. Anyways, I have this one memory of a classmate who was just like really in pain. And the teacher was like, I don’t care, you sit in the corner, and you are going to attend the rest of this class, like, you can’t go home. And I’m thinking now like in a post COVID world that would never be acceptable like this. dying in the corner.

Phil Rickaby  17:11

It can’t ever be acceptable. Again, it cannot ever be acceptable,

Sarah Marchand  17:16

Ever acceptable. So I’m like, No wonder actors, especially we’re so like, you know, people pleasers. And it’s really hard for us to set boundaries, because this is literally what we were trained to do in theatre school. But that’s a little side note. Yeah, so I yes. So I’m an actor primarily. But in 2019, my, I decided to delve more into producing. And I was working on a couple of projects that had been doing pretty well. So I was really excited with this new creative role as a producer. And I was just about to open one show. And Brianna was helping as a vocal coach for that. And she wanted to meet up with me a little bit beforehand, just to discuss potentially working on a project together. So I said, Sure. And so we met up and she was pitching some ideas to me. And I was, you know, I was listening, but I was like, not sure, not sure. And then I remember, Brianna, you very, very subtly were like, oh, and also I’m writing this play. And I was like, Come again, you’re writing. Like I thought Brianna was just an actor as well. I didn’t know she was also a writer. She was like, Oh, yeah, it’s just cooking for grief. And this and that. I was like, Well, can you send me a sample like I want to read this. And it was just a few pages. I think it was just a scene and you had sent me and I had no idea we were we work together as well. We were co workers at the time slash friends. But I had no idea she had gone through this tremendous loss in her life. And I was just, I was really intrigued by the scene she had sent me. And I have a bad habit of just kind of, you know, getting excited with an idea. And I just like hit the ground running. I want to go 1,000% and it’s like a blessing and a curse.

Breanna Maloney  19:00

It’s a bad habit.

Sarah Marchand  19:04

I don’t realise what a shitstorm I’m getting into until like, much later I’m like, oh my god. Okay, how do I figure this out? But it’s okay. We always figure a way out. Um, but yeah, and then that that moment really stood out for me. And then I remember, Breanna and I actually had a shift together right before work. And we agreed to meet for coffee beforehand. And I don’t think you had your full draft written yet. Or it was in the really early stages. But I just asked you very candidly about your experience and you just spoke with such beautiful vulnerability. I remember it was a cafe It was kind of loud, you know, there was noises and I just remember everything just kind of drowning out and all I could focus on was like Brianna talking to me. So in my mind, I was like, This woman has a gift with words like I am so fixated on her storytelling. So I just I got so excited. Did from that point on? And yeah, so that was like late 2019, early 2020. And I just, I think I called you one night I was like Screw it. Let’s Let’s do it. Let’s stage of this, let’s do a play reading. We didn’t have you know, the budget or the necessarily the means to do a fully staged production. But I thought let’s, let’s premiere this as a, you know, a kind of a performed stage reading. And yeah, so we launched a Go Fund Me we partnered up with someone else as well, we were going to do kind of like a double bill stage reading. We raised some money, we got a cast together, and we wanted to premiere this at factory theatre may 2020. And then, you know, the world kind of shut down.

Phil Rickaby  20:44


Sarah Marchand  20:45

yeah. So um, yeah, we were like, Okay. I feel foolish about this. Now, I was really pretentious about the idea of a digital live streaming. I was very much like, No, we need to perform this in a theatre like nothing online. What is that? So we took a little hiatus, and I said, let’s just wait until theatres reopen. But I mean, God, we’re in almost may 2021. And we’re not near that. So all that to say, we’ve been in chats recently. And we’re going to try and go for it and do a digital recording instead. So yeah, that’s kind of where we’re at. Now.

Phil Rickaby  21:23

I want to I want to talk to you a little bit about your reluctance. And perhaps your I didn’t I mean, this in the nicest way possible. You snobbishness about digital performance. Um, I, because I know, I saw a lot of that, especially like, March, April, May 2020. There was like people who were we’re just do ease of figuring it out and trying to do it. But there were other people who were like, well, it’s not theatre. And I always felt like saying, like, nobody says it is. What we’ve got right now. Yeah. So what was your journey getting from? It’s not theatre, to where you where you are, and where you’re like, let’s just do it.

Sarah Marchand  22:13

You know, this is like, I have my tail between my legs kind of moment, I think ignorance was the biggest factor I theatre is what I knew. I mean, I’ve done a little bit of film, I’ve never done any kind of live streaming thing. And so I wanted to stick with what was safe. And theatre is what I know, most of our team is primarily a theatre based, you know, performers, creators, and I just couldn’t envision what possibilities you could do with the live stream genre. I also did see like a couple of things, just when the pandemic started. And I think that was when everyone was figuring stuff out. So, you know, my, you know, my ignorant brain wasn’t willing to think more creatively of what possibilities we could do. Versus now my thinking has evolved and things I’ve seen, there’s actually been some really incredible things I’ve seen online. And yeah, it’s a it’s a moment for me to check myself and say, Well, sorry, I think you were just a bit too close minded. And that’s all it was, like.

Breanna Maloney  23:14

I totally, I totally agree with your saying about, like, the idea of ignorance and not not wanting to like, adapt to something that might like, go up in flames. Yeah. Is that maybe that’s how I see it, too. Totally. I was worried about that, too. Yeah. Yeah, I think I think for me, too, there was this big sense of not wanting to adapt out of fear. Like for me, I’m not a tech savvy person, even though I wasn’t going to be doing all the all the producing that that’s Sara has been working so hard, like crazy to do. I think for like, I think also what I’m realising is that fear was also rooted in a sense of grief and loss from live performance. And I think that I don’t I don’t know if you can, if this like, speaks to you, Sarah at all, too. But like, I think a part of me wanted to resist just like just going ahead with this digital streaming, because a part of me was like, No, no, we haven’t lost theatre, it’s still here. It’s going to come back like and, and I, which I do still, I do still think it will. But I think that I was neglectful to, for us to do this thing online because it meant that it meant that we would be we would be coming to terms with the fact that theatre isn’t around which like right now, unfortunately, it isn’t. And but you know, what people are people are, like, I’m so impressed with what artists are doing right now and how they are adapting to it and but I do think, for me anyway, it was it was a lot of that. That grief, of having lost something And just resisting, resisting, adapting. But like, I’m so glad that that we are now

Phil Rickaby  25:08

there’s something about like the idea of when you’re when you’re thinking, Okay, this is going to be a play on a stage with an audience. And this is gonna be the first time that people are seeing it. It’s it’s that kind of thing. And then when you’re thinking, Okay, so that’s that can’t happen. We could do it digitally. But then, like, have we lost something? By changing how we do it? Does that mean that we can’t do it live anymore? Because we did it digital, like, there’s a, there’s a new shift, because there have been plays that have been created and premiered in this time, which have been done digitally, which could then still be done on a stage. But I think in some ways, in our minds, because theatre is so fleeting, and because we don’t have a history of, of putting things out putting recordings out there, then it feels like Oh, if we do it online, we can never do it live. Huh. Yeah. Which of course isn’t true, because we can.

Sarah Marchand  26:05

We can but you know, putting a little producer hat on it’s it’s true from a very realistic standpoint, like when if someone has already paid to see something online, do they necessarily want to see that same thing again, a few months later. In the in the theatre, right? There’s always something that’s going to change because it’s, you know, a different art genre that you’re working with. So by nature, when you adapt something into a different medium, it’s going to change. But yeah, it is hard from a really like, pragmatic point of view to think, can you still make money off of this? And I know, I know, artists, we should never think I want to make money off of this production. But you know, we’re trying.

Phil Rickaby  26:45

of course se still, do. I want to throw a throw something at you about the idea that, like, Will people want to see it? A few months later, live? Have you ever, like, live streamed a band or bought a CD? Or a record and still bought tickets to see the band live? Heck, yes. Yeah, absolutely. I always feel like, you know, I’ve seen productions that have been filmed productions. And all that does for me, like I enjoy it. God, I really still want to be in the room for that. You know, it just is like, I’ve, I’ve, that’s just a taste of the performance, I will never be the same as when you’re there. And so for me, it’s just like, seeing my favourite band live. If I’ve already seen the video version. I can see it again. But now they’re there in the room in the same way that my favourite comedian doing a bit that I like, or my favourite band playing a song that I love. I will still love that just as much, if not more,

Sarah Marchand  27:54

when you put it that way. I love that mindset. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, also, I guess a band is probably a bit less expensive to like, you know, load in because they don’t have a set that they’re working with or anything like that. But I do. It’s, it’s true, there is something so magnetic about having real bodies in a live space experiencing something together. And, you know, that can kind of be replicated online, but it’s we all know, it’s it’s not quite the same at all.

Phil Rickaby  28:23

No, and it shouldn’t be. And that’s why I think that, you know, after all of this, you know, yes, we did stuff online, and some of that I think needs to continue. I think that live streaming from a venue. Having a digital ticket, that’s something that needs to continue to do otherwise is ablest and to do otherwise. Is is an idea that that like keeps us as a nation where we’re speaking just about Canada siloed in different cities, never able to experience the theatre in another place. We should open that up. And so this is something we should take from this and still continue to to do digital productions and, and things like that. But it’s never it’s never going to replace being in the room. Yes, yes. Here here. As far as doing this digitally, what are the the options that you’ve looked at? to present it? And and how, where have you landed on on how it should be presented in this digital version?

Breanna Maloney  29:34

Oh, my gosh, we’ve gone back and forth so many times about this. I have oh my gosh, have had so many conversations to the point where like, we will talk over email and then we’ll talk over Facebook. And sometimes you just say Sarah, why did we decide on again?

Sarah Marchand  29:58

Yeah, you And what what have we done? know if we’ve made a decision? I think, yeah, we have. Um, so I, I mean, we thought about, you know, having it in a theatre space, the space itself was the most important thing a because of costs, but the we wanted a space that was, you know, could be indoors, but also filmed as safely as possible. So, we landed on a space that is not actually a theatre, it is a photography studio. But the beautiful thing about that is that there’s lots of open space, and it’s very blank, as opposed to a theatre, you know, you’ve got the seats in the venue, and you’ve got the curtains and everything, this is just, it’s almost looks like an art gallery. So we’re kind of playing with different artistic mediums here, because we’ve also are in contact with a film crew. So we’re going to be working with a film crew, but we’ve also got, you know, this photographer who owns a studio, and we’re kind of bringing all these different genres together in order to make it happen. We’ve also toyed with the idea of like, do we stream this live live, you know, like having the actors act in the moment? Or do we have a really nicely polished recording that we then preview premiere live, you know, with a little chat box and everything? Whether one’s better or not, I don’t know if they’re, I don’t know, if I have an opinion on that. I just know, the pre recorded version, which is the route we’ve decided to go seems a little bit less of a technical nightmare. So that’s the route we’ve decided to go and we’re very excited about it, it’s going to be a new experience,

Phil Rickaby  31:40

it is absolutely a sort of a dangerous give and take, you know, you put on something, something polished, and it’s not doesn’t have that necessarily that excitement of something could go wrong. But also, when things go wrong, and you’re live streaming, they really go wrong.

Sarah Marchand  31:58

Yes, it’s bad. But, and you know, what the kind of cool, not kind of this is really cool. Actually, the the team we’ve hired to film this, they are filmmakers. And I think I always kind of felt this even prior to the pandemic, but I do think there needs to be more of a dialogue between different artists, especially people in the Theatre and Film world. Because this, this videographer, he has such a cinematic eye, and he can see things that I don’t necessarily see because I’m so used to looking at it from just like a stage, you know, with the fourth wall and everything. But I’ll talk to him about certain ideas I have. And I’m like, I don’t know how to capture this through a camera, whereas he does have that. And so, you know, we’re going to film in while we’re hoping for Jim. But I’m really excited to see how this turns out. Because I don’t want this to feel like we’re just watching something that people you know, are in their rooms, like I want this to kind of feel almost like a movie, but it’s still theatre.

Phil Rickaby  33:07

There’s, there’s this difficult thing, because you know, when you’re looking at doing like, another zoom play. The problem with that is that your audience has probably spent many hours of each day already in zoom meetings. And now we have to ask them to treat this zoom meeting. Like it’s entertainment. And that’s a very difficult mindset when we’re trying to take because when we go to the theatre, we go into a building, we go for dinner, we go into the building, we walk through the doors, we walk into this space, we’re surrounded by the the ambience of the theatre, we can maybe see the set or the curtains, it’s transporting us in a way that you can’t quite do. And we haven’t seen somebody find a great way to do with a zoom play.

Sarah Marchand  34:00

I think one thing that is really stuck out for me is and this is something so unique to digital theatre that you can’t have in a live space is just that chat box. It’s kind of fascinating to see it’s almost like a performance within a performance when shows allow you to have conversations during the production. And, you know, I’ve spoken to some people and they’re very like, close minded about it. They’re like, No, I want them to just watch it. I don’t want people talking. But for me, I don’t see it as people talking. It’s almost like they are so connected to what they’re watching that they want to share it with people and this chat box is a way for people to do that. So that’s something that does excite me a lot. I think the more you can kind of acknowledge the platform that you’re working with, the better the production can be as opposed to just like pretending like we’re not just watching another zoom play.

Breanna Maloney  34:56

It’s funny you say that because I think I’m one of those people. That says I don’t want to pay attention to what’s happening in the chatbox. Like, I couldn’t I still have not been able to adapt to Netflix party. Like, if I want to watch a film, I want to watch a film and I don’t want to be distracted by all of the like comments coming in. But I do I do. Totally. I think that the that that optic that that extra thing that we had that extra element that’s been added into this experience does, it’s exciting to see that there’s another community, like our community is still there watching and still is like we’re there together. I also think that what separates what separates watching this online to like, you know, being online with your work or being online and whatever else meetings or whatever you’ve you’ve you’ve done for the whole day. Is, is the other themes and is the the story that we’re telling. And I mean, like, yeah, I think I think we’re really competing with like, televised for, like television and film. But also we’re kind of I feel like this medium is now kind of blending into that medium, even though it’s still kind of in its liminal space of like, what what what would it be calling this because it’s not theatre, it’s an adequate. So I think it’s more about like, what is the story and like, I hope that the story is what keeps people wanting to, to stay online, you know, in a sense, or like to tune in like to pack up their their meetings or their their zoom calls for the days, get some fresh air, hopefully, they come back inside, something that they can relate to and watch something that makes them feel less isolated.

Phil Rickaby  36:44

There’s something interesting about having that chat box going during the meeting, and some people will not pay attention to it, and that’s fine. But it’s a way for the people who were for people who really feel the need to engage to engage. It’s their, their laughter in the theatre, it’s their the sound of other bodies that are also watching it. If they are engaging, however, they’re engaging. They’re, they’re there. They want are trying to be part of this show, which I think is a good way to look at it. Because then they are like, that’s their audience letting you know, they’re there in the way that they can’t otherwise.

Sarah Marchand  37:28

Totally. Breanna and I are gonna have to have a meeting after those, like, do we have a chat box? But it’s true. I agree with you. I just Yeah, because, you know, yeah, I think it does open new possibilities that I hadn’t really seen beforehand. And depending on what kind of story you’re trying to tell, like, I have seen productions where people will ask the audience right in the chat box, and that will kind of inform the way that the the piece moves forward. So it’s exciting, you know, rather than the thinking I had last year like, No, nothing’s possible. I’m trying to be more open minded and just excited at like, what possibilities we can do, given with what kind of tools we’re working with.

Phil Rickaby  38:15

It’s so hard to adjust to, it is legitimately so hard. But I have for the last year and a bit, I have been so impressed by theatre artists in general, who, two years ago would have said, I could never do anything like this. I’m just not technical. I couldn’t ever do it. And then out of necessity, they bought a webcam, they bought a light, they figured out how to do a green screen. And now they’re figuring out how to use all these things. And now, now, like they’ve learned a completely new skill out of nothing. It’s amazing. Yeah,

Sarah Marchand  38:55

it is. And like, I think that is kind of the role of the artist, you know, that I try and think about what kind of arts and what kind of stories I’m trying to tell. And if my own thinking is just, Oh, I can’t do this. I can’t do that. Or that’s not possible. Like that’s already putting such a limit to what kind of art and creations I can be sharing with people. But you’re right, it’s so hard to adjust. And I don’t want to make it seem like oh, yeah, we’ll just hop onto here. And it’s easy because it’s not but it allows you to believe in yourself and know that you’re capable of doing a lot more than you might have thought of beforehand.

Phil Rickaby  39:37

Brianna, what was what was your opinion of live streaming before? All of this?

Breanna Maloney  39:44

of live streaming? Um, yeah, actually, that’s that’s funny because that was one of the things I think Sarah and I feel like we spent at least a half hour or 45 minutes just debating over whether we were in a live stream or not, and For us, it was the question of Yeah. Do we live stream? Or do we do pre recorded, and my point of view, and this might again, come across as pessimistic was, well, I’m going to, I’m going to be opening up my computer screen, and I’m going to be watching something through a screen. So for me, personally, I don’t really, I don’t really care if it’s live streamed, or if it’s pre recorded. I just want to I want a story, I want a good quality story. And I want to be excited about that. So for me, it doesn’t really, I was resistant, about live streaming. Um, I do think for certain plays and stories, it might work better, especially with like, I’ve seen some really, really wonderful live stream plays in the past few months in the past year where artists have made it interactive, in that it kind of needs to be live streamed. I’m thinking of one specifically at tarragon. I think it was terrible that did it where you actually like they they interact with you through your phone and through texting. And like, I think there was another one where they send you things and oh my god, that’s so like, That’s brilliant. I love that and it gets me so excited. I think livestream is great. I also think that it it. I think what I didn’t see before that I’m kind of seeing now the more I think about it is it also adds this layer of, of excitement, like it’s kind of, I think it’s like now kind of our equivalent of sitting in the theatre, like right before the lights dim, and you’re excited. And you’re like, trying to like, finish a conversation with a friend and you’re waving to somebody who you’d recognise and like, there’s that excitement of something live is going to happen that you’re going to be a part of. And I think that that’s now what, what livestream is for us is it’s knowing that that oh my gosh, something could go wrong. And in a way for people like me who are a little bit afraid of tech, like, what if what if it freezes? What if somebody is Mike is no one if somebody doesn’t unmute themselves for like an entire five minutes? That is like my biggest fear now in doing these live stream things? Um, so I do I do think like now that I think back on it, reflect on it more. I do think that that is a really exciting element to it. But I will, I will say that at first I I wasn’t really excited about live streaming. And I didn’t know if I really cared whether we did either or, and and now now I do and now I’m excited with the choice that we’ve made. And I think it is the right choice for us. Um, but yeah, I, I’ve gone back and forth quite a bit. But

Phil Rickaby  42:34

it’s hard not to, it’s hard not to because that whole, like something could go wrong. things can go wrong in a live in a play in person. But never quite to the extent that they can, if a live stream is happening, like if somebody is muted, and they don’t know it, or the buffering happens, and now people are talking over each other if somebody’s camera froze, and these are things that like would never happen in a live play. But now if they happen, there’s very little any of us can do about it.

Breanna Maloney  43:10

Totally. And you want to you want to or I want to help them turn your back on the guy. I’ve showed that at Green. Tell them to turn their mic on. And maybe, maybe we need that kind of excitement too. And that kind of feeling of what’s what’s the word being like that kind of my sense of like being afraid for, like, in a good way, but like wanting to support them. Right, right.

Phil Rickaby  43:42

Now, physically, where are each of you? Sarah, you’re in BC? Yeah, yeah. And Brianna,

Breanna Maloney  43:50

I am actually just outside of Toronto, I was living in Toronto. The year ago, I was in the annex. And because both of my jobs my one job was in a theatre and the other was a gym, those will be closed. And so I decided to pack everything up and move on, move on in with my parents, which they have very graciously accepted.

Phil Rickaby  44:16

Like so many people. Yeah.

Breanna Maloney  44:20

And I didn’t think I would ever like I didn’t know if I would want to you know, say that on the podcast. But you know what, I think it’s important to say that you know what, like, yeah, I I needed I needed some help and some support and it’s it’s kind of nice to be able to ask for help from your family when there’s a global pandemic and you just cut a need so it’s I I definitely understand that it’s, it feels it is a privilege to be able to be here right now. I miss Toronto like crazy, but yeah, I am I’m in my room.

Phil Rickaby  44:56

But you know, I do think that that that we need to be able to Talk about this part of the of the pandemic. The fact that that that, you know, people are have have left Toronto and had to move home with their parents and it’s not. These are things that we wouldn’t admit to previously. But I think we have to, and we have to, like, everybody’s experience of this is different because everybody has lost something different. But then it has to be okay. And it has to be like, Well, you did what you had to do. Yeah. And and that’s, that’s how we move forward out of this not by shaming anybody who, who had to move home or who, who didn’t move home or who had to change provinces or, or anything like that. This is all stuff that this is how people get through this. Yeah,

Breanna Maloney  45:43

yeah. It’s, yeah, it’s Oh, sorry. Sorry. No, go ahead. Go ahead. Oh, I was gonna say like, it’s, it’s okay. It’s so okay. Like, yes, I like now, now that I’m here, and I’m like, I still have my days. I’m like, Oh, I miss, I miss the city. I missed, like, seeing my friends. But like, I wouldn’t be doing that if I was there right now. Anyway, I walked out, I still be excited. And you know what, there is nothing wrong, there is zero shame in, in moving in with your parents for a little while. And in or in, in moving in with a friend if you like, like, whatever you need to do right now. That’s helpful for you. And that, like, makes that a sustainable, I should say that it’s sustainable for you do that. Just do that. And like think things will be different, you know, like, so?

Phil Rickaby  46:33

Yeah. And we’re definitely holding on to that. Because, you know, I was just talking to somebody in Australia. And they were just about to open theatres to 100% in Australia. Oh, my gosh. I mean, they had their fringe festivals this year. Now, one of them had to shut down for three days, because there was one case of COVID in the city. But that was three days. Yeah. And like theatres are opening. And I think it’s important that we that, you know, we’re doing what we have to do now. But we can see the the hope of it. Yeah, in the future. And it’s important that we know that’s coming.

Sarah Marchand  47:12

Yeah. It’s so important to remind ourselves of that and Breanna, I totally agree. It’s just like, whatever is sustainable, and you need to do right now to get through this, like, just do it because yeah, I was struggling in Toronto as well. I love that city.


I know, I’ll be back. I’ll be back. But, um, you know, one, one positive I can take from this pandemic is I I wasn’t doing well beforehand. And like Brianna, I use work to you know, cover up all the things that are going on with me mental health wise, and I was such a workaholic beforehand that I would just get busy myself to the point where I didn’t have to think anymore and to just have all of that go away. I was forced to just sit down and be with my thoughts. And I realised I’m not happy in the city right now. And yeah, I realised that my move to Vancouver is kind of ridiculous, but I’m also can be ridiculous sometimes. But I’m very glad I did it. Because I feel like such a different person now. And yeah, I’m glad for that. That is something I’m grateful for.

Phil Rickaby  48:26

It was quite an epic move, though to go. You went across the country. Some people

Sarah Marchand  48:30


Phil Rickaby  48:31

You know, a province over a move to a couple cities over but but you you switched to the entire like another coast. Yeah. Can I ask you what what was the drew you to Vancouver?


Yeah, um, theatres had been open here actually a little bit. And so I was lucky, they’re now closed down. But up until November theatres were open. They had like, kind of little seating pods, and you had to wear your mask, but just the film and theatre industry was still doing overall much better than Toronto was, um, I’ve always been interested about the West Coast. And it just kind of felt this, like this cosmic kind of calling. I have a good friend here. And she was looking for a roommate. I was feeling really unhappy and you know, disoriented. And so yeah, I literally just bought a ticket on impulse. And that was it. I left. Going back to the beginning, you know, I tend to say yes to things and then realising Oh, my God, what have I done? So that was another one of these instances.

Phil Rickaby  49:35

So you had you been to Vancouver before? No, never. So you’ve never been there before. And you were like, well, I’m gonna live. Yeah, yeah. Good time. All right. That’s no sorry. Go ahead.

Breanna Maloney  49:51

And she’s convinced me to get out there as soon as I possibly can.

Sarah Marchand  49:54


Breanna Maloney  49:55

I see these pictures of the mountains and the water and the trees and I can not wait to go.

Phil Rickaby  50:01

Tell you years ago, I had a friend who was like you have to come to Vancouver. You’ll love it. It’s It’s May the we already I know it’s still cold in, in in Toronto, but it’s the spring is sprung here the paddy was open. I was like, I’m gonna come and visit for a week. And my plane landed. And that night it started to rain. Oh, no. And it did not stop raining until the day that I left. And in the middle of the week. I was like, so this is a lot of rain. Now. She was like, No, this is nothing winter is this all the time? I was like, I’m never moving here.

Sarah Marchand  50:36

I’m so sorry. You had to go through that. Yeah, the winters are very rainy. But I choose that over snow any day. So that’s just my experience

Phil Rickaby  50:47

As we start to get into the close of our time together. One of the things that I find that I’ve wanted to ask everybody who’s been on in the last year is about about joy, and what has been giving them joy. So if you could share a couple of things, each of you that have been giving you joy.

Breanna Maloney  51:13

Um, you know what, just because we just talked about moving home and changing locations. I know like, I think at the beginning, there was a bit of like, either there was a bit of a stigma of you know, 27 year old living at home, which again, is like, awesome, it’s awesome right now. But you know what, I think something that’s been given me joy has actually been the time I’ve been able to spend with my parents that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Like, things like going for walks, watching, watching silly TV shows together, having dinner, taking turns making dinner, that has actually been a really great sense of joy for me. And I’m, I’ve actually I feel very lucky to get to have extra time with them.

Phil Rickaby  52:04

That’s wonderful. Sarah.

Sarah Marchand  52:07

Yeah. Well, why am I so emotional with this question? Oh, my God,

Phil Rickaby  52:11

 That’s okay. It’s okay to be emotional about a question about joy.


Yeah, yeah, it’s thank you for asking it. Um, I, it’s funny, I so just to bring it back maybe to this play. And I I was originally interested in this play, because I’ve always been fascinated by death and how people process grief and loss. Um, and I realised like, before the pandemic, I was interested in this topic, but yeah, I wasn’t really exploring it fully. And I realised now, like, we’re here for such a short time. And I’m so grateful for the people in my life. And I just want to take the moment to like, appreciate everyone that is close to me and just making art that speaks to me whether or not you know, it becomes a commercial success or whatever, it it nourishes me and I get a lot of joy now, just just from the people in my life and the art that I make.

Phil Rickaby  53:22

That is lovely. Thank you so much. Thank you. I would like to thank you both for having this conversation with me. And I can’t wait to see this show once once it’s filmed and available.

Sarah Marchand  53:34

It’s gonna happen. Hopefully, no, I will. I will. Well, thank you so much for having us. Absolutely. Yeah. This is great.

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Host @philrickaby is a huge fan of Eldritch Theatre, and is super excited to see this. In fact, watch our Instagram on Tuesday for something exciting! https://t.co/BadEkTAFji
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