Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Sydney: I’m an actor, director, writer, and producer based in Vancouver. I’m one of the founders of Third Wheel Productions and a co-creator of our new immersive theatrical show, “Deep Into Darkness”.
I grew up on a farm in Black Creek, British Columbia, where I met my now-husband and producing partner, Fraser Larock in middle school.
I’ve always loved performing and creating art, so I’ve been pursuing artistic projects related to film, television, web series, and theatre ever since I moved to Vancouver.
Laura, Fraser, and I – along with our amazing team – are launching “Deep Into Darkness” on August 13th in Vancouver. It’s the most ambitious production that I’ve been part of and we couldn’t be more excited. . .
Laura: Like Sydney, I grew up in a smaller town – in my case, Maple Ridge – and performance has been an ongoing part of my life for as long as I can remember.
My love for theatre started at the age of 5 when I was invited to a family friend’s dance recital. As I sat in the audience watching the older girls dance, I was in complete awe.
The following year, I enrolled in dance classes and danced competitively – doing jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, hip hop and more for my entire adolescence.
When I hit high school, I took drama classes and when I realized that I could use my body along with dialogue to tell stories, I knew I truly found my passion.
I moved to Vancouver, attended Capilano University and completed their Acting for Stage and Screen Program. Since then, I’ve been working primarily in acting for film, television, and theatre, but have put an equal emphasis on creating my own work. Sydney and I have worked together on several of these projects and recently formed Third Wheel Productions with “Deep Into Darkness” being our first production through the company.
For me, “Deep Into Darkness” integrates many of the physical and emotional elements that I love about performance and storytelling.
What drew you two together when you first met at Capilano University?
Sydney: I think what drew us together most was our sense of humour. We never go a day without laughing together. I think Laura is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, everything she says or does cracks me up. Sometimes that’s what challenges us the most in rehearsal… I’m always giggling.
Laura and I were both cast as sisters in Dancing at Lughnasa in our 3rd and final year at Capilano. We got really close during that process and became best friends.
Laura: Sydney and I were always friendly at Capilano. However, it was the summer after our first year there that we really clicked. I was living with a boyfriend at the time on Vancouver Island and Sydney was in the Comox Valley. We began hanging out almost daily and basically haven’t stopped since.
I think the strength of our personal connection is even stronger because we also share similar artistic and professional goals. We both love storytelling and performance and I believe our passion for the arts comes through in our work.
When did you decide to create your own production company, Third Wheel Productions?
Sydney: We decided to form Third Wheel Productions immediately after we saw Sleep No More in New York City. We were sitting in a speakeasy bar called Please Don’t Tell that we had waited for 3 hours to get into when our conversation started about creating a company together. We knew right away that we wanted to create a show inspired by what we had just experienced. I was the one who came up with the name. It just seemed suiting for our dynamic relationship.
Laura: Third Wheel Productions eventually came to fruition in January of 2018. We always joked that I was the “third wheel” to Sydney and Fraser’s marriage. But the funny part is that we all take turns being the third wheel. Sydney and I have our classic girly best friend times, but then sometimes when Harry Potter is brought up Fraser and I will run off on a fun Potter geek out.
What have you learned since the creation of your 2016 web-series, “The Support Group”?
Sydney: The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that there are so many people in this industry just itching to work on cool new productions. Everyone wants something new and exciting, but it takes someone to just do it. Once that happens, people start asking how to become involved, how can they help, etc. Fear and self-doubt are our biggest obstacles as artists. Sometimes you need to just quiet those voices down.
I’ve also learned that creating great art really takes time. More recently, we almost decided to do “Deep Into Darkness” in less than 6 months and thankfully our dramaturg, Stephen Atkins, talked us out of it. We were just so excited after our New York trip that we couldn’t wait. I carry immense gratitude for the decision to postpone it until now as the show is so much stronger for it.
Laura: I’ve learned that no matter what project you’re doing, it always takes a village!
You saw “Sleep No More” while on a trip to New York which is an immersive theatre show that uses the entire theatre setting rather than just a stage. What compelled you to start thinking about creating your own show like that?
Sydney: What compelled me most was that I had experienced nothing else like it in my life before. I had heard stories about this kind of show but never truly experienced its uniqueness first-hand. Audience members were sitting on pieces of the set, eating things from jars, wearing masks, being taken places individually by the performers. I was obsessed with the feeling of excitement that came from sharing space with the performers. It was both intimate and intimidating at times but oh-so thrilling. Being that close to the characters is somewhat intoxicating.
“Sleep No More” was the catalyst for “Deep Into Darkness” because I wanted to give Vancouver audiences a similarly exhilarating experience with the goal of making it an international production.
Laura: Right after we saw the show, we started geeking out about immersive theatre. We started spit-balling ideas that night after we saw “Sleep No More”. Weeks later, we were still all talking about what we saw or didn’t see and how it was time for us to create a new experience ourselves. “Deep Into Darkness” essentially snowballed from there.
What can audiences expect from, “Deep Into Darkness”?
Sydney: Audiences can expect to tap into their voyeuristic sides. They’ll experience all sorts of emotions – like a rollercoaster ride in a 19th-century Victorian setting where many secrets will be revealed.
Laura: Audiences will be standing, walking, running, moving around spaces and untapped territories. Like flies on the wall of many different story arcs, they should also be ready to interact with actors during some extremely private emotional moments.
What’s next for you two?
Sydney: Beyond taking “Deep Into Darkness” to other markets, we’ve been talking about a few concepts for our next experience. We want to do something a little more futuristic. I want to develop a “Black Mirror”-style experience, Laura wants to do something with “The Matrix” and Fraser wants to incorporate VR and AR.
Laura: These shows are currently in the creating and writing stages. The primary goal is to expand on the immersive aspects by adding elements to enhance the worlds we are creating.
What advice would you have for aspiring actors/producers/directors?
Sydney: You don’t need anyone’s permission to start, except your own. This process has taught me that it takes a lot of courage. People will think you’re crazy, but at the end of the day, you will feel so fulfilled for taking that risk.
Laura: Fear will always be there, but the power and fulfillment that comes from pursuing your dreams is absolutely worth any bumps and bruises along the way. Keep chugging along and find your team. Communication is key and trust that you will make it out the other side.
What are your lives like outside of the entertainment world?
Sydney: My life is pretty awesome. I spend a lot of time with my husband, Fraser and our quirky dog, Darwin. Outside of the entertainment world, we like to travel every year, play guitar and sing together. We go bouldering, cycling, jogging, shop for our favourite LUSH bath bombs, and cook creative meals. We are super close with our families and often stay in on a Friday night to Facetime them because of the time zone difference. We also read Marina Abromovic’s “Walk Through Walls” before bed for artistic inspiration.
Laura: If I have spare time, which isn’t often, I like to spend it at the beach, hiking, and re-watching “Harry Potter”, “The OC”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and other classic teen series. I love a bad teen drama.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
Sydney: They can find out more about the show at DeepIntoDarkness.com.