Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 19 2013
Aaron Holt, Alex Chan, Katie Doyle, Larissa Sampson, Maddy Osborne-Wood, Michael Kurliak, and Shanelle Horobec (Actors)
By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer
“Fight Club!” “Breakfast Club!” “No, definitely Fight Club!” It is not uncommon for a group working together to have disagreements, but the cast of Blue Window came to a quick consensus when discussing the best pre-performance movie. “We all have such different taste in everything,” says Michael Kurliak, “But it is one of those things we can all agree on.”
“There is action, there is comedy,” Larissa Sampson agrees, “and there are hot men for Shanelle.”
“It is always an important thing,” laughs Horobec.
Blue Window is the ensemble’s second Douglas production, and it is clear that living in the trenches together for so long has erased all signs of formality. “It is so necessary for the work we are doing,” says Sampson. “Because of the emotional vulnerability; to be able to cry in front of the entire cast and know that they are not like, ‘Heh! Look at her trying to cry, she looks terrible.’” Their friendship and trust is the framework for the performance, and it is the most valuable and pleasurable part of the experience.
But with 12-hour days, rehearsing emotional scenes over and over again, the actors feel the tolls adding up. “A lot of stuff doesn’t come out,” says Maddy Osborne-Wood, describing the internal struggles of her character Boo:
“She has these big parts where she’s just lying on a couch, and at first I was, ‘Oh okay, lying on a couch,’ but the thoughts that come from that can be pretty draining.”
Although the presentation on stage is significant, the ability to remove themselves from the lives of their characters is equally important, if not more so. “Safety is the top priority,” said Alex Chan. “It is really easy to lose yourself. It might not happen on day one, and it might not happen on day five, but… something outside the work entirely can happen to weaken your mental fortitude and that is not healthy.”
As romantic as living and breathing theatre sounds, the group also knows that such a relationship could be abusive. “After rehearsal, I can’t just go to sleep,” said Sampson, “I have to go home and de-stress.”
“Defragment,” Aaron Holt adds. “It is good to take some time off and return to it. It becomes so much more exciting.”
Acting requires effort, and oftentimes the art form is unappreciated. Marketability becomes a large factor for the future of young actors. “It sounds horrible,” said Sampson, “but you have to pander to people. Nobody wants to see you do Macbethagain, the exact same way everybody else has done it. But if it is Macbeth set in space, would that be dumb?”
On a planet where entertainment is a mouse-click away, theatre seems as good as dead, but the cast is undaunted. “It is not dying,” said Holt, “It is just changing.” Vancouver‘s diverse culture is a breeding ground for new experimental art, as well as contemporary renditions of the classics. Motivated by the evolution, Osborne-Wood and the others don’t feel a need to relocate. “We have this group of actors and the stagecraft people,” she said, “and we are just starting to create our own theatre. We just need to start doing things and see what happens. It’s about giving opportunities and testing the water.”
Anticipating the future is not a comfortable act for anybody, and it is no easier for actors. But when all is said and done and the spotlight hits the stage, the cast of Blue Window will remember the stern words of a former instructor, Stephen Drover: “Don’t bullshit me!” A lesson we can all follow.