Canadian theatre icon Seana McKenna’s take on the title villain in Richard III was one of the star attractions of The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 season; Gareth Potter’s ballsy (forgive the pun) and brash turn as disillusioned drag queen Hosanna in Michel Tremblay’s heartwrenching play of the same name was a personal highlight. Their physical transformations (some of the biggest in festival history) are chronicled in this beautiful short film.
Through backstage shots and intimate interviews with the two thoughtful actors, the film delves into what it takes to slip into someone else’s skin. It’s quite the beautiful exploration- oddly melancholy as McKenna and Potter discuss leaving the roles they’ve spent so much time shaping (Potter, in particular, talks about how Hosanna will always stay with him).
But it’s funny too. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Potter’s recounting of “getting raunchy in the [ladies] dressing room” after putting on his lingerie and heels, and the usually very serious McKenna discussing “shift[ing] the bumps to the hump”. It’s a rare glimpse into the process of the Stratford actor and an insight into some of 2011’s most fascinating performances.