My Theatre

18 April 2017

Nominee Interview Series: Gregory Prest

By // Theatre (Toronto)

Before we announce the winners of the 2016 MyTheatre Awards, we’re proud to present our annual Nominee Interview Series.

Not including ensemble nominations (even this year’s for Father Comes Home From the Wars), Soulpepper’s Gregory Prest has raked up five MyTheatre Award nominations thus far, including acting nods in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016. He won Outstanding Supporting Actor for his 2012 performance in Long Day’s Journey Into Night in addition to being our Performer of the Year AND sharing the Outstanding New Work prize for co-creating Alligator Pie.

This year he’s nominated for the legendary role of George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, presented as a radio play as part of Soulpepper’s expanded holiday programming. Striking the perfect balance between homage and originality, Gregory’s nuanced take on the character deftly filled some of the biggest shoes in Hollywood history.

Catch us up on your life since your last Nomineee Interview Series
It’s been a big year. I’ve done a lot of things that were challenging. I learned a lot, and I feel proud when I think about all the things in the year that were put in motion. It was busy-I learned a lot this year. It was a good year.

You started 2016 with The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine, working alongside your frequent collaborator Raquel Duffy, tell us a little bit about that production and the tricky mix of broad humour with the very complex relationship.
Yes. So that play is a terrifying play to do because it has legendary performances behind it. It was created by its performers, so you always go in knowing you’ll never really be as good as they were, because they made it. So you have to find your own thing, and the connection with it. So Leah [Cherniak] was amazing at giving us permission to… she was both totally open to whatever we brought to it, and also said “no, this is how it works. You have to do it.” Like, I know the play, I made the play, this is how you do it. So that was great. I loved doing it, it was terrifying doing it, but I loved it. Like, it was a good terrifying. I feel like I learned a lot from doing it, and I loved working with Raquel. Our bodies, we were fucked up after that. You know, the rehearsal and the run of that. But Kelly [McEvenue], who’s our Alexander coach, she knows our bodies well. And she laughs, now. She says “you guys were like – ”Our bodies just contracted at the end of that show. Which was exhilarating to do, but I don’t know how you’d run that for longer than we did. Vocally, too. But you’d be warned about that. Leah said, “make sure you have a lot of massages, because you’re going to hurt”. But it was fun.

It was actually one of a couple of shows you did this year where the language was very stylized, almost poetry. How do you make something like that feel natural?
It all depends on the director. It all depends on who you’re working with and what they want. Do they want it to feel natural? Do they want it to feel like poetry? So always, as an actor, it’s – this year has been a crazy year because I was directing as well, this year, so trying to figure out what the director wants to work.

 How to make it natural. I don’t know, that’s a really good question. I think, fundamentally, if you know the thought behind it, then hopefully – but it’s a real… it can be challenging depending on the text. Ernest and Ernestine is based in clown, and I didn’t find the language in that super challenging because it’s all in performance level.

You were also in The Just. What was it like working with the recent Academy Alum Frank CoxO’Connell, who was the director?
Frank’s great. I’ve known Frank since we went to school together– he’s so smart, and he’s a good, good person. And a really good artist. And it was really challenging. That play was really, really hard. It was one of those plays that we first read a couple of years before we started, and some plays… this is one of those plays that became more difficult the longer we worked on it. And things were less clear the longer we worked on it.

Why?
I don’t know why that is. Some plays are like that. It was one of those plays that I actually read, and I was like “This is a fantastic play”. But I don’t know whether – you know, and there’s so many things. Because it’s translation, because it’s in French, and what that was, and then the translation, so it’s already been taken away from its original source. And I think Bobby Theodore did a great translation, but then – that’s a really hard play. Camus – I don’t know, that was really hard. I think it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And it’s one of those shows that I do not feel good about. It’s just one of those weird shows, I have to now accept that just because I don’t feel good about it doesn’t mean that someone else can’t say “what are you talking about, I loved that show!” I loved doing it, I loved the whole company. The experience was fascinating. But there’s something with the language, or maybe it’s where I was- I feel like it was a part that I was not quite right for. I wondered if I was too old to play that part or maybe I had an idea who this person was because he was based on a real person. Maybe it was just me getting my own way. That’s possible too. That definitely wouldn’t be untrue. It wouldn’t be uncharacteristic of me. 

Well, I thought you were good in The Just.
Why, thank you. It’s something that I’m learning. A huge portion of this year, maybe it’s also because of the directing too, I’ve been on both sides of things this year, just really thinking about things, and I know how things feel on the inside, but also on the outside. It doesn’t have to feel good in order to be good. That’s the old cliché- you walk offstage, and you’re like “That was the best thing I’ve ever done!” and it’s usually crap, and you say “I hated that,” and it was really good. It’s a cliché which I find really limiting and boring. But there’s some truth in it, when they say that.

And speaking of directing, you made your main stage directing debut in the spring, with the Heidi Chronicles. What were some of the most important lessons you learned from that experience?
That play, I wanted to do for a long time. I loved that play. I loved the company. I learned so much, and they were so generous at allowing me the time to figure out the things I need to. Part of the casting was knowing that I wouldn’t be able to deal with personality. If it’s about the play, about the scene, and that’s work, that’s work. But I wouldn’t have been able to tackle difficult personalities, if you know what I mean. That’s what I learned about casting.

I love that play. I find that play so sad, and so moving, and so true. I fought for a long time to have it done, and there were a few instances where it almost wasn’t, where I had to fight for it. And because of that, I felt like I was always trying to defend the play. So, moving forward, I feel like I don’t need to defend things as much, but keep working at it. I wanted people to have a certain experience but now I’m going to let that go a little bit- to let them have the experience that they have, because the play is stronger than anything that I could add to it. I love that play, and I love those people who were in it. So it’s great.

You cast mostly your closest friends and collaborators. Was that a deliberate choice to ease the pressure of directing for the first time and potentially dealing with contentious personalities?
No, but I knew it was the first experience. There’s no one I cast in that show that I didn’t think were right for the parts. Like Michelle [Monteith]. For me, that’s her part. Jordan [Pettle], Raquel [Duffy], Sophia [Walker], Sarah [Wilson], Damien [Atkins], Paolo [Santalucia] – they are all perfect people in my opinion for those parts. It’s funny to be part of a company, I’m learning so much about how shows come to be, it’s a learning curve, but also understanding- I’ve had people say to me, in not nice ways, “Oh, look who’s in that play.” But we’re a company. I guess because I’m inside the company, I’m a bit biased- we do these plays [because] the have opportunities for the company, you know? I think Sarah Wilson is one of the most underused actresses there are. I think she’s a great actor. I want to see her do more stuff.

What I learned from it was that [directing] really triggered certain things. People would say things to me, whereas before as an actor, I’d get maybe a bit demure, and apologize for myself. And as a director, there’s no apologizing, this is what we did. I think that we did the best that we could have. Someone more experienced than me could have done better, but I was where I was, and I thought [the actors] were amazing.

The next thing was Father Comes Home from the Wars. Coming off of directing, was your mindset different, how you approached the rehearsal room, or your relationship with the director?
Yeah. I’d never worked with Weyni [Mengesha] before, so I was so happy to work with her, and I loved that play, and that group of people. I loved that experience. But, [having just directed], I walked in trusting the director more, trusting Weyni. Knowing that not all problems can be solved now. Some problems are for later. Or they’ll get solved – things that come up in rehearsal. To understand that the director’s job – it’s huge. It’s a huge thing that they have to do. And there’s tiny little events, they’re important, but try to figure out when to have those conversations. And just trusting myself, because that’s the thing [I learned] watching actors want to be somewhere that they’re not, even though where they are is perfect. So letting myself off the hook a little bit – why would I understand this scene 100% now on the first day of rehearsal, on our feet, with people I’ve never acted with before? Give yourself a break. That’s what rehearsal is. I feel like I walked into rehearsal a bit more open. Or more trusting. And that I don’t need to work so hard, yet at the same time it’s scary, because you want to work. You want to be a hard worker.

In that show, you played a mixed-race man passing as a white man. Was that nerve-wracking to take on ? That sounds terrifying to me.
That was terrifying. That was a terrifying thing. I didn’t realize how terrifying it was until I was in the middle of doing it. And I loved that play, and I think what she’s written is beautiful, and powerful, and fascinating, and provocative.

I did something I’ve never done before and you never do. Because you always deal with people afterwards, and sometimes they say really nice things. Of course, you never want to hear people say the terrible things. And I’ve had terrible experiences with talkbacks, and people being really cruel. There was one life-changing moment that was awful during an Angels [in America] talkback that we did; I didn’t know how to react, so my body took over and I left the room without even knowing. I just lost my mind and had to leave.  So Father Comes Home from the Wars, we had a talkback, and because of that experience, I’m always a little, not defensive, but on guard. And it was great. It was an amazing talkback. It was wonderful. It was beautiful. And then I was just feeling so light. I went to the lobby, and I was talking to some people, and this woman came up, and she said “It was really unconvincing, wasn’t it?” I said “I’m so sorry that you were unconvinced. That’s an awful thing to hear after a performance. What Suzan-Lori Parks has written is this. And I’m sorry if you don’t understand it, but this is the story of the character.” It was one of those things that just happened, and then she said, “I was going to ask something about the Americanness of it, but none of you are Americans, so it doesn’t really [apply]” and she walked away. Usually I would internalize that and then, the next performance, I would have been, “You’re right, I shouldn’t be here”; it would have spun me out. And instead of that, I said “Go fuck yourself.” I’ve never done that in my whole entire life. And there is also, “You’re Soulpepper, you’re a company member, you can’t tell people to go fuck themselves in the lobby”. But I was so done with that. It’s a weird thing. It just happened. And it shocked me. I, of course, had to tell Albert [Schultz], just in case, and I’ll take full responsibility, but after a few bad experiences with an audience member, it’s like, “Do you understand?”

Maybe I’m too precious as an actor, but I feel like what we do takes risk. We’re people. And we’re people being asked to do things, and I’m not putting off the blame, but people who can’t understand that, and can talk to you as a product. My friend Damien [Atkins], he’s really good at standing up for himself, and I’ve learned that from him. To say “No, you cannot talk to me like that.” Which is so out of character for me. Because usually I would just mope and feel bad about myself for 3 weeks.

What did Albert and Leslie say?
They were very smart. Because they’re friends, but also colleagues. They appreciated the weirdness, they appreciated the situation that I was in, but there was no “High-five!” There was like “Okay, you need to check that. You need to work out whatever that is and figure out better responses to it.” But I was very proud, because we’re sensitive people, all of us.

And that wasn’t even a comment on your work. It was a comment on the text you were given.
Exactly.

From the start, you’re speaking in a vernacular that’s different from the white characters in the play. What was that experience like, and how did you wrap your head around playing essentially a black man, which is totally out of your experience?
I had to trust Weyni. While we were rehearsing it, it was a crazy time in the world. Oftentimes I felt like I had no right to play this part. And I know people said to me, “Why didn’t they get a mixed-race actor to play that part?”

It was written specifically for a white actor, right?
That’s correct. And so I was like, “All I can tell you is that this is what the play [calls for]” Actively, I have to talk to myself, say “No, this is your job, this is what you’ve been asked to do. Weyni asked you to do this.” I was a reader for the audition, so when Daren [Herbert] came in, I didn’t know that I was going to be part of this at all. Weyni was on Skype from California. They were interested in other people for the part that I played, and she said “What about this guy?” And I was like “Are you kidding me?” I find it very difficult to give myself permission to play that part, to take part in an experience that I know is not my experience. And to be in a room full of amazing, wonderful and intimidating artists. It was really terrifying.

We’re rehearsing part 2, and it was the end of the thing, and Weyni says, “Can you come here for a second?” I walk down to the edge of the stage – I’ll never forget it – and I kind of knew, but I didn’t know- and she said “I see you, and you’re hiding. And you can’t do that. We need you to do this. You have to do this. You have to do it for us.” That’s what she said, and that gave me permission to not worry about it, even though I did worry about it, the big questions being asked, in the world and in the community. I loved doing it, and my hope is that these plays- parts 4, 5, 6- are written. And I hopefully will be able to do those plays. My hope is that the whole company will.

The next thing you did was Hosanna. What attracted you to that script?
That was a fascinating thing . That was not a script that I ever pitched, and that was a play that I never wanted to do in my life. It was a play that I read in theatre school and, talking to Damien [Atkins] about it, talking to a lot of gay actors, I have a similar response- “Oh, what is this? I don’t want to touch this.” It’s of a different time.

The great lesson- I had a project this year that I’d pushed for for years, and I had an opportunity that was put in my lap. And both were very different, two different experiences. I fell in love with that script [Hosanna]. And the politics of it, in 2016, are very difficult, and some people do not like the play because of its politics. The story that we chose to tell was a story that was in the script, because I don’t know where in the play the story would support a different viewpoint. The trans question is a huge question. If the play were written now, it’d be a very different play. Also knowing the play- and you can roll your eyes to this- is an allegory. He’s writing about Quebec in the 70’s, about Quebecois identity, of having to be so distant from the person that you are in order to be accepted. And I have nothing to say about Quebec politics. How can I? I can research, read, appreciate, look through different lenses, but as an artist, I have nothing to say to that. And why would I?

Because you’re from the east coast. 
Yes, exactly. Damien felt the same way. He was very apprehensive. Both of us were apprehensive, which allowed us to have a bit of distance from it, and I feel very proud of what we did with that script, and it was so great having Jason [Cadieux] there. I’d never met Jason, and it was the first time I’d ever auditioned as an actor in my life, so that was really fun. That was really great. I saw him in a show 12 years ago here. And when it came up, I was like “Oh… that guy.” And that was really nice. It was a nice experience to do that, and try to figure out how to make the audition experience a nice experience, because we do all these auditions, and feel so rotten most of the time.

Damien and I talked about this, and talked about it, and talked about it, and then Jason came on board, and we talked about it, and we talked about it, and we talked about it, and I wanted to do the version I saw. I feel like what I wanted to do with the play was honour the play without fetishizing her. Without victimizing her. Having her culpable in her own demise. And for me, it was the love story. That’s how I could approach that text. We didn’t have a trans artist on the team– we talked to some people, the conversations were had, and we moved forward feeling that these two are the best ways to move forward. There’s a lot of writing about that play. Damien went to Tremblay and he sat down with him for a couple of hours, and interviewed him. How we receive plays, and how we put them back up, is a big question I have. When politics are different, we recognize different things, so it’s a weird, it’s a fascinating thing that we do. How we go back in time, but also try to stay in the present, and try to honour the thing, and again, I don’t know what I would add to a trans conversation, because that’s not who I am.

So that was a fascinating experience, and I really loved working with Damien on that, I really loved working with Jason on that. And the designers. I feel very proud of that play, and I know that not everyone appreciated it, but that’s kind of what I’ve been learning this year. How to create and how to get better at what I do, and listen to outside voices, and not listen to outside voices.

What I feel very proud about in that play– I feel like a love story was told, a love story that I recognize. The lesson is, don’t get into an argument with your significant other after 1 o’clock in the morning. [laughs]

Your nomination this year is for It’s a Wonderful Life. You had this strange task of reprising but not quite mimicking one of the most iconic performances in the history of film. Walk us through finding just the right amount of Jimmy for George.
Well, I had never seen this movie, ever. And once I found out I was doing it, [everyone said] “Oh, that’s my favourite movie in the whole entire world. Jimmy [Stewart] stars!” , and I’m going  “I’m going to fail. Thanks for another hard part.” This will sound self-aggrandizing, but Damien’s like “Gregory, you play the hard parts.” And I was like “Oh, that’s a really nice thing to say/that fucking sucks”. And people were like “Why are you playing that part? Why did they put you in that part? Why are you playing that? You’re not that”. So I’ve never seen [the movie], and I was terrified. I’m like “Oh, shit.” And then I saw it. And I’d read the script before, and thought “It’s a beautiful story”. The movie is amazing. I loved that movie. Jimmy Stewart – I’d seen him in a couple of things, but he is incredible in that performance in that movie. That’s one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. It is so beautiful. And so I thought, “Okay.” And then I did a little bit of- you check out what other people have done, and there’s some interviews with people, like “I need to distance myself from it,” “I did my own interpretation of it”. Philip Grecian, who did the adaptation- I don’t know whether he played George Bailey or he played Clarence in an original version of it-  he said in his notes that he and the others would  just let themselves do it, mimic it, to get it out of their system and all that stuff. And I thought “You know what? I’m going to treat it a bit like a mask; I’m going to treat Jimmy Stewart like a dialect. I’m going to put him on”. [The play is] different enough from the movie- we watched the movie in rehearsal, and we’re going “You know what? That’s a better line than that’s what’s here, so let’s change that,” or “That scene isn’t in here.” So we did a lot of that, and “There are things that he does so beautifully in the movie, we need to do that.” And so I treated it like a dialect, and just trusted that working with me and with other people that it hopefully will not come across as mimicry, but influence.

There are certain things that you can’t do. I don’t know how you would ever do A Streetcar Named Desire, how you would ever play Stanley Kowalski and not try to honour Marlon Brando. That was challenging and really fun and hard – sometimes I felt like a big phony, but I had to trust that. And in the end, you supplement with all your things. You put the mask on, you put the dialect on, and you technically have to figure out how to do things. And then, after all, because you’re an actor, your body starts getting underneath it.

So that was a really humbling experience, in a way, because it is a totally different thing. I never think of that. I remember doing certain roles that I’ve played where I’ve been like, “I am doing this person.” And there are roles where I’m like “All my choices are basically me copying that individual that I know from my personal life.” Or, you know, we do that with actors as well- it’s a really tricky thing. But I loved doing it, and it was freeing. I hoped that it wouldn’t be “Wow, he’s making it his own.” You know what I mean? “He’s carving his own way through that.” No, why would he? It’s beautiful. I think we’re never going to be as good as the movie, we’ll never compete with the movie. So it was humbling and I learned a lot from it, but it was terrifying. I was waiting- this is my problem, I wait, I think all the bad things, and then I wait for people to say them. And a couple of times, I’m like “Wow. I just experienced my worst nightmare. And I’m still okay. So I guess I should learn from that”. 

Do you think you seek out the people who are going to say the thing that you’re expecting?
Not actively. But because I prepare myself, in a way, I guess I do. And that’s something I’m trying to learn how to not do, and yet it’s hard, though, because I try to see all the sides of it, I like to do that, because that’s how my mind works. I know it’s not always great, and I end up creating fictions that aren’t really real, but I think probably because I do think them, that I do, in a weird way, attract them. And so now I just have to figure out “Well, you can do that, but try to let those go,” or “you don’t have to take it. If someone says something to you, you don’t have to take it. You can just let it go”. It’s a hard thing to learn,  I feel like I’m learning all the time. I never thought that would be the case- you grow up, and you do your thing. But there’s lots of learning. I did not really answer your question at all about It’s a Wonderful Life.

It was just about walking in Jimmy’s footsteps.
Jimmy is amazing. He’s amazing. I love that movie.

How did you feel about the radio play, and the distance it created between the audience and the actual story?
I don’t know. I think that the adaptor did the smart thing, so if you love the movie, you can fill in all the other stuff. I guess that’s the goal. That’s the thing of it. If you don’t know the movie, you just experience the story. John Gzowski, who is our sound designer, did the sound for [the original production], and he was also the foley man. So he was the one guy doing all the stuff. And Albert [Schultz] chose to have the company a bit more involved. It’s historically inaccurate that all the actors would be doing it, but it’s just a different offering of that. It wasn’t meant to be “this is the way it was done”, it’s a different kind of thing.

Did you put much thought into developing the character of the actor playing George, and his relationships to his fellow actors?
No, because… I trusted that Gregory would be himself.

He was like old-timey Gregory?
Exactly. Gregory in different clothes.  

We all had fun- it was a joke that my character’s name was Potato Bel Tempo and sometimes I’d pretend that I spoke in a really thick Italian accent as an actor, but somehow I managed. You know, those stupid things that one day in rehearsal you make up; it’ll never make it to onstage. But I felt that I didn’t want to get in the way of the story. And you know, I had a lot to do, so it didn’t make any sense to me to complicate it.

Tell us about working with Richie Lawrence, who played the younger version of you.
He was amazing.

Did you two collaborate on your take on the character at all?
No, not at all. The kids were only there part of the time; we didn’t have him for the first two weeks of the rehearsal. So I read his part, and we just did the thing, but then he came in, and the kids were amazing. There’s nothing like watching kids just knock it out of the park. You kind of go “Wow”. I didn’t really collaborate, but I watched him – he’s the first introduction to the character – so you kind of go “Okay, I’ve got to pick that up.” Or “he says that like that. Okay, I’ll do that”. It’s just certain things that we’d never talked about, but I felt would be [good for George as an adult]. He’s so sweet. So funny.

The story felt eerily timely after the election. What were you hoping the audience would take away from the production?
Forgiveness? Self-forgiveness? I feel like that story, for me, is that- no matter how much you think you’ve fucked up, or how much you are in a shitty situation, how dire it is- that you matter. That you have importance. You matter to somebody. And don’t throw away your life. And your opportunity. So that’s what I take from that story. Because he’s in a really bad spot. I would say- please forgive me, Mr. Grecian- that the radio adaptation took out some of the darkness in the movie, and that’s what I love so much about the movie. Even in [the dialogue]- in one of the first scenes when they’re kids, little George is talking to little Mary, talking about National Geographic and where coconuts come from –

“Hey, brainless, don’t you know where coconuts come from?”
Exactly! And in the radio adaptation, they didn’t say “brainless.” But that’s the way they talk!

What were some of your other big takeaways from 2016?
Just trying to figure out how to stay confident in where I am. When I’m doing something, knowing full well that it could be garbage, but I’m learning. Have you ever read Act One? It’s Moss Hart’s autobiography. He’s a great playwright who wrote with Kaufman, You Can’t Take it with You, all those plays – he wrote an autobiography about his life up until his first big success, which was called Once in a Lifetime. I was reading it during The Seagull– it is a beautiful love letter to theatre and failure, because it’s all about flops. And I forget about that, I forget about that learning thing and the passion of it, not the shame of it. Crazy artists who just need to do the thing, and instead of feeling the shame of failure- or learning what even is failure?- just kind of going “I’m just learning what I’m doing, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll throw it out and I’ll start again.” So, I’ve been writing a play- “writing” in quotation marks, like writing the first 20 pages and hating it and rewriting it again, doing that for like a year and a half, hating it – it was November, and I was like “Gregory? 2016 is coming to an end. You had a great year of learning, and it hasn’t been easy, but you try and learn, and try to really move somewhere, directing these shows, and you know what would be really good? You’d feel really good about yourself if you completed something”. So I had a reading, at the end of December, of the first act of this play that I’m writing, and it was amazing. Eric Peterson was reading, and Diana Leblanc- it was amazing, and I felt so good. You know, still lots of work to do, but it’s that spirit of “I’m learning, give me a fucking break.” But the thing is, you’re also a professional, and there are also a million people who want your job. It’s so weird! So it’s a great privilege to be able to learn on the go. Directing two shows in a season at Soulpepper… I directed a one-woman play when I graduated from theatre school, 12 years ago; that’s it, you know? That would never happen anywhere else, so I’m eternally grateful, but, whatever, let me fuck up!

And speaking of plays that you wrote – Alligator Pie’s been revived with a new cast. How has it been passing it on to someone and seeing someone else do your part that you created for yourself?
I love that play, I love doing that play, but we’re old, so we’re very happy to hand it off. And it’s a great group of people.

We loved it. I learned a lot, because the first time we gave it over to them, we were all involved in directing it. And so you realize- you’re sitting there, they’re all onstage, you’re all here, you’re giving opinions about things that you never thought of, and you realize, you’re like “Huh, I have a totally different idea about that number.” It’s different people’s perspective, and it’s fascinating. And I think it’s really tough for them, because they’re like, “I’m listening to 5 people tell me what to do, and they’re all different.” So watching it, there was that kind of “I did this,” or “I think it’s funny if you do this”. And then I was like “Gregory, they’re grown-up adults and really good actors, and probably better than you, so just let them do what they do.” So I said “Gregory- it’s not yours. Your job is to see what is it, give feedback, give some thoughts, but they own it”. And so you have to give that over. And if you play it again, you’ll do it your way, and you might learn something from it. It’s a weird thing, just giving that over, because you have to give over a certain identity. You’re all “This is who I am” and you see it and you’re like “Oh, that’s not who I am,” but of course it’s not. It’s them. So that was nice. I really liked that.

The New York tour is coming up and you’re about to go back into rehearsals for Of Human Bondage. What are you most looking forward to in revisiting that piece, and how do you think American audiences will receive it?
I don’t know, that’s a really good question. It’s crazy that we’re doing it again. There’s some replacements, and some additions, and there are some things that we have to change because the space for me in New York doesn’t have the trap. And we relied on that quite a bit, so [there are adjustments] we have to do. I’m looking forward to getting back to it. I haven’t been thinking about it too much. I know where the script is. I pulled it up, I put it down [laughs]. I’m looking forward to doing it again. I love that story. And I love doing that play.

New York? Who knows. The attempt is to try and be Soulpepper there. So talk to other companies, do workshops and plays – just kind of, you know, do what we do there, do classes with young people. So it’s not about, “You’re welcome, New York.” That’s not the spirit of it at all. Who knows. Maybe no one will come. Or maybe they’ll come, and they’ll review us, and they hate us. I’m a company member, and of course I want all the good things to happen, but [I’m going to] prepare for just living in New York for a month, and pretending I live there, doing these shows and being able to work there, it’s an amazing thing to just go down and do the shows and come back, and to be able to really appreciate the opportunity of it, and to not waste it in, like, “What, we don’t have anyone coming to the show tomorrow – we only have 50 people in the audience today?” To not do that thing that we can do. To worry about that stuff – and I know the company has to, because of course, we can’t go down there and play to nobody. But I don’t know how it will be received. And so I think that is – I don’t mean this to sound rude- I think that’s other people’s worries. My worry is, do work, what I think is important, what we’re doing here, and to go and do that without getting weird about it, or like “I’m inviting these agents because I want to see what they’re going to say down here” it’s not about anything other than just sharing the work that we do here, there. So that’s all I can think of for that. 

What else is coming up for you?
That’s it. Because we only know the season until New York. This season’s about getting most things back up and running. Which is exciting, but also, there’s the kind of thing you need- what’s the new thing?

I hope to direct more, because I like doing it. I’ve realized, I have this weird- and I think it’s wrong- this sense that being a director, you’re a bit more in control. And that might be the case if you’re in the room, but not getting the directing gig. There’s a part of me that’s thinking more of the director, what can I pitch, what can I pitch, what can I do, what can I do? But that scares me a bit, because I don’t want to become too obsessed with that, and then not allow myself to follow the desires of the plays that I want to act in, the things that I want to be in. So I hope to direct, but I also want to finish this play [I’m writing]. I’ve got a couple of other ideas of things that I wanna work on. But it’s hard, because Soulpepper keeps me busy. And that’s an amazing thing, but it’s also “Oh my God, I want to make all the time.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
My parents are coming to see Of Human Bondage! They’ve never seen it. I’m very happy for them to come and see it. And my dad will be turning 75, so I’m happy that they’re coming. Very proud to have them come. 

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