My Theatre

10 March 2018

Nominee Interview Series: Luis Fernandes

By // Theatre (Toronto)

Before we announce the winners of the 2017 MyEntWorld Critics’ Pick Awards, we’re proud to present our annual Nominee Interview Series.

For about ten years, I only knew Luis Fernandes as the most memorable beer guy at the Skydome (the man knows his baseball). In 2016, I discovered that he’s actually a theatre creator- a co-founder of one of the city’s best companies (Unit 102 Actor’s Company) and a charismatic, energetic performer who made a huge impression in one of my favourite productions ever (Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter). In 2017, he opened a clutch new theatre space in Parkdale (The Assembly Theatre), co-starred in the Outstanding Ensemble of one of the biggest indie hits Toronto’s ever seen (The Storefront’s Tough Jews), and earned an Outstanding Actor nomination for his transformative performance in Recall, Seven Siblings’ ambitious sci-fi Fringe drama. I’m still pretty mad at pre-2016 me for not paying attention sooner.

Do you remember your first experience with theatre?
I do, actually. It’s an important memory in theatre, one of my first. When I was in high school, I was a bit of a wayward youth, and I wasn’t very good at anything. Well, maybe I was good at things, but I just didn’t apply myself to anything. I sort of kept to myself. Got a lot of people saying “He’s got leadership skills!” but I never really embraced anything. I didn’t join any after-school programs or anything like that.

So I took theatre in grade 11. I’m not sure if we use this terminology anymore, but it was called a bird course, which is what we in the Italian and Portuguese community call things that are very easy. And I was told, “Take it, you’ll love it. It’s easy!”

I was kind of a bit of a class clown. I was always in the office and stuff. So I go in this class where I’m encouraged to do things like swear, scream, make jokes, and it was the best fit for me. And so what happened with me was that my teacher at the end of the year asked if I wanted to go to the Tarragon spring training program. I had no interest, because [it was] all summer long. I was like, “I don’t wanna do that.” But each class had to nominate a student to go, and you had to audition. I wasn’t gonna go, but my mom convinced me, and my girlfriend at the time convinced me to go. They literally made me go, and I had picked out a monologue from a book that I didn’t even know what play it was from, or who had written it.

I went to this audition, and I was super intimidated. There were a lot of actors in there that had their own headshots and resumes. I had nothing like that at all. And soon I went in. The beginning of the audition. They were like “Well, so do you sing?” and I was like, “No.” “Do you play any instruments?” I was like, “No, I don’t.”, “And do you have any dance skills?” I was like, “No”. “Have you ever been in a play?”, “No.” I just felt so under-equipped for this. They’re like, “Well, go ahead. What’s your monologue from?” I’m like, “I don’t know the play name.” And they’re like, “you don’t know the name of the play?”, “It’s from a monologue book.” And they’re like “Well, all right, just go for it” – and I blanked hard. Like, really hard. And I was like getting mad at myself. And back then, I was less good at hiding that I was getting mad. So I was swearing openly, like “Fuck!” and I was really mad. They were just like, “Calm down, try again.”

I may have done it three or four times, and I just kept on blanking at the same spot over and over again. And so they’re like, “You know what, Luis, we don’t know the play. We don’t know who wrote the play. We don’t even know what it’s about. But you know what it’s about, so why not when you get stuck in this moment when you don’t know what you’re saying, but you know it somewhere inside, just make it up. Just go with what you know, and you don’t have to worry about being word-perfect and stuff like that.”

So I did, and I got through it that time – magically, of course, once I was given permission to screw up, I didn’t screw up. And I left there feeling like the stupidest person in the entire universe, only to find out three days later that I got into the program. And for me, that was the moment. Like if I can screw up that badly at something, and still be accepted into it, then clearly this is something that I should be doing. For me, that was the beginning of all of this. Grade 11, Tarragon spring training program. Which was a great experience in the end, even though it was every day, morning to night.

Tell us about the foundations of Unit 102, and your goals with the company.
That’s a good question. Unit 102 is very much something that just sort of happened organically over time. For me, the roots of Unit 102 happened way before the Actor’s Company. In 2005, when I left university, a friend of mine had found a loft at 46 Noble Street. Unironically, the name of it was Unit 102, so I had this designed creative theatre studio at the time, but I had nothing. Just an empty room. I was fresh out of school. I had no furniture, nothing. So I was living like a bum with a bunch of gentlemen, and we had makeshift rooms, and it was very, very rough. I started to call it a theatre studio, and I got some chairs that were being thrown out at the Royal York, and I got some pot lights, and we really makeshifted this idea of a theatre studio.

Nobody really bought it. They would come to see it and be like, “What is this?” I’d be like, “It’s a theatre!” and it wasn’t, really. What happened was that at the time, I got lucky that Mark Andrada and Julie Dumais, who do stuff at the Comedy Bar, and with Bad Dog theatre – they were planning on doing an ongoing show at the comedy bar, but it hadn’t opened yet, because there was some delays in the renovations for it. So they kind of adopted it as this underground comedy place as we waited for the comedy bar to open.

In many ways, that’s what started everything. People started using my space, and we did a lot of comedy events. And that started to snowball, and eventually we created an artist co-op with the space. So artists would come in, and be in for a few months, and pay into it, and then leave when they were done. All that sort of led to a point where I had the studio space, it was starting to move forward, and a bunch of my fellow actors that were working at the time with Column 13 Theatre, including David Lafontaine and Jesse Ryder Hughes, Scott Walker and Jenny Westoby – we all decided that we wanted to start our own company. So they adopted the space as their space, and we called ourselves the Unit 102 Theatre Group, or whatever.

And now we’re the Unit 102 Actors’ Company. That’s how we started. It was just a makeshift thing, and it just kept on snowballing. I think when we really started to grow as a company is when we got the space on Dufferin, which was a product of the fact that we were being removed from our current position. Because once theatre started happening in that space, all of our neighbours were like, “What the fuck were you guys doing in there? You’re screaming every night.” And our relationship with the neighbours was getting really bad. So it was my landlord who suggested the Dufferin location, like, “You might want to get the hell out of here.” I was like, “Okay, you’re right. I’m tired of the man threatening my life every time I do a monologue.”

That’s sort of where it began. When you asked me about the goals of the company, it really started out just wanting to do this thing, and we had the opportunity to do this thing, and we wanted to develop our skills as individual artists. But now that it’s a living, breathing thing well beyond that, the question is kind of: what do we stand for, and who are we? Right now, Unit 102 as a company is four gentlemen who have very different ideas of what theatre is. I think that’s why our shows are sometimes a bit eclectic in how they’re chosen, because all of us individually have different goals in mind. The only linking factor is that we want to do it well. We want to make sure that we put our best foot forward in honouring the story, and we want to make sure that other aspects of theatre like stage design, lighting, all that stuff, are also considered and really have the right personnel in place for that.

Our goal right now is to just continue to be passionate about what we do, and try to stage stories that I think people will want to hear. But I think if you asked every member individually, we’d probably have a different answer to the question, to be honest.

with Anne van Leeuwen at the Assembly mid-renovation

About a year and a half ago, you lost your space on Dufferin. It was really you who took the lead in partnering with Leroy Street, and now you’ve created this whole new space called the Assembly. What were some of the most interesting challenges you’ve faced in getting that up?
There are a million challenges with that. There’s two things that kind of led to the situation, the first one obviously being that the building was purchased, so we had to leave, and we were given very little time to leave. Luckily, I put my best lawyer glasses on and went through the lease, and realized that them ejecting us within a month’s time was breaking the contract, because they had to give us at least four months’ notice. They legitimately gave us 30 days to get out of there.

So I sat down with the man who runs that building, and pointed out, “You’re really screwing us.” We had just announced we had a season lined up, which took a long time to put together, and it was a lot of work to select the groups, to meet people and interview them. To have all of that come undone with a 30-day notice was really difficult. So that was obviously a huge challenge, getting out of there. What happened was that I obviously personally really wanted continuity. I was like “No, we’re going to lose it? Then we’re going to make sure that we have a new space, and move over to it.”

Luckily, we were able to broker a deal where we were given some cash to get out of there, because they were totally breaking [the contract]. We could’ve gone the legal route, and we decided not to, so that helped us get the start-up money necessary to make that move. However, it took about a year’s time to find an appropriate space. Not that anyone needs to hear this, because it’s obviously a well-known fact- real estate in Toronto is insane. Far more insane than the things we currently had.

So it took some time to find a space. Some of the guys in the company had already felt like Unit 102 being a theatre company as well as a space was very confusing. As shows had passed through there, even if they were not affiliated with us, people would often think “Oh, that’s a Unit 102 show! Pinocchio the musical for children. Why are they doing this?” So it was very difficult for us, because the branding was very all-encompassing with the space. It was a theatre company. And we had talked a lot about how do we separate those two things so people understand the branding of each one. So when we lost the space, there was an opportunity to start up a new space, and maybe change the vibe of those two brands. But it was a very difficult trudge to get to a new space, and it came to light that some of the guys were less interested in running a theatre venue than they were in creating theatre. That was something we had to gut-check, and talk about, and it turned out that most of the guys didn’t want to run a theatre space. They thought that our work could be exported to other locations. That’s very true, and there are some advantages to working outside of our home base. But I personally want to create an indie hub [for] artists who don’t have the money to go to TPM or to the Tarragon to have a spot to work – which ironically is still quite expensive.

So when they were out of it, I had to ask myself, “Do I still want to do this”? Without my team, it was just so daunting. And talking to Anne and Mel [Wright] from Leroy, it turned out that they were interested, and that’s how that started.

We’d worked so closely with Leroy in the past that it seemed very natural. We’d already mixed and matched so much, those two companies, so it wasn’t like I had a whole new team of people, but it’s still challenging, as it’s a completely different dynamic than before. It’s going well. It’s just that the realities are the space is more expensive than previous iterations, and there’s a lot of challenges that come with that. Just to keep the lights running every month is a big challenge.

It’s also difficult too because even when you’re in the Assembly, it’s not Leroy, it’s not Unit 102. On one hand, you wanna have the doors open to any and all artists who can go through the door, because we just want make sure that people have the space. On the other hand, though, the work that goes into the space reflects on us so deeply that there needs to be some mindfulness of what’s going on in there. So we’re sort of figuring out right now: “Are we a rental unit? Are we gonna have a curated season idea?” We’re still playing with that, but right now, survival is the name of the game, to be honest.

Tell us a little bit about Anne van Leeuwen and Melissa Wright and what it is about them and you in partnership that works as a team.
I guess the obvious thing to say is just that Unit 102 is a male-centric theatre company. There’s no way around that. We are. But having Anne and Mel – their vibe, and how they go about things, is just so different. I really respect that because they’re cool under fire in a way that perhaps my previous group wasn’t. The way they deal with things is very different. To be honest, I’m finding it really great working with them, because they just have an approach that’s more level-headed.

Mel, particularly, is very business-oriented and always looks at things from a different perspective. I’m always like, “The art!” and she’s always, like, “Yeah, but these are the numbers that we’ve crunched, and you can’t.” So having that kind of sophistication where people are coming from different places, and we have to really negotiate things, is interesting. But I don’t have more to say than it’s great.

Anne is definitely a kickass person, and when I can’t play bad cop, she’s more than capable of doing so. So that’s something I really enjoy.

What do you hope for the future of the Assembly? Are you looking to grow it?
Yeah, for sure. Right now, it’s hard to see past our current dilemmas, but I think ultimately if we were to stabilize in a way where the content was there, we didn’t have so many black holes in our scheduling, and the place was really chugging along… at a certain point, I definitely want to see it expand. Even when we went from the Dufferin location to the location where we are currently, I had some designs. I wanted there to be a sort of café, or some kind of ongoing income source that would happen during the day, where people could come in, and artists could come and have their meetings, and stuff, and make it more of a hub where people are constantly around.

I guess my model that I’m basing it on is, in Montreal, a place called the Théâtre Sainte Catherine, which is run by two of my friends, Mark Louch and Alain Mercieca. It’s Montreal, so the situation’s very different. For what we are spending here, they get a three-storey theatre with a balcony in the back, and an office, and a rehearsal studio, and a fully-licensed bar. So they have a bit more of that fighting chance, I guess, with those things, but that’s the kind of place I would like to have. A place that just had maybe two spaces, so rehearsals and shows could go on in tandem, and no one feels that they’re sharing the stage. “Get off my set. Why are these actors on my set during the day?!”

I wish there was a bit more space to accommodate the many things coming in and out. I’d love to have a bar and café. Some place that people could hang out, and be creative, or even talk about the art that’s happening. So there’s definitely designs to make it grow, but right now, my dream is just going to have to wait until we have some steady income.

In the previous season, you were part of one of our most nominated productions, Red Light Winter. What stands out in your memory about that experience?
My experience was an amazing experience, top to bottom. Red Light Winter as a show, when you’re a younger, male actor, you’re like “Yeah, two dudes in Amsterdam, man!” The reasons why you want to do that play initially are pretty stupid. But then you get older, and you read it again. A lot of Adam Rapp’s personality and intellect shine through. It’s almost overly intellectual at times, but there’s a lot of darkness in that play, and what made that experience so amazing is that me, Chloé [Sullivan] and Omar [Hady] just had such a work ethic to get in there every day. Get in the studio, run our lines, do this thing. We did it very almost military-like, we were just there every day, crunching it, crunching it.

It was so dark, but because we were such good friends, and everyone had such a great spirit, it never felt dark. So when we got onstage, people were like, “That was incredibly sad”, and “I can’t believe the nudity in there”, and “I can’t believe this”. It never really registered with us, because we had come from a place where we were just good friends doing this thing we really believed in. We were capable of doing that onstage because of the process being so supportive.

I remember when I was younger, with Column 13 shows, sometimes there’s a real sense of “Put up or shut up. Are you a good actor? Then get up there, cry, be nuts!” And that’s hard. What I learned in that experience is that the hardest material requires the most support. It requires the most understanding. It requires failing a ton of times, and not being embarrassed or afraid to fail. So Red Light Winter for me really taught me that we can be capable of anything if we approach the work with this kind of eye for detail, and support, and that’s what made it so special for me.

The ensemble of Tough Jews (photo by John Gundy)

In 2017, you had your hand in a bunch of different nominated productions. Let’s start with Tough Jews. How did you get involved with that?
That’s an interesting one, because it was early last year. I was working on the Brick & Mortar. So the Attic and the Box respectively were doing this thing called 150 Stories. At the time, I thought because of the 150th year of Canada, but that was unrelated. I thought, “Wow, 150’s really popping up.” The whole concept was “Pick a community and create a theatre piece, 30 minutes in length, about a community”.

I was doing this show about Parkdale. I’d been living in Parkdale for over 10 years, and there were so many rich, political things to talk about in Parkdale. I thought this would be a great thing to do. Plus, like a love song for my neighbourhood. I wanted to tell a story. So I was knee-deep in that when Ben Blais [director] called me from Storefront and was like, “Would you like to do this play called Tough Jews with Michael Ross Albert”, who I knew. I was like “Uh, yeah!”

It was kind of hard for me to conceive of it, because I was involved in something. Even in the moment, I was actually stepping out of rehearsal to talk about this. So he said, “Would you be interested in reading for this character Joe?” I was like, “Yeah, sure! Send it to me.” It was sort of off-hand. “Yes, send it to me, I’m busy. I can’t do this right now.” Then I read it, and I liked it a lot, and I really wanted to work on something with Michael Ross, because he’s awesome. I just thought, “Wait a minute, though. I’m a Jewish mobster? I’m a Portuguese-Italian guy.” So I remember at 150 Stories, Michael saw my show, and I said to him in the audience afterwards, “I’ll do it. But isn’t that weird? I don’t know anything about being a Jew, or Judaism in any facet.” And he was like, “Don’t worry about it. Jews don’t care about who plays them.” And I was like, “Is that true? I don’t know if that’s true. Okay,” and then it ended up not being an issue.

My only hesitancy to get involved was “Am I actually honouring this thing?” But that was it, that’s all I needed to hear. “If you think that’s cool for me to play it, then I’ll do it”. And it ended up being a really fantastic, fantastic experience.

Was that something that you found yourself running up against in rehearsals?
I couldn’t possibly worry about that, having Theresa Tova in the room, and Maaor [Ziv]. They were just the first to be like “That’s not how you say this. That’s not what this is. You wanna know what this is?” They were just on top of it. So it was like we had specialists in the room at any given time, to just keep us in check. I was saying everything wrong, and I was getting ding’d for it every single time. So in a way, it wasn’t that hard, because we were constantly being checked. And if we didn’t have an answer, the team was ready to investigate what the answer was.

I’ve never had a more family-like experience in a room that was all new people to me, for the most part, with the exception of Anne. And maybe Ben, I guess, as the director, but otherwise, these were all new actors I’d just met, and we really came together as a team in a way that I have never seen. But I’ve never given myself the experience to see, because I’ve been so ingrained with the Unit 102 stuff that I’m doing.

Losing the space in a way was nice. It really opened up the doors to other companies, to other people to work with. It was really nice to see. The only good thing that came about losing so many prominent indie spaces at the same time was the really decentralized camps that were created. For the first time ever, we could just sort of join forces and try new bedfellows, and that was actually really uplifting, because now I feel like my knowledge of the people around me in my community is so much stronger than it was before. And it didn’t seem as isolationist as it did previously.

with Genevieve Adam in Recall

Speaking of working with completely new people, you worked with Seven Siblings on Recall. How’d you get involved with that show?
With Recall, it was interesting. It was the Fringe Festival, and I had already just done Tough Jews, and I needed to work and make some money, which is something I’m always sacrificing for this stuff. When Fringe came up, I hadn’t done Fringe since 2011. I did P-Dale at Passe Muraille in 2011 and that’s the last time I did Fringe. I don’t normally apply for Fringe, because it’s so early in the game when they ask you to apply, and you’re like, “I don’t even know what’s happening next month, never mind a year from now!”

So there was a couple of opportunities to audition for Fringe shows, and they were all projects I was interested in. One of them was Special Constables. I read for that, and I was really into it at the time. I was like, “Oh, I’d love to be in that.” So that was something I was auditioning for, and then Will King of Seven Siblings asked me to do this Recall show. He said, “Read this play, tell me what you think.” We had a coffee, and at the time I was already going into auditions for Special Constables, and I was like, “This is such different material. One is wildly sort of a Toronto-based idea that’s comedic, with a lot of comedic actors I’d really like to work with. The other one is really dour science fiction tale, which is so my wheelhouse in general”.

But reading it, it was kind of a scary thing. Like, “We’re doing this show as a Fringe show? Because I can see it being a full production, but as something we have to collapse within ten minutes and set up, this is a pretty ambitious show for a Fringe show”. No offence, Will and team, but I did think that this might be biting off more than you can chew for a Fringe venue. But in the end, I read for it, I met the team for Recall. “I’m going for it, let’s do it”. And I think they did a great job in bringing that play to life.

I hate to say that there was skepticism for me, but there was, because if you read that play on paper, there’s lots of set changes. There’s lots of costumes and props and things that we found a way around, or we embraced in whatever capacity that we could. But it’s certainly meant to be much larger than the format we were given. I’m really proud of them for pulling it through, for sure.

As you mentioned, Will brought the script to you and asked you to audition for a part. But it was totally against type for you. You usually play characters with a certain amount of bombast –
I was going to bring that up. I remember reading the review that you wrote, and I was like “bombast?!” You said “the usually very loud and aggressive Luis Fernandes” [for the record, what I actually said was “usually gregarious”]– and that really hit a chord with me. You’re right. That is kind of the typecast that I’m getting. It’s my vibe. I’m a loud dude. But I’ve always fancied myself a character actor.

I love playing things that are outside of myself. But generally speaking, when someone’s hiring you, they see what you are, and they’re like, “That’s you. Let’s just do it, let’s roll with what you got.” But I always like to do things outside of myself. I’m often the funny guy, but I want to be the straight man, too, and I don’t get a lot of opportunities when I audition for those things. So when I was offered this play, yes, I was excited. On the page, especially.

David, the character I play in Recall, just has one-word answers to questions. He’s very quiet. He’s very mysterious. So it’s really scary when you’re doing it, because you feel like you’re not doing anything. That’s kind of something that I need to challenge myself, because I always wanna fill any moment with something. It’s time for me to play characters where I recede a bit into the background, or offer something a bit quieter. And I think that’s something that I want to challenge myself to do, which is why an upcoming show with Unit 102 that we’re doing, Therac 25, is another show that I feel like that’s not a character you’d typically see me playing, which is why I’m so excited to play it. Recall kind of unearthed this need in myself to really challenge myself, and stop being the loud mob boss. Or the brother who’s insane. It’s just nice to challenge myself.

Recall is also nominated for Outstanding Ensemble against Tough Jews. Can you tell us a little bit about working with them and with Will as a director?
It is interesting. There was a different vibe, definitely, between both shows. I feel like with Tough Jews, the approach from Ben was to go from the ground up. We really spent a lot of time for the first few weeks doing beat work, and exploratory work. Unit 102 normally works like, “Learn your lines, let’s get in the room, we’re gonna hammer this down” – we’re very utilitarian when it comes to the creation of theatre. Ben sort of approached it very much like, “Who are we? Let’s make a little graph on the wall that shows our journey”. A lot of this very high-concept stuff. But it worked, right? It did work, and it sat with us. When the work started getting on its feet, all that stuff did feed what was going on the stage, so it worked. Whereas Recall, in my opinion, was the kind of play that you’d imagine that kind of work would be necessary, but we didn’t really do that kind of work in their process. Their process was very much “Come in, we’re gonna work these scenes”.

Will thinks big picture all the time. I don’t want to say there was difficulty in taking it down from what we were trying to achieve in its entirety versus the moment-to-moment stuff. But we certainly discovered that as actors, in the doing versus sitting around talking about it. Tough Jews, in fact, had more time. We had a very, very lengthy 9 to 5 rehearsal process, which I really appreciated, because when we do shows at Unit 102, it’s like, “We have two hours! Cram it all in!” So it was nice to have that time to sit.

But Recall is a lot of “on our feet, we gotta get up there, we gotta do this”. It was a pressure cooker. And the results went beyond the process, in some ways, because I think we really achieved something, but it happened by doing versus thinking, I guess, if that makes sense.

Will and Seven Siblings are really into the Michael Chekhov technique, their founding principle. Did that have much of an impact on your process for Recall?
I believe in processes, and everyone has their own. It turned out that because of my own scheduling, I missed a lot of the Chekhov things. I’m not saying that I did that on purpose, because I didn’t, but it just so happened I missed a few of the sessions. And, the ones I had done, the Chekhov thing doesn’t really work for me. I have my process. And that’s certainly not my process. But I’m not one to shun or to say no to things. I think that there’s a lot to learn. I don’t know it all. If I try a new technique, perhaps I will borrow from it in the future. I have an open mind to those things. But it’s really out there, man! It’s really out there.

We did this thing called the Castle, where we close our eyes and walk around the space, and Will’s telling us what we’re seeing, and the images. And we’re moving through it, and I’m not gonna lie, there was some value in it. I really did find some things, but would I ever run a room in that manner? No. But that’s what Seven Siblings have done, and I appreciate that they commit to that. Because the thing is, if I started a company that was like “Oh, we’re using Chekhov”, I’d probably abandon it midway through the session. If things weren’t really going well, I’d be like “Okay, screw this, let’s just get a coffee!” The fact that they just sit with it. And when we get frustrated, they move through it with us every step of the way. They’re adamant that we’re gonna do it this way. There’s something beautiful about that. They have the confidence that it will unearth something, whether the actors believe it or not, and I know that myself, I don’t have that courage. If the actor’s like, “This is shit”, I’m like “Okay, you know what, guys, what do you want to do?” They commit, 100%. It was definitely different.

Did you have a favourite moment in the show?
It’s so nine-year-old boy of me, but I got stabbed with a fork in the neck. And I was so excited to make that as gory and as disturbing as possible. We had a big debate about the blood pack, because they wanted to put a tube through my shirt. I love blood. I just did Tough Jews. It had a ton of blood, and I just did plays with blood my whole life. And so I have my techniques for blood dispersal, and they really wanted to use this contraption. I was against it, because it was very cumbersome. They had used it before. It had worked. So on the first night, we had used this apparatus, and it just spilt all into my underwear. [laughs] The tube fell off my leg when it’s supposed to come out my neck, and it went into my pants. When I ejected it, I just got a bunch of blood in my underwear, and I’m like “No one saw it, but I felt it!”

So I asked them, “Please, can we just try this blood pack I wanna do? Please?” and it killed. And they’re like “Okay, keep it.” I know, because I like the aortal spray from my anime, and so I just knew that it was gonna blow up, out of my neck. Having that work, and people going [gasps] when I get stabbed in the neck is very contrived, as a theatre thing. And it’s very controlled. But having people not see it coming was my favourite thing. And building that moment, and getting to play that moment, was really fun. I know that’s not the deeper answer, but that’s really what I enjoy.

What are you working on now, or next?
I’ve really set myself up for an intense half-year. I’m doing a trilogy of plays called Inch of Your Life, and it’s by this company Theatre Circuit, which is a new company. The play’s had a life before this – they did it in the Fringe a year ago, in 2016, and it’s also been in LA, and in America.

It’s basically a story about a mafia family, I guess, or a brother. Very similar to Tough Jews, like an Italian version of the Jews in Tough Jews. But it’s a family, three brothers, and their lives. The modern world sort of colliding with their old-world values. It’s really very funny stuff. The material’s really funny. [On stage until March 17th. Get your tickets HERE].

It’s a trilogy. Theatre trilogies, man. I used to do a show called P-Dale, which is like a serial. It’s just so hard, because you want there to be continuity, but you’re losing actors all the time, and that’s why the Theatre Circuit has been very clear, like you have to be on all three if you’re doing this. Because it is annoying. I used to do this, and I’d lose actors all the time. There are always different actors playing them, different vibes. And it’s tough. You’re worried that the show doesn’t stand alone. Because if people come in “What’s happening? I didn’t see Part One.” And I know people are turned away, when they see Part Two to something, and they haven’t seen Part One. [It’s] a really challenging thing, so it’s not my company doing it, so it’s kind of an experiment like “how will this work out?” But the people are lovely, and I’m really enjoying working with them.

As far as Unit 102, as I mentioned, Adam Pettle’s Therac 25 is coming out in April. And that’s a real sad play. When it was brought to me by Cass Van Wyck, I cried while I read it, while I was in the backseat of my aunt’s car, which was embarrassing. She was like, “What the hell’s wrong with you?” and I was like, “I just read a play!” But it was really sad, and like you said, I’m used to not playing the sad, the small. And I just really am looking forward to it, even if it’s sad. It’s about cancer. We’re planning on working with a number of organisations to raise money for that. So I’m really thrilled about doing that. 

I can’t let you go without asking you: how are the Jays going to do this year?
Oh, nice! I don’t have the same gloom and doom as my friends. Everyone in my life right now is really upset that we haven’t made more moves. But I think last year was a down year. I think that no team, even with a staff of people that are talented, can always produce at the level that they should.

I feel like the guys that didn’t bring it last year, like Russell Martin- Donaldson had a good second half but, for the most part, was injured and kind of dithering- I think these guys have something to prove. They are still great baseball players, even if they are a bit older, and I think that they are gonna show up. I think all of the young pickups that we’ve done- Grichuk is awesome, he’s a great pickup.

We still have the same rotation. The rotation is solid on paper, if Stroman and Sanchez bring it together. Look, the Yankees are really, really good right now, and I don’t think that we’re ever going to be able to beat that Judge/Stanton combo, which is gonna be insane. But I think that we’re still a solid 2nd or 3rd place in the east, and we’re certainly a wildcard contender, so I don’t really understand why people are so up in arms about it. I think that we have a good chance to compete, even if it’s not the best team possible.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?
I’m just looking forward to the awards show. It’s not just that I’m up for awards for the first time, but I just think it’s a fun time, and I’m looking forward to dressing up. I’ve got a new suit. I am raring to go.

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