Back on stage

 It has been almost a decade since I performed as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Keyano Theatre Company production of A Christmas Carol. I directed a production of The Odd Couple after that and then focused on my art career.  As we settled into community life in Okotoks, I knew that I would eventually try out for a Dewdney Players show. When I saw that they were doing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, it was a sign - to me - that the time had come. We had just returned from our vacation in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and I was in no shape to attend the in-person auditions, so I asked director Katie Fournell if she would accept a video auction. She graciously obliged and a few days later offered me the role of Maria in a gender reversed casting of the Bard’s classic comedy.

We started rehearsals in the dead of winter out at Dewdney’s rehearsal hall in Aldersyde, just a few minutes south of Okotoks. I was a stranger among many who clearly had connections to each other. We were still a few weeks into the process and I was still learning names.  Fast forward to the end of the second week of performances and I feel like I am a new member of a large family. 

You might wonder what it is like playing a female character as a male performer. What I’ve discovered is that there is absolutely no difference to playing “Maria” as it was playing “Scrooge”, “Thenardier”, or any of the many other males roles I’ve taken on over the years.  “Maria” is just another character with a role in a story, surrounded by other characters with whom she interacts. It’s as simple as that.  Wearing a wig and dress in Twelfth Night is no different from wearing a long sleeping robe and night cap in A Christmas Carol or a fancy business suit in The Farnsworth Invention

I heard one of my cast members comment that they love the rehearsal process. I completely concur. Being in rehearsal the past few months has been my respite from the incredible stress that comes with making a major life decision. Heather and I made the move to downsize, sell our property, and figure out next steps right around the time we began rehearsals for this show. As an experienced theatre artist, I’ve always had the discipline and practice to put the outside world on pause when in rehearsal or production. That focus on the play provided enormous relief during this time of transition.

The level of dedication and community within Dewdney Players is quite extraordinary. They have strong traditions, myriad stories, and an engaged group of members that LOVE theatre. I’m in awe of volunteers like Ed and Debbie Sands and so many others that dedicate countless hours to this organization and the role of the theatre arts in our community. 

Photos by Brent Calver, Okotoks Western Wheel


Popular Posts