I consider myself extremely fortunate to have interviewed many great Canadian actors over the seasons.
I have always enjoyed talking to actors in depth about character analysis and particularly recall chats with actor Colm Feore about the fact that Hamlet did not have an Oedipus complex, and actor Fiona Reid who loves to muse on character complexities of Hedda Gabler.
But Canadian theatre has suffered some devestating blows in the last five years and these losses include three actors I have spoken with through my career in arts coverage.
In 2009, the theatre world suffered a great blow with the untimely passing of actor Goldie Semple. In 2010, actor Domini Blythe known for her stage and screen roles also passed away, and in 2011 Canadian theatre has lost the incomparable Peter Donaldson.
I first saw Goldie Semple when she was the sexy courtesan opposite a young Colm Feore in Boys from Syracuse. In seasons to follow, Semple and Feore found an undeniable chemistry in the Bard’s leading roles from Kate and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew to Leontes and Hermione in The Winter’s Tale. The last time I saw Semple was the in Shaw’s Festival’s 1999 production of Easy Virtue as Larita - sheer panache! I could kick myself for missing Goldie's star turn as Desiree Armfeldt in Shaw's A Little Night Music…. Isn’t that rich?
I had been watching Peter Donaldson for many seasons on stage.
I loved Edward Albee and what Donaldson called the “vicious wit” in Virginia Woolf. During our chat, Donaldson, was funny and very down to earth. And I learned a lot about the "musicality" of Edward Albee’s text. I think besides Woolf’s George, another one of my favourite Donaldson roles was his portrayal of Atticus Finch in the Stratford 2007 production of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Donaldson took this role, that so many associate with the black and white 1962 film, and icon Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Finch, and he made Atticus his own, like Donaldson did with every stage role. I think like many others, that Donaldson was just coming to the acting prime of his career. Likely he would have done more of the Bard – maybe Macbeth, maybe Shylock, and certainly more modern classics. Maybe Albee’s Delicate Balance, perchance?
I love monodramas (one person shows) and when Domini Blythe agreed to speak to me about Peter Hinton’s Fanny Kemble, I was thrilled and a little in awe. Blythe, who had been in Stratford for many seasons, was once married to Stratford’s Artistic Director the late Richard Monette, and had worked in theatre across the country, in addition to England’s Royal Shakespeare Company. From Blythe's conversation I could tell that she loved every minute of doing Fanny Kemble, not only researching this piece about a Victorian actress turned activist, but also working with director Peter Hinton. For film buffs Blythe recently played the role of headmistress Mrs Danvers in 2009 comedy The Trotsky with Jay Baruchel, Colm Feore, and Jessica Pare.
The Stratford Shakespeare Festival or The Shaw Festival I’ll say a silent Bravo to three actors who left a magnificent theatre legacy, and always took the time to chat.....