Monday, April 24, 2006

A Letter from Wild Rose Country

We’ve just completed our third week of rehearsal for Dig. The show is in wonderful shape for the start of cue-to-cue and technical rehearsals next Tuesday at the Vertigo Mystery Theatre.

Since I get a couple of days off, Leanna and I have decided to do some hiking in Banff. It seems fitting that I’m writing this update from the Banff Centre. It was here at the playRites Colony in September 2001 that I first read Glenda Stirling’s wonderful play, Dig. Five years ago, I also met dramaturg extraordinaire Vanessa Porteous who is directing the premiere production. Dig is the story of Hannah (played by the amazing Caroline Cave), an archeologist who with her former professor Parker (played by Charlie Tomlinson) is in China searching for artifacts from the Hsia Dynasty. While there, she runs into her former lover Stuart (that’s me!), an ex-archeologist with a secret double life.

Last night at the Auburn—Calgary’s legendary actor pub—I told Glenda why I love the role of Stuart so much. In my fifteen years as an actor, I have only rarely played a romantic lead in a contemporary drama. Asian males in popular culture are typically asexual creatures. Think about the most popular Asian box-office stars today (I’m talking about Hollywood movies here), Jackie Chan and Jet Li. You’ll see these guys kicking ass and breaking the bones of other men but when have you ever seen them kiss a woman? So it’s a real treat to play a guy who looks, walks and talks like me and—wonder of wonders—actually has a libido too.

Of course, this phenomenon is not restricted to Asian males. Once women hit 45, they cease to be sexual beings in today’s mainstream media. And anyone overweight? Forget it.

These days, we’re hearing so much about increasing diversity in television, film, and theatre. It seems that most producers’ concept of diversity is simply taking lots of people of colour and throwing them in the background as stock characters. Living props, if you will. It’s refreshing to see writers like Glenda create fully-fleshed characters with real desires who also happen to reflect Canada’s diversity.