10 questions: Rae Ellen Bodie

Photos by Keith Barker.

1) What the fuck is going on?
The 2008 Fringe, that’s what! That and some bike-riding-sun-soaking-good-times now that the summer is actually here.

2) What has been your biggest creative challenge in preparing to act in GromKat’s production of Bluebeard at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival?
My own resistance. By its nature, Bluebeard demands a big emotional commitment, and some days I just don’t want to plummet all the way down to the bottom of the well, you know? So I have to kick my own ass a bit from time-to-time, stop whinging and get on with it. There’s also the challenge of the play itself. It’s a fairly new play by a new playwright, a really dense bit of business, and we’ve had to do some mental gymnastics as a group to sort out exactly what the story is. There’s also the challenge of working in an all-female cast with a group of slightly crazy, strong, passionate actors. It’s Estrogen Fest 2008 some days – but I love it.

3) Does the play arrive at any conclusions about parents who try to “keep their children safe by isolating them in their community”?
I don’t think the play arrives at any conclusions, but certainly generates discussion and questions.

4) Why do you think audiences are so attracted to apocalypse narratives?
Because we are living in the end times, my friend! Read your Oswald Spengler – you’ll see! Between Reality TV, Peak Oil and Paris Hilton, we are going DOWN!

Seriously though – I think our attraction to apocalypse narratives has very little to do w/ the idea of an actual apocalypse. The fantasy of destruction and renewal appeals to us on a deeply personal level. Some of us can’t accept or come to grips with our own imperfections, so we want to see the destruction of those imperfections played out in the theatre and films that we see, the books we read, and the TV we watch. That often involves the ultimate, for-all-time battle between good and evil.

5) How much of your current work is informed by your experiences living in Alberta?
All of it. I do call Toronto home now, after a decade of being here, but I’m an Alberta-girl through-and-through. I lived in Calgary (which was a small city when I was growing up there), spent summers on the farm, and grew up surrounded by mountains and rivers and big sky. My longing for the beauty and expansiveness of Alberta is always a part of my work.

6) What was it like to work with director Bruce McDonald on the set of Queer As Folk?
I love me some cowboy, so working w/ Bruce was great! He’s got the hat, he’s super easy-going and he runs a very chill set. Not to mention he was the only director I’ve ever had who, in my audition, asked me how my day had been, what was going on – just took an interest in who I was and what I was about. That’s rare. I got to work w/ him again on “This is Wonderland” and the experience was just as lovely as when we shot QAF. And finally, three words: Hard. Core. Logo. Bruce could have told me to play everything cross-eyed-with-a-limp and I would have said yes.

7) How do you feel about Shakespeare?
Meh. He’s no Bruce McDonald.

8) How do you feel about the quality of theatre criticism in Toronto?
I try not to pay attention to it too much, especially when I’m in a show, but I do love Jon Kaplan from NOW Magazine. He’s unbelievably supportive of Toronto’s independent theatre community while at the same time fair and honest in his criticism. He also has extensive knowledge of everything that’s played in Toronto for the last thirty years, so I trust what he has to say. On the other end of the spectrum, the “I loved it/I hated it” variety of criticism that exists in certain quarters in this city gets me down. Bitchy, mean-spirited or ass-kissing editorializing is not constructive or intelligent theatre criticism.

9) What are some of the questions that are on your mind these days?
I wonder what the reviews will be like for Bluebeard?

10) If you could change just one thing about theatre in Toronto, what would it be?
More SAVOURY snacks at the big houses – enough with the cookies and ice-cream bars already!