1) What the fuck is going on?
I have no idea. Actors are on strike, but anyone who was working is now under a continuance letter. There are no picket lines, and anyone who wasn’t working can’t get a gig. So. Are we on strike or not?
2) Why are puppets an important part of theatre?
Now that is truly a question for Ronnie Burkett! I do have a few thoughts. One of the many things theatre offers is the doorway to another world – a fantasy. Many times on a stage that is created through set, makeup and lights. When I worked in black light puppetry, we didn’t have those things so the puppets themselves, their uniqueness, their fantastical nature in being creations of the mind – everything from ordinary cats to creatures from another planet – were what created that fantasy world. I also think puppets are important because they are like living cartoons and the animated world is something that appeals to all generations young and old.
3) What’s your fondest memory of your puppeteer days in Asia?
There are two things that stand out for me about Asia. One is the hospitality and warmness with which we were received. The other is that we played in huge theatres, a thousand seats and up. At the time I had never performed in such a large space nor had I played to such a large crowd. Almost all the shows were sold out and the thunderous crowd responses were overwhelming.
4) What does independent theatre in Toronto need to do better, generally?
Advertise. It is a sad state but for the most part the only time anything garnishes a lot of attention is through strong advertising campaigns. If independent theatre is going to grow and gain a level of support that makes it a more recognizable scene then they have to promote more.
5) Do you see any commonalities between independent theatre and independent film?
I do. I think the thing that links our two independent scenes together is the struggle to survive. As Canadians we produce excellent work that can compete on a global scale. However, due to lack of funding and support this work is rarely seen. It is unfortunate that there is so little support for our independent communities.
6) What do you like about voiceover work?
Voice work has intrigued me since I was a child. It continues to amaze me that one person can have so many different voices and vocalize so many different characters. It also amazes me how so often the voice does not seem to match the body.
7) Why is Shakespeare still relevant?
Shakespeare is timeless; in his writing he addressed time and time again themes that are universal. Although his language is becoming further and further from us his meanings are not.
8) What would you do with a $1,000,000 no-strings production grant?
Pinch myself! Seriously, with that kind of money I would tour my show across North America and parts of Europe. I believe that my theme is universal and poignant and I would like to get it out to as many people as I can.
9) Why are the cynics wrong?
What a great question. Because it supports lack of effort and it squashes dreams. If a person rises above the cynicism then they have the ability to realize what holds them back. With this power they can choose to follow through on whatever they are thinking.
10) What is the single greatest barrier to producing quality independent theatre?
I’d like to say money but I know a lot of great productions have done it for next to nothing or nothing. So I guess the single greatest barrier is personal drive and creativeness, wherever someone chooses to stop or give in then that’s when the production grinds to a halt. It can be done, it requires work and resourcefulness.