BWW Interviews: Cast of Toronto's PIG
BWW asks the cast of PIG, "How far would you go for love?"
It's that exciting time of year again - temperatures outside may be cooling, but the Toronto theatre scene is definitely heating up. But the mercury is off the charts over at Buddies in Bad Times theatre, where things are painfully hot. Buddies, the world's largest and longest-running queer theatre, is kicking off its 35th anniversary season with a well-aimed shot to the gonads with the World Premiere of PIG. Written by talented Brit Tim Luscombe and directed by Buddies Artistic Director BrenDan Healy, this exciting and provocative play has all the markings of becoming the most talked about theatrical event of the season.
Featuring explicit language, sexuality, nudity, violence and just about every other NC-17 warning you can imagine, PIG explores boundaries in relationships and the outer limits of love within the gay community. Moving and unsentimental, it ventures into unexplored theatrical territory, following three couples as they delve into the space where the lines between shame, hatred, love, and obsession cease to exist. If that doesn't peak your interest, then take a look at the cast. Bruce Dow, Paul Dunn and Blair Williams are the brave and adventurous men forced to flex their well-chiseled acting muscles to bring this challenging story to life.
Although all three possess well-balanced resumes, each actor is best known from working at the larger festivals on classic plays; and the first of the trio, Broadway veteran Bruce Dow, is known mostly for his work on Musicals. How would they handle the grueling challenge of doing a World Premiere of this rough-and-dirty contemporary British play? In advance of their Opening Night this Thursday September 19, I sat down for a stimulating chat with the three gentlemen and found out not only how difficult it was to 'go there', but also how difficult it was just to say 'yes' to the job.
Excited and scared.
I can attest, there's nothing quite like working on a brand new play to flood you with mixed emotions. There is an uncertainty in how to proceed from every level. Sometimes the script undergoes large last-minute changes. Sometimes the director re-blocks scenes at the last minute. And unlike every other show already in existence, the actors have no roadmap of how to create their roles. The freedom of choices can actually be paralyzing, filling everyone with extra doubt. When you add all that to the explicit nature of the material, well, emotions obviously run high.
Paul Dunn, the youngest of the cast, who has performed in numerous Shakespeare plays in seven seasons of work at the Stratford Festival, explained that "agreeing to do this play scared me, but in a good way. Respectfully, you don't get to do this at Stratford; I mean, never. You don't get to live in these kinds of people. This entire process has been a negotiation of 'This is absolutely terrifying... but it could be awesome!'"
Blair Williams, a Shaw Festival regular both as actor and director, admitted that he nearly said 'no' to PIG. "Yeah, it took me like a month and a half - I postponed and postponed and postponed saying 'yes'! It was a very difficult thing for me to agree to do." And Bruce Dow, who last year shone in Buddies' OF A MONSTROUS CHILD: A GAGA MUSICAL, winning the Dora award for his outstanding performance, noted that his nerves went a step further. "I was so thrilled to be asked, because I never get a chance to do this kind of thing. But, then, I have been pooping my pants for the last three months... up until yesterday, and this morning in fact."
Famed acting teacher Lee Strasberg wrote that the basic problem for an actor is how he begins to make his material alive to himself. When one considers the explicit material of PIG, it's easy to see what is making these actors so nervous. Getting comfortable with each other became a real priority. "We were all acquainted, we'd seen each other's work, we'd met each other socially," explains Dow. "But, I mean, I haven't had my pants on for one day of rehearsal. Literally every day at rehearsal, five minutes in and my pants are off. So you just go, 'Really? Am I doing this?' It's just absurd. At this point, it's just - 'I don't care anymore'. It's fun to be committing an act of self-abuse and trying to remember your lines at the same time. It's an adventure!"