TO production welcomes Orangeville actors home

May 12, 2016   ·   0 Comments

The amusing and heartfelt comedy Stag and Doe, currently playing at Theatre Orangeville until May 22, features two actors returning home to perform in the play. Karen Knox and Caroline Toal were both born and raised here and both happy alumni of the Theatre Orangeville youth programs.

They are excited about appearing here after their adventures in the greater world and we sat down with them and Artistic Director David Nairn, to talk about that and their history with Theatre Orangeville’s Young Company, just before the play opened last Friday.

They were among the first generation of Young Company members. In those early days, the Young Company did a production of Twelfth Night and, later they performed The Hobbit. Directing these two plays was Pablo Felces-Luna, who made a profound impression on the ladies with his accepting them as though they were professional actors, albeit that they were basically students in a youth theatre group.

They commented, “We were just thrilled with Pablo Felces-Luna. He actually treated us like professional actors … doing Shakespeare when we were 14 … the program was awesome.”

In their production of The Hobbit, Karen Knox played Gollum.

Said Mr. Nairn, who directed Stag and Doe, “It was the best Gollum I ever saw… I knew then that [Karen] would be an actor.”

Ms. Knox shed some interesting light on the whole business of acting as she recalled her first days in the theatre with Young Company: “As I got older, I had to look pretty but I played Gollum in a dirty sack and go out there and really act – that raw artistic meat of acting – none of the [nonsense] about hair and make up.”

Sometimes, “it’s not about really acting,” Ms. Toal remarked. “Actors play make-believe – that’s what they do.”

While performing in another play – Peter Pan – Ms. Knox remembered, “I was standing in the kitchen saying to my mom, ‘I think I want to do this’..”

Sometime later, after her tremendous achievement of being the youngest ever graduate of LAMDA’s Masters in classical acting program and establishing herself as a professional by accepting and performing in various plays, Ms Knox was offered a prestigious PR job, which she declined.

Her mother asked her, “Why did you do that?!”

“I’m an actor!” she told her mother.

Young Company and the other youth programs run under Theatre Orangeville’s umbrella have launched other stars into the theatre and cinema. Established at the beginning of the theatre’s first days in 1994, Theatre Orangeville’s youth programs have seen hundreds of participating young people grow in new confidence and appreciation for discipline.

As Mr. Nairn put it, “There have been so many kids come with their confidence increasing and their love for the theatre becoming so important to them.

They are also the audiences of the future.”

They talked about the other aspects of being a professional artist: bringing the joy of art to audiences where little or no pay is involved.

“As an artist, the service we provide is not necessarily accompanied monetarily but, then, there is the really profound moment when people comment,” said Ms. Knox.

Agreeing, Ms Toal added, “I’ve done two shows for young people’s theatre and it’s so cool after – people want to come up to you and blurt out their feelings. They’ll scream out anything  when you’re doing the show- we did Mockingbird – when Tom Robinson was guilty, kids would freak out – yelling no  . . .”

Back to Stag and Doe, Ms. Knox’s forthright assessment of the play was, “Theatre Orangeville is really open about letting people have a good time – in Toronto, people don’t laugh but here people are rolling in the aisle – they’re going to laugh their asses off!” she commented with considerable humour in a the vernacular. “I love it when Theatre Orangeville people are having such a good time.”

“What’s cool in Toronto is political thinking,” Ms. Toal said, “It’s so cool to have a really laughing good time.”

Between them bounced the comments, “Every time I come to Orangeville, I have a really good time.”

“Going to the theatre is better than going to the movies.”

“It’s fun to be staying at home – the laundry gets done too.”

“One of the highlights of Stag and Doe is the wedding dress – one of the most expensive costumes ever.”

Of the team work involved in the six actors maintaining the flow of the dialogue and the humour, they said, “It’s majorally an integral piece. The rhythms are so important. Everyone keeps the balls in the air.”

“When I told anyone who’s in the play, they say OMG, best cast ever.”

“There’s usually one person in every cast who’s annoying but not this one.”

“It’s the best time ever.”

Stage and Doe is playing at Theatre Orangeville until May 22. Tickets as usual at the Box Office on 87 Broadway (Town Hall), and the Information Centre on Buena Vista, telephone 519-942-3423 or online 

Written by Constance Scrafield


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