Category Archives: Performing arts

The poet’s expression of joy conceals his despair at not having found the reality of joy. — Max Jacob

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When the news broke on July 20th of the death by suicide of Chester Bennington, lead singer of the band Linkin Park, my immediate thought was “surely this is another hoax, like the recent bogus announcements over the internet of the deaths of Clint Eastwood and William H. Macy.” Sadly, it is true. Chester Bennington took his own life at the age of forty-one. This came as a horrible shock to his family, friends, band mates and millions of adoring fans. He was in the prime of his life, at the top of his game as a professional performer and in between tours with his band in promoting their new album One More Light. It seemed he had everything to live for, yet he decided to end his life. This is, undoubtedly, hard for many to understand and who are left wondering why. I can only surmise that in spite of the fame and success he enjoyed in life, despair got the better of him and he decided he could not go on living. Despair is part of being human and how human beings cope with it or not varies according the individual. Continue reading

I get stage fright and gremlins in my head saying: ‘You’re going to forget your lines’. — Alan Rickman

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I remember listening to a recording of a very interesting interview Richard Attenborough gave on a radio program back in the 1970s. He discussed his role, that of John Christie, in the motion picture “10 Rillington Place.” John Christie was an English serial killer who was hanged for his crimes in 1953. In particular, Attenborough discussed how he went about inhabiting the character of Christie. What struck me in the interview was his opening comment (offered in a lighthearted tone),  something to the effect that “actors are dramatic people.” I chuckled when I heard his comment. “How true this is,” I thought. He continued the interview explaining that he needed a very deep level of concentration to inhabit the character of John Christie. In addition, in a subsequent interview Attenborough credited the director, Richard Fleischer, who instilled in him the confidence he needed to successfully inhabit the character of John Christie. I understand the need for a deep level of concentration and confidence to successfully inhabit a character. This comes as no surprise, but listening to Attenborough discuss acting technique made me think of stage fright, the actor’s nightmare. Continue reading

A joke is a very serious thing. — Winston Churchill

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Recently, I learned that a popular radio show in Toronto, the Dean Blundell Show was cancelled, allegedly because of jokes aired about the trial of a man accused of sexual assaults on three men he met in a gay bath house. Dean Blundell is a shock jock, which is defined as “a type of radio broadcaster or disc jockey who entertains listeners or attracts attention using humour and/or melodramatic exaggeration that a notable portion of the listening audience may find offensive.” (Wikipedia) The Dean Blundell Show was apparently very popular; it was on the air for the past thirteen years. Many listeners are dismayed at its cancellation. Ultimately, the decision to cancel the show rested with the owners of the radio station. In announcing their decision, this was the reason given: “The station will return to a more music-based format showcasing the best in modern rock. As a result, The Dean Blundell Show has been cancelled, effective January 6, 2014,” said Dave Farough, the General Manager of Corus Radio Toronto, which oversees the Blundell program. (as cited in CBC News Toronto) Continue reading

Says he, ‘I am a handsome man, but I’m a gay deceiver.’ — George Colman, the Younger ( 1762-1836)

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Is it easier for gay actors to play heterosexual characters, or for heterosexual actors to play gay characters? As an actor myself, this question crossed my mind. I took training in acting technique at the Ottawa Theatre School, in workshops with professional theatre companies and with an acting coach. I appeared in a number of amateur stage productions over the years. The three actors in the photographs above are known for playing gay and heterosexual characters in British television series. Russell Tovey, the man seen embracing the woman, is famous for playing heterosexual characters in Being Human and Him & Her. He is gay. James Sutton, the young man wearing the green and cream striped pullover, and Guy Burnet, seated next to him, became widely known for their portrayal as gay characters in a relationship in the British soap opera Hollyoaks. Both these men are heterosexual. Having seen their respective performances I am duly impressed. They are fine actors. They were able to inhabit their characters, gay and heterosexual, successfully, giving a believable portrayal; still, I wonder is it easier for a gay actor to play straight or for a straight actor to play gay? Continue reading