Belfry’s new filmed production comes with a personal touch



What: Same old
Or: belfry.bc.ca
When: From September 21 to 26
Tickets: $ 25 from tickets.belfry.bc.ca or 250-385-6815

For all that Michael Shamata has accomplished in his four-decade theatrical career – from stint at the famed Stratford Festival in Ontario to multiple Dora Mavor Moore Awards as a director – there is one question the artistic director has to answer. longtime Belfry Theater has never been confronted. : Would you like to play in a play?

He hasn’t starred in a staged production since the early 1970s when he was in high school, choosing instead to focus on other behind-the-scenes aspects of the theater world.

“No one ever asked me,” Shamata said. “I’m just not an actor. It’s not the world I’m from, and I think people know that. I came to the staging by the management. This is foreign to me.

Shamata finally got the chance to perform on stage for the first time this summer. The pandemic has upended the original plan, which would have put Shamata on the Belfry stage for a series of in-person performances, but the long-awaited result hits screens next week in the form of a filmed production.

He makes an appearance in Same Old Same Old, which has its world premiere on Tuesday.

The Belfry hosted a reading of Same Old Same Old shortly before the pandemic, during the 2020 edition of its annual SPARK festival.

The play’s co-creators and stars, Jan Wood and James Fagan Tait, asked Shamata if he would play a role – that of a stage manager character – and he agreed. The response from those who saw him during the festival was overwhelmingly positive, so a full version of the stage was lit – with a layout.

“Jimmy and Jan said I had to be in it,” Shamata said with a laugh. “I said it was crazy, and they should hire someone else [for the role]. I even told director Kaitlin Williams that she didn’t need me on the project.

The whole team felt the creative spark during the process, including Shamata. He decided that if Same Old Same Old – a play about a marriage in its later stages, told through a series of short vignettes – was going to be part of the next Belfry season, it should probably jump out of the sidelines into the deep end. of the swimming pool.

“If he ever had to appear on stage, it seemed like the right time to do it,” he said.

The initial plan, Shamata said, was for Same Old Same Old to have its world premiere during the Belfry’s spring 2020-21 season. This was scuttled when the number of active COVID-19 cases prevented provincial health authorities from fully reopening live events. Shamata’s long-awaited close-up will still take place, but strictly online, starting Tuesday.

A version of Same Old Same Old that was filmed on the Belfry stage in June and July will air on the company’s website for most of next week.

“It was awesome,” Shamata said of the experience. “I have to say it was a lot of fun being on the other side of the table.”

The plays have been described by Shamata as “deceptively simple”, although the involvement of talents like Tait (who directed and co-wrote 21 Ways to Make the World Last Longer) and Wood (who played the Ms. Fezziwig’s role in the belfry production of A Christmas Carol) hint at deeper layers of import.

“It’s about the language that develops between people who have been together for a very, very long time and the love that we never talk about but is there all the time,” he said. “There is so much that we recognize in ourselves or in our parents or the people we know, and many are very funny and many are very touching.”

Shamata said he really enjoyed the acting experience, but wasn’t sure it would lead to other opportunities. He assumes that his role in Same Old Same Old will be a unique storyline. “I wouldn’t say no to trying something else, I just think no one will ask me,” he said with a laugh. “Anyone who sees this sees the beginning and the end of my acting career. I don’t think I’m opening any doors here.

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© Colonist of the time of copyright


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