All the World is a Stage

By Judee Fong


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Director Tony Cain (left) consulting on a scene with Toshik Bukowiecki. Photo by Judee Fong

Drama teacher/mentor, actor, Langham Court Theatre Director and Target Theatre’s Artistic Director Tony Cain remembers the best piece of advice he received during a class in his first weeks at the London Drama Centre in the early 70s. “We were asked, ‘How many plays did you go to see the last couple of weeks?’ Most of us would answer none, and the instructor exclaimed, ‘Wait a minute, you want to be actors/actresses and you don’t even take the time to watch these great actors on stage? All the top names are right here in London. Why aren’t you watching them?’”

Tony recalls it made his class think. “All the skills, techniques and information were gleaned from great actors strutting their stuff on stage. I remember the instructor reminding us that you watch the play to see how the actors interpret their characters, how they deliver their words, study their technique and style.”

Tony began attending performances at the Bristol Old Vic, watching Sir Lawrence Olivier in his early days and, later, such greats as John Gielgud, Maggie Smith and Sir Ralph Richardson.

Today, Tony asks the same question: “How many shows did you go to last month?” With today’s technology, London’s National Theatre and the Globe Theatre have live-feeds of their current plays. Audiences around the world are now able to watch “real-time” performances in their city. Tony emphasizes, “Today, people miss the opportunity to see these live performances at the Cineplex for $20, right here (http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/). If you’re an aspiring actor, it’s essential to watch some of these greats perform.”

Tony recalls, “It’s amazing who ‘connects’ with you when you perform on stage. Tennessee Williams was in London in 1977, to produce his play, *Red Devil Battery Sign* at the Roundhouse Theatre. When Tennessee saw one of my classmates, Pierce Brosnan, perform, he immediately said, ‘I want him in my play!’ That’s how Pierce got his first big break playing a character called McCabe.”

As a struggling actor, Tony held a series of jobs including a number of well-paid ads and commercials that allowed him to pursue his dream of being an actor. Eventually, he left the London scene and moved to Canada, settling first in Edmonton. Although he was working at a “real” job that paid his bills, he maintained his love of the theatre by directing, working in fringe theatre and starting a small theatre school in his spare time.

Moving to Victoria, Tony immersed himself in the active stage scene by teaching/mentoring, becoming a director for Langham Court Theatre and, later, artistic director for Target Theatre, as well.   As artistic director, Tony is a director who decides the whole season, the direction the Target group will take, plus a number of other things involving the entire group.

“Both Target Theatre and Langham Court Theatre are community theatres with high levels of expectation,” says Tony. “Some of the actors and actresses are professionals like actor/teacher Jason Stevens, while others have varying levels of experience. I get a lot of satisfaction in directing, and I get to pass on my experiences and knowledge along the way.”

Tony enjoys Alan Bennett’s plays such as The History Boys and Lady in the Van, because of their appeal, humour and Bennett’s underlying message.

People, opening at Langham Court Theatre on January 15th, is a fun British comedy involving Dorothy (Elizabeth Whitmarsh), a former model, now retired and in her 70s and Theodore (Toshik Bukowiecki), a gentleman from her past. Theodore comes to her home, which she shares with Iris (Geli Bartlett), as he thinks the manor would make an excellent movie site.

Thrilled at remembering a happier time and needing the cash to keep her home, Dorothy accepts, unaware the movie is a porno flick. Tony clarifies, “Using humour, Bennett points out that the National Trust has enormous wealth but it’s not going where it should as somebody else is getting very wealthy from it. People’s underlying message is that everything has a price.”

Any stage performance involves not only the actors and a director who pulls it all together, but also an experienced production crew, like Stage Manager Sheila McKenzie, Set Director Jean deCartier, Set Designer Anne Swannell, Sound Producer Michael Gosselin, and Production Manager Sylvia Rhodes, who all make People a fun play to watch.

Tony knows his cast, the production team and can “see” the scenes as they play out. But it can change once everyone is in the rehearsal room. Tactfully, he admits, “You have people with different temperaments and stage experiences. I want to be the kind of director who collaborates. I’m a listener, so I do hear what they’re saying. Everyone has input — it’s all part of being a creative group.”

After directing Langham Court Theatre’s British comedy People, Tony hopes to carve out some free time. He looks forward to working with Film Club West, which he enthusiastically describes as “a group of young film makers, who make short films by writing their own scripts and doing their own filming. It’s a neat project to do. Victoria is an exciting town for the arts.” Being on an island surrounded by water, Tony adds, “I have a five-foot sloop docked at Brentwood Bay and, when I can, I sail — that’s my time out.”

Langham Court Theatre’s stage production of People will be on January 15-31, 2015. For information and tickets call 250-384-2142 or email: boxoffice@langhamtheatre.ca

 

JANUARY 2015 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE

 

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Comments

Showing 1 to 5 of 5 comments.

Tony is such an asset to our filmmaking group. He generously lends us his experience as an actor and director but more importantly with his spark and energy helps others light a fire under their own creative goals.

Posted by Brian | January 13, 2015 Report Violation

Thank you Penny for the corrections--blame it on my excitement at meeting everyone that night!

Posted by Judee | January 3, 2015 Report Violation

My apologies, Tony for the 5' sloop--I think that's the size of a small bathtub? And wherever you saw Olivier, I'm glad you had that fantastic experience!

Posted by Judee | January 3, 2015 Report Violation

Tony has a 35 ft sloop on a mooring buoy at Brentwood Bay. Tony saw Olivier on stage at The Old Vic in London not in Bristol.

Posted by Tony Cain | January 3, 2015 Report Violation

One correction - Tim Watters is our Sound Designer while Michael Gosselin is Associate Producer and ASM. Diane Keating is responsible for costume design.

Posted by Penny | January 2, 2015 Report Violation

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