Because in the words of Van Morrison "It's the only thing I can do." I grew up around it and it's the only world that's made an ounce of sense to me.
Was there someone who inspired you in particular?
My mum. Been an actress at The Stratford Festival for 27 seasons now. I grew up watching her work... She taught me to love theatre and the language. Introduced me to the actors, directors and musicians who continue to inspire me.
This is you first time directing a piece of this scale - what are some of the challenges you've encountered?
Seeing the forest for the trees. You can get so locked down in a particular scene or rehearsal that you forget to see that the rest of this large production is coming along swimmingly. Paying attention to small details with the actors - not getting too lost in the scope of it. Hearing and seeing such a long narrative arc - all the interweaving stories.
You're just started out as an actor and director - in the grand scheme of life - what are some of the biggest lessons you've learned and what advice might you give to people looking to go into this profession?
The curtain call is thanking the audience. Richard Monette taught me that.
Do it for the love cause the money's just gravy and usually you'll be eating dry potatoes.
You learn best on your feet - you learn best by doing. So get it up and do the plays you want to do. It's the only way you'll get better. And on that note - don't sit around and wait for someone to hand you a career.
Did you find anything unexpected while reading the text before starting rehearsals?
Yes, quite a few things actually. The musicality for one. The entirety of Jessica and Lorenzo was a surprise when reading it. I've never seen a production that gave them any room to breathe and it's some of the simplest, purest stuff in the play.
The degree of interconnection in all the different narratives. It's like life - any time you've isolated the beginning of something you find some earlier cause. Nothing happens in a vacuum.
And how even from an Elizabethan stand point - Shylock isn't really a villain. He's sad, lonely, maligned but unlike so many characters in the canon he doesn't have an ounce of pure evil in him. The similarities that exist between Shylock, Antonio and Portia - all three are lonely, express some kind of ennui, are betrayed either intentionally or unintentionally by the people they love at some point in the play but that it's the capacity to forgive that separates them
What is the most interesting discovery you've made during the rehearsal process?
The discovery of Shylock as a potential revolutionary. Were the court to go differently he'd become a Jewish Che Guevara tearing down the old order around him. And the sheer amount of love that informs everything.
Why do you think theatre is important?
There are a lot of different parts to that answer. For one, it's always been the medium that incites the most terror in the powers that be. For another, it has the power to reach back into the past and bring us a moment of pure humanity both timeless and contemporary. It is an act of communion to sit in the dark and partake of story. And one that like the story tellers of old or any religious act happens presently, immediately and in the flesh.
If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
Let there be funding not to increase the scale of the productions we have but to make them accessible and affordable to everybody. Everyone in the world deserves to see good theatre - not just the ones who can afford to drop $50 for a ticket.
What are your dream projects, both as an actor and as a director?
Well I'd love to play that Danish guy - Hamlet. and Mack the Knife in Three Penny Opera.
As a director - any and all Brecht. The Bacchae or Murder in the Cathedral; which I'm working on a new adaptations for.