Brian Fidler and Clare Preuss exude a remarkable amount of calm considering what they’re planning to do less than a week from now.
The Guild’s new artistic director and the director behind its first play of the season met in person for the first time when Preuss got off the plane in Whitehorse about three weeks ago.
They’ll be putting on Matt Murray’s Myth of the Ostrich, starting Sept. 22.
Fidler, a familiar face in Yukon’s theatre scene, took over as artistic director this year.
When it came time to pick someone to direct the 75-minute comedy, he took his advice from other local actors.
Preuss, who calls Toronto home, had been up in Whitehorse in March working with Gwaandak Theatre to run developmental workshops.
That’s where she met Yukon actor Mary Sloan, who recommended her to Fidler.
“I totally trust Mary’s judgement and choices on stuff,” Fidler said.
Even though most of their early interactions were via email or Skype, both Fidler and Preuss say they knew pretty quickly that this was the right choice.
“I trust my intuition,” he said. “As soon as I start communicating with someone I really get a strong sense of how they respond to whatever questions I have, if they’re the right person. It was just really clear from the beginning.”
Murray’s play appeared at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2014. It’s the story of two mothers, with markedly different views of the world, who meet after one finds an inappropriate letter from her teenage son to his mystery girlfriend.
The complete cast is only three actors and the entire ensemble is on stage together for almost the entire show.
“(These are) three women that have that ability to have that kind of honest connection, have that kind of response in the present moment, and then that are wickedly funny,” Preuss said.
Guild actors typically have about three weeks to rehearse.
A few days ago one of the show’s actors had to pull out for health reasons.
Kaori Torigai, another fixture in Guild productions and Myth of the Ostrich’s costume designer, stepped in to take her place.
“She was really the right person to step in. I tried to get her to audition but she didn’t have the time,” Fidler said.
“But she acknowledged that we were in a difficult situation so she stepped up.”
Its been a challenging time, but it’s “amazing” how things have come together, he said.
“Carrie Burgess, who had to step aside for medical reasons, she’s given so much to the production as well. So much of her energy and her collaboration … there’s a lot of her in the piece,” Preuss said.
Meanwhile Torigai has been able to use what Burgess gave her and also “bring her version of the character to the piece,” she said.
Torigai will be on stage alongside Andrea Bols and Rosie Stuckless.
“There’s a spark that’s present in the room, which is exciting and probably due a bit to the pressure. But, you know, the show must go on,” Preuss said.
“We’re totally using it, I think it’s going to be a great production for sure.”
She wants the audience to feel a sense of joy watching the stage.
“Then also the sense that we don’t all have to agree with each other — about our politics, about our worldview, about our lifestyles — to get along and be part of a community.”
Preuss has collaborated with theatre companies in Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Uganda. Earlier this year she helped put on a show in Beirut, Lebanon.
She said she wants to maintain a connection with Whitehorse as well.
“I think there’s something really juicy about the sharing that’s going on and I certainly get a ton from being here,” she said.
“The artists that are here, the mentality that’s here, the creating that’s going on and the actual energy and nature of this place.”
Opening night of Myth of the Ostrich is Sept. 22 with a $10 preview night on the 21st. The show runs until Oct. 8.
The Guild’s season this year also includes a staged radio dramatization of It’s a Wonderful Life and wraps up with Evil Dead: The Musical.
“My dream this season is I want to sell out the whole season,” Fidler said. “Not to have a notch on my belt but to actually have all those people come out and see shows and become lovers of theatre.”
More information about the season can be found on the Guild’s website, guildhall.ca.
Contact Ashley Joannou at firstname.lastname@example.org