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New leader, new season at the Guild

If you believe the lore, Harrison Ford got his job on Star Wars through his work as a carpenter. Pamela Anderson was first spotted on screen at a B.C. Lions game.

If you believe the lore, Harrison Ford got his job on Star Wars through his work as a carpenter. Pamela Anderson was first spotted on screen at a B.C. Lions game. Natalie Portman was scouted while eating a pizza.

When trolling for creative talent, it’s important to look in unconventional places.

That’s something Anthony Trombetta is becoming more and more comfortable with since taking over as the Guild’s artistic director in March.

Trombetta had his eyes open early on for potential cast members for the new season.

“The lead actor in The Shape of Things is my cat sitter,” he said.

A Neil Labute play, The Shape of Things is on stage at the Guild until Oct. 11. It stars Santana Berryman, Jeff Charles, Rowan Dunne and Andrea Bois.

“We read the play, my wife and I, and we were thinking, ‘You know what would be good? Jeff is this guy,’ Trombetta remembered.

“He’s never acted in his life, but he is this guy.”

Trombetta hasn’t physically chased anyone down the street to pitch an audition, but it certainly seems like something he would do in the right circumstances.

“That ‘small town factor’ plays into that perfectly. You see people around and it’s like, ‘that guy totally looks like this guy in the play. We should go see if he’s interested.’”

Long-time Guild artistic director Eric Epstein used to scout out local karaoke nights, he said.

The conversations are not always easy ones.

“When you’re approaching strangers you seem kind of creepy, I feel creepy and ridiculous. But there are people out there who have a certain look, you just have to find them,” Trombetta said.

The Guild Society has been running for the last three decades giving amateur actors a chance to set aside their day jobs and have a moment on stage.

Trombetta, who did his first play with the Guild in 2003, said he’s seen actors with no experience blossom under the care of directors brought in from around the country.

“Whether they’re newbie actors or trained actors, whether they have a lot of experience or a little bit of experience, we’re giving them a professional-quality kind of experience when they come to see a show.”

Each season the group puts on three to four plays from September to May.

The job of choosing those plays falls to Trombetta.

“My first process was when I went to the library and grabbed plays based on their cover.”

That’s how he found The Shape of Things. The cover “was very stylistic. Whoever did the copy on it was very good,” he said.

The search got more serious from there and eventually, a pile of about 20 plays was whittled down to the chosen four. Trombetta said those four were the ones that stuck with him long after he closed the cover.

The Shape of Things is a romantic drama that first appeared on stage in 2001. Trombetta said he was attracted to the play because it offers a chance for a younger cast to get lead roles.

“There’s a lot of kids that go through the MAD (Music Arts Drama) program, actually stay in town, but you never actually see them again. Where did they go? They’re hiding out at the college taking courses and stuff.”

The show centres on Adam, an English literature major, and Evelyn, a graduate art student, as they meet, get together and the relationship takes an unexpected turn.

The next show, which starts in November, is Dedication or The Stuff of Dreams by Terrence McNally.

It follows the owners of a children’s theatre company run out of a strip mall who have the opportunity to buy an old New York theatre.

Trombetta said this play is a treat specifically for the Guild’s production crew and set designers.

“The fun thing about that one is that I wanted to transform the Guild,” he said.

“We’re an old theatre, but we’re an old 20-by-20 box. It’ll be interesting to see what’s going to happen, if we can create that old style New York-y theatre.”

From Jan. 29 to Feb 14 the Guild is putting on Oleanna by David Mamet.

Trombetta called the play one of his favourite Mamet pieces.

“It talks about sexual power-politics between a student and a professor and ends with a serious bang.”

Trombetta said he’s not worried about putting on a play that deals with sensitive issues.

“That’s part of what theatre does. It’s not necessarily about the happy face, standing, clap-clap-clap, yeah, we had a good time,” he said.

“I really like theatre that makes you talk about it after, other than saying, ‘Oh what a nice show.’”

Every year the Guild puts on a musical. This season will wrap up in April with Cannibal: The Musical by Trey Parker.

Parker, best known for the TV show South Park and the musical The Book of Mormons, wrote, produced and directed the movie Cannibal: The Musical in 1993.

The film was never meant to appear on stage, but has been adapted by fans into more than 50 stage versions.

There’s no official stage script, so theatre groups that buy the rights get the score, the movie script and an adaptation guide.

“They encourage random insertions of aliens and Jesus, if you can. If something isn’t working, or if you’re hitting a snag, just throw in a Jesus,” Trombetta said.

The show is being directed by Brian Fidler, who is also Ramshackle Theatre’s artistic director.

“They make it so open to do whatever you want. I figured it would be perfect for Brian,” Trombetta said.

Community theatre has a spot for everyone, on the stage or behind the scenes, Trombetta said. Anyone who wants to come out should give it a try.

“(Go to the) website or Facebook. Or they can hassle me on the street,” he said.

“I’ll come chase you down, you come chase me down.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at