Morris Panych’s latest (and greatest, according to the Toronto Star) play Sextet features an incredibly talented cast, including Damien Atkins, Laura Condlln, Bruce Dow, Matt Edison, Rebecca Northan, and Jordan Pettle.
The cast chatted with Tarragon’s Marketing Director Lauren about the show, the Tarragon, and past memories of working with their hilarious castmates.
Q. What is your favourite scene in the show?
Matt: Harry’s speech at the end when we are hugging our instruments. It’s a beautiful speech.
Rebecca: I love ALL the scenes with Harry and Dirk – I think that Damien and Matt have brilliant comic chemistry, and some of the lines are just fanatic!
Bruce: The “Varklarte Nacht” scene – Damian Atikins and the beautiful music and speech transform the play from a sex-farce into something much deeper.
Damien: Hmmmm – too many good scenes. I like the scene when Dirk and I are playing charades.
Laura: It’s so hard to say…there are so many good scenes, and such funny, funny moments. I adore all the interactions between Harry and Dirk; but today, a fave is the scene where Mavis asks Harry to fill the semen collection cup…
Q. Have you ever worked with any of this cast before? Any memories to share?
Matt: Damien and I worked together in a production of Amadeus years ago at Canstage (also directed by Morris Panych & set design by Ken MacDonald). There was a half wall at the back of the stage where the actors would line up to deliver a chorus of lines at the end of the play. I played Amadeus Mozart, and after I died, I would crawl behind the wall and tickle everyone’s ankles while they fought to maintain the seriousness of the plays ending. I’ve matured somewhat since then.
Rebecca: Damien and I did Seven Stories together at CanStage/Theatre Calgary. I’ve never laughed so hard…until Sextet.
Bruce: I worked with Jordan Pettle at Stratford, Damien Atkins at CanStage – loved all my experiences with them. I have admired Laura Condlln’s work for years. She continues to evolve and blossom – she’s great. Rebecca Northan and Matthew Edison are new to me – and joys in my life and artistic life.
Damien: I have worked with Matt before, twice! We played brothers in The Caretaker. He was unbearable to work with, just satanic. I’ve also worked with Rebecca before. She also is loathsome. Just kidding. They are both delightful. Bruce, however, is a real nightmare. Also kidding. Here’s a memory: When I did Amadeus with Matt, we took the show to Florida. After the closing, a few of us (including Matt and I) drove to Miami to spend a weekend. We were all crowded into two beautiful (but small) hotel rooms on South Beach. I think Matt slept on the beach. I thought he was super cool.
Laura: This is my first time with every single person on this production, and I already have many wonderful memories. This has been such a joyful journey. I have never laughed so hard, on a daily basis, in my life.
Q. Have you ever been in a band, or do you play musical instruments?
Matt: Yes, I play guitar and piano. I used to play in a band called No City Fun.
Rebecca: I started playing the flute in the 6th grade. I was in the Junior High School band, and was first flute…I briefly flirted with the Calgary Round Up Band, which is a marching band…but I had nowhere NEAR the dedication, or the desire to march in a white cowboy hat during the Stampede parade.
Bruce: I play the piano. 12 years of study – and I’m still terrible!
Damien: I have only ever played the recorder. Me and every other Western Canadian schoolchild. I do sing though, does that count? Probably not. I’ve learned to fake various instruments, including – now – the cello!
Laura: I’ve been playing the violin since I was three. I started on a macaroni box with a stick for a bow. I had to practice holding it under my chin and prove I wouldn’t drop it before they got me a real instrument. It took till I was twelve. Just kidding. Then when I was a teenager I switched to viola – And had to suffer all the lame jokes. Poor violas.
Q. What attracted you to this play/these roles?
Matt: The writer, the cast, and the Tarragon Theatre.
Rebecca: This is my third Morris Panych, but my first opportunity to work with him directly. I adore his writing; smart, funny, challenging for the actor. Sextet is smart, and funny – I’m attracted to that kind of work.
Bruce: Morris Panych is our nation’s internationally renowned playwright. He’s also adorable. Richard Rose was the first director, after a long series of musicals on my resume, to show me respect as an actor in the rehearsal hall. Pretty much ain’t nothing I wouldn’t do for these guys.
Damien: Every aspect of this play/role/experience is attractive really. Witty play, cast full of naughty people, great theatre. Unbelievably well-written role.
Laura: The chance to work with Morris, and the other hacks that populate the stage with me every night. And by hacks I mean geniuses.
Q. What is one thing you can’t live without?
Rebecca: Oxygen. And water.
Bruce: Music. Emotion and math and science. It is soul altering.
Damien: One thing I can’t live without? Well, I have to say: love. Don’t I? But another is: cheese.
Laura: My love: my wife.
Q. What has been your favourite part of working at Tarragon?
Matt: It is a very warm and familial environment and everyone is so kind and generous. I particularly enjoy the fact that Tarragon has a 5 week rehearsal process for every play.
Rebecca: Walking the back halls and seeing Canadian Theatre History on the walls. Truly amazing!
Bruce: The people. For a place renowned as the “serious home of Canadian Theatre” – the building is filled with the most lovely, eclectic, exciting, vibrant, loving bunch of people!
Damien: The show is fabulous and I am proud of the work we are doing. But I have to say my very favourite part is how kind the people are. The team for this show is very kind and fun, and the permanent staff at the Tarragon are kind, supportive, cheerful and capable. It’s a lovely, safe place to work. Richard is a good leader.
Laura: Everybody in the building is incredibly kind and supportive and welcoming. And the building itself seems to vibrate with artistic passion and history – being on the stage, or walking through the hallways, one feels like one’s joined a giant family tree, whose roots are buried deeply in Canadian theatre. Also, the view of the Sunset outside the stage door is gorgeous.
Jordan Pettle, Matthew Edison, Damien Atkins, Laura Condlln, Rebecca Northan, and Bruce Dow.
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.
Sextet runs in the Mainspace at Tarragon until December 14th.