Archive for January, 2010


Monday, January 11th, 2010

In the second of a series of guest posts from the Romeo & Juliet company final year BFA Acting Candidate Moneca Lander talks about the BFA Acting program:

Before UBC, I attended various acting schools and programs to further my education and training. As soon as I began my journey here at UBC I realized that this is where I needed to be in order to fully explore my potential as an actor.

Professor Gayle Murphy coaches BFA acting Candidate Monica Lander.

Professor Gayle Murphy coaches BFA acting Candidate Moneca Lander.

Throughout my years here at UBC I’ve been involved in many productions. The specialized training in my classes has broadened my range as an actor and exposed me to a variety of stylistic acting techniques – one of the most memorable, being the Commedia dell’arte mask work introduced in my Intermediate year. This stylistic training gave me a foundation for my work in full-scale productions, such as Servant of Two Masters in which I was given the opportunity to play the role of “Smeraldina” the lady’s maid. I was able to transform myself physically, vocally and mentally into a character, a task that would have been extremely difficult to do had I not been given the stylistic training.

I’ve developed a strong appreciation for the classical training this program has offered. I believe that a strong well-rounded foundation is crucial in the development of a young actor.  The specialized training in a wide range of stylistic genres such as Shakespearian, Renaissance, Commedia dell’arte and Modern/Contemporary has absolutely made me a well-rounded actor.

"...and playing is what i am here to do."

"...and playing is what i am here to do."

Romeo and Juliet will be my final performance before graduating the program – and what an amazing experience it is turning out to be! The amount of professionalism that I am experiencing in UBC’s academic learning environment makes me confident and ready to accept any new challenges in the “real world.”

Working with and observing actors from the various class years of the program has proven to be a fantastic way for me to expand my own skills. I often find myself more open to ideas and suggestions when surrounded by such an inspiring group of talented actors.

Monica Lander backstage in rehearsal for Romeo & Juliet.

Moneca Lander backstage in rehearsal for Romeo & Juliet.

The rehearsal process for Romeo and Juliet has been extremely organized.  The expectations are always set out by the director, and we are able to come to rehearsal with our work done, and just play! And playing is exactly why I’m here. I can’t think of anything else in this world that would ignite as much passion within me, as the satisfaction of bringing a written character to life and watching us both grow together.

– Moneca Lander

Romeo & Juliet ignite!

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

In the first of a series of guest posts from the Romeo & Juliet company BFA Acting Candidate Barbara Kozicki talks about the rehearsal process:

I was quite simply thrilled when the role of Friar Lawrence was offered to me. Right from the start Catriona Leger, the director, decided I would not pretend to be a man for the part, so the concept of Sister Lawrence was born, and along with it the task of creating an entirely new “religion” for the world of Romeo & Juliet.

Actor: Barbara Kozicki Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

As a director Catriona constantly encourages us actors to make bold choices and try crazy new things.  As I work on the show I really feel like I have an opportunity to put forth ideas and contribute to the creative process.  I have to admit that with all this freedom, I felt a little overwhelmed in the first few weeks of rehearsal.

Tim Matheson

Actors L-R Foreground: Megs Chenosky and Jameson Parker Background: Barbara Kozicki Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

In the beginning I just didn’t know where to begin.  Slowly I started incorporating ideas from Wicca and Druidism with varying degrees of success.  During my research I went to a few church services, spent time with a shaman and watched videos of pagan rituals.  We are still a few weeks away from opening night and I finally feel like the foundation of our un-named order has been constructed and I am excited to watch it evolve.

— Barbara Kozicki

Tim Matheson

Actor: Barbara Kozicki Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

Note: Barbara is in her intermediate year of the BFA Acting Program and will be performing on the Telus Studio Theatre stage for the first time in Romeo & Juliet which opens January 21, 2010. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Barbara is an accomplished fire dancer, poi performer and corporate entertainer. Previous credits include The Laramie Project (Theatre at UBC), Little House on the Prairie (Disney) and Comeback Season (Accent Entertainment). She can next be seen in Theatre at UBC’s production of Arms and the Man.

Side by Side with Sondheim

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

On October 27, 2009, I had the thrilling experience of interviewing Stephen Sondheim for 90 minutes on the stage of Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre in front of 900 adoring fans–of Sondheim’s, not mine.  Still, such a huge wave of love broke over the stage that a little of it inevitably splashed onto me.  What a feeling!

Sondheim was here as a fundraiser for APPLAUSE! Musicals in Concert, whose   artistic director, Scott Ashton Swan, had invited me to do the interview.  I’ve done quite a few high-profile one-on-ones–John Ralston Saul, Neil LaBute, Kim Cattrall–but I felt anxious about Sondheim.  It would be like interviewing Shakespeare–the Shakespeare of modern musical theatre–but I knew little about him and not enough about his music or the shows he had written.  And what shows!  West Side Story (the greatest musical ever, in my pantheon) and Gypsy (lyrics only); music and lyrics for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Assassins, and more.  The guy’s a superstar, one of the 20th century’s finest artists.

So I spent a week in full Sondheim immersion, reading his biography and four other books about his work, and listening to the soundtracks of all his shows. Finally, I felt prepared.  But I had also read and heard things that suggested he might be grumpy, egotistical, thin-skinned.  And he’s 79 years old, so how sharp could he be? How much would he remember? How long could he sit?

Turned out none of my fears were warranted.  Sondheim is brilliant, witty and articulate, with a virtual photographic memory for details. I helped a little by setting him up with questions about his life and work that, from my reading, seemed to be often-told stories.  And he’d knock them out of the park with perfectly timed punchlines.

He’s also remarkably gracious, personable and modest. (“Call me Steve.”) And unbelievably vigorous.  Our gig was his fourth in four nights in different cities: San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Vancouver.  And he traveled alone–no retinue, no handlers, no assistant.  What a guy.

This was Sondheim’s first trip to Vancouver and very likely his last.  Those of us at the Vogue that night—me especially–were fortunate to be in the presence of true greatness.

~ Guest Post by Jerry Wasserman, Department Head of Theatre and Film at UBC
Note: Vancouver Sun coverage of the interview.
For all things Sondheim see

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