The Pavilion at the Firehall Arts Theatre
I had the pleasure of speaking with director Bob Frazer and actor Craig Erickson about their highly anticipated play: The Pavilion.
WD: You have a new production company. Can you tell us a little about that?
BF: Sure. Osimous Theatre is the name of the company and it was developed over the last couple of years. I modeled it after the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. Gary Sinise started that with two friends as an ensemble. They work as an ensemble over and over again.
I started to really like that idea because you get to know how to work with people really well and how to get better and I thought that was really vital.
We're such a transient community. We go and we work for two months, if we're lucky, at one job and then we move on to another job. We may not even see those actors or directors we worked with for another few years.
What if we could do what they did in Chicago and work with the same people over and over getting to know each other really well and getting to know how it worked: wouldn't that just improve the whole process? That really started to excite me.
The company was generated out of a sense of working with people who weren't worried about themselves, instead concentrating on the production. They were concerned about the story, telling that story, and how to do the best job possible.
There was an element of always wanting to improve as artists but also eliminating all the ego that sometimes comes with acting and all the worries about a lot of the unnecessary things. I wanted to work as a generous group of people that supported each other and strove to be better.
WD: How long have you been together?
BF: This is our first production. About a year ago, during Othello (at Bard on the Beach) Craig was on the small stage and I was on the big stage, and Parnelli (Parnes), who is also in the company, was playing opposite me.
We would go for walks in between performances. We would sit by the water at Vanier Park and talk about this company. I would tell them my dream and they would talk about ideas and what they wanted to do. There was a lot of encouraging discussion going on. Finally they both said, “a) If you ever do it, I want to be in it, and b) You have to do it. Just go and do it. There's no time like the present.” So I said, “ok, let's do it.”
CE: What drew me to this company was Bob and his personality and his forcefulness in wanting to get a company with passion at the forefront off the ground. Bob is a very persuasive guy and a wonderful theatre artist and I've enjoyed working with him in the past.
This play has a lot of beautiful themes of grace, redemption and forgiveness. I always like to participate in stories that have that at its core.
I got a chance to work on another play the same author (Craig Wright) four years ago called Grace. The playwright is poetry, heart, and humour and has a lot of redemption at the core of his stories. It's a real thrill to be a part of this.
WD: Can you tell us a little bit about the show?
CE: The Pavilion is a story about a twentieth year reunion where an ex-girlfriend and ex-boyfriend are meeting for the first time since their high school days and they have very different feelings about seeing each other.
Their relationship didn't end the way they wanted twenty years ago and they've both had different experiences to the passing of time and the way they evaluate time.
My character Peter is very optimistic and idealizes the relationship he had with the character of Kari. He's going to try to win her back. Kari's disappointment in how it ended twenty years ago has turned to bitterness and resentment so when they see each other it's this explosion of emotion, desire, and new possibilities.
It's a beautiful story of what we do with what we do with our experiences: do we learn from our mistakes, are we allowed to reinvent ourselves, are we stuck in the mold of what we've done. The playwright handles these questions beautifully.
WD: How did you come to choose Pavilion as your first production?
BF: Starting a new company is daunting. It's a huge scary experience. There's no money. You think oh my god I'm going to put up a show, I'm going to lose money on this... I went crazy.
The Pavilion came around because Parnelli came to me and said, “I think I found the play for your theatre.” I'd read a lot of plays and this one was beautifully written and it was really an actor's piece. There was no set, no elaborate costumes, no real props, no sound cues, and I thought to myself this is exactly what I want.
I didn't have to spend a load of money on all this stuff. It's not super technical. It's a beautiful story that can be acted by actors.
WD: What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced with both your company as well as the production you've chosen?