Snowman returns: in theatre apparently you can go home again

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With its world premiere in Vancouver still recent history, Rumble Productions Artistic Director Craig Hall brings Greg MacArthur’s dark comedy Snowman once again to Vancouver audiences.

The cast of the Rumble Productions presentation of SnowmanFor actor Charlie Gallant, who plays the role of gay porn-watching-cocaine-snorting Jude, the question of why it was time to mount another production was at the top of his list.

“Craig wanted a chance to give this production the treatment that it really deserved,” explained Gallant.  “Back in 2003 it was ‘theatre-under-the-gun’, where they all had several hats on.  This time they had more time, a bigger budget, and Craig had more experience under his belt.  He is very much in love with the script and wanted to make sure he got a crack at doing it properly.”

At its most basic Gallant says Snowman is a story about relationships and the human need for connection, but what has him more excited is what he says will be a very unique theatrical experience.

“There is a lot of direct address to the audience,” said Gallant.  “Normally when you go to a show the audience sits and watches a story and that fourth wall between actor and audience is never broken.  With Greg’s [playwright Greg MacArthur] writing style it challenges a lot of those notions of theatre.  It is also very challenging for us as actors, and it should be fun for the audience.  There is nothing ‘normal’ about this show … in a good way!”

Discovering who Jude, the lone gay character in the show, was didn’t come easily to Gallant at first, but not, as one might think, because he was a straight man playing a gay character.   For Gallant, that was the easy part.  It was the age difference between himself and his character that at first had him stymied.

“When I started off trying to figure out Jude I came at him from a very outside perspective, considering he is younger than I am,” he explained.  “I didn’t know if he was a character that I was going to be able to find within myself, but over time found out there were similarities between us.”

And while those similiarites don’t cross-over to who he sleeps with, having played gay men before on stage Gallant considers Jude’s sexuality of little consequence in his ability to portray him on stage.

“I don’t look at it [being gay] any differently than I do any other character,” he said.  “Every character has goals and things they want.  For me it is trying to play those things honestly.  This story is just a great chance to play a really interesting character.  I did a lot of digging and searching with Craig and the rest of the cast as to what it is about this character that makes him tick and what he says believable.”

Part of Gallant’s character search included an excursion with fellow cast mates into the woods around Stanley Park that not only mirrors some of the scenes in Snowman but was also an exercise in storytelling.

“The reason for the excursion into the woods was to get into us into a neutral space.  Craig asked each of us to tell a personal story because Greg’s writing style is very much actors telling stories direct to the audience; telling stories from that character’s perspective.  The stories we told were very much in evidence in rehearsals the next day as we worked to figure out what makes a story interesting and how when you are telling a story you fall back into the memory of it”.

Perhaps not surprisingly, with the emphasis on storytelling, Gallant hopes that audiences will leave the theatre with an appreciation for MacArthur’s writing and style.

But beyond the appreciation for the artist, Gallant says there is a deeper investigation of relationships and our human search for connections in Snowman.  “I think it will also bring up a lot of things that people don’t always talk about including the importance of clear communication in relationships which sometimes go on endlessly.”

4 – 19 November 2011
Revue Stage, Granville Island

Denver and Marjorie are drifters who have found a routine: find a town, find an apartment, get jobs, walk around, make friends, and stay for a month or a year before packing up and moving on. Over ten years they’ve made their way up to a small Canadian town on the edge of the glacial shield where they meet and befriend Jude, a young gay man who was abandoned by his parents and has an affinity for German porn. When Jude finds a prehistoric body frozen in the glacier, everyone’s lives begin to shift and thaw in unexpected ways.

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