I love actors.
As a kid growing up in the eighties, my favorite Harrison Ford movie was not “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. It was “Witness”, a drama about a big city cop hiding a murder witness in a rural Amish community.
The special effects and spectacle of “Raiders” didn’t captivate me nearly as much as the simple, beautifully drawn performances in “Witness”. Long before acting became my profession, the craft held a powerful mystique for me, the audience member. This connection between performer and audience continues to be the motivating force in my career.
I’ve worked with hundreds of actors through the years as a director, coach and fellow actor. I’ve endeavored to mentor and help many young actors gain a foothold in the business and I continue to be humbled by the bravery and vulnerability that actors cultivate in themselves. Many non-actors look at the profession as a narcissistic plea for attention against overwhelming waves of rejection. In truth, this breed of actor usually quits the profession by their thirties and the remaining few of this kind are the jaded, bitter veterans. We actors treat them like the drunk uncle at Thanksgiving – just let him mutter his stories, he’ll tire himself out and fall asleep.
The “real” actors, the steadfast pros, are those committed to the process of storytelling. Those, who, despite all obstacles, hold a candle for the timeless act of connecting with an audience and impacting them. That is what fuels our pursuit of the craft, and to my fellow “lifers”, you are the most charming souls I’ve come to know.
This love of craft has fueled me to create a theatre company in my hometown of Vancouver. Like many artists, I’ve spent time in other markets for career reasons but Vancouver will always be home to me. In the past, I’ve started some heated dialogue about the city’s arts and entertainment culture, but I’m in a different phase now, one of positive resolve. Wallowing in cynicism about a Liberal party victory, the BC Film industry, or Vancouver’s cultural shortcomings is something I refuse to do. I don’t want to be a drunk uncle.
Mitch and Murray Productions, a five time Jessie nominee, was built as a haven for artists and audiences alike. Our provocative new dramas from the world stage give actors and theatregoers a chance to connect with material that otherwise would likely not play this town. Labute’s “Fat Pig”, Weller’s “Fifty Words” and Mamet’s “Race” (our previous shows) are hard hitting, bitingly funny dramas that offer actors the Mount Everest of professional challenges while giving audiences the type of delightful, complex character dramas that cable television has so successfully captured audiences with.
Our two play festival this November features two new plays that speak to a young audience of today. “Becky Shaw” by Gina Gionfriddo features an unlikely romantic pairing of Max, a cynical, pragmatic money manager and Becky, a sensitive, highly educated thirty something who struggles to pay her bills in a time of recession. Sound familiar?
“Lungs” by Duncan Macmillan features a young couple struggling with the decision to have a child against the backdrop of their political indecision and unfulfilled dreams. It’s the type of theatre that will cultivate a new generation of young audiences by speaking directly to their present day issues.
As the foundation of producing our shows, we run an early bird ticket campaign every year, offering audiences the chance to buy tickets in advance and providing us the initial funding to get our shows off the ground. For our last two shows, we successfully raised our needed funds of $3000 in early bird tickets.
This year, with May 30th as our deadline, we’re $2000 short of that needed start up cash. Against my desire to always project positivity and a professional image, I must tell you: If we don’t meet our mark by May 30th, we’ll have to pull the plug.
There comes a time, after an initial building phase, when you have to let your work speak for itself and hope the audience responds. Producing these works is a year round labor of love driven by the desire to tell new stories, in this young city, through the oldest of arts, the theatre.
Whether you’re an actor, crew member or audience member, we’re building this for you. The plays are months away but we need your ticket purchase now. Will you join us in taking the next step?
We look forward to your response.
Aaron Craven – Mitch and Murray Productions