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Perchance Theatre's Power of One project features 40 monologues in 40 weeks
Greg House first performed Launce’s monologue on leaving home from Shakespeare’s “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” when he was a student in the theatre program at what is now Grenfell Campus.
The Corner Brook actor and teacher recently revived that monologue on a greater stage, in the great outdoors, as part of the Cupids-based Perchance Theatre’s The Power of One project.
The project will showcase 40 different monologues from Shakespeare’s plays, shot as short films, that will be released one at a time every Tuesday over 40 weeks. Ten films have already been released.
House said in a time when theatres are shut down for the most part, Perchance’s artistic director Danielle Irvine and the company are very much keeping theatre alive.
He met Irvine while at theatre school but up to about five years ago hadn’t talked to her in some time. Then he found a clip about Perchance on YouTube and ended up auditioning for its 2015 season and has done three seasons with the company since then.
So, when Irvine contacted him about being a part of The Power of One, House said yes before she even had the question out.
“I was very excited to come aboard and be a part of it.
“What she’s doing, this initiative, I think is very important. It’s showcasing the company, it’s showcasing a lot of different performers across the province and it’s also showcasing the province itself.
“It was a no brainer to come onboard with the project.”
Back in theatre school, House said it took him a while to get into Shakespeare.
“In the beginning it was extremely intimidating and hard to understand.”
But the more he exposed himself to it and the more he kept trying to understand it, he did.
The stories come across not just in the words, but in the emotions, actions and inflections of the actor.
He first performed “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” monologue as a second-year student on stage with a live dog.
In the Power of One he performs it on the Curry Climb trail in Massey Drive overlooking Corner Brook.
Having his hometown in the background made it all the more special.
“I was just over the moon about the fact that we were able to put Corner Brook in this.”
And while he didn’t have a full audience watching he still felt like he was performing for the crew that was along for the filming.
His co-star was once again a live dog, Pacey, that belongs to a close friend who let House borrow him for the day.
“This was his first time on camera, his first time performing Shakespeare and he couldn’t have been more perfect for the role.
“As the line calls it says that he is a stone, he’s expressionless and he’s emotionless, and he was just that. He was pretty chill.”
Irvine said bringing the project to life has been a great experience.
“Getting to actually work and do what we’re driven to do is amazing.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic, Irvine said, Perchance had to pivot as it couldn’t do anything for the public on its stage.
She first thought of doing a whole summer season on Zoom, but scrapped that idea about two weeks in.
“It’s great for internal work for developing process, for developing character development, learning how to work with text,” she said. But for her it just wasn’t good for communicating with an audience.
The heart of the company is performing outdoor classical theatre and she came up with the idea of expanding on the company’s garden fundraiser, where actors are spread throughout a garden and the audience wanders around finding them, to filming actors at locations all over the province.
With Jamie Skidmore as director of photography and editor on the east coast and Tom Cochrane as director of photography on the west coast she’s taken the project to some pretty spectacular places.
Like the enormous trestle bridge that reaches 927 feet across the Exploits River in Bishop’s Falls where Stephen Oates performed a monologue from “Coriolanus.”
And a graveyard in Cow Head where Deidre Gillard-Rowlings plays a mother from “Cymbeline” who sings at the grave of her child while lamenting the fact she won’t be there to watch over them anymore because the community is being resettled.
Irvine said some of those presenting the monologues, like musician Alan Doyle, really reached out of their comfort zones to participate.
There are 15 more films ready to go and most of the others will be filmed before Christmas. Irvine is saving a few to be filmed in the dead of winter and the spring.
More on The Power of One project can be found online at https://www.perchancetheatre.com/ including an interactive map that highlights the actors and stories in each of the locations.
Diane Crocker reports on west coast news.