A stab at the glamorous life
Wednesday, Dec 03, 2014 06:00 am
Dec. 3 to 13
10322 – 83 Ave.
Tickets: $12 to $18 Call 780-420-1757 or purchase online at tixonthesquare.ca
The theory of six degrees of separation states that every individual is linked by chains of acquaintances, and that we are just six introductions away from any other person on the planet. Sounds a bit far-fetched?
Well, Google in fact tracked 30 billion electronic messages and calculated the distance between two strangers as 6.6 degrees of separation. So does this mean we are just a few steps away from buddying up to the Queen or Bill Cosby or J-Law?
New York playwright John Guare borrowed this seemingly impossible concept for the title of his 1990 Broadway production opening tonight at Walterdale Theatre for a 10-day run.
Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation was inspired by the real life story of David Hampton, a black teenager who conned a number of white, upper echelon Manhattanites with his oversized charm.
He duped them into believing he was a classmate of their children and the son of actor-politician Sidney Poitier. For an extra measure of sympathy, he added that muggers had stolen his money and a Harvard term paper ironically titled Injustices in the Criminal Justice System.
The scam was not only his way of living on easy street. It was his way of ridiculing what he saw as an overly pampered white world of hypocrisy.
“Six Degrees of Separation was brought to me by the artistic director of Walterdale for consideration,” says Louise Large.
Growing up in St. Albert, she was known as Louise Casemore to her Paul Kane High friends. Although now Edmonton-based, Large has kept ties with her roots acting and directing with St. Albert Theatre Troupe.
“Something spoke to me about the idea of a person choosing to live a life by their charisma and to be someone other than who they are. And he did it so successfully by playing on his greatest strength, and people’s fear of being impolite by accusing him of being something he wasn’t.”
Although the scope of the play with its 19 actors is a huge departure from Large’s normal style of working with a small, intimate cast, the opportunity was “too delicious” to pass up.
For Large, one of the play’s highlights is Guare’s sardonic dialogue.
“He does a phenomenal job of skewering the people he knows. He’s not saying they’re stupid but concerned with appearance, opulence and status. Whether you are living hand to mouth or on the higher plateau, you’re still worried about the same things.”
Jordy Kieto, a virtual unknown on the Edmonton acting scene, was selected through an audition committee to stickhandle the male lead role of Paul.
“He was a young kid who kind of wandered in off the street. He hadn’t signed up for an audition. He had come in to support a friend,” notes Large.
“His willingness to dig in and work is impressive. He’s quiet and observes everything and adjusts himself accordingly. He understands the material and what we’re trying to do to break it down. He’s taking chances and growing into the role.”
In addition, Six Degrees of Separation is peopled with a number of St. Albert actors. Mark McGarrigle is cast as a detective, Julien Stamer is Ben, the son of a couple that is scammed, and Selena Collins is Emma, a new character. As well, Rita Jensen contributes her visual arts talents as assistant set designer.
“The show doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. It’s definitely a black comedy. It’s very smart and deals with the frills of an upper class. At the end of the day, it’s wonderfully entertaining. It has a great mix of humour and it’s thought-provoking.”