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March 29, 2011

An Artistic Marathon – Derek Boyes

Associate Artist and Soulpepper veteran Derek Boyes has appeared in many Soulpepper productions, including Death of a Salesman, Loot, Awake and Sing! and King Lear. Derek has also appeared in productions for Stratford, Shaw, Citadel Theatre, Opera Atelier and Nightwood Theatre. Taking time from his bustling rehearsal schedule, Derek talks about Our Town, on stage April 7.

I am in the midst of a fantastic marathon of theatre creation. After opening The Fantasticks on February 14, A Midsummer Night’s Dream on February 23 and The Time of Your Life on March 18, I am starting this week on Our Town rehearsals for an April 13 opening. Talk about jumping into the deep end of a new repertory system! Exhausting? Of course, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world. What a perfect time to return to the calm grounded beauty which is Grover’s Corners New Hampshire and the simplicity and wisdom that is Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.

This will be my third visit to this play. I had the great good fortune to be in the version that opened the Young Centre in 2006. I will never forget watching Albert go onstage from the backstage monitor and as he touched the beautiful brick wall that frames this wonderful stage, we all touched the wall on the other side. As he turned to the audience to begin the play, he was given a standing ovation. An astounding moment that will remain with me forever.

I love this play. It is such a perfect example of what Soulpepper does best. It is a play that demands a company to create what appears to be a very simple look at a small town in America at the turn of the 20th century but is actually a very delicate and intricate series of connections that make this small town universal. It takes a master director like Joseph Ziegler to guide us into the heart of these people. It takes a acting company of great skill to create the depth of character that Thorton Wilder demands without the crutch of a fancy set or pyrotechnics. Wilder has stripped the theatre down to its essence. Actors telling a story, and I am honoured and humbled to be amongst this amazing company that is telling this story so beautifully. May this wonderful marathon continue.

Photo: Sandy Nicholson.