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March 3, 2011

Stepping into The Time of Your Life – Karen Rae

Karen Rae is a Soulpepper Academy member and graduate of Studio 58. She has appeared on the Soulpepper stage in Window on Toronto, Death of a Salesman and Oh What a Lovely War, for which she (along with the rest of the ensemble) was nominated for a Dora Award. Karen is on stage now in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and takes a moment now to reflect on rehearsals for The Time of Your Life, coming soon.

Karen Rae

Being a a part of this remount is such a gift. Imagine: an amazing, celebrated production is being brought back and all I have to do is step into it. The work is phenomenal. With Derek Boyes‘ solid performance as Nick and Denzel Sinclaire‘s richly delicate and haunting music, all I have to do is swing open the saloon doors and walk back in time. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I am falling head over heels into a complete, intricate, and strangely beautiful world.

There is a bit of all of us in Nick’s Pacific Street Saloon. Saroyan has done an incredible job of capturing the human condition: our curiosity, dreams, hope, laughter, despair, determination, love, hate, and mystery. There is breath and depth, reflection and transformation.

I am lucky enough to be taking on the role of Kitty Duval; “A young woman with memories” as Saroyan describes her. Her hard exterior protects an innocence that still shines; immune to the darkness, heartache, and woeful circumstance life has thrown her way. In playing Kitty, I am inspired to nurture my own heart, kindle my own light, so that whatever is true and right brightens the road as I trudge forward in this life. I think that is what Soroyan is encouraging all of us do to. His prologue is a stirring call to seize the day:

“In the time of your life, live – so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be inferior of no man, nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle, but if the time comes in your life to kill, kill and have no regrets. In the time of your life, live – so that in that wondrous time you shall not add misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.”  – William Saroyan

This play reminds me that all of us have something we carry with us from childhood: a dream, a hope, a truth, an innocence. It seems that no matter what time may bring, there is something splendid and heavenly we just can’t quite forget.

I am truly blessed to be at Soulpepper and to be working with Artistic Director Albert Schultz again, my dear Academy members, and the talented cast and crew that has been assembled for this production. It is an amazing thing when I am given the opportunity to not only better my craft as an actress, but that the material at hand moves me to better myself.

Photo: Bruce Zinger.