Deborah Williams is a local actor and playwright known for her award winning play Mom’s The Word and her work on various plays including recent Theatre Wire Subscription show Dressing for a Wedding. This May she stars in our last subscription show, 5@50, playing May 12-28 at PAL Studio Theatre and which brings together a stellar cast of five amazing women in a show about mid-life and addiction. In this Q&A Deborah talks about the shows incredibly diverse and talented cast, herself as an actor, working with her local hero, and how 5@50 could make you laugh until you pee.
What excites you about 5@50?
I get to work with a new group of women. Dynamic, hard-working, talented people who don’t get near enough stage time. All getting into one room to talk about middle-age.
Tell us about the cast dynamic – do you have history with these other incredible women?
I’ve worked with Trixy (Beatrice Zeilinger – Peter and the Starcatcher) over the years. She’s played me in Mom’s the Word and we did a Michelle Riml show together a few years ago. We both went to Studio 58 so have the same artistic vocabulary. She makes me laugh so hard. So she’s easy to love. She’s a very dear friend.
Veena (Sood) and I have worked together in separate kind of ways. We have done stand-up gigs and CBC special, things like that. Where we’ve done our own material but we are still in the same show. I have huge admiration for her. She makes me laugh till I pee. The peeing part happens more easily now that I am middle-age, but she’s done that to me since I was a very young. I’m really excited about sharing the stage and telling the same story.
Diane (Brown) and I have worked together on Ruby Slippers Theatre production of Lifesavers. It was one of the first shows I did after touring Mom’s the Word for decades. It was really a huge change for me when she showed her support for my work. She has shown so much support for me as a middle-age actress. She’s also been part of my monthly storytelling series The Flame over the years she’s a tremendous storyteller and I enjoy producing her work.
Donna (Yamamoto) is the one woman who I haven’t worked with yet. I have had a parallel career. She is an astounding woman and is flipping this theatre community on its head with her power and inventive forward momentum. I am thrilled to be sharing the stage with her.
Who should come see 5@50 and why?
I think women of course should come see 5@50. Women of a certain age. That’s the obvious answer. And since that’s about 80% of the ticket buying public that should be enough. But ageing is something that we all do. So men of a certain age too. I (also) think young women and men will love this show. It’s witty and real, it’s about friendship. How do you hold on to people for decades? It’s a good question and something to think about early. Plus it will make you laugh. Laugh and laugh.
What are some of your most memorable past roles and why?
My most recent favourite roles have been Sonia in Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at the Belfry and of course Harmony in Zee Zee Theatre’s Lowest Common Denominator. Harmony was such a joy because I got to be the full range of a human. Not many stories of women get the full treatment. From sweet, charming, and compassionate to devil.
What dream role have you yet to play?
I think my dream roles are more dream stories. I am always interested in new stories for women. Stories of people trying to be better and either failing or succeeding badly. Stories of very fallible people.
Who are your local heroes? What excites you about the local theatre scene?
I have to say that Donna Yamamoto is one of my local heroes on the theatre scene. What she is doing for Vancouver theatre across this nation is astounding. I’m excited about how passionate and driven she is to create theatre founded in the obvious need for diversity that is just plain fantastic theatre. Wake up and take a look.