We sat down with Monster Theatre’s Ryan Gladstone, who co-wrote and directed The Canada Show, which is on at the Revue Stage, May 31 through June 2. Ryan gave us some insight and introduces the brand new cast for the show that’s been continuously evolving since its first Fringe incarnation back in 2001.
TW: What inspired you to do this play?
Ryan Gladstone: Bruce [Horak] and I were working on an adaptation of The Little Prince, and one day Bruce mentioned that his brother had an idea for a play that was the history of Canada in one hour. We just sort of looked at each other and decided that it was too good an idea to pass up.
We divided up the research and went to work. Eventually we got to a place where we were collecting scene ideas but were missing a story. We worked up a concept that was able to take place during a sketch show but allowed room for characters and narrative arcs and all that fun stuff that makes a play a play. At the time (in 2001) the main conversation in Canada was around Quebec separation so we focused on French/English relations, with one character fighting for French representation, one fighting for the English (more specifically, against the French!) and one “straight man” trying to hold the whole thing together.
In working on this new version we have really realized that while French/English relations makes up a huge chunk of our past, it really isn’t the dominant conversation right now. We have tried to incorporate issues like reconciliation with First Nations, inclusivity, and diversity into the play, all while attempting to keep it light, irreverent and, if possible, funny.
What can audiences expect from a performance?
One of the most rapid fire, fast-paced, joke packed hours of your life. The Canada Show is known to have the jokes come so fast, folks are trying not to laugh because they will miss the next one.
What things do you want your performances to prompt people to think about?
We at Monster Theatre have always described our type of theatre as “High Brow/Low Brow.” In other words, we feel like the experts in the fields of our shows can come and be impressed by the quality of research and depth of issues presented. On the other hand, if you are not an expert, if you know absolutely nothing about the subject, you can still come and laugh your ass off and have a great time.
What is something that people don’t know about your show that they should?
We have continued to re-write and re-write ever since the first production in 2001. At one point we made a rule that we could only add three new bits per performance. We had gotten a little out of control coming up with new bits and trying them out, so much so that we would lose track of what we had agreed was changing. As a result, even if you have seen The Canada Show at some point in the past, it is definitely worth a second viewing since the content has most assuredly changed!
What are you most looking forward to about the performances?
Watching other actors perform the show! A number of theatre companies have presented their own productions of The Canada Show but I’ve never seen one of them. Bruce and I have been in every single Monster Theatre production of the show over the years, and it will be very exciting to see what new actors bring to the role, not least of which because we have both been re-cast as women.
Tell us about the new cast.
We’re really excited about the new cast. They are Alex Gullason, Carly Pokoradi, and Frankie Cottrell.
Alex graduated from the musical theatre program at Capilano University and in 2012 won the Ovation Award for Outstanding Ensemble Member. She’s been in many musicals including Virtual Stage’s Broken Sex Doll and she played Sandy in Footlight Theatre Company’s Grease.
You may have seen Carly over the holidays in Hansel & Gretel: An East Van Panto at The Cultch or at the world premiere of Kosmic Mambo with Studio 58, the theatre program she graduated from. Carly is also a writer and director.
Frankie told us about falling in love with performing when he was just 9-years-old when he started tap dancing. Since then, he’s played Tommy in Renegade Productions’ version of The Who’s Tommy and Frankie Avid in The Wet Spots’ Shine: A Burlesque Musical.
Alex, Carly, and Frankie have a lot of chemistry and the rehearsals have been so fun. I can’t wait for audiences to see it.
Get your tickets to The Canada Show, on May 31 – June 2 at the Revue Stage on Granville Island, now!