A ‘Window’ of opportunity
By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer
There was a point when Aaron Holt thought of having a life offstage. But after graduating high school and studying geography at UBC for a year, he felt homesick. Longing for the bright lights and audiences, he dropped out and returned to his calling: theatre. Now as a full-time theatre student at Douglas, he felt his short departure from the arts confirmed what he knew since he was eight years old: he was meant to act.
“He’s a very outward going kind of guy,” said Holt, describing his character for the school production of Blue Window. “Griever is very personable. He loves people and loves partying. But underneath that, he has a lot of insecurity.” Holt has always been trying to find aspects of himself in characters. He smiled lightly thinking of all the similarities, “The thing about Griever that is most like me is his need to entertain.”
Yet Holt admits that the greatest challenge is the transformation: “Initially, it was a struggle to find him and get inside his head.” Holt has done many productions since high school, but has never worked as hard as he did for this role. He explains why director Deborah Neville dedicated a large portion of rehearsal time to simply allow actors to develop their characters. “It’s all about finding the back story and taking it to the stage. [Neville] is really good at helping us bring it to life.”
Still, even with preparation, Holt knows that improvisation skills are incredibly useful on show days. During a performance of One Man Show, a Douglas College production in May last year, he found himself on stage with a predicament. “There was a major slip up with a prop,” said Holt. “I was on stage giving a presentation using a board with paper on it. I was supposed to rip them [the paper] off and show different pictures of costume ideas. The problem was that it was in the wrong order.” He gave a relieved chuckle, remembering the moment he recited a monologue describing a picture of an astronaut only to reveal a picture of a guy in a bikini. “There was a split second of sheer horror,” he said, “but those can be the greatest moments in theatre.”
Luck is a large part of acting, and Holt feels fortunate for having incredible support from his family. But if all things were to go his way, he wouldn’t mind following in the footsteps of Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp. “I have dreamed of playing Sweeney Todd for a long time,” he turned and smiled at his co-star Katie Doyle, who incidentally had the same aspiration. Acting is a competitive industry, and Holt is aware of that. He gave a pensive glance at the empty Laura Muir Theatre, his rehearsal and performance space, and thought about his fall back plan. “I want to be a motorcycle racer,” he said with a laugh, but then brushed it off and presented a nobler alternative. “If I wasn’t an actor, I would probably be an urban planner, which was what I started out doing at UBC.”
Image from Elliot Chan.