We chat with writer/director Julia Siedlanowska about ‘The Act’
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
This semester surely is an epic one for student-organized plays! Just one month after the Douglas College production of One Man Show (which will be making a comeback at the Fringe Festival this fall), theatre and stagecraft student Julia Siedlanowska will be premiering her own original show entitled The Act this month.
Siedlanowska is an amazing example of what one can do with their resources. Having written the play for a creative writing course and meeting her eventual cast in the theatre program, Siedlanowska has taken on the role of director to bring her vision to life, piece by piece. She kindly sat down for an interview with us regarding the upcoming premiere, and what brought her to this momentous point.
“I have been interested in theatre and acting for as long as I can remember. I decided to take it seriously near the end of [high] school, and then I chose Douglas College [to continue my studies] in a very dramatic decision between here and SFU.”
She must have made the right choice, for as she stated, “it was awesome, and there I found the resources to put on my own show. The education received and just the confidence—Douglas gave me a lot of confidence to realize that it’s possible to do your own work, and I probably wouldn’t have written a script if not for the creative writing class. [That, and] I met the right people who’d be willing to put it on with me.
“We get the dance studio for a rehearsal space five times a week, and we’re also able to borrow some props from the school, which [have both been] a huge help. [Theatre Coordinator] Allan Lysell has been really helpful [as well]… he’s been really supportive.”
As for The Act itself, Siedlanowska informed us of how the original idea stemmed from the iconic poster of “Rosie the Riveter.”
“Originally I was going to write a play about how Rosie’s life might have been, but [eventually] I got the idea to incorporate that into a play about an actress who is [starring in a show] about Rosie the Riveter. [The Act became] a play about a woman who sacrifices everything—her health and her relationship with her husband—for her art… [because] she doesn’t want to quit her career as an actress.”
As the show is a one-act play, the cast is comprised of three actors: Clair Pollock, who portrayed Constance Ledbelly in the winter production of Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), will be playing the lead of Angela in The Act. Zach Blumke, who starred as Will in the second winter production The Very Ecstasy of Love, will play Angela’s husband Brian. As for the role of Deeto, he will be played by Joey Potts, who, as Siedlanowska states, “I actually acted with in high school. He’s a natural, but he’s studying other things at Douglas.
“I thought directing [my] peers would be very strange, but actually it’s been a natural transition. Because we’re all professional about what we’re doing, it just works. We’ve been applying a lot of the stuff we’ve learned at Douglas in our rehearsals, [so] we have this whole vocabulary to work with, and that’s why it’s such a bonus having all gone to Douglas and putting on a show together.”
However, in order to get to this point, Siedlanowska had to of course write the play first, which has been it’s own unique experience.
“It took a couple weeks to write the script—it was for class, so thankfully I had a deadline. It was a lot of fun writing a script, but I haven’t done as much revision as I’d like to. I know it’s basically [the] first draft that we’re [using, but] I don’t exactly mind because it’s a different way to see what you could edit.
“It’s been good [to be the] writer directing it, [because I’ve had] total insight into everything [since] it all happened in [my] mind. You can just give such good direction to the actors… you have clear images in your head to convey, and it also just makes you realize how [important] language [is].”
In the end, Siedlanowska had this to say to about the show:
“It’s really the [tragic, and sometimes darkly comedic] story of this woman, Angela, and her struggle. It’s these two characters (Brian and Angela) in a difficult situation… this woman has been feeding her relationship just enough to keep it alive, and now she’s reaching her breaking point.
[Putting the show together has] really been a positive experience, and I know I’m going to be nervous [opening night], but it’s a first show… so hopefully it will all go smoothly.”
What: The Act
Where: The Cultch (1895 Venables Street, Vancouver) and the Inlet Theatre (100 Newport Drive, Port Moody)
When: June 14 @ 8 p.m. (The Cultch); June 21 @ 8 p.m. (Inlet Theatre)
Cost: $18 Adults ($15 Students and Seniors; matinees)