The Comeback Kids

Two artists remount summer fest hits this week

Rating: NNNNN


First theatre memory?

mike mcphaden: Does Mr. Dressup and the Tickle Trunk count?

alon nashman: Camp Wahanowin, where I saw how a play could alter an entire community’s energy.

What made you want to get on the stage?

nashman: One of the counsellors pushed me — literally.

mcphaden: As a teen, I saw a show at the Manitoba Theatre Centre and kept thinking, “This is their job.”

First memorable performance?

mcphaden: Grade two Christmas concert, where I said my one line five minutes early.

nashman: Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio.

When did you know you might be good at it?

mcphaden: Grade 11 drama night. With a little tape on my glasses, they were rolling in the aisles.

nashman: When I realized people laughed when I thought I was being serious.

Major influences/mentors?

mcphaden: Winnipeg’s Ellen Peterson, Timothy Findley, Andrew Moodie, Sheldon Rosen, Kurt Vonnegut and the movie Election.

nashman: The Royal Shakespeare Company, Diego Matamoros, Jason Sherman, Jean Asselin and Laszlo Marton, who kicked my ass.

You’re the love child of two artists who are they?

nashman: Roberto Benigni and Yoko Ono.

mcphaden: Tim Robbins and Tom Robbins.

The Work

What’s your show about in one sentence?

nashman: The thinning of the imagination that often accompanies the thickening of pubic hairs.

mcphaden: A man in 1950 tries to deal with amnesia while another man mistakes him for an intruder.

Your play premiered two years ago. What did you learn from that production?

nashman: Don’t get rained out when Kate Taylor’s coming.

mcphaden: First you have to start. Then all those grey winter days at the computer can add up to something.

What’s the key to getting a remount?

mcphaden: 100 small favours from friends, family and colleagues. And a dozen big ones.

nashman: Think of it as a new show.

What’s new this time around?

mcphaden: 25 minutes longer 25 degrees cooler.

nashman: Everything except me.

What’s your biggest challenge?

nashman: Learning the new translation — every sentence has one word changed.

mcphaden: Not giggling away rehearsal time with co-star Brendan Wall and director Patrick Conner.

Last show you saw and loved?

mcphaden: Fish/Wife, because of how it mixed laughter and pain.

nashman: The Royal Court Theatre’s Nightsongs at World Stage. Devastating intimacy.

Dream project?

nashman: Cyrano De Bergerac.

mcphaden: Anything involving me, designer Deeter Schurig, travel… and a Robert Lepage-sized budget.

The Career

You’re an agent. How would you describe yourself?

mcphaden: “Oh, baby, you gotta have him — he’s like Bert and Ernie in one person.”

nashman: “This guy could be big — but he keeps doing theatre.”

Best career move?

nashman: Begging my way into the Fringe production of This Hotel.

mcphaden: Coming to Toronto.

Best break in theatre?

mcphaden: When Franco Boni pulled my name at the SummerWorks 2000 lottery.

nashman: When whoever was first offered Einstein (in Picasso At The Lapin Agile) turned it down.

Any hidden talents?

mcphaden: I can cook. Hell, I can even bake.

nashman: Tuvan throat-singing.

Worst part-time job?

mcphaden: Bus boy at the Annex Future Bakery. A very long week.

nashman: Two months in law school. Not a job, exactly, but a sort of penance.

What keeps you motivated?

nashman: Refer to part-time job answer.

mcphaden: The love of a good woman and the fear of public humiliation.

What do your parents think of your profession?

mcphaden: My parents worked in factories, so they think it’s great that I have a job I love.

nashman: Mother: “So, you’re playing a duke?” Father: “Is that a musical?”

Percentage of friends in theatre?

mcphaden: 9944/100 per cent.

nashman: 68.5 per cent (accurate to within two or three beers).

Second Thoughts

If you weren’t in theatre, what would you do?

mcphaden: Become one of those freaks who speaks, like, 11 languages.

nashman: Be the Singing Rabbi.

Worst stage experience?

mcphaden: An educational play about sexual assault. For frosh. That we did in the cafeteria. While people played foozball.

nashman: Singapore. But I have nothing against the island.

Pleasures and piss-offs about the Toronto stage scene?

nashman: Pleasures: so many wonderful playwrights. Piss-offs: too many overly intellectual shows.

mcphaden: Pleasures: never a dull moment. Piss-offs: we’re so far from the rest of Canada.

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