Bonding With the Bard. I am standing outside Shakespeare's birthplace, Statford-on-Avon, England, in 2005. Shakespeare is my hero.
I'm a big fan of our local community theatre, Theatre Antigonish, and it's professional companion, Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre. Both organizations produce vibrant, surprising, high-quality theatre. Theatre Antigonish draws stage performers from the student body, faculty and staff at StFX, and the larger community, to mount a wide variety of productions under the direction of a talented Artistic Director, Andrea Boyd. The productions feature imaginative staging with effective use of light and sound and sometimes quite remarkable special effects.
Other volunteers help backstage with props, costumes, stage management and ushering. I am repeatedly and delightfully surprised at the quality of the resulting performances. Festival Antigonish, a long-standing offshoot of Theatre Antigonish, brings professional, repertoire theatre to the town and county in the summertime.
All this magic comes to life inside the Bauer Theatre (above), which is not a building much remembered for its architectural whimsy (although this could be largely corrected by judicious addition of gargoyles. Just saying). The auditorium inside is small (capacity ~225), but the thrust stage and closeness of the seating creates an intimate and engaging interaction between the players and the audience.
I would like to say that because of its small size and semi-circular design there are no bad seats in the Bauer, but that is not quite true. An awkardly placed safety rail obscures the view from the front row of the balcony, and seeing a play from the top row at the edge of the right or left wings is like watching drone footage. Yet wherever you are, the action on the stage is never far away.
I got a chance to play Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night back in February 2013. Since it's Shakespeare, I jumped at the chance. That play marked the first time I had been on a stage, anywhere, since I left high school 40 years earlier. I had a bad agent. I don't want to appear immodest, but it was about that performance that one reviewer said: "In terms of emotional range and nuance of characterization, Taylor can hold his own against any living Canadian actor who happens to be in a coma."
You can read everything the reviewers had to say here.
Rather more briefly, I was King Duncan in MacBeth, February 2014. I didn't slay 'em in that performance, but I did get slain.
More recently (2018), I played King Midas (above) in Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses, an ethereal play based on the classic myths told by the Roman poet Ovid . I also played Apollo, the sun god, in that production. I am very versatile. The play features a remarkable setting: all the action takes place in and around a pool of water that covers most of the stage.
In the photo above, King Midas is trying to explain to the audience how he became wealthy through grit and hard work. He is repeatedly interrupted by his rope-skipping daughter, played with beguiling naturalness by Mary-Kate Burke. My very first scene and I'm being upstaged by a twelve-year-old.
The scene below is from the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.
I have tried my hand at writing a handful of short pieces, for one, two or three actors, which I have performed, usually with the help of friends, in the annual One-Act Play Festival at the Bauer Theatre. They have been generally well received, a testament to the gentleness of local theatre-goers.
Would you like to read one?
Well, if you change your mind, you can read a script here.
Last updated: June 2021