Character acting is something I live for.
No lines, no script. Just a beginning, an ending, and a basic plot to help you get from one to the other.
How you get there is entirely up to your character.
So when I was offered the chance to be "Hiroshi Tazahame" in Fort Frances Little Theatre’s production of "Who Promised You Paradise?" which ran for four nights last week, I jumped at the chance.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to be an ex-sumo wrestler on a cruise ship (provided you don’t have to wear the sumo diaper to go along with it)?
With a cast of 24, "Who Promised You Paradise?" was perhaps the biggest cast that ever set foot on the Little Theatre stage. Co-written and directed by Joyce McCormick and Brian Hagarty, the two chose a hard script to make their directing debut.
"It was challenging at times," Hagarty admitted. "It was a challenge to get everyone in the same room at the same time. But it brought in such a large group of wonderful characters."
Hagarty, who also acted in the play as Maude Mulldoon, was quite pleased with how the audience received the play.
"Tickled would be the word, I think," he laughed. "And I think the audience was tickled."
Much of that ticklish feeling Hagarty attributed to the actors, many of whom were newcomers to Little Theatre. While he and McCormick had a basic idea of where the play was going, Hagarty said cast members had a lot of say over their characters.
"We were able to use everybody’s input to some extent," he remarked.
Hagarty said Little Theatre patrons were avidly asking for another interactive play since the success of "Lena and Lenny’s Wedding" here some years ago.
A similar success with "Who Promised You Paradise?" could make interactive plays a permanent feature with Little Theatre, Hagarty said.
"We’d like to do it again," he said. "Maybe not every year but maybe every other year. It seems to be something Fort Frances audiences are looking for."
The biggest risk of doing an interactive play comes from the audience, Hagarty noted. Sometimes crowds are too rowdy; others aren’t rowdy enough.
"A lot of the time, people come to watched and not be singled out," he said. "It’s a delicate balance--the theme we used was amuse, not abuse.
"There is a danger in being too pushy but I think in a polite way, we invited people to participate," Hagarty added, noting he’s received many positive comments from audience members.
"We were extremely proud to be part of this production," he said. "It was fun."