Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coffee Talk with Jameson Parker

Jameson was the final addition to the Prodigals cast. After a last minute cast member pulled out we were worried that we were never going to find our “Greg” and that Peter, the director, was going to have to get up on stage. But luck was on our side when Jameson came to audition for us. Now I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the role of Greg.

So, Jameson, what is your favourite role to date and why?

My favourite role was Romeo in a very wild, twisted and sexy version of Romeo and Juliet this past January with Theatre at UBC, for a myriad of reasons. One, was the pure excitement of taking such an iconic and overdone role and make it my own and bring what Romeo and I have in common to the floorboards of the Telus Studio. Two, I got to fight with 8 inch daggers everyday of rehearsal and then every night of the show along with working with the amazing fight choreographer Nick Harrison, and that was awesome. And three, I learned so much from my director Catriona that myself as an actor had such a journey and I feel that I grew so much just from working with her and my fellow actors. Ultimately though this is my favourite role because of the production itself. The world that we created was unlike anything anyone had ever seen and it was a brave new twist on a story that has been done many many many times. It is impossible to describe the feeling I had every night playing with the cast. Everything came together in a way that I was so proud of that had one of the best times of my life. Everyone in the cast was so much fun to work with and I love working with Shakespeare's words because they convey the characters as no one else could, it's addicting.

Tell us your “I wanna be an actor” story…

I find it funny that you've asked this of most of the cast and most of the responses have been a "I fell into it" story. Well here is another one... My mum was a model before I was born and it just so happened that while she was pregnant with me there was a need for pregnant models and subsequently when I was a toddler there was again a need for mother and child models. So since I was a child I have had an agent who started me out in print and modeling then I transitioned into some commercial work and eventually into Film and TV so I have been around the industry for my entire life. I do remember, though, when I was about 10 or 11 making the very firm decision that I wanted to do nothing else with my life but be an actor and I haven't let that resounding resolve dissolve.

(Photo courtesy of Jameson Parker)

How do you relate (or not) to your character, Greg, in the play?

Greg is... interesting haha. I have had a blast being with this character for the entire rehearsal process because he has allowed me to make some very outrageous and fun choices, I was able to take that clown part of myself who loves to entertain and just turn the knob up to 11. Even though he is the clown and loves to have a laugh (almost always at Nips' expense) he does it because he cares and that is what I can really relate too. He is the only one in the cast who sees things for what they really are and he has no problem telling his friends when they are being ridiculous or just flat out stupid, but he loves to keep things light and have a good time while doing it because comedy is his medium and lets be honest confrontation is a downer especially when you are trying to drink and have a good time like he is. The reason I love this character so much is because he is the most outrageous and over the top of them all, standing on booths, chugging beers, jumping over bars, but he is also the most grounded in reality and uses that outrageousness to make sure that his friends do well in life and succeed even if he doesn't.

Why should people come out to see Prodigals?

Because we just fired Tim Johnston and hired Robert Downey Jr. to play Wesley.

You’ve previously studied theatre at the British American Dramatic Academy and now are entering into your final year of the acting program at UBC. Can you tell us little bit about each program and how they’ve helped in your training as an actor…

Well, BADA was an amazing, life-changing experience for me, you get the chance to stay at Balliol College in Oxford with about 100 other actors and train with some of the best teachers that Britain and the US have to offer. I was taught Shakespeare by the head of graduate acting at NYU, I had the opportunity to work with professors and heads of departments at RADA, Julliard, Yale, Northwestern, Central School along with taking master classes with luminaries such as Fiona Shaw and Sir Derek Jacobi. Besides all that you are immersed in this culture that was nurtured on theatre. In England theatre is so much more respected than it is here and the caliber of production and the actors in them are inspiring to say the least, you really get a feel for great theatre and that makes you want to be a part of it so much more.

I would be lost without the BFA acting program at UBC. It is a three year intensive program that focuses on giving actors a classical theatre training. Before the program I got by simply on instinct and the only technique I had was that which I had developed myself, or picked up from those around me, this program gives you a huge workbox of tools to draw from and lets you pick and choose which ones work especially well for you while giving you the respect for all the other ways of approaching a text. Because just as every human is different so is every character and it takes different ways of approaching each character to really bring it to life. I think the best part about this program though is the fact that in your intermediate and final year you are given the opportunity to put those skills to use in the Mainstage shows of Theatre at UBC. You have the chance to work on full scale, professional productions in theatres and with roles that are top notch and huge challenges. Your not simply taught what acting is about but you actually get to put that knowledge to practice and that is the most important part.

Thanks Jameson! Tonight we have a talkback performance so if you want to ask any more questions of the actors come down to the Havana and see the show. Plus it’s a 2-for-1!

See you there!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer


  1. Jameson is a lovely actor both to work with and to watch! Nice interview. All the best for your show.