Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Coffee Talk with Claire Lindsay

It’s a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in Vancouver – the kind of day that reminds you why it’s so great to live here – and Claire and I soak it in as we chat outside the Gallery Café. She’s just come from giving blood and lunch with a friend so she happily sips on water while I slosh down what is, at least, my third or fourth cup of coffee that day and not-so-daintily eat my Cobb salad. Claire was most recently seen in The Vertical Hour with United Players. This month, she will be making her Twenty-Something Theatre debut, giving heart and poise to “Beth” in Blue Surge.

Claire, tell me about a really memorable performance you saw once.

You know what? The one that really stands out in my mind is Nevermore, which came through here, I believe, as part of the PuSh Festival. I saw it at the Arts Club Granville Island Revue Stage, and it was done by an Edmonton-based company. It was an amazing, amazing show! I was totally struck by the costume design, which totally informed the characters. There were clowning aspects, and it was a very physical performance, but it was still really rooted in something that was real. I really enjoyed that. And it was also just really macabre. It was about the life and death of Edgar Allen Poe. And it was a musical. They had an amazing cast – really talented people. Amazing voices! Every single element just came together and culminated in this brilliant overall performance. There was no question, it was halfway through and I was already like, “Oh I’m totally standing up for this!” Halfway through the performance I knew I was going to give them a standing ovation. It was amazing.

What’s your “Aha! I want to be an actress” story?

Oh geez, well I don’t know if it was really an “Aha!” moment. When I was a kid I would act out my own little soap operas in my living room when I didn’t think anyone else was home. My dad caught me one time. I was at my front door, dramatically saying goodbye to a lover, or something, who had left me with a baby. I was probably ten or eleven at the time. And um, (giggles) my dad walked in on me and I didn’t know he was there. I closed the front door very dramatically and started sobbing into my hands and he started clapping, and I was mortified! But at that moment he said to me, “You know, you should consider taking Drama when you go into high school.” And that kind of just stuck with me. So when I went to high school, Grade 8, I was super nervous and very shy when I wasn’t surrounded by my living room; and so I decided to just take a chance and try Drama. I really, really enjoyed it. But it wasn’t until we moved to the Okanagan that I had a really amazing drama teacher. In Grade 8, I knew that I liked it but I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to continue. But in Grade 9, when we moved to the Okanagan, John Hibberson was my acting teacher out there. He really just made it a very safe environment for everybody to play, explore, and take risks and chances, which I’d never done before. It was something completely new. So all through high school that’s when the passion started. It was with Hib – we affectionately call him “Hib” – and his classes. When I was done high school, I took a year of just general arts at Okanagan University College and I kind of just had the idea that I would probably go to UVic for theatre school because it was kind of the only thing I had a passion for. Everything else I really liked but I couldn’t see myself actually working or making a living in those other areas. So it was more like I didn’t feel like I was good enough or passionate enough about anything else (laughs).

What have been some of the highs and lows you’ve experienced over the years as an actor?

Well I think some of the highs have definitely been the people that I’ve met doing different jobs and through school. I didn’t actually end up going to UVic. When I was at Malaspina, which is now Vancouver Island University – which sounds much more fabulous – and when I was at the CCPA I just met a ton of really inspiring, fabulous, fun people. When I worked in Barkerville, I was just thankful everyday that I was an actor. It was just really lovely up there, to be able to interact with tourists and be in such an amazing, beautiful place. I met some of my best friends up there. So that’s definitely a highlight, as well as doing The Vertical Hour, which was last fall. That was an amazing role. The director, she was brilliant and lovely to work with. She didn’t let me get away with anything. She pushed me and I really enjoyed that. The other cast members were amazing as well. Graham and Daniel were wonderful to work with. For the lows, I think it’s honestly the constant struggle and often frustration of trying to find consistent work. For theatre, what frustrates me the most is not that you might audition for something and not get it – that’s not what frustrates me. What really bothers me is that many times it’s hard to even get an audition. You can’t even be seen, you know? I find that very frustrating because I feel like, well how is anyone ever supposed to do anything if you can’t even get in the room to see people? That’s just a frustrating aspect of acting in general.




Getting to Blue Surge now, tell me about Beth and can you relate to her, not relate to her, what’s she like?

It’s funny actually, and I was talking to Jeremy about this, I can actually REALLY relate to Beth (laughs). My parents are definitely not rich and I didn’t come from that background, but my parents did a lot for me and sacrificed a lot for me. So I didn’t feel the “want” when I was a kid. I was always very happy and had a great childhood. As far as Beth’s relationship with Curt, I really have found a huge reflection of that in my own life. Blue Surge is very much about classes, and different classes within society. I don’t know if my experience had so much to do with that, but I think it was definitely a part of it, and I can really understand Beth’s struggle to want great things for the person that she loves. For that person to not recognize or maybe to not want those things for themself, I really relate to that with her character.

Would you be friends with her?

Absolutely! She’s an artist, but she’s still grounded and has her head on her shoulders. She’s got vision. So yeah, totally.

Why should people come out to see Blue Surge?

People should come out because it’s an independent company in Vancouver that has consistently put on good work. I have been wanting to work with Twenty-Something Theatre for a while because Sabrina has been putting on some really great shows and I’m really excited to do this. I think people should support local, and independent, smaller companies. I also think that Blue Surge is going to be a really great show. I like the ending. Without giving anything away, it’s very real play.

What’s some advice you would have for young actors looking to break out?

(Laughs) Everybody that I’ve always heard that’s been asked that question has been like, “Don’t do it!” (I laugh!) But I’m not going to say that! I’m not going to say that. I’m going to say, get some really good training. Don’t just take workshops. Go to a school. Go to National. Go to UofA. Go to UBC. Go to UVic. Go to Studio. Get some training under your belt. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your thirties, just go to school and get that solid foundation of training. It will enhance your natural talents and it will also give you that business sense as well. It gives you an idea of putting an entire show together and what’s involved, and I think that’s really important. As far as being an actor, I don’t think anyone can just be an actor, I think you need to understand all the other aspects of theatre as well – same with film and tv – and what it takes to put it all together as a whole.

You can catch Claire as “Beth” in the upcoming Blue Surge at Studio 16 from August 24 – September 5. Tickets may be purchased from Tickets Tonight or by calling the box office at 604.684.2787.

~ Sarah MacKay
Associate Producer

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