An awe-inspiring evening with the cast of “Other People”
Two days ago, my Wednesday evening just got a whole lot epic. I got an amazing opportunity to sit down at a coffee shop with the wonderful cast of Other People: Tatiana Maslany, Ben Lewis & Indrit Kasapi. Directed by Dora Nominee Aaron Willis, the production is an adaptation of a play written by Pulitzer Prize Finalist Christopher Shinn that tells the story of three ambitious young New Yorkers – Petra (Tatiana), Stephen (Ben) & Mark (Indrit) – who struggle with with sex, desire and their art of writing. Dabbling with the concepts of friendship, love & the need to connect, this is truly a riveting play. Other People plays a limited engagement from January 18th to 28th at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. For Tickets, please click HERE. Please also support this production in their endeavors by visiting HERE. Please note the content advisory for this production – it is for mature audiences only.
Its now time to share my evening conversation with the trio from Other People: Tatiana, Ben & Indrit. All three are talented young folks who have devoted their lives to the arts. Their love for the field was made apparent as they walked in though the coffee shop doors. After nearly a whole day of rigorous rehearsals, they were still energetic & enthusiastic about chatting with me. This has been the most casual of interviews but the best one yet. Connecting with folks is one thing, truly feeling their passion is another. Please do comment about your thoughts!
Up to now, with rehearsals and all, how’s it all going?
Indrit: Its going really good in my opinion. We have an amazing team. I am so moved by the work that is being done. It’s a really difficult script but it’s also a beautiful script. Every day, it questions something that I question on a regular basis. To be surrounded by artists who, first of all, are my friends, but also amazing artists and to work together has been…if I could always do that, that would be like, a dream come true.
Tatiana: Everybody really loves the script and is here because we want to do it. We came to the script because we loved it. I think it challenges each of us in a really interesting way that is really apt for where we are at in our careers right now and where we are at as artists. Working with Aaron has been insanely awesome. He is so thorough and has so much research done before we even sat down to do the first read. Readings, references and research about the time period in New York and everything – It just builds out this world so specifically that its really like we’re living in it. It is really fun to have that fertile playground
Ben: I am just so happy with the team that we’ve assembled. Everybody is just so talented and capable. Now you can just, as a co-producer, you can just kinda let people do what they do best and to trust that it will all come together and I feel like it is starting to take shape. That’s really exciting to see and I am really proud of the work that everybody has done.
Tatiana – you have done quite a lot of film, TV & theatre. You are pretty much an expert in all the fields. [argument breaks out if she is an expert of not – just watch her Gemini Award winning episode of Flashpoint!] From the three genres, if you were to pick a genre which one would that be?
Tatiana: It depends for me. It’s always different. If I’m working, like now, in Theatre, I’m like “this is all I wanna do”. If I’m working in Film, that is all I wanna do. For me it’s more about the process that the piece has. In certain Film or TV, you won’t actually get any rehearsals, you won’t know any of the actors before you work with them and your playing a scene where you are supposed to be intimate with somebody and you are kind of shaking your hands for the first time on set that day. For me its more the process. Like this process, if I could have this for every film and tv show I work on, that would be ideal, but you don’t get that. For me, just having the rehearsal and having the time to work through the script, that’s the most important thing to me. And being able to work on stage with amazing characters that you don’t necessarily get in a half-hour TV episode.
The two of you (Ben & Indrit) went to the National Theatre School of Canada. Did your paths ever cross?
Indrit: Oh yeah. We spent all of the three years of National Theatre school together. We were in the same class. That’s how we became friends and have maintained that friendship ever since then. We have been friends for a long time. This is going to be the first time since Theatre school that we are acting together. We haven’t done that.
Ben: Even at Theatre school we barely had a chance to really act off of each other. Its exciting and its challenging too because he’s one of my best friends and the characters that we are playing have a romantic history, so I was a little bit nervous about that, but, its going well so far! [LAUGHS]
For me the question I always ask anyone I ever interview or even simply talk to, why did you go into Theatre in the first place? There are so many occupations but even in the arts, there are so many different forms. So what I ask is, why did you go into this field and how did it all start out for you?
Indrit: Because I wanted to make a lot of money? [LAUGHS] I’ve always been involved with arts. Its just been something that just happened. I toured a lot as a child as a dancer. When it came time for High school & going to university, getting a degree, I knew I was going to go into dance and I happen to have an amazing drama teacher and I just fell in love with Theatre. I thought, this is it, this is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing and so far it’s been challenging but very exciting.
Tatiana: I started in dance as well when I was like 4 years old and I danced till I was about 15. Through that I started doing community Theatre as an extension of performing, as another way of performing, and acting just sort of kicked over because ballet was too hard!
Indrit: You get to an age when you’re just not flexible enough! [LAUGHS]
Tatiana: The thing I like about acting is: for me the best movies and film and tv that ive made is very forgiving as far as what you look like. Ballet is like “you better look like this” (skinny) and be this weight. For actors, the more interesting you look, the more interesting you are!
Ben: I was always kind of a performer, i guess, from when I was quite young and I don’t think I really figured out that that meant I wanted to be an actor necessarily I just maybe that I liked entertaining people and playing make believe I guess .[laughs] When I was in High School I was in a pretty rigorous academic program and then I kinda realized how important acting and the arts were to me and I how I had to find ways to make them more present in my life. By the time I graduated from high school, I knew that I wanted to be in a non academic conservatory acting program and really just throw myself into that. Two months out of Theatre school I got my first role in a movie opposite Tat.
Tatiana: We were also supposed to also have a romantic past which was difficult to muster up..
Ben: I dunno how we pulled it off…
Tatiana: we were like two asexual plants!
[WE COULDN’T STOP LAUGHING!]
To sum it up, I just wanted to ask you guys, as short as possible, is there something you would like to tell your audience who will likely be coming to your show? Something you’d like to say shortly?
Indrit: All I am going to say is, make sure you have enough money to buy a drink after!
Tatiana: Indrit! …I think it’s a hilarious romp…no no [giggles]. It’s funny, it’s beautiful and its very apt for everybody in their mid-20’s and everybody who ever was in their mid-20’s. The writing is just gorgeous and these characters are so brilliant. Come watch the show!
Ben: I think that the play really has something for everyone to relate to because we all have questions in our life, in our personal relationships, in our careers and struggles and I think that anyone who has ever experienced that will be moved by it. I know that we all have been. I am just excited for people to see it.
Tatiana: Also interesting: the world that we are in right now with twitter and the internet and everything like that, is so disconnected and you can feel so cold and removed. This play is all about that deep need to connect and I think we all are feeling. Its beautiful to read something like this at a time when we are so disconnected from each other.
Ben: I think that live Theatre is one of the last few art forms that really is about direct connection with the live audience.
Tatiana: It’s like seeing a concert live, like your favourite band live. There’s something totally different about standing front row and watching your favourite band physically on stage. There is a visceral connection as opposed to TV or something. It’s exciting for us.
Ben: I feel like it’s a very visceral piece…
Indrit: I thought this was short guys…
[LAUGHS FROM ALL]
A perfect ending to a long day. Hope you enjoyed folks!