Columnist Amanda Cosby-Nesbitt is among Hamilton’s most active community theatre writers and reviewers. Her website, Steel City Girl Reviews shares her experiential perspective of attending shows and speaking to performers about their work.
I have had such an engaging experience interviewing many cast members this season for Dundas Little Theatre and this final interview for their 2022-2023 season is no exception! I had the pleasure of a virtual interview with actor and cast member Gareth Finnigan who discussed his passion for theatre, how his education shaped that passion and the ways in which J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls continues to resonate with audiences today.
Steel City Girl: What inspired you to audition for this show?
Gareth: I worked with our director George Thomas a number of years ago here at Dundas Little Theatre when I was in high school. He emailed me asking if I’d be interested in the part, and I almost jumped at the chance. After graduating from theatre school, especially because of COVID, I’ve had difficulty finding work. So, when George emailed me, I realised what a great opportunity it was to be able to practise my craft after such a long time on hiatus.
Steel City Girl: As a graduate of the University of Windsor Theatre program, how has this education shaped you, and what plans do you have for theatre in the future?
Gareth: My time in the University of Windsor’s BFA Acting program was and will remain one of the most important times of my life and my acting career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. I’ve made lifelong friendships, and the training has propelled me to a level I would never have reached without it. It taught me how to be efficient in my process and to support my ensemble, whilst maintaining a fervent level of professionalism in the rehearsal space.
My plans for theatre in the future are, first and foremost, a paying job. However that happens is alright with me.
Steel City Girl: What have been some challenges in bringing your character to life, and how have you overcome them?
Gareth: One of the main challenges I’ve had is deciphering the in-between moments for Eric. There are many times in the play when I’m not saying much, except for one-line responses here or there, and by the time my line comes, I need to be in the right mindset to deliver, given the circumstances of the play. It’s almost more difficult having such long spaces between lines than it is to have a whole lot to say because you need to be so specific with how you feel in the moment for the line to come out right. Whereas if you get lost during a monologue, there’s always more text to keep you on track. The long silences could trip me up if I’m not careful.
Steel City Girl: What have you learned about yourself as an actor throughout the rehearsal process, and what have you taken from the experience?
Gareth: A big lesson I re-learned during this process was the value of listening on stage. It’s been so long since I’ve done a straight play (as opposed to a musical), and I found myself forgetting to listen during rehearsals as I was too concerned with remembering what I was going to say. I found that once I let go of that and listened to my fellow actors, there was so much more ease in my movement, delivery, and performance. Acting is about reacting, after all, so I’m glad I had this opportunity for that lesson to be hammered back into me.
Steel City Girl: For those unfamiliar with An Inspector Calls, how will this show speak to audiences in the Hamilton area or audiences in general?
Gareth: Despite being written in 1945 and taking place in 1912, this show is very timely in terms of what it says about society today. It promotes community and empathy for others in a time when the oligarchs and bourgeoisie were rapidly stripping that from our lives and forcing a hyper-individualist attitude onto everyone as if that were the only way to live. It exposes the very real consequences of prioritizing profit over people’s lives as the common folk suffer under the boot of capitalism. I can’t think of a more timely theme. It’s quite amazing how many things are said in this play that can directly translate to issues we deal with today.
Audiences will see that the people living in provincial England in the early 20th century were asking the same moral questions of themselves as we do in present-day Hamilton and I think that’s really important.
Who: Dundas Little Theatre
What: An Inspector Calls
Length: apprx. 2 hours + intermission
Where: Dundas Little Theatre (37 Market Street, Dundas)
When: April 21, 22, 28, 29, May 4-6 at 8pm; April 30 and May 7 at 2pm
Tickets: $15 – $25 at https://dundaslittletheatre.wordpress.com/tickets/
To read more of Steel City Girl’s previews of the 22-23 Dundas Little Theatre season, or to read a review of An Inspector Calls, please visit https://steelcitygirlreviews.squarespace.com/