Max D’Ambrosio: The story of these “merry wives” remains incredibly relevant, as Shakespeare’s writing tends to do. Is it relevant to you, on a personal level?
Katey Wright: Yeah, in many ways it is. I mean, the subplot about me marrying off my daughter is perhaps not so relevant… we don’t really do that anymore! But, in the sense that these are older women, that Falstaff thinks are going to be an easy mark, and that end up being much more than he can handle… I don’t know, you don’t see plays in which older women [are main characters]. They’re mostly about young people. And the fact that Shakespeare wrote these fantastic female who are mature adults, having a great time, and kind of proving to the world that they’re a force to be reckoned with… I think it’s awesome, and could not be more relevant, in my opinion.MD: Did you and Amber Lewis (Mistress Alice Ford) do much join preparation beyond standard rehearsals? What does your working relationship look like, with her and with your other co-stars?
KW: Amber and I met at an audition, and didn’t see each other again for many months. That’s, I want to say, probably more usual. So, whatever working relationship we developed happened during the course of the rehearsal period, and of course, the first run that we did back in 2012. We have had a pretty good kick at it, by now.
Many others in the cast were new to me, this year. But Vancouver is a pretty tight community; if I hadn’t worked with them, I at least knew them, or had met them. The two young folks who have come in from Ontario [Hailey Gillis and Andrew Chown] were new to all of us, and they’re fantastic kids! Amazing work ethic, and amazingly talented. It’s a pretty great group!
MD: How is it to share the stage with the boisterous Falstaff? I think you probably won your fair share of the audience’s hearts, but was there ever a struggle for balance?
KW: I don’t think so. You know, Falstaff is just so beloved, I mean he’s one of those characters that people just love, the audience adores him. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that Ashley [Wright] adores playing him. It fits him like a glove, and he’s marvellous, constantly finding new things about it.
That said, as an actor, he has an intuitive understanding of that balance that you spoke of. And he doesn’t indulge or pull focus in a way that’s damaging to the show. On top of that, our director, Johnna Wright, is the outside eye who always lets us know… when the joke’s going too long!
MD: What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your extensive experience with Shakespeare, and with acting in general?
KW: I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned so far in this career… well, actually it’s two things.
First of all, there is no substitute for live performance. The audience’s experience is just… I think it will never go away, to be honest, because there’s nothing else like it.
The thing that I’ve mainly learned, personally, is: I’ve really come to believe that we’re every single one of us alike. There’s no experience that I can have that someone else hasn’t had. And I think that’s a very comforting thing.
I think that’s another reason why live performance will always be with us, because to be in a room, and see some part of your personal story enacted in front of you… it reminds us that we’re part of the human race, and that the human race is tightly bound. No matter what our experiences, no matter what we look like on the outside. That is reinforced to me, every time I do a play.
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