Richard Beaune has performed in every province and territory across Canada in both official languages over a 30 year career. His work as actor and director has garnered rave reviews and several awards, including a Dora Mavor Moore Award and a Canadian Comedy Award, and has been seen in Canada’s largest theatres, including the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, as well as the smallest indie theatres and found spaces. Stylistically, his work has ranged from Shakespeare (29 professional productions and counting) to new works of physical theatre and all stops in between, but always carries a trademark sensibility that he credits to his clown’s heart. A dedicated theatre educator, he has taught at Ryerson University’s Act II Studio, York University and George Brown College, as well as countless workshops. Richard is perhaps best known as the founding Artistic Director of Keystone Theatre, a company that creates new plays in the style of silent film which has been recognized across Canada for its unique and carefully crafted work. He is now returning to a company that he previously founded, Simple Truth Theatre, a company dedicated to plays that focus primarily on the art of acting, regardless of style.
Transcript auto generated.
Phil Rickaby 0:05
Welcome to episode six of the Stageworthy Podcast. I’m your host, Phil Rickaby. on Stageworthy I interview people who make theatre to find out what makes them do what they do. My guest is Richard bone and actor and director from Toronto. His work has taken him to every province and territory in Canada. He’s performed plays in both official languages. He’s directed everything from Shakespeare to solo plays to the physical performance style of Keystone theatre. Over the last few years, he’s also been teaching action. You can find stage worthy on Facebook and Twitter at stage where the pod and you can find the website at stage really podcast.com. If you like what you hear, I hope you’ll subscribe on iTunes or whatever podcast app to use, and consider leaving a comment or ratings.
Of course, hit record, then then cough. Yes. That’s the proper type of court. Well, I don’t know if that’s the proper technique, but that’s how I do it here.
Richard Beaune 1:21
Phil Rickaby 1:21
Yes, thank you. Richard Beaune. Thanks for coming on. I guess, a place to start would be, and one of the things that I’m always interested in when I sit down with people is why did you choose theatre?
Richard Beaune 1:42
Wow, I don’t feel like there was an actual conscious choice for theatre. I feel like theatre chose me. Do
Phil Rickaby 1:51
you remember what drew you to it?
Richard Beaune 1:54
I’m not something that I can really put my finger on. But I knew from the earliest ages that I can remember that I wanted to be an actor. And at first I thought that might have meant being a comedian. Rich little was sort of my hero. His name was Richard. And his last name was little and I was Richard and I was a little so I thought, okay, I could be an impressionist or comedian. And, you know, I can be rich little. And I would, you know, make shows, at school during recess and lunch hour, I get my classmates to do shows that I’d written about janitors, and you know, the important things in school life. But I had never seen a play, because I was in a small town. So I just knew I wanted to be an actor. And it wasn’t until I got into theatre school that I saw my first play. I remember even talking to like, one of my profs when I was at Ryerson, which is the first school I went to. He was saying, So what sort of stuff do you want to do? And I said, I want to be in TV. And he asked why? And I said, Well, I really liked the idea of a group of people getting together and working on something, as a team, and really caring about the product that they come up with. And he said, you don’t want to do TV, you want to do theatre? And I didn’t realise it at the time. But yeah, I wanted to do theatre. So that’s become, I just kind of found the theatre, almost by accident.
Phil Rickaby 3:26
Did you? So you hadn’t ever seen a play? Did you? Did you, but you had no concept of what that was
Richard Beaune 3:33
my concept of what a play was, was, you know, things that I’d seen on television. So in TV shows, you know, some one character might be involved in a place. And so you’d see a televised version of someone working on a play. And that was kind of my impression of it. And to me, it was just a means to becoming an actor, which meant TV and film. But that’s not how it’s turned out.
Phil Rickaby 3:57
Do you remember what the first time that you saw was?
Richard Beaune 3:59
I don’t remember the title of it. But I do remember that there was full frontal nudity. And I was 17 years old at the time and I thought, okay, theatre is
Phil Rickaby 4:08
pretty cool. And that was that was a theatre school or was that was
that was no, because I moved to Toronto to go to theatre school. And then I saw my first play at Avenue Road and bluer in Toronto. But I was already a theatre student by that and
that was where your teachers aware, because I find that I think that it’s sort of like one of those things would be like the dirty secret.
No, they knew I had my audition for Ryerson. We had to it was a group audition, we all just sit in a in a row when I was at the very end of my row and everyone else said their little blurb about who they were and what they had done. And they’d done all kinds of theatre TV, had resumes and, and I was at the end of the line and I was like, Well, man, I’m just a kid from some little town in northwestern Quebec, and I’ve never even seen a play but I want to be an actor and I hope you can teach me how they you I guess thought that was pretty cool. Yeah. So they brought me in, or I, the other theory I have is that it was a clerical error. It wasn’t supposed to get into the programme, but I did by mistake. And they’ve been trying to live that down ever since. I wonder
how many of us have you ever wondered if you want to talk about impostor syndrome, everybody has that all the time. It’s always that that Okay, so I’m here because somebody like me, when, like, put an X when they should have put it something else?
Richard Beaune 5:32
Yeah, I figured a lot of what I get is because my last name starts with letter B. So it’s really close to the beginning of the list. Yeah. So I’m like the third person, they call it I happen to be available. And so
Phil Rickaby 5:43
So you went from Ryerson, you spent one year yeah, not quite a full year I dropped out before the year was done. And that programme didn’t didn’t suit
Richard Beaune 5:52
that didn’t didn’t. It didn’t suit me. I didn’t actually I don’t know that I was aware of how much it didn’t suit me at the time. I dropped out mostly for financial reasons. Because I had I had been hired to be in my first professional play at Casa Loma. So I was getting a paycheck to be an actor. And I thought, well, if I’m getting a paycheck to be an actor, why do I need to be in theatre school, right? Paying and being broke and being frustrated, because I knew that I could feel that it wasn’t working. But I didn’t know why. And so I dropped out of theatre school and did the play for money and then thought I’m gonna be an actor now and quickly found out that that wasn’t as easy as I thought it was gonna be. Yeah. gave it all up for about a year. And then what came back to Toronto again. And that’s when I went to George Brown and did that programme.
Phil Rickaby 6:40
So you when you say you gave it out, were you like, I’m done with his acting things, not working
Richard Beaune 6:43
with the acting thing altogether. I had, I had been to too many auditions that were, frankly abusive. Like, it was it was a different time. I think there were, I suspect that it still exists now. But at the time, there were a lot of people who were really abusive. And I had seen too many, I had been to too many auditions, where the directors were not really doing not really making art. But they were just abusing young people. And I was a young person who was abusable at the time. And there was one particular incident and I said, That’s it no more of this, I went back to Val d’Or, went back to high school and decided I was going to be an aerospace engineer. And by the time I had finished my year, back in high school, I had determined that I was going to be go back to the theatre,
Phil Rickaby 7:34
what did anything happen in particular, that brought you back to it that made
Richard Beaune 7:37
you Well, I didn’t get into the aerospace engineering programme at the Royal Military College, which is what I was my plan, I was gonna shoot big, I was gonna be an astronaut. And they wouldn’t accept my new marks, I went back to high school to upgrade, because my previous marks weren’t good enough. And they wouldn’t take my new my new grades. And by the time I got the rejection letter, I had already determined that, like, I went back to high school, and I spent all of my time creating a drama club, and writing plays and putting on plays. Not doing any of my other homework that was just sort of secondary. So my focus really was making theatre wasn’t going to space. So by the time I got the rejection letter, my friends were like, Wow, you’re so lucky, you didn’t get into that programme.
Phil Rickaby 8:27
Did you think that you were lucky in that programme?
Richard Beaune 8:29
Not immediately, my immediately, my immediate sense was, Oh, I’ve been rejected. This is terrible. But then as soon as I told my friends, and they were like, bouncing off the walls, I was like, oh, yeah, maybe this is probably best. Maybe I don’t belong in the military.
Phil Rickaby 8:43
Um, was there anything in particular that took you that attracted you to George Brown as a school or was it?
Richard Beaune 8:50
I had met some people who were at George Brown in previous years, like the couple of years prior to my auditioning. So I, yeah, just started talking to people who were there. There was a sense of optimism about that programme. And I felt like it was on the upswing at that at that time. And I think that turned out to be true. Yeah,
Phil Rickaby 9:13
yeah. So then you you finished, you finished theatre school. And I know, you’ve, you also did some directing? Pretty soon out of theatre school,
Richard Beaune 9:27
I think, yeah, pretty much. I mean, when I was when I was in school, one thing that I noticed was that a lot of my classmates would ask me to look at their work. And I don’t think it’s because I was a better student than they were. But I think it was because I had a certain because I take great pleasure in actors doing their work. Well. I think there’s, there’s like a lack of professional jealousy for me, among other actors. I don’t resent other actors doing well. I like it, and I thrive on it. So if a classmate is going to ask a classmate to look at their work, they want to, they want it to be someone who’s not going to be competitive with them, but someone who’s gonna encourage them. So already, I was starting to flex that muscle a little bit of like, hey, I want to look at your work, and I want to help you make your work as good as it can be. And that was just how I felt about everyone’s work. So I looked at a lot of people’s, a lot of my classmates work. And then in my third year, I was asked to direct one scene. In one of our shows, we did a collection of Shakespeare scenes. And we did the French scene from Henry five. And I was asked to direct that and had a really good time doing that. And then someone else asked me to direct their vocal mask, I put direct in quotation marks because you don’t direct a vocal mask. Really, it’s a self created piece. But I was sort of an outside eye on one of those, and that was that seemed to go really well. So as soon as I got into school, directing just seemed like another part of the same thing for me. Yeah. So yeah, I I started pretty much right out of school. I was acting and directing.
Phil Rickaby 11:10
So you excuse me, I know that that you made. You did some time in Toronto, and then you had an opportunity to go to Edmonton. Yeah. And did you go to Edmonton for was there an acting gig wait a few in Edmonton?
Richard Beaune 11:30
Well, the first time I went ahead and did a couple of times, the first time I did a tour in shopping malls and one of the stops we had was in Edmonton. And on that tour, every city that I went to, I contacted whoever I could in a local theatre community. I said, Hey, I’m an actor, and I’m on tour doing this show wasn’t really a show. It was a corporate gig. But I said I’m in town, I’m an actor. Can I audition for you? And the only place across the country that I was able to actually get an audition was a company called theatre Thea lamb in Edmonton, Michael Clark was directing a show called The Rite of Venus. And Michael like me and said, Hey, if you want to come and do the show, you can. And I said, I’d like to and he said, But you live in Toronto. I said, yeah. But as soon as the tour is done, I’m unemployed. And I’d rather be unemployed, doing a show living in Edmonton, where the rent is cheaper than unemployed, not doing a show and living in Toronto where the rent is higher. So off, I went to Edmonton to be in a show and be unemployed, and gave it a shot there for about a year. And really, he didn’t make any money there and had to move back. And then many years later, I had another chance to go back out to be an assistant director today and blah, blah, on oppression three tall women.
Phil Rickaby 12:57
Now, so having been in both places, do you have an impression of at least at the time? Do you ever lived in Edmonton for a while? The difference between the theatre communities there and in Toronto?
Richard Beaune 13:10
Yeah, there’s a huge difference. And I actually, I haven’t lived in Edmonton in a long time. But I’ve been back many times either doing touring shows or just visiting family. And so I’m still connected to some of the community there. So I do have a sense of it. It’s well, I’ll describe Toronto first a little bit because I also just finished the national tour, where I went to every province and territory and that was really interesting because I felt like there is a national community of theatre, there’s a there’s a theatre community that is Canadian, that’s Coast to Coast Coast. And I felt on a tour that I could be connected to a whole community that’s national. Toronto is kind of the exception from that Toronto is a bit disconnected from the national community. And Toronto is, is kind of subdivided into a number of other communities. And maybe it’s just because there’s so it’s such a big population here. There are so many theatre companies that that can happen, whereas it can’t in smaller communities. But Toronto does seem to get broken down and into a number of various theatre communities. And my worry about Toronto is that those communities are bit too isolated. I wish that it was more of a community and less of a series of segregated pockets.
Phil Rickaby 14:39
Just jump in on that. I mean I mean, I’ve been around the theatre scene in Toronto for a while and I would agree that there isn’t really a community. But one of the questions that I’ve often asked myself is, what can you do about that? Like what How can you build a community in Toronto? That’s?
Richard Beaune 15:05
I don’t know. I mean, if I don’t feel like I’m capable of building a theatre community, what I can do and what I tried to do is to connect with those various pockets haven’t been as successful as I’d like to be doing.
Phil Rickaby 15:21
Not necessarily, but what could like, I mean, obviously, you, right, and yet all of the different communities in Toronto, but in general is do you see there being anything that could unite those groups or bring them together? At least?
Richard Beaune 15:45
I don’t know. I think there could be but I think an effort a conscious efforts got to be made. Because things that are germane to the whole kind of theatre community in Toronto, like the Dora awards, for example, is a Toronto theatre community event. Yes, but you also have the Canadian Comedy Awards, which are not local to Toronto, but they’re, they serve the comedy scene, for example. And the comedy scene and the theatre scene don’t interact nearly as much as I wish they would. And it would be nice to see the comedy world involved in the door awards somehow or the Canadian Comedy Awards reach out to more theatre theatre that is funny can still be guessed will be comedy. Similarly with the Toronto clown fast, which is actually I think, more successful in bringing together various clown genres because there are a lot of different types of clown and they all kind of come together for clown fest. But they also all remain somewhat segregated as well. And if you are before performing, you tend to be before Yeah, and, and there’s not a lot of overlap between Buffon, Pachinko, or red nose or and then there probably a bunch that don’t even I’m not even familiar with. So efforts in those kinds of festival situations or award ceremonies, efforts to consciously invite other parts of those communities or other communities, sub communities within the general theatre world here, I think I think that couldn’t be done. And I wish it were. Yeah.
Phil Rickaby 17:27
So getting back to the original question. You were saying that you see the net, you see a national community. Yeah, that Toronto is not a part of Yeah. And in other places like Edmonton, for example. There’s a theatre communities that
Richard Beaune 17:42
there is there’s a theatre community and again, there’s there are some sort of pockets within it. There’s the the improv community, and there’s the classical theatre community, but there’s a lot more overlap a lot more sharing, you’re a lot more likely to see the same performers in Shakespeare play as you are in the improvised soap opera, like you’ll see the same people crossing lines more there than you would in a place like Toronto. And Edmonton. Edmonton is kind of one of the larger communities outside of Toronto, nationally, it’s got a big theatre scene. And so there are a lot of aspects to it. If you go to a smaller community, like St. John’s, let’s say, I think the degree of overlap is even stronger, because you have a smaller community that is engaged and they’re it’s not just theatre, but it’s theatre, it’s music, it’s spoken word, it’s visual arts, and they all kind of intersect. And there’s a sense that artists are, are all artists and there’s a there’s more community among various types of artists there than then you see in a place like Toronto,
Phil Rickaby 18:53
because I mean, my experience in Edmonton is purely surround around around fringe and I don’t know, because, you know, there’s I can see there being like, I’m familiar with sort of like the false community that arises for the 10 days of a Fringe Festival and then sort of after that it’s over. We don’t see each other for another year surfing but is does is fringe an integral part of that community in Edmonton or?
Richard Beaune 19:23
Yeah, I don’t know how integral it is necessarily to the whole community. If fringe didn’t exist, there’d still be a strong Edmonton theatre community. But the Edmonton community, the Edmonton theatre community certainly thrives on that. The energy that comes at that fringe, which is a little different than, say Calgary where I found the Calgary established theatre community doesn’t seem to dine at the same table as the Fringe Festival there. That That scene is a separate thing. Yeah, in Edmonton or Winnipeg. A it seems to be the big party, the big feast that the the theatre community shares with the rest of the country or even the rest of the world because you have international people coming in. But maybe Calgary a little bit less so
Phil Rickaby 20:16
as a director, what kind of what draws you into a project? If you were to choose, if you had a couple of projects that you had to choose from, what would draw you towards one or the other, aside from a massive paycheck? Take that off the table?
Richard Beaune 20:34
Well, since that’s never really been a consideration, I don’t have to worry about that. I don’t know. It’s how I imagine the experience of the project is going to be probably.
Phil Rickaby 20:49
So it’s not material. It’s more about
Richard Beaune 20:50
the experience overall. No, because sometimes I’ll go into a project not really knowing the material. I’ll just know the team. And if it’s a team that I want to share an experience with, then I’m gonna go there, I’ll jump into that. And I’ll go yeah, let’s find out what this project is. Sometimes it’s it’s a project, sometimes it’s a play, and I’ll read it, I’ll read the play. And I’ll say this will be a great experience. And I’ll dive into it for that reason. But often, you don’t know that going in.
Phil Rickaby 21:23
Now, while you you can, because there’s so many things surrounding
Richard Beaune 21:28
together projects, and especially if it’s a creative, it’s a if it’s a project that will create a new piece. You may be starting with very, very little.
Phil Rickaby 21:37
Yeah, no, that’s That’s very true.
Richard Beaune 21:38
And that can still draw me in. But usually in a case like that, it’s a it’s a, it’s either what I it’s either the the fundamental key that is going to be driving the project, the idea of the project, or it’s the idea of the group of, of artists I’ll be working with. So it’s there’s a real range of things that might draw me into some
Phil Rickaby 22:04
speaking, I mean, you mentioned creative projects, projects that are created from scratch. And we’ve worked together a number of times, most recently, on some some projects with with Keystone theatre. Well, I mean, I know the story, but people listening might not know probably don’t know the story of how Keystone theatre who creates Theatre in the style of silent film was actually how that came about.
Richard Beaune 22:35
Yeah, that was a fun sort of discovery. And it, it started because I had the earliest sort of germs of it come from a production that I worked on at the Shaw festival called Chaplin, which was a play about Charlie Chaplin, looking at rushes from The Great Dictator, and he gets involved in that. So in order to work on that, I got to know Chaplin a little bit and silent film generally, a little bit. Then a year later, I was working on production of The Comedy of Errors and wanted to create sort of inter is, I don’t know how to pronounce the word interest interstitial interstitial interstitial pieces within the overall play. That would kind of be related to the material within the play, but would be other forms of comedy to celebrate comedy through the centuries. And one of those was a little Chaplin routine, mostly inspired by my recent experience working with a play about chaplain. And Dana Fradkin played chaplain in that little piece within that play. And it was just, it was a blast. Blast was so much fun creating something in a frame that was that liberating in a frame that says, Hey, be silly. Hey, you know, just go crazy. Don’t worry about naturalism. Don’t worry about deep motivations just really play. And it was really fun to work in that kind of scenario. So after that, Show’s over, Dana and I had lunch, and we were talking about how much fun we’d had and how cool it is to work on something like that, and how freeing it is to work in in that kind of a frame. And I thought, Well, why don’t we do that again, let’s let’s do a whole play that’s like that. Let’s do a whole play. That’s like a Chaplin film. And then we just started, I made some phone calls. I called you, Phil and I called a bunch of other friends. People who I thought I wanted to work with. Again, this is sort of talking about in that project. It was a the idea, but it was also be the group of people that I could work of course, yeah. So I just called the people I wanted to work with and said, Let’s get together and play. And we watched some of the films and we talked about what we saw and we played and we did We created our own vocabulary for trying to take something that was on film and put it on stage. And through a long process, created a number of characters. And then those characters created stories. And then those stories became the belle of Winnipeg, which was our first show. And, and it was good. So we did it again. And again, again, we
Phil Rickaby 25:20
keep doing it. And it was like, I think it was three years of play before we got down to the business of creating a show. Yeah, it was like, watching films and then exploring the whole thing. There’s a certain, I mean, directing something that doesn’t have words that something that I mean, of course, it’s a devised piece. So it doesn’t necessarily have a script. Sometimes it doesn’t even have an outline yet. But how do you go about directing something, especially when we so as a society, as a community often think so much about words? How do you go about directing something that doesn’t have that? Easy out? First finding what’s happening or whatever,
Richard Beaune 26:09
that’s a good way to put it, because it is, I think that’s the fundamental differences, you don’t have the easy out. Ultimately, it’s very similar to directing anything else. The only difference, it’s probably more different for the actors than it is for me as the director, because the actors don’t have the text to hang their homework on. But as a director, you don’t use that the text anyway, really, to direct, the actors have that. And then you support the actors and help them figure out where they are and what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. So whether they have text or not, as the director, your job is actually pretty similar. It’s still about refining moments, making sure that transitions are clear, making sure that intentions are clear, it’s still all kind of the same thing. The biggest difference is that but as you said, you don’t have the easy out of using the language. And I’ve gone from doing the the Keystone stuff, which is somewhat light in its tone to also doing mine theatre now, which is a little heavier and its tone. So that’s been interesting to sort of go into a different genre within the non speaking theatre world. So and there again, I find it’s similar. It’s I’m still directing a play. But I but the actor doesn’t have the language. And I think for the actor, it’s probably more different.
Phil Rickaby 27:42
Biggest difference between silent film as a as a working genre, and mine.
Richard Beaune 27:49
Oh, they’re hugely different, as you know, yeah.
Phil Rickaby 27:52
As a as a, just as a form of
Richard Beaune 27:55
the most obvious difference is in mime, you don’t have objects where whereas with the Keystone stuff, and depends who’s directing the Keystone shows, but when I’m directing a keystone show, I really try to avoid mine. I want an object to be an object, but I want the sound to be the thing that that the audience is imagining in mind, the audience’s also imagining the objects. So that’s a whole that’s another level of specificity and storytelling that’s required. So it’s actually more difficult, I think. But aesthetically, it’s very different. One of the biggest differences to and what I’m doing, and maybe there are places where I can change this, but when I’m doing the mime theatre, it’s solo work, there’s only one performer. Whereas with the Keystone stuff, there are, you know, scenes. So the interaction between characters is a very different dynamic than a solo piece. In many ways more challenging because I have to manage where the focus shifts from one actor to another. That’s a that’s a bigger challenge with non speaking theatre than it is with speaking theatre. So that’s one area where it’s a little bit harder directing.
Phil Rickaby 29:20
Back to the Keystone thing, was there something that surprised you about directing in the genre, like, that you didn’t expect? Or like, what was the biggest lesson that you took from
Richard Beaune 29:37
the first thing that comes to mind? And there were, it was a big learning curve, like the whole thing, figuring out how to a how to create a play in that style and then be how to direct it. But the biggest surprise I had, it took me a while to figure out what was happening is that the actors don’t retain it. Uh, as much when they don’t have text as they do when they do have text. And I would notice from one rehearsal to another, the, the level of retention of detail from the previous rehearsal was was lower than what I expected. And because I was working mostly with actors who I’d worked with before, I kind of knew everyone’s individual working habits. And I knew that, you know, from one rehearsal to another, any given actor would come back with with a certain amount of retention, some things would slip, and some things would grow. But the amount of slippage was much, much higher from the same actors. So I knew that it was not, you know, these actors aren’t doing their homework, and took me a while to figure out that it. I think it’s because it’s harder for the actors to do their homework. And again, it’s where the acting in a silent film is more different than directing for it. Yeah. So the actor, you can’t go home and run your lines? No. So you have very true, yeah. So your, your repetition of the material happens in a totally different way. Yeah. So you’re learning of the details of the performance are very different. So that was kind of the biggest revelation. So I had to readjust my expectations, rehearsal to rehearsal. Yeah. And the pace at which we developed. For me, it was also a big learning opportunity. Because it was, I don’t know if it was, it wasn’t really the first time that I’d worked on developing a new play. But it was, it seemed like the biggest project of development that I’d ever partake in.
Phil Rickaby 31:47
Well, the belt of Winnipeg was kind of ambitious, it was no big show. Despite that, we did that backwards. To be honest, in my opinion, we sort of, instead of going the usual route, and say, we’re going to develop a thing, and we’ll do a little show we’ll do a fringe. Yeah. And then we’ll you know, we’ll work up to a big show. We went big, instead of going home, like we just like, did like yeah, you
Richard Beaune 32:09
know, that was a conscious choice that I made as well was, I didn’t want because because I knew that the project, the concept was ambitious, mostly because I knew that it could be, I could envision it being really bad. I didn’t want it to be really bad, I wanted it to be really good. So I said going in, if we’re going to do this, well, it’s going to take a long time, it’s going to take a big commitment, and we cannot censor ourselves creatively. So the decision was made, I made a very conscious decision early on, I’m not going to allow the impossibilities of production, to edit my creativity. So I’m gonna go into this, and I’m going to just be the creative person, I’m going to let my producer head go away for a while. And I’m just going to play and create and make and invent. And the producer side is going to catch up later, right, and it’s gonna be really hard. And at that point, we might have to lose some things. Yeah. And we did have to lose something with some of the concepts that I had early on. We didn’t we didn’t fulfil, because production wise we couldn’t. But it did, it did encourage us to create a big huge two act play with 10 actors, plus musician, and, and tonnes of props. And it was just a big, massive, massive show. But that was partly by design. And I wanted to go into it full, full on and not censor any creative idea. Yeah, until we absolutely had to.
Phil Rickaby 33:40
I mean, I seem to remember that the most censorship happened at like, the difference between the workshop. And the final performance. Yeah, all of the things that we had to lose after the workshop, which was far too complicated. And that was actually the lesson that I took from it was simple. It had to, like any story had to be.
Richard Beaune 34:03
Yeah, well learn it learning about like, the the plays in the style of silent film. Yeah, really simplifying narrative became a big deal. I like to say that, you know, Joe takes a sip of milk can be a whole scene. Yes. It’s not a moment. That’s a whole event. Yeah. And so that can be a five minute scene. Yeah, in this style. So if you have a very complicated narrative, you’re going to be there for weeks. Yeah. So the narratives got to be really, really, really streamlined. Also,
Phil Rickaby 34:35
the audience doesn’t have the benefit of hearing dialogue explaining backstory and things like that, right have to, they only have what they can see in that moment.
Richard Beaune 34:46
Right. But But what’s interesting is, in most modern plays, the dialogue doesn’t actually do a lot of storytelling. It sets up frameworks for subtext and the subtext and the Interact between characters actually carries a lot of the narrative component. So to take away dialogue actually doesn’t take away that much of what we already have to work with to build narrative. We build narrative by having characters interact. And that interaction carries with it a subtext that a story that the audience in FERS, they get it because the actors are doing their job, not because the writer is doing the job, no. So this puts us right into connection with the actors doing their job, which I find really exciting because my whole my whole thing, because I was I’m an actor, director, theatre maker, is to try to promote the actor as the main event. So when we do plays in the style of sound film, that does that puts the actor in that really prime position. Yeah, actor is carrying all of the important material, everything else is there to support the actor, the style, the frame is very, it’s very stylized, but it’s only there to illuminate the actor within the moment. And the the relationships are carried by the actors, not by the writers, not by the designers, you know, the soundscape that we have is fabulous. And it it gives us so much, but it doesn’t tell the story. The actors are telling the story. Yeah. And they’re doing it through the subtext, which is very cool to see.
Phil Rickaby 36:19
That’s interesting. And that sort of, like, I’ve always found it interesting. After doing a show in the style of silent film, hearing, other people interpret it. And the little differences, the spaces that they fill in, that aren’t necessarily what we intended. But it’s an interesting, it’s interesting to hear. Oh, you think that’s what it was about it? Okay. That’s, that’s interesting, because they have to fill some things in. Yeah. But the story still works, even though
Richard Beaune 36:48
there’s, but that happens also in scripted work. There’s a story we like to tell on this last tour that we did, where we had a bunch of plays, and they were scripted. So there was dialogue. But one of our actors, met with his family, after a performance I think, was in Montreal anyway. And his family had come to see it. And they said, Oh, that zombie character that you were playing was really strange. And he’s like, that’s, I don’t play a zombie in any of these shows. So so there were still these weird interpretations of what the theatre was. Because there is ambiguity, of course. Yeah. And if, and, you know, unless you’re going to write a play without any ambiguity, there’s always going to be that differentiation of interpretation from different people who would want to be more ambiguous. Yeah. And that’s part of the fun. And if the audience isn’t making their own interpretations, then they’re not really heavily engaged.
Phil Rickaby 37:46
Well, that’s, that’s also very interesting. We see in a lot of movies where nothing is left to, for you know, I’m going to explain we explain everything. Yeah, we don’t take the chance of anybody not understanding what’s happening here. Yeah. So we don’t actually have to use our brains while watching the TV show or the or the, the, the movie or whatever. Right. And of course, we enjoy something more when we have to, we have to think about it. Yeah. In terms of where because you you founded, were the founding artistic director of Keystone theatre? And then you started you stepped back from that. And think you returned to your like thinking more about simple truths theatres.
Richard Beaune 38:35
Yeah, right. Yeah. So there are other projects that I really want to pursue right now. And they don’t fit within the mandate of Keystone, they would fit within the mandate of simple truth theatre, right. So simple to theatre might be resurrected. It might not, because there might be other companies that are willing and able to produce those projects, without me having to be a producer, which is my preference, of course. So that might that may not be needed. But I want to, I want to start pursuing other projects. I want to change the pace at which I produce work. I want to produce work more slowly and more carefully. I mean, apart from our first show with Keystone, which we took four years to develop,
Phil Rickaby 39:34
and getting faster than getting like four years and then six months and then three months, I
Richard Beaune 39:41
think yeah, so they get quicker and quicker. But, but I want to go back to not not so much a slower development, but less frequent projects. I want to freelance more in between, and I want to pursue you a couple of very particular projects that may take a long time. And I’m teaching now and I want to teach more, and I’m happy to teach. If I could get full time teaching work, I’d be happy to do that. But right now, that’s kind of my main endeavour. And that’s a whole other world. That’s really fascinating to me. How do you teach acting?
Phil Rickaby 40:26
How do you teach acting?
Richard Beaune 40:28
Oh, wow. It’s, it’s very different with every student. And that’s part of what makes it so fun for me. So again, it’s carefully not determining what, what a student needs, until I really start to get a sense of what each student is trying to do. So my style of teaching is very reserved, I think my style of directing is that way, too. I tend to hold back, I don’t try to tell I don’t like to tell my actors what to do. I want to find out where they’re going, and then help them get there. And and that’s that same instinct, I guess that makes me want to teach.
Phil Rickaby 41:14
Do you think that the teaching is an extension of direct directing, like just just looking at the path from actor to director to teacher?
Richard Beaune 41:25
Yeah, I don’t know that it’s an extension. But it certainly comes from the same impulse. Like I think of the things that make me that make me want to direct the thing that I most enjoy, when I’m directing is if I’m in, I’m in a rehearsal hall with an actor who has an impulse, and I can see that they have an impulse, but they’re not able to fulfil that impulse for whatever reason, they have some blockage, or they have or they’re not aware of their own impulse yet. If I can help that actor, free that impulse, and achieve something, I don’t even know what it is most of the time. But I can see that there’s something else in there. If I can help that actor, find what that thing is that we haven’t yet found. That is, that’s the most rewarding thing for me. I don’t, I enjoy seeing a play I’ve directed. But that’s not as exciting to me as the moments where an actor goes, Oh, I got it. That’s the thing. Wow, that’s great. So for me, empowering the actor is what makes me want to direct nets, that same impulse, it makes me want to teach it’s empowering the student, it’s giving the student the chance to figure out what their own version of being an actor is going to be. That’s very, very rewarding. It’s very cool.
Phil Rickaby 42:38
When did teaching become something that that was on your path?
Richard Beaune 42:45
All it started, I think I had an inkling along the way again, sort of going back to classmates saying, you know, Richard, can you look at this and they’d be Oh, yeah, that’s cool. Let’s let’s happy to work on this with you. So there was always an inkling kind of in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until venue even offski asked if I if I would direct a show for act two studio out of Ryerson.
Phil Rickaby 43:09
And act two is, is it’s a programme for senior citizens. Yeah,
Richard Beaune 43:13
for people who are 50 years and older. Yeah, so it’s a theatre programme for older folks. But it’s very, it’s a pretty serious theatre programme. And we treat our students like serious theatre students. And they are they just don’t leave after three years, they stick around and keep taking more classes. So we can actually go further and further with them, which is really cool to mostly part time studies. So it’s not quite as intense as as most sort of conservatory theatre programme. But it’s, it’s, it’s fairly intense. So Ronnie asked me to direct a show because she had seen some of my stuff at Shaw, and was wanted to do a really big show, and thought that I would be able to handle a big cast. And part of the directing the show involve teaching a course. And I’ve been teaching ever since I just kind of got hooked and I think Venya has Renu spotted that I was a teacher. Before you before I did, yeah. And yeah, she very cleverly insisted that I teach a zone of silence work. Which I had no interest in teaching at the time,
Phil Rickaby 44:30
that that interests me and sort of silence. Of course, you and I, who, who went to theatre school and were taught by Peter Wilde know that like that first half year, nobody speaks to keep doing exercises where it’s in the zone of silence. Yeah. It’s interesting that eventually you were working on a silent film
Richard Beaune 44:55
I know with silence Yeah. And then teaching and directing mime shows. Yeah. What were
Phil Rickaby 45:01
you resistant to teaching these on a silence? Like when she suggested it? Was it something that you were like? No, she
Richard Beaune 45:06
suggested, and I thought, I have no idea how to teach that. I’ve like I’ve done it as a student years and years ago, but I don’t know how to teach it. And she said, Oh, I think you’d think you could. Did you?
Phil Rickaby 45:21
Did you consult with anybody before you didn’t show up one day, and
Richard Beaune 45:25
I just you were doing, I just showed up. And I mean, I crafted a plan. And then I showed up and did that. The first year that I taught it, and I refined it and refined it and refined it over time, and continue to. But it didn’t take that long to figure out what my rhythm was within that kind of work, too. And I’m sure I don’t teach it the way Peter does. I also am I’ve only taught it at act two. So I’m only working with people who are 50 years and older. Right? So they have a very different they come in with a very different set of expectations than 19 year olds, well,
Phil Rickaby 46:03
what do you think their expectations are when they come in, because I’m 19 year old, I only want like, I came in thinking that I was gonna be the next big, big thing,
Richard Beaune 46:10
right. And when when an 18 year old is told zone of silence, it takes a long time, for the, like, the impulse to do something, yeah, the impulse to do something to entertain your audience is huge. Takes a long time to get past that, and get to the point where I’m engaging now and in an imagined world, and I’m just in it. And that’s kind of the first step of doing zone of silence is forgetting about, I’m not going to try to entertain, I’m just going to try to be in the Imagine world. With the older students, they can get there much, much more quickly. And why do you think that is? I think because they they come in with a they come in with less to prove to themselves. So they don’t have to feel like they’re entertaining. The way a young person does at that age, just that high school, like they want to feel like they’re important, right? Yeah, they need they there’s a certain need for, for reassurance. These older students tend not to have quite that strong need for that. They come in with a much simpler and richer and fuller sense of themselves. So to have them, and they also come in with less of an overt energy in their drive. They’re not there to prove that they’re superstars. They’re there, because they’re really interested in what theatre is, they’re not there to be stars, they’re there to engage with the artwork. So their momentum is very different. So to have them to say, okay, just sit there and don’t do anything. They’re pretty good at sitting there not doing anything.
Phil Rickaby 47:57
Do you find they’re more they’re more patient to students than, say 19? Year? Yes,
Richard Beaune 48:03
yeah, they’re, they’re certainly more patient. The difference is then that I have to provoke more to get them to get to the next steps where they’re actually starting to engage with the concepts, the basic concept of activity where you have a moment before that inspires some kind of emotional reaction, where you have you want something from someone and that that drives towards action. So the drive toward action requires more prompting, I think with the seniors. But I haven’t taught the young younger students yet. I might in January,
Phil Rickaby 48:39
that would be exciting. I’m, yeah, I’ve been very exciting.
Richard Beaune 48:42
I’m pretty excited about the past, especially especially
Phil Rickaby 48:45
now that you’d like to do to teach it to the older group and honestly, just see the difference. Yeah, younger group. That’d be pretty exciting. Yeah,
Richard Beaune 48:54
I think so too.
Phil Rickaby 48:57
Is there anything that you’re working on that you can talk about the specifics about anything coming up?
Richard Beaune 49:03
There’s a couple of projects that we’re trying to get the wheels moving on. It takes a long time to get something going. The one project that I can sort of, I guess talk about is not moving yet, but it’s I hope it will. It’s a translation of a Victor Hugo play the play is called love Watson muse. I call it the fool in my translation. So translating is a whole new thing for me. It’s first time I ever tried to translate a play. And I loved doing it. And once this one is done, I hope to do more.
Phil Rickaby 49:40
Can we talk about why you have why you’re translating this play? Yeah.
Richard Beaune 49:46
It started out again it goes back to theatre school in a theatre history class Peter Wilde, our theatre history teacher and teacher everything. Talked about this play and the way he described it. I thought, oh, there might be a role in there for me and I should look at this play and maybe get a monologue out of this sounds like something like a play. And the only version of the play that I could find was in French. So I read it in French, because I can do that. I can’t write in French, but I can read it. And I thought, yeah, this is a great play. And this is a great role, maybe the best role I’ve ever read. And I want to play it, but he was way too old for me to play at the time. Once I read the play, I realise, okay, this guy is, you know, mid 40s, probably ish, you know, 20 years old, or 22. At the time, I’m thinking I got a long time before I can play this. But I really liked this play. And I really liked this role. Someday I’m going to play this. And then I started looking for an English translation, so that I could do it. Because my French is not bad. But it’s not great either. And, and I want to perform it in the language that I’m strongest in. And 20 years went by, and I never found an English translation. And I’m starting to get now to the point where I’m soon going to be too old to play the parts, instead of old enough. So I thought, Okay, well, if I’m ever going to do this, and this is kind of it’s become my life’s ambition to play this role. So I’m never going to do this, I have to translate it myself, because I can’t find it in English. So I did, I started translating it. And in the process, too. I have really, really become excited by Victor Hugo in his work and his plays this play in particular, which I think is just, it’s so rich emotionally. It’s it’s a kind of theatre that we’ve really moved away from in the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s, you know, Hugo was the leading edge of the Romantic movement. Before the Romantic movement became the sappy movement. It was the Romantic movement. Yeah. And he takes the classical structure of classical and neoclassical theatre, and he gives it a real, a real edge in its characterization. So characters don’t have to maintain a fixed perspective on the world, they can change. It’s a big revelation in, in neoclassical theatre. And it begins the Romantic movement. So you have a character who changes through the course of the play. And he’s inspired by the works of Shakespeare when he’s writing it. So it’s very much like a King Lear meets the bells of Nadab. So it’s got this are these really rich, weird characters who have huge emotional life’s lives and scope for huge emotion. And I missed that in the theatre today. So I got really excited by the play itself. And I really, really want to produce it now. But it’s another big show. And big shows are really hard to put
Phil Rickaby 53:09
in. Where are you in terms of translation? Because I know for a while back, you had one trans
Richard Beaune 53:13
Yeah, well, now I’ve got what I would consider sort of a third draft of the whole thing. So the whole play has been translated. I wrote a first draft, which was a completion of the version that you were involved in reading. So I completed that all of it and blank verse. taking some notes from the reading that we had, I then mixed it up a little bit so that the cord scenes are now in rhymed couplets. Some of the more resonant emotional scenes are in blank verse, and some of the more pedestrian scenes are in prose. Okay, so it shifts and that was a big rewrite. And then after that, I got some more suggestions. And I’ve since streamline the show a little bit. What I took it from 5x to four, I combined the last 2x. I reduce the number of characters in the hopes of making it producible because a play with 2324 characters is really hard to produce. But a play with 10 or 11 or 11 actors, including the doubling Is is possible. It’s still it’s still big, still huge. Yeah, but it’s possible. So I cut some of the characters I moved a monologue from act two into Act One. I changed the ending I sort of brought some some of the loose ends together a little bit at the end. So I’ve done a bit of adjustment. I did a reading of it a summer in Prince Edward Island with a company of actors there and realised that I can no longer or work on it on my own. It needs to be workshopped. It needs to be rehearsed. Before we know what works and what doesn’t, right. Because in a in a cold reading, yeah, it’s to the the language is too structured. So to call it a cold reading, it’s really hard to take advantage of ride couplers to know what the value is that you can use as an actor. You need to rehearse it, you need to look at it, know it, plan it, think about, okay, what can I do with this? And then what so I need at least a week long workshop, I think and through the week long workshop, I think will really know what works and what doesn’t. I think it’ll take one more rewrite after that. And then hopefully it can we can find for production and go somewhere further down. I’ve got a very, very good director who’s reading it right now and has expressed interest in it. It’s great, who I probably can’t mention in public. But maybe next week, I can mention the name in public. Oh,
Phil Rickaby 56:00
that’s, that’s fine. We all know that. Sometimes you’re not free to talk about a thing.
Richard Beaune 56:05
Yeah. But that’s sort of the that’s the big, big project that I’m kind of dreaming up. There’s some other things that I’m working on, I’m going to direct another show for tottering biped theatre who have done some work for next fall. That’s a passion project of Trevor cop, who’s the artistic director, he’s been working on that show for 10 years. He’s written 13 drafts of the script, I took part in a couple of workshops with him. And now he wants me to direct it. So I’m pretty honoured to you know, he’s kind of basically giving me his baby and saying, Here, take care of my baby for me. So I’m going to direct journey to the east. But not a lot of creative work going on at the moment. It’s more pre production, and teaching. So
Phil Rickaby 56:50
still, so a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff. And you’re not on social media at all. I really am. Not on social media. But you do have a website. I have a website, Richardbeaune.com. Th ere we go. No, l and Bono. Who didn’t know anything?
Richard Beaune 57:04
No B O N E. Beaune.
Phil Rickaby 57:07
It’ll be it’ll be in the show notes. I don’t know why he felt the need to like mention the lack of an L. When nobody who heard anyone think of it. Yeah. Well, because there was one. There was one once. Well, thanks so much for coming out. We’re about at the end of our time. Okay. Well,
Richard Beaune 57:21
thanks for having me. It’s been fun.