Jim Hill (centre, wearing white hat) re-located two years ago from Orillia to the Kitchener/Stratford area, and has been busy acting and directing community theatre productions in the region ever since. This spring, Jim was one of 10 local non-equity actors who won ensemble parts in Henry V at this year’s Stratford Festival, directed by the legendary Des MacAnuff. The Green Room chatted with Jim immediately after an August matinee performance.
You and the esemble are on stage a surprising amount of the time.
Yes, the 10 of us play French soldiers, English soldiers, villagers, priests. I myself have a number of costume changes and am moving most of the time, back stage, from one entrance to an exit to another entrance. It’s actually when I am on stage that I get a chance to stop!
This must a fabulous experience for you and the others; Stratford, Shakespeare, the Festival Theatre, and being directed by Des MacAnuff. How was your reception
The thing that struck me immediately was how welcoming the actors in the company have been to us, given we came in as non-equity, ensemble actors with no individual character lines. They have treated us as equals right from the start.
There is a tremendous amount of tightly timed choreographed action and movement involving many members of the cast. That must have been a focus of your rehearsals.
Your on-stage time must have required you at most rehearsals then.
You’re being directed by one the biggest names in Canadian stage. Has Des MacAnuff spent a lot of his time directing the ensemble actors?
The Shakespeare Festival offers a number of skills workshops for the acting company throughout the season. Were any of these open to you?
How about the social aspects away from the show: Does the cast hang-out together?
Is there any one particular thing you are going to take back to community theatre with you at season’s end?
Have your experiences here and the contacts you have made given you some directions to pursue going forward?