Erik Eldman directs first theatre play since College

Imagine a cluster of kids walking down your street dragging along an overstuffed costume trunk.

This is what Erik Eldman, 33, did when he was a child. He has been performing and writing his own plays since he was six years old.

Eldman and his friends would go house-to-house acting out his original or — as he puts it — “ridiculous” productions in exchange for candy or cookies.

The Prince George, BC native said that watching movies gave him the inspiration to “create new worlds.”

“I was a daydreamer in school and when I saw movies I said that the only way I can create these worlds and attempt to make them real is through film, because they’re a magical place,” he said.

Eldman enrolled in the technical theatre program at Mount Royal University in 1998 but was unable to finish.

He didn’t join the actual acting program because he thought he could “fake it” well enough and didn’t need any professional training.

“I knew it wasn’t something I needed to pursue as a career and I guessed that learning the technical aspects of theatre would serve me better in the long run.”

“But I always wanted to do film, and it’s kind of weird that I didn’t go to school for that either,” continued Eldman.

“The magic of movies or theatre for me is just a way to transport yourself to another world. I like creating those places for people.”
– Erik Eldman

When he was 20 years old, he produced, directed and acted in a small theatre show that, according to Eldman, was well-received.

The play was part of a school project and earned five stars from the Mount Royal college community.

After college, he went on to direct small films and shoot commercials for car companies in Europe.

The play that Eldman worked on in his twenties was the only legitimate theatre play he ever directed until this year.

Opportunity emerges in Narnia

In early February Eldman directed and adapted C.S. Lewis’ classic novel, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for Calgary’s Storybook Theatre. Eldman was involved in the first and second production as an actor in 1999 and 2005. Erik Eldman (far back) and costume designer Christine Brown (far left) pose with the protagonists of Storybook Theatre’s The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe production.
Photo courtesy of: Christine Brown

He wanted to direct this third production because he thought he could bring something different to the table.

“I had been trying to direct a show for Storybook for so long and I asked the artistic director many times and he always said no.

“It was weird because I couldn’t direct this community theatre show for free, but I’m [directing] commercials for Toyota in Europe. So I’m like ‘guys! I can direct a show, come on give me a chance!’

“I was fighting with these guys for 10 years and they would never let me and it was really great when they finally did,” Eldman said.

Eldman went through the script that was available to Storybook Theatre, did some research on the The Chronicles of Narnia series and rewrote the entire play.

“I added a lot of new things to it that are not actually within the books just for dramatic elements, ” he said.

Melissa Dorsey, 24, started acting in community theatre when she was seven years old.

Originally from BC, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was her first show with Storybook Theatre and her first time working with Eldman.

“Erik has been very meticulous on making sure that the story comes through and that it’s all consistent as opposed to just making sure we get our stuff done then get off stage.

“He’s a great director and an awesome person to work with,” Dorsey said.

Future plans

Eldman plans to get back into acting — just for fun — focusing on Shakespearian plays.

“I want to learn how to do that and talk like that because I think that if you know how to do Shakespeare well, you can do anything,” Eldman said.

Eldman explained that he would keep working in the arts community for as long as he can because “the magic of movies or theatre for me is just a way to transport yourself to another world.

“I like creating those places for people,” Eldman said.

mbitter@cjournal.ca