New actors say friendship often a 'lifesaver' during rehearsal of their first professional show
When actor Alex Plouffe, 22, prepared to audition for Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP) in April, it seemed as if fate was not in his favor.
Having missed his flight from Victoria to Calgary the morning of the audition, Plouffe called ATP, anxious as to whether or not he would even get the opportunity to audition for the theatre company he had admired since his childhood. No one answered his call.
As the minutes ticked past, Plouffe received the call that he had been eagerly waiting for: a woman from the company understood his predicament and said if the company's artistic director approved, he would still be able to audition when he got to Calgary. Ten minutes before the second flight out, Plouffe was put on hold while approval was sought.
"It's getting close to [the flight] and I hadn't heard back and it was just like, okay this isn't meant to be; this audition isn't meant to happen and that's fine," he said. "You know, I'll just go to the next one. And whatever."
When the woman did get back to him, Plouffe was told they would still be able to see him if he could make it to Calgary. But as he prepared to get onto the flight he discovered that his ticket had been refunded. The entire events of the day had him convinced that he shouldn't go to the audition, he said.
Despite Plouffe's initial resignation, something must have been meant to be.
He and Sarah Koury, 21, are now fresh faces on the stage of ATP. For both of them, this is their first professional gig out of theatre school, having both just graduated from the same theatre class at the University of Victoria in June.
"It's kind of not too far off from a miracle that the two of us come right out of school together and into a show like this together," Koury said with a smile.
Through Oct. 8, Plouffe and Koury are playing opposite each other in "True Love Lies" as siblings Royce and Madison. Written by Canadian playwright Brad Fraser, "True Love Lies" tells the story of a family whose world is unexpectedly turned upside down when their father's male ex-lover comes into their lives.
Dianne Goodman, an artistic associate with the company, helped cast the show and said during the casting process the ease and rapport between the two actors really interested her.
She said she believed the comfort Plouffe and Koury had with each other really put them further ahead than they might have otherwise been, especially since the rehearsal process was only three weeks. According to Goodman, it can be a challenge to become comfortable working on such an intimate level with someone you've never met before in such a short span of time.
This relationship proved to be really beneficial to the young actors because starring in the fast paced, modern play proved to be an exceptional learning experience for them.
"It was a really huge learning curve for me, this being my first professional gig," Koury stated. "It was no where near what I was doing in theatre school."
The techniques so carefully perfected in theatre school did not transfer over, forcing the actors to be in the moment.
"You don't have time to think about technique, you just have to be. You have to be completely in the moment every time or the scene dies."
Throughout it all – the challenges and frustrations of rehearsals and adjusting to working with more experienced actors – Plouffe and Koury have had each other. There's an obvious ease and comfort between them, evident in their casual banter. Preparing for a recent show, Koury brought a Booster Juice to the theatre for Plouffe, commenting that she would have put it in the fridge but the dressing rooms were locked.
"I think we're lucky that we're such good friends and we've been able to go through this together, because it's been a lifesaver at times," Plouffe said.
"One night he was driving me home and we both had had a particularly challenging day, challenging run of the show. And so we were just venting back and forth our feelings," Koury said. "Venting and getting all this excess energy out and also at the same time building each other up, saying, 'No, no, no we'll be okay. We're going to show up tomorrow and kick ass tomorrow, it's going to be great.'"
As the show goes into its second week, both actors remain excited and grateful for the opportunity to work for ATP.
"It's sort of an experience that I know I'm having and that I'm in the middle of, but it's still kind of unbelievable," Plouffe said.
"Standing there, I'm up there, where I've sat in the audience for so many years and just witnessed so many things and yearned to be up there for so long. And...I'm there. It's amazing."
"True Love Lies" runs until Oct. 8 at the EPCOR Centre, for more information visit www.atplive.com.