Meet Vancouver’s Bob Frazer. (There, we lay claim to him. It’s official now because it’s on the internet.) Born in Ontario but raised in the Okanagan, Bob has become a bit of a Golden Boy of our stages here. I love his simple bio from the program for his current production of Skydive, onstage now at the Arts Club Granville Island Stage as part of the PuSh Festival:
He is a regular contributor at Bard on the Beach and has helped develop over 50 new plays. He has written three plays, graduated from Studio 58, and created life twice. He is a lucky, lucky man.
In fact, his version of Hamlet during Bard’s 2005 season was a smash critical and commercial success, I still hear it referenced in reverent tones during theatre coffee shop talk. And together with theatre school buddy James Sanders he is once again causing a buzz with the high-flying Skydive.
We’re grateful this week’s 11 questions didn’t go too heavily with his disposition…
1. In one word, describe your present condition.
2. Describe the present condition of the Vancouver theatre scene in as many words as you need.
For some reason we can’t seem to get enough audience out to see the work. I think we need to be bolder, better and prouder. Vancouver theatre is truly some of the best in the world and just think how great it would be if we all took that next step to be better. We may then break up some of the infatuation we have on the film and tv industry in Vancouver. It’s funny, but I think theatre may be messed up by the film industry. Other cities that don’t have as thriving a film and TV industry as we do concentrate all their efforts on theatre. They put every effort into making sure the shows are great. We strive to do good theatre but we are always thinking about that film and that TV show. We lose great designers and actors and technicians daily to the film industry and a lot of our media is about what is filming in town and what celebrity was seen on Robson. Other cities do interviews with theatre artists instead of filling up columns with the latest news about a street shut down for a stunt on a big budget movie. But I should take my own advice and instead of bitching about it, I should do something about it.
3. How does the reality of theatre work compare to what you imagined it would be when you started in it?
It really doesn’t differ from what I dreamed it would be. I am in love with theatre and have been excited by it all my life. And now after 15 years of professional work I still think a theatre is one of the greatest places to be at any time of the day. Whether I’m watching or acting in a show.
4. Describe the ideal relationship with your director.
Hard, honest work. A daily laugh or two, and a lot of trust. Then a cold beer at the end of the day.
5. What do you know about the craft of acting that you didn’t before starting work on Skydive?
It seems that every show I do I realize there is a new lesson I need to learn. Skydive has not been an exception, but I’d rather keep my ego somewhat intact by not divulging the simple lessons Skydive has taught me about acting that I should have figured out years ago.
6. Do you see any trends developing within the theatre movement in Vancouver?
Having just returned from seeing shows in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto and New York, it’s clear to me that site-specific theatre doesn’t really happen in other cities like it does in Vancouver. We have cornered the market and continue to develop what site-specific theatre is.
7. What’s your best advice for young actors trying to break into the theatre scene here?
It’s tough but you can do it. Anyone can do it.
I truly believe to be successful in theatre anywhere, you have to have more than a surface desire to succeed. I mean that celebrity should not even take up one second of your thoughts. Being the best you can be at your chosen profession should be at the forefront of your thoughts. And as long as you have a strong desire to succeed and be great it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do it. So crash auditions if you want to work in the big theatres and can’t get an audition. But don’t crash the audition and do something shitty. Be prepared. And I mean totally prepared, not just off book (because most are off book) but three levels past that. Create your own stuff if you want. But don’t create shit, create greatness. And don’t let shit be shown until you are satisfied that it is great shit. Go and see as many different artistic things as you can. Inspiration comes from many different places.
But first and foremost do your absolute best. Put the effort in to make it better than anyone else could do. If you don’t know what that is or how to do it then ask.
8. What’s your career highlight thus far?
I have two. Hamlet and Skydive.
9. Given a time machine, what would you say to a young Bob Frazer in his high school drama class?
Keep going and trust everything that is going to happen to you. Some of it will hurt but you’ll be okay.
10. What are your top 3 theatre reads?
11. What’s next?
A new western in Kamloops; Iago at Bard on the Beach; and Realwheels‘ next project (as yet un-named but really exciting!!!!).