By Sameena Darr
“To me it’s an exploration of death and how people deal with it,” explains Len Harvey, an actor in Elizabeth Rex. It’s a bit ironic considering the play is one of the last works written by renown Canadian author and playwright Timothy Findley before succumbing to cancer in 2002. “That already brings to it a lot of weight. A lot of weight.”
Through a discourse between actors, Queen Elizabeth, and Shakespeare himself, Elizabeth Rex unveils the emotional struggle its character endure on the twilight of death and revelation. And in doing so, the play toys with themes like gender roles and personal sorrow.
“Every rehearsal we get up there [and] there is always something new being discovered,” comments Jason Schneider, a fellow player in Elizabeth Rex. “It is so layered,” adds co-star Harvey. “It definitely has a lot of depth to it.”
Mob Hit has been a company focusing on various media arts and their integration into fresh and exciting entertainment. Their Artistic Producer, Lawrence Leong, directs the Finley play.
“I was very pleasantly surprised at how smart he is. He is always willing and wanting to try something different. You don’t get into this pattern of doing it the same way,” says Harvey.
Both Harvey and Schneider believe in this production of Elizabeth Rex, and hope others do too. “I think there is something in this production that is going to bring a lot more youthfulness [than] to what the Globe in Regina or Stratford [has brought],” says Schneider. “We are all going to bring new stuff to it.”
While the play takes place in 1601, there remains a modern context. The issues Elizabeth Rex reveals are increasingly relevant to our modern society.
“My character has syphilis,” explains Harvey, “although it is still existent as a disease, it’s really as much about AIDS as anything.” Schneider jovially adds, “Elizabeth is the Martha Stewart of the play.”
He goes further to discuss the importance of smaller theatre companies and how essential they are to the development of the scene.
“With these younger up-and-coming companies, they’re more willing to take challenges and risks and just throw it all out there.”
Harvey also agrees with the accelerating development of theatre in Calgary.
“I’m feeling something is about to happen. I wouldn’t call it a revolution, I think its going to be an evolution of some sort.”
Both actors have found Elizabeth Rex as an exceptional experience for them. Harvey has personally gained an appreciation for living through his character. “Live your life while you are alive,” he says. Schneider adds with a grin. “Whatever feels good do it.”