When Gordon May was asked to direct a play for Echo Players, he had in mind to do a show he had recently seen in New York, but the script rights were taken away. That’s when Echo Players member Sue Murguly suggested a play that she was looking to do down the road called The Memory of Water.
“I read it and couldn’t believe she offered it to me. It’s just unthinkable, it’s just a gorgeous, gorgeous play.”
The Memory of Water is running at The Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach April 4 to 21.
May’s introduction to theatre came when he was studying philosophy at Simon Fraser University and was captivated by the noon-hour plays put on every Thursday. He asked the director of the theatre program if he could get involved. The director said yes, and told him to come by during rehearsal that night. He told May to stand somewhere in the empty theatre seats, and when he said a certain couple of words, to stand up and pretend to point a big rifle at him and yell ‘bang’ and then they’d see what happened.
May agreed and when he did what he was told, the cast took off after him. A fairly malnourished May ran for his life through the campus and was eventually caught and dragged back to the theatre.
“I was just shaking from fear and from exhaustion and from unexpected exertion,” he said.
Shortly after the theatre director said: “class I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of the theatre program, this is Gordon May.”
Although it was a bit of a rude awakening at first, May throughly enjoyed his time in the theatre program at SFU and wanted to take his acting career further.
After being told he needed to move to Toronto if he was serious about theatre, May packed up his beat-up 1967 Chevy and headed east. He lived in the back of his car for a while before he started earning money at Theatre Passe Muraille, now Canada’s oldest alternative theatre.
But it was a love-hate relationship with theatre at that time, he said, because it seemed the people he wanted to reach with his shows couldn’t afford to watch them. May decided to quit theatre, but two days later he got an offer he couldn’t resist.
“Two days later Tim Bond phoned and asked if I would do a show with him at the National Arts Centre with the Stratford Festival Company, and the yes came out of my face so fast,” he laughed.
Later on, May suffered from depression, which took him out of a lot of things, he said, but it was theatre that was “part of [his] coming back alive.”
Fifteen or 20 years ago he accompanied a friend to the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach for an audition, and ended up auditioning himself. The director said sarcastically:“You’ve done this before haven’t you?” and May was cast.
Since then he’s starred in and directed a number of plays for Echo Players.
The Memory of Water is a story surrounding three sisters who come home to attend their mother’s funeral. May particularly likes the script because it’s undefinable, he said. It could be called a drama, a tragedy and a comedy, because it touches on all of those elements.
“That’s the kind of theatre I like,” he said. “I like theatre that is about realistic human things that matter, and so they’re serious and then one minute you’re laughing and the next minute you’re crying and then laughing again.”
People will be moved when they see the play, he said, and in it, may even recognize parts of their own life.
Tickets for the show are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students.
Stop by the box office in Qualicum Beach during office hours at 110 West 2nd Ave, call 250-752-3522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit www.echoplayers.ca for more information.