Max D’Ambrosio: You render your characters’ relationship incredibly well. As I was watching, I wondered: how much of that is individual work, and how much is you two coordinating and figuring things out together?
Kayvon Kelly: Luc and I started this journey to make the show together, coming up with the concept and deciding that we wanted to play these roles. I mean, it helped in terms of building a relationship, to begin with, that we were just already very close friends! So we had that great start point of chemistry, and of history. Of having this friendship, so that all we had to do was build off of that. We had to build all the deceit on top of that. A lot of people who get paired together, you have to invent that history for these two, but we kind of had that at the beginning.
Luc Roderique: Yeah, I don’t think there was necessarily a lot of individual work to build the relationship, per se. We just kind of built upon what we already had. And then [director Bob Frazer] just helped to kind of guide us in the direction of “oh, that’s a little too much Luc and Kayvon, I need more of this than that, there!”
MD: What experiences in your past have prepared you for these roles, either professionally or personally?
KK: Well, professionally, Luc and I started here at Bard on the Beach…
LR: Seven years ago. 2009.
KK: Right. This is my fourth season, your fifth season. So in terms of preparation, technically, we’ve gotten to sort of build up our craft here at the festival, culminating now, in a lot of great ways, with these roles.
Personally… yeah, I don’t know, I don’t have a lot of personal history of Iago-like behaviour! I’d have to be a horrible sociopath, on the side, so that would take a lot of work. [All laugh.]
LR: I think with any role you try to draw as much as you can from your own personal experience, but… there’s nothing specific I can think back on. I mean, I personally have lived in the world as a man of colour for all my life. Oftentimes being an “other” or a “token,” in many situations. So, I think that has helped prepare me in some regards, for some of the aspects of the role. But other than that, I think with every role you step into as an actor, you just have to draw from the culmination of your experiences in life.
KK: These guys are soldiers, and we don’t come from a military background, but there’s certainly a sense of camaraderie that comes from working in the theatre and working closely with people, so we were able to stem some of that understanding, and of course we were building off of our own strong friendship as well. In terms of the other issues at hand, which are jealousy and bitterness… I can’t imagine a field more used to bitterness and jealousy than acting! [All laugh.] But, I mean, all of us have been with a partner at one point in our lives, and you have that beginning, that feeling of jealousy or doubt or suspicion. So, it’s taking those things from your own life and amplifying them.
MD: Has it been hectic for you, balancing your time and energy between roles in multiple plays this festival?
LR: Yes. Easy answer. [All laugh.] Working in any repertory company is difficult to balance, but it’s also a great pleasure. To get the chance to actually play two different parts, or multiple parts, in two different shows at the same time, is… As tiring as it is, it is also hugely energizing and exciting. I was just reading this amazing article in the New York Times about how, throughout most of North America, at least in the States, there are no real rep companies anymore. This is kind of a thing that only really exists in a couple theatres in…
KK: Not even in England.
LR: Not even really in England! Maybe in one theatre, there, they do it once in a while. But yeah, Canada is one of the only places where real rep classical theatre really exists, anymore. Here and Shaw and Stratford are really the only ones in the game.
KK: Yeah, things have shifted financially, and it’s become more and more expensive to actually build and sustain a rep company, so you start going to one-show-at-a-time production scheduling. Standing rep companies… they’re a dying breed, but they’re also integral. You get a breed of actor, a generation of Judy Denches, Ian McKellens, Patrick Stewarts. Those are all rep company performers. That tradition is dying out, but that’s the kind of endurance that you build into a performer or an actor, a resilience, in an actor that has to do a lot, and all of it at once.
MD: Tell me a bit about your ambitions for the future. What do you already have planned, and what would you like to do beyond that, ideally?
KK: World dominance. [All laugh.]
LR: That’s the question… I mean, I just want to tackle roles and make art that helps me advance as an artist and a human being, and that can maybe raise conversations in the community, that will affect people. I mean, I could start spouting off parts I want to play, here… Henry V… [All laugh.] No, but, no concrete plans. As an artist… sad to say, sometimes you just have to take the work where it is, and you hope and pray that great roles and great projects come along like this, and you get the opportunity to play these amazing roles that you’ve always wanted to play, with a good friend of yours. It doesn’t happen very often. At the moment, I’m just trying to soak in “right now,” and enjoy the rest of this summer as much as I can, not think about the glaring hole of unemployment coming my way!
KK: This journey of ours started when we casually had a conversation about the bucket list, and just saying what roles do you want to get done, before the career’s over, before this path is over. And his was Othello, mine was Iago. That was the top of our bucket lists. And so from there, we started having the conversation, and the evolution of getting to this point. My bucket list is not over; it’s not long, but I still have a bucket list. I think, actually, I’m feeling very strongly now that I want to move off of the stage, and start working as… I already do, but I want to start building more as a director, producer, and writing or creating theatre.
Bard on the Beach, Vanier Park
To September 20
in repertory with PericlesPurchase tickets
DOWNLOAD 2016 GUIDE HERE