Meet Chris Donlevy, our Peter in Stop Kiss

BiographyChris Donlevy(1)

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Chris is thrilled to be a part of his first show with Live Five and second with Embrace Theatre. Since receiving his BFA in Drama from the U of S, Chris has been exploring many paths in performance, including voiceover, directing, composing music, as well as singing opera. He was previously seen in The Composer is Dead (Saskatoon Symphony), Bottome’s Dreame (Embrace Theatre), Carmen (Saskatoon Opera), and Into the Woods (Greystone Theatre). Upcoming performances include singing in the Saskatoon Music Festival, Candide (Opera Nuova), Saskatchewan Oudoors: A Touring Play for Families (Embrace Theatre) and Blood in the Dust (Neverending Highway).

What about this play resonates with you?

The first thing that resonated was the humour: it wasn’t a typical “set up then punch line” comedy, but rather a human, organic “two people connecting” humour that I know from experience is difficult to write. It was so authentic, that I could immediately believe these two characters would fall for each other, and I was rooting for them getting together right from the opening scene. Then the next scene elapsed, and I was immediately terrified of getting what I was rooting for. The characters are amazing and nuanced, and the story structure knocks me off my feet.
What also resonates with me is the depiction of the trials women and the queer community can encounter in the event of being attacked, or simply by being a woman and/or a member of the queer community: It’s very sad, to say the least. As well, the fact that the play focuses on the romance between these two women makes these obstacles even more egregious, as they’re trying to step on their love. However (and this is a favourite part) none of the characters are overtly evil “moustache-twirlers”, which makes these transgressors human as well. There’s a love by the playwright for everyone in this play, even if the characters aren’t so generous with one another at all times.

What do you do to prepare for a role (or this role specifically)?

Kitchen Jams - The Stop Kiss Theme Song

Kitchen Jams – The Stop Kiss Theme Song

I start with reading the play many times then doing some table work (macro objectives, etc). I then generally over think it, which is to say I dive into what the character thinks of a multitude of things, some of which aren’t even represented onstage/in the context of the play. I usually begin with topics that are important to me, and I try to find common ground between myself and the character: sympathy with my character is key. When that’s established, I move on to key differences between them and me. I then think about how they would move, speak, and react within the context of the play, journal as my character, write a bio, nail down a belief system, etc. Then I hit the point in my process where I decide to stop trying so hard, relax into the character, and just work toward reacting with my fellow actors in the cast. Also, my character is shaped by how my cast mates’ characters are reacting to me: if I take that into consideration I can better fit into the story and contribute to the ensemble.

What does community engagement mean to you?

If theatre is about creating resonance between an audience/performer and text, I believe community engagement is about sustaining that resonance beyond the theatre space. We, as artists, tell stories, and I personally know that there are countless stories like that of Stop Kiss in the real world with similar endings to this one. By engaging in the community, we can hope to extend the sensation of rooting for these love stories into the communities in which we live, and to extend the sensation of loss we feel when an attack like the one in the play harms the potential of these relationships.

 

Read more about Embrace Theatre’s production of Stop Kiss by Diana Son

Read about the rest of the Cast and Creative Team of Stop Kiss FINAL-stopkisshandbill-front

 

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