Kevin Bundy

Looking Ahead

Trish Lindström

Joe Szekeres

There are no pretentious airs whatsoever with artist Kevin Bundy. He strikes me as one of those guys to whom you could say let’s go for a beer and talk further.

And I’m sure he would even buy a round, right, Kevin?

I’ve seen his work on stage many times at Soulpepper in ‘Sisters’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and in ‘Carmel’ at 4th Line Theatre. Kevin’s work on stage has been diverse, and whenever I see his name in the programme or in publicity, I know for certain that he will always deliver an excellent live performance.

Kevin completed his theatre training at Montreal’s National Theatre School from 1984-1987. He was also at the Banff School for Fine Arts and took the Summer Drama Program. He has worked at many theatres across the country including Stratford, Shaw, Soulpepper, and Necessary Angel.

There are still many theatres across the country where he would love to work.

We conducted our conversation via Zoom and shared some good laughs. Thank you so much, Kevin, for adding your voice to this profile series:

It’s a harsh reality that the worldwide pandemic of Covid 19 has changed all of us. Describe how your understanding of the world you know and how your perception and experience have changed on a personal level.

Wow!!! That’s a big question to begin with, Joe (and Kevin and I share a quick laugh).

I realize that being an actor for somebody who works mainly in front of a live audience, that I value and my personal worth partly from those live performances. Personally, I do as well as an actor and an artist.

I realize during this time that my self worth was put in great jeopardy because I don’t get that feedback from a live audience which I personally need so that’s been tough. So, I’ve discovered what and how my own personal worth is in terms of my acting and my contributions to the profession and then, also hand in hand with that in my personal life, what have I done? What I have I achieved? What is of value that I attempted to achieve?

All of those things really, boy for me, come into question. I was listening to an interview on the CBC where the interviewee was stating that, as an artist who performs live in front of an audience for six years now, he gauges his self worth on what he gets back from the audience; he said that he doesn’t get that anymore on account of Covid.

And I thought, “Oh my God, I’m having those same exact thoughts.”

What we have to try to do in these times, at least for me, is not to try deriving self worth from our profession anymore but take some time alone to decide who I am.

This is the edge of a giant therapy session. (and we two share another laugh)

Those are the big questions of my profession. This is who I am in my profession, and now that that’s gone, who am I?

With live indoor theatre shut now for one year plus, with it appearing it may not re-open any time soon, how has your understanding and perception as a professional artist of the live theatre industry been altered and changed?

Because of my profession, I think it’s important to attend live theatre and perform live theatre. Because it hasn’t been around for these last sixteen months indoors (and God knows how much longer), to me, now, it’s essential. Live theatre has become that much more important in people’s lives, and I hear that from other people who say, “You know what I miss? I miss live theatre.”

I thought they were going to say ‘going to the movies’.

Friends of mine who don’t attend a lot of live theatre say they’re looking forward to that time when they will have that chance to attend a show when they choose to do so.

So, the answer to that question is it’s gone from being an important part of our lives to being an essential part of our lives. The fact that live theatre was gone raised the bar on how important and essential it is.

As a professional artist, what are you missing the most about the live theatre industry?
There’s so much I miss.

I miss rehearsing a part. I miss researching a part. I miss getting into a part.

I miss the people in the rehearsal hall. And there’s something about that last run through in the rehearsal hall before you hit the deck. It’s always so magical. There’s always something amazing happens because we try to put as many of these pieces together as we can before it gets taken apart again.

That last run through in the rehearsal hall – I really, really miss that.

I miss seeing my colleagues do really good work when you go see something and tell that person after, “I didn’t know you could do that” or “I knew you could but boy you blew it out of the water.”
I really miss seeing actors and artists doing really good work and being thrilled by it. That’s what I miss a lot.

I miss seeing my friends doing great things, but I always want to go and perform live theatre and take people away in the same way my friends and colleagues do.

As a professional artist, what is the one thing you will never take for granted again in the live theatre industry when you return to it?

Oh, yeah…that human connection in the room. So many times, what we’re doing now (and Kevin points to his computer screen), the Zoom call, the Zoom room, the Zoom audition, the Zoom workshops, we’ve all done lots of them now.

But it’s real human connection with someone else in the room.

That is greatness, so I’ll never take real human connection for granted ever again.

Describe one element you hope has changed concerning the live theatre industry.

(Before Kevin answered this question, I let him know several artists found it difficult to narrow it down to one element, and amusingly stated they would like to cheat on this question and add many elements.)
I can see why people want to cheat on this question and say they want to use the word ‘many’ elements instead of just one…

(Kevin gave a long pause and I could sense he wanted to say it right and state it right)

This is what I think. I think the standard will go up. After these last fifteen, sixteen months away, when we return to the theatre we have to raise the standard, and say that we, as artists, have to do better and to make this medium and profession better.

The medium and profession can’t go on the way it has gone on for so long.

We will ensure this profession’s bar is raised to the highest standards and expect a higher level of ourselves, our performers, and our writers.

That’s what I think.

The last fifteen months with social movements throughout the entire country will only assist in raising the standards of equity, diversity, and inclusivity even further to make this medium and profession even better.

Explain what specifically you believe you must still accomplish within the theatre industry.
Oh, wow, that I must still accomplish.

I must still accomplish getting another job. (and we share another good laugh).

The one thing that I would like to be able to accomplish...wow…I like to be able to accomplish effecting somebody who is younger and who wants to be in the profession.

It is so hard to break into this profession, and even if you do, to maintain and sustain a career in it.
I would like to influence and affect somebody to want to continue to be in this profession. There are loads of theatre schools and lots of theatre graduates. There are a lot of people as well asking what’s happening here, and I hope I can influence someone to want to move forward in this profession.

I hope I’ve done that so far.

Yes, there are harsh realties of the business, but I hope I can help younger actors find that magic in it, the beauty of it, the poetry and greatness this industry holds.

Some artists are saying that audiences must be prepared for a tsunami of Covid themed stories in the return to live theatre. Would you elaborate on this statement both as an artist in the theatre, and as an audience member observing the theatre.

(And again, I let Kevin know first how some artists truly felt about this future possible wave of Covid themed plays and stories)

Joe, you said several other artists told you there would be no fucking way they would attend a Covid themed play.

I understand why people might answer this question in saying that.

It’s inevitable that there are going to be Covid themed stories and plays because it’s an era. It’s an era that has happened to humanity so it’s not going to be denied or ignored. I think audiences might get bored with Covid related stories and plays early on, but this is a time of all of us trying to find out who we are. This has been a major time in humanity as we’re all trying to figure out who we are.

In a way, I say the opposite to no fucking way.

I say, “Bring it the fuck on” (and we share another good laugh).

I do get it, but for sure it’s gonna happen.

As a professional artist, what specifically is it about your work that you want future audiences to remember about you?
Oh, oh, great question, Joe!

I want audiences to remember that they were taken outside of themselves. I would like them hopefully to be moved by something I did or were different in the way they left from the way they entered the theatre by something I did, by an interpretation that I was able to do with someone else’s words, or somebody else’s text.

That’s what I would hope they would remember me by.

Not with humour or melodrama, drama, or anything like that. But just generally overall hopefully I’ve moved an audience member into better insight into themselves or humanity.

Is that a really lengthy answer, Joe? (and Kevin and I share another good laugh)

C’mon, what did other people say?

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