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Megan Follows

“I’m never quite sure what tomorrow brings.”

Joe Szekeres

A Canadian performing artist icon returns to the Toronto stage.

I am pleased for two reasons.

First, I’ll get a chance to see her perform live for the second time. The first time was at Stratford years ago, where she played tragic heroine Juliet to her Romeo, the Now Stratford Festival Artistic Director, Antoni Cimolino.

Second, I appreciate that I had the opportunity to speak with her via Zoom for a few moments last week when she was smack dab in rehearsals.

Megan Follows opens tonight in Studio 180’s North American premiere of ‘Four Minutes Twelve Seconds’ by James Fritz, a taut, darkly comic, and profoundly provocative Olivier Award-nominated drama. The play delves into the complex issues of consent, privilege, and the insidious opportunities new technology presents, offering a unique and thought-provoking experience.

She’s joined on stage this time by Sergio Di Zio (Tarragon, Coal Mine, various films, ‘Flashpoint’), Tavaree Daniel-Simms and Jadyn Nasato.

Studio 180 bills ‘Four Minutes’: Di (Follows) and David (Di Zio) have devoted their lives to giving their son, Jack, every opportunity they never had. But a startling incident outside the school grounds threatens to ruin everything they strive for. As events accelerate, Di and David question whether they can trust Jack, his closest friends, or themselves.

That’s all I want to know about the plot. Megan told me that if I haven’t read the play, it’s good to come on this journey with fresh eyes.

To quote Follows, rehearsals have been a hell of a journey, but she felt confident that they were right where they needed to be at that point. Pieces of an intricate puzzle were slowly being put together at that time. ‘Four Minutes’ had been in preview for the last few days. I’m certain tonight’s opening will be sold out, and an excited crowd will be ready to see one of Canada’s own back on a Toronto stage.

There are surprises in the script Megan does not want to spoil about the show. I don’t want to question her further about them as I want to be carried away by the story.

Fritz’s writing and the story drew Follows to consider performing the play. She was keen to work with Studio 180 and director Mark McGrinder.:

“Obviously, I appreciate Studio 180's willingness to take on this piece of theatre. It’s a challenge, so I guess I’m drawn to challenges.”

Follows calls McGrinder passionate and funny. Mark has a wonderful, dry sense of humour. He’s deeply interested in investigating something. He’s not afraid to get in there and help the actors to excavate as he sees it. Mark’s also a parent, so he gets the story from that angle and wants everyone to roll up their sleeves and explore the ongoing dynamics.

I’ve interviewed Sergio Di Zio twice and remember how keen he was to work with Follows on this production. She feels extremely fortunate and grateful to work with Tavaree Daniel-Simms and Jadyn Nasato. She calls it wonderful to be around young, emerging artists, not only because of their energy but also because, regarding Four Minutes, it’s vital to recognize there is a generational aspect to the play regarding the navigational change:

“There’s a good vibe. We’re a team. We gotta be there for each other. Tavaree and Jadyn are incredibly beautiful in spirit and also extremely talented young actors.”

What are some messages Megan hopes audiences will take away with them about ‘Four Minutes Twelve Seconds’?

She believes the play will raise more questions than there are answers, with a willingness for people to have a dialogue.

A couple of talkbacks have been scheduled for the production. If audiences want to attend one of those nights, check the schedule through the Studio 180 website.

Follows finds audience talkbacks post-performance beneficial. With a devil-may-care laugh, she honestly states she never knows how those who remain behind will respond when she participates in them. She senses that the talkback for ‘Four Minutes’ will probably delve into some good points.

As we began to wind down the conversation, I asked her what was some specific advice about the business that either her parents, Ted Follows and Dawn Greenhalgh, passed on to her or someone else did:

“It’s a marathon; it’s not a sprint…keep going…as a journey, there are many peaks and valleys.”

She has learned from her parents that they were in the industry for the long haul. You have to roll up your sleeves and get right into it. Her parents were in it for the love of it and truly for the love of theatre and storytelling:

“It feels like a privilege to be able to navigate complicated stories, issues and words and have a tangible, physical platform still to do that which is the theatre. There is a closeness of human interaction.”

Follows says the theatre and the industry may feel like a luxury, but she believes it is a necessity of exploration that is important. One has to be able to see himself/herself/themself(ves) in many things. There is no quick answer to something. The theatre, at its best, is that process of discovery:

“The theatre is a messy process in the best sense, meaning you have to have permission to be wrong and be brave. Being brave isn’t about posturing. It’s about going into the dark corners of things and examining them, recognizing a human ability that we all have.”

Megan says we live in a black-and-white, right-or-wrong world right now, a very polarized world. For her, the truth is never in the polar opposites. Often, it’s in the greys and intersections of things that are sometimes uncomfortable or the willingness not to be right.

The topic then returned to the study of Shakespeare and whether young people should still be introduced to it. There’s always the question of whether Shakespeare should be removed from use in schools.

Follows believes the Bard’s works must absolutely be taught. For her, why is it an either / or? Why isn’t it an ‘and, and’?

She added further:

“The muscle of using language in my limited understanding of Shakespeare (it truly is) is not a lot of subtext. An actor is always thinking about the words. Shakespeare has given language expression, and it is incredibly dynamic. What is there to be lost from an exploration of that? It doesn’t have to be the be-all and the end-all. There’s power in the more we have.”

What is upsetting for her is the limiting and cutting of the arts in high schools and schools. That is a lack of true understanding and recognition. Storytelling in all of its iterations is critical to making us complex and rich human beings. Why on earth we would deny our young people access to the arts, music, dance, to anything, for her, is the bigger conundrum.

Follows believes studying the arts can be life-saving for some people. It can show a world of hope and beauty, a road map, a common ground, and the feeling of being seen in someone else’s story. That is critical to the power of storytelling.

Megan concluded our conversation by saying her performance in ‘Four Minutes Twelve Seconds’ is the first time she has been on the stage in a long time. It’s nerve-wracking. She has been behind the camera, producing and directing and also acting. She’s never quite sure what tomorrow brings.

She has been working on an entertaining Crave digital web series called ‘My Dead Mom,’ a comedy written by Wendy Litner. Megan has been acting with Lauren Collins. The web series explores the grief of a young woman haunted by her dead mother. Follows plays the mother.

Megan is also developing a project with writer and actress Susan Coyne. It’s a limited series. Follows can’t say more than that because they’re in the process of something.

What she says:

“I’m in the process of spreading my wings. My production company (Caspian Film Productions) co-produced an independent feature called ‘Stealing the Sky' with Penny Noble and Marie Dame.’ I’ve been out there wanting to develop more and be proactive in the stories I want to see and tell.”

‘Four Minutes Twelve Seconds’ runs until May 12, 2024, at Tarragon Theatre in the Extraspace, 30 Bridgman Avenue. For tickets, visit: or call the Box Office at (416) 531-1827.

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