Patrick Galligan

Moving Forward

Tim Leyes

Joe Szekeres

Just like his wife, performer Brenda Robins who was interviewed earlier for this series, I’ve also seen Patrick Galligan’s work on stage many times. The first time I saw him on stage was in Soulpepper’s extraordinary production of its annual ‘A Christmas Carol’ where Patrick played Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, who invites the miser to Christmas dinner with a “Bah! Humbug!” in response.

Recently Patrick was part of a truly fascinating production of ‘Oslo’ by Studio 180 at the Panasonic Theatre. Patrick has made many television appearances. Two were in ‘Republic of Doyle’ (another personal favourite) and Murdoch Mysteries.

One of my goals as a reviewer for On Stage is to ensure there is coverage for the blog at The Shaw Festival. Even though I have yet to review productions at Shaw for On Stage, I’ve read about Patrick’s solid performance work in many of the productions there.

Thank you, Patrick, for taking the time to answer questions via email:

It appears that after five exceptionally long months, we are slowly, very slowly, emerging to a pre-pandemic lifestyle. Has your daily life and routine along with your immediate family’s life and routine been changed in any manner?

It sure has. I moved from Niagara-on-the-Lake, where I was in rehearsals for my 17th season at The Shaw Festival, back to my home in Toronto. As a result, my wife, son, and our two cats have had to put up with me being around all spring and summer.

Were you involved or being considered for any projects before the pandemic was declared and everything was shut down?

We were a week away from our first preview of “Charley’s Aunt”, the opening show of Shaw’s 2020 season, and about to start rehearsals of Alice Childress’s “Trouble in Mind” at the time of the shutdown.

Describe the most challenging element or moment of the isolation period for you. Did this element or moment significantly impact how you and your immediate family are living your lives today?

The abrupt halt of putting on a couple of really good plays was a big challenge. I love the work of a theatre actor and I miss it terribly. Without it, there are times when I feel lost, at sea. On those days, my family is likely wondering if I will ever get out of my pajamas.

What were you doing to keep yourself busy during this time of lockdown and isolation from the world of theatre? Since theatres will most likely be shuttered until the spring of 2021, where do you see your interests moving at this time?

Fortunately, the Shaw Festival has insurance which has enabled them (with the help of the federal government) to keep us employed until the end of August. It has been a lifesaver in many ways: financially obviously, but also the opportunity to help create on-line content and to have the benefit of some much-needed training. Once that ends………….

Any words of wisdom or sage advice you would give to other performing artists who are concerned about the impact of COVID-19? What about to the new theatre graduates who are just out of school and may have been hit hard? Why is it important for them not to lose sight of their dreams?

I thought it was tough to find work when I came out of theatre school thirty-two years ago, but I can’t imagine all of the challenges facing recent performing arts graduates, or artists trying to support a young family. The advice I would offer is really the same thing I try to remind myself: be patient, stay positive, read, exercise and stay connected to the people who inspire you and whom you can inspire.

Do you see anything positive stemming from this pandemic?

I have been able to spend more time with my family. There is no way to overstate what a joy, that is.

In your informed opinion, will the Canadian, Broadway and Californian performing arts scene somehow be changed or impacted on account of the coronavirus?

Without question. Gathering together in large groups to experience the performing arts will no longer be the norm. It will take a very long time before we can sit in a crowded hall and feel safe.

What are your thoughts about streaming live productions? As we continue to emerge and find our way back to a new perspective of daily life, will live streaming become part of the performing arts scene in your estimation? Have you been participating, or will you participate in any online streaming productions soon?

It’s not ideal to be sure, but I’m okay with it. We’ve done a fair bit of live streaming with Shaw since the shutdown, and I’ve found that there is a great deal that is lost in not being in the same room together. But since it is a safe way to share stories and experiences, I expect there will be a lot more to come.

What is it about performing you still love given all the change, the confusion and the drama surrounding our world now?

Steve Earle says that empathy is at the heart of being an artist. I love the possibility that, as an actor, I might be able to create a little more empathy and compassion in this crazy world.

With a respectful nod to ‘Inside the Actors’ Studio’ and the late James Lipton, here are the 10 questions he asked his guests at the conclusion of his interviews:

a. What is your favourite word?

Yes

b. What is your least favourite word?

No

c. What turns you on?

Joy

d. What turns you off?

Pain

e. What sound or noise do you love?

Laughter, and a super funky bass line

f. What sound or noise bothers you?

That high-pitched whine our 14-year old Toyota makes, which one day I know is going to be very expensive.

g. What is your favourite curse word?

Goddammit!

h. What profession, other than your own, would you have liked to attempt?

Carpenter

i. What profession would you not like to do?

Garbage collector – those people are heroes

j. If Heaven exists, what do you hope God will say to you as you approach the Pearly Gates?

“Welcome, Pat. There are some special people here I’m sure you’ll want to see. By the way, rehearsals start at 10am tomorrow.”

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