TV followers know actor Eric Peterson as Oscar on “Nook Fuel” and its animated revival, or perhaps as Leon on beloved courtroom drama “Avenue Authorized.” Eagle-eyed “Umbrella Academy” aficionados will bear in mind his Season 1 flip because the surly boxing health club proprietor Al.
He’s no stranger to the stage, both (although viewers of the hit 2000s TV present “Slings and Arrows,” loosely primarily based on the Stratford Pageant, might need guessed that).
Peterson starred in landmark Canadian play “The Farm Present” in 1972, a Theatre Passe Muraille fee that turned interviews with farmers in Clifton, Ont., into compelling, resonant drama. Since then, Peterson’s had a vibrant profession on Canada’s levels, together with his smash hit musical “Billy Bishop Goes to Battle” in collaboration with John MacLachlan Grey, and a wildly profitable look in “Orphans for the Czar” at Crow’s Theatre earlier this 12 months.
Now Peterson is again onstage in Coal Mine Theatre’s manufacturing of Lisa D’amour’s “Detroit,” a darkish and humorous commentary on the decline of the center class in North America. Centred round a suburban barbecue, “Detroit” is relatable, humorous and intensely well-written (it was shortlisted for a Pulitzer in 2011) — that’s what drew Peterson to the play.
“Sure, it’s written by an American for Individuals,” mentioned Peterson in an interview.
“However it’s a beautiful piece of theatre writing that talks a couple of actuality not particular to the US. Lots of the problems with suburbanization and housing proliferate up right here. We see these points onstage not in a political manner, however in a private manner. It’s each particular and relatable. It’s good.”
Peterson expanded on the play’s energy, saying that “the themes and the concepts of it are mainly embedded in points pervasive in our society, politically, economically, sociologically.
“Within the play, though you’re watching particular person lives play out over a hedge, you’re additionally watching one thing that reverberates into newspapers and radio, which then fold into our lived expertise of the second,” he mentioned.
Appearing at Coal Mine is a specific deal with for Peterson. The theatre is understood for being intimate. It accommodates a most of 90 seats.
However the intimacy is a part of the magic, mentioned Peterson.
“I’m not advocating all theatres be this small, this cosy, however the intimacy is incredible,” he mentioned. “You get to observe the motion unfold up shut.”
Distinction that intimacy with Peterson’s most up-to-date stage look, “Orphans for the Czar,” which performed within the a lot bigger Streetcar Crowsnest.
“The environment with these audiences was unbelievable, the identical as earlier than the pandemic. Folks have been experiencing their first public outing in two years,” mentioned Peterson.
“It was fantastic to do a George F. Walker play; I’m an enormous fan of his. I used to be very proud to be a part of that manufacturing. George’s performs are such a rewarding and useful expertise, each to be in and to observe. There was an incredible forged. The one arduous half was doing a comedy with the entire viewers masked, however we bought used to it.”
Peterson’s time engaged on “The Farm Present” in 1972 colored a lot of his method to performing in future tasks, each onstage and onscreen. The play was a collective creation, which means its ensemble devised textual content and motion collectively utilizing interviews with farmers and members of farming communities.
“By ‘The Farm Present’ I noticed performing is about assembly and understanding actual folks. You’re not simply attempting to repeat film stars,” mentioned Peterson.
“It introduced me into communities to take heed to and perceive folks. It elevated your vary of commentary. It proved the premise that theatre was as necessary a perform as farming or baking or no matter — no more necessary, however as necessary.”
When requested the unattainable, to choose a favorite, TV or theatre, Peterson paused a second.
“Appearing for movie and tv and performing for theatre, they’re nearly not associated. They’re arduous to check. I discover theatre tends to be my favorite type of performing,” he mentioned.
“Theatre lets us study who we’re each individually and as a society. It’s pressing.”
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