by Jim Murchison
There is some fun in challenging yourself. It can be scary, but it’s fun, especially when you pull it off. I am in that position once again. It has been 30 years since I was in the National Arts Centre company and 30 years since I played on the Main Stage. I have been granted an audition for the NAC this year.
I am excited by it, but this will only be my third audition in I am not even sure how many years. When I was in John Wood’s ensemble in 1984, I didn’t audition for it. I had a really lovely part in a play by Sharon Pollock called Walsh as a Guest Artist and got an invite to join the following season as a journeyman. Although it was a great privilege to play on that stage, it was not always what you would call fun.
I am not sure how it works now, but in 1984 a lot of time was spent working on in-house presentations and expanding your craft through classes. There was another performance space for the not ready for Main Stage players called the Atelier (now called La Scène). You might do an in-house show or sometimes a smaller public show at the Atelier. It was sort of the NAC’s version of off Broadway. Then there were the really big productions that used everyone. In 1984 the grand finale was The Oresteia of Aeschylus.
It was the last year for many years that they would have a resident company. Roland Hewgill played Agamemnon and Kate Reid played Clytemnestra and I was various guards and slaves. Somehow my picture got into MacLean’s. The caption read, “Hewgill, Jim Murchison: the end of an era”. I always felt like it implied we were somehow responsible for killing the resident company.
This time, if I get in it would be an even greater privilege to make it into the company, but I don’t know how likely that is. It is very likely that the company will survive for at least as long as Jillian Keiley is artistic director, whether I am part of it or not.
You sometimes take a lot for granted when you are very young. You don’t realize it at the time, but when you are very lucky early on you can be a little bit cocky about it. Now that I have lived a lot longer and done a lot of different things, I realize I had a lot of great opportunities very early. It is so much of a joy and honour to get a chance to play for even four minutes for the new regime at a company that was a very big deal for me many years ago. We’ll see how it goes.