Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In a Word...January 9, 2013

D'Oh Not

Rick Miller is a Dora and Gemini award-winning writer/performer based in Toronto, Canada.  He trained in Montreal as an architect, actor, musician, playwright and visual artist, and has performed in five languages on five continents. As artistic producer of WYRD Productions, an internationally-acclaimed company devoted to multi-disciplinary theatre, he has created and performed shows such asArt?Slightly BentInto the Ring (co-created with Dawson Nichols), and the worldwide hit MacHomer.  Two recent WYRD Productions have been co-creations with director Daniel Brooks and Necessary Angel Theatre Company, Bigger Than Jesus and HARDSELL, which Rick recently reworked as HARDSELL 2.0.  He is also a frequent collaborator with renowned director Robert Lepage. (source:

CHARPO:  Well, here you are...MacHomer is no more. We know you are sick to death of discussing this, but we'd like to hear about the moments before, during and after the last performance.

MILLER: Indeed, Machomer is no more, and Bigger Than Jesus is no more as well!  I decided recently to stop touring all of my shows - at least for the moment (remember, The Who did their first farewell tour about 25 years ago...). Why stop? There are many reasons, including a desire to stay home with my family, and to give my wife Stephanie more room to explore here own career options.  I also want to focus on different projects with different collaborators in different media. Luckily, I've worked hard enough over 17 years of creating and touring theatre to have many opportunities ahead of me.  (more on that in the next answer)

To get back to your question: my last MacHomer show was nothing but a joyous event. We were at the Napa Valley Opera House (where I had played before), and I remember going through my pre-show rituals as always: sound check, vocal warmup, stretching, getting into costume ... nothing bittersweet or maudlin. Just me, on my own, as usual. It was actually a relief to think that I won't be donning the kilt for quite a long time, if ever again. D'OH! 

All of my other new projects are in development and have great partners and a clear vision

CHARPO: Do you see any of your other pieces taking up as much space in your life - or is that for something on the horizon? And what IS on the horizon?

MILLER:  We're shooting a short pilot for a TV series that I've developed based on HARDSELL. It's been in the works for a while, and now all the ducks are lining up. I've got some of Canada's top TV/film actors on board, hoping this thing works and eventually goes to series. If it does, I would probably be the show runner, main writer and lead actor, which would no doubt consume a good part of my year. But it would be at home!  All of my other new projects are in development and have great partners and a clear vision: creating theatre not as an end in itself but as as a catalyst for a multi-platform, transmedia experience that reaches far more people. 

For example, the 20K Project has at its core the stage play ("Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea"), which is now (after our first 5-day workshop) receiving its official world premiere at the Pan-Am Games in Toronto in 2015. Part of the appeal to the event organizers was our larger vision of an immersive lobby installation, webisodes, online educational modules and social gaming platforms.  But again, the core is the play, and I am working with a Pan-Canadian group of theatre creators to make it a phenomenal, accessible production that will travel and dazzle audiences of all ages all around the world.  

Similar story for BOOM, a play that Stratford has commissioned from me, but the difference is that it's one of my solo shows, whereas 20K is a multi-actor play that I'm directing. BOOM is a solo documentary that aims to capture and explore the defining moments of the period between 1945‐1969. The larger transmedia project is that the stage play concept folds into radio, TV, the web and schools, creating a unique property for each media platform. 

All in all, the horizon is about new projects that aim to use 'entertainment' to educate, enlighten and empower. Dream big, dammit. And check out the shows at

CHARPO:  One last quick one: Bigger than does a Québécois audience (with its Catholic baggage) handle the work?

MILLER: Catholic baggage always helps in the recognition of the words of the liturgy, which form the spine of the play. Quebec audiences certainly have that baggage in spades! What's nice is that they have - for the most part - rejected the Church so aggressively that our gentle, almost reverential approach to the figure of Jesus (and to ritual and communion and all those things religion and theatre have in common) surprises them. The reviews have been fantastic and the audiences have unanimously adored the play. Even in Lepage-land, where they have seen million dollar sets and imagery, BTJ still gives them humble little theatrical miracles. 

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