Thursday, November 4, 2010

ON THE SPOT with Ryan Parker and Beth Graham

Following our chat with some of the Nevermore cast last week, we continued to get to know the talented actors in this spooky and stylish show. Ryan Parker and Beth Graham tell us about their lives - beware! Ukuleles, sketch comedy and ravines ensue!

New Victory: Where did you grow up?
Beth Graham
Ryan Parker: I grew up in Sherwood Park Alberta, Canada, just outside Edmonton. I spent a lot of my childhood on my grandparent’s farm in Ardrossan - which my family homesteaded in 1891.
Beth Graham: I grew up in Cochrane, Alberta – a small town nestled in the foothills, not far from the Rocky Mountains.

NV: Favorite hometown tradition?
RP: My Papa is a farmer, so I used to love helping my Nana make a big lunch for all the farmers (my Papa and my Uncles) then hop in the truck and drive out into the crops and share sandwiches and lemonade with them. The view was absolutely amazing and the company was irreplaceable.
BG: Wow- I can’t think of one. I’ll make one up. Whenever you pass by the sign as you come into Edmonton you have to stick your finger in your belly button or that of your neighbour and shout “yeehaw!” You must be very careful if you are driving and doing this.

NV: Favorite hometown food?
RP: Homemade anything.
BG: Cochrane is known for MacKay’s Homemade Ice Cream. Delish! Edmonton is known for its green onion cakes at the Fringe Festival. Both are good…maybe not together.

Ryan Parker
NV: Favorite hometown haunt?
RP: My grandparents have an old building on their property that used to house the hired help back in the 1950s… when I was a kid it used to spook me just walking by it. Lotsa bats live in it.
BG: When I was a kid I used to climb my back fence and run down the hill to play in the ravine. I’d spend the whole day there. When I go back I still like to go for walks down in the ravine. I don’t climb the fence anymore though, I use the gate.

NV: Favorite NYC haunt?
RP: Don’t know of any… yet. But I’m sure spending my time here, I’ll get some.
BG: I plan to discover one while I am there. Any suggestions?

NV: When you travel, what do you miss most about home?
RP: My family and my girlfriend.
BG: Family and sleeping in my own bed.

NV: Favorite family activity?
RP: Weiner roasts in the summer, and fireworks on New Years in the winter.
BG: Wow- I can’t think of one. I’ll make one up. After the first snowfall, we cook up a giant meatball- approximately as big as a refrigerator. Then we invite all of our friends over and give them a fork and we eat the meatball and dance. Last year, because many of our friends are vegetarians, we made a giant falafel –it was very good but needed a bit more spice. Maybe next year!

NV: Most memorable theatrical experience as a spectator?
RP: August: Osage County, New York, Jan. 2009. Life changing performance… that might change once I get a chance to see more theater here in New York.
BG: The first five minutes of The Lion King. Everyone in the audience was so excited. We were all pointing and shrieking with delight at the amazing costumes.

NV: Most memorable theatrical experience as a director/performer?
RP: Nevermore. Continuously. I learn more about myself with this show every time we do it. The entire company completely inspires me, and even when I’m old and grey, I will be remembering this show, and all the amazing adventures we’ve shared together. They have become my second family.
BG: Nevermore. It keeps me on my toes! I’m always surprised by it.

NV: If you weren't in theater, what would you want to do with your life?
RP: I love photography. I would love to be a photographer for National Geographic, or some other amazing magazine. Traveling the world, and capturing some of the most wonderful and horrific moments… I think it would allow me to have a new perspective on this world, and where I fit into it.
BG: Wow- I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. I’ll make something up. I would like to make soap. Wow. I could have made up anything and I chose to make soap…

NV: Favorite saying or slang term?
RP: Pasta’s Ready (no one says it yet… but they will…) it’s used when something perfect… it can be reinforced by throwing mime pasta onto a wall, waiting for it to stick to the wall… and then saying… Pasta’s Ready.
BG: Holy toot!

Photo: Meryl Smith Lawton

NV: Something interesting/unique others may not know about you?
RP:  I am in a Ukulele Cover Band called The Be Arthurs. It is a hoot. And we have traveled all over the continent with it. We are actually unofficially ambassadors for Edmonton and go places to show what Edmonton has to offer. Also the Mayor of Edmonton has made us the Official Ukulele Cover Band of Edmonton and the Greater Capital Region. Check us out. BG: I like to garden and I have a catfish that hides in a rock.

NV: Do you do anything else to earn a living?
RP:  I do. The Be Arthurs keeps me very busy when I’m not acting. I also write for a Sketch Comedy Television show (which I’m an actor in as well) called Caution: May Contain Nuts… and sometimes people pay me to do photos for them.
BG: I also write plays and I am the co-founder of an independent theatre company called Bent Out of Shape Productions. We write and produce our own work.

NV: What is your educational background? Training background?
RP: I have a diploma from Grant MacEwan College’s Theatre Arts Program (mainly a musical theatre program), and I also have my BFA in Acting from the University of Alberta (both in Edmonton).
BG: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Alberta.

NV: What is your cultural heritage?
RP: I’m a Canadian Casserole… I have everything in me.
BG: I am a bit of Scottish, a bit of Italian and a bit of English. I’m not sure if my background has influenced my work. I’m sure it has and I’m not even aware of it.

NV: Which 3 people have influenced you the most?
RP: My mother. My father (and step-father) and my high school drama teacher. Really anyone I spend enough time with will influence me. Everyone in this production has influenced me to great extent.
BG: My mom and dad. My husband Patrick and my good friend Daniela Vlaskalic. All of them have influenced me in different and varied ways.

NV: Why do you like performing at the New Vic?
RP: As an actor, performing in New York is one of those things I’ve always dreamed of. I never really made it a goal; regardless it has always been a dream. The amount of energy here is almost overwhelming and to have the chance to perform in an environment like that… well, it’s amazing…. And I don’t want it to end.
BG: I can’t answer this question yet. Haven’t quite made it there. It’s in New York- that’s exciting.

Thanks, Beth and Ryan! Only a few more days to see Nevermore before they hit the road. Watch the trailer here. Curious about the rest of the cast? Read about them here.

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