Published on December 11th, 2012 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Kaitlin Williams and Mack Gordon of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”
Kaitlin Williams and Mack Gordon are the actors bringing The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to life this holiday season at Pacific Theatre. We spoke to this real-life couple to learn more about how they got involved with this ambitions incarnation of the C. S. Lewis classic.
What was were the elements that drew you to be part of this production?
Kaitlin Williams: This is a very unique production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as the whole story is told with only two actors. That alone is very appealing to me. I also love C. S. Lewis, and I love the Narnia stories. I have fond childhood memories of reading them with my brother and sister, and then watching the BBC adaptations on VHS until we knew them by heart. I’ve always loved Lucy for her ability to believe with such an open heart and for her tremendous courage. This adaptation is especially exciting as I not only get to play Lucy, but also a number of others including vastly different characters like the White Witch and Father Christmas. It means I get to do a lot of fun character work, which would be any actor’s dream, I think.
Mack Gordon: A chance to work with my wife on a great show that so many actors I look up to have worked on before.
Can you share some of your creative process in preparing for the role from the initial planning of the production all the way through to opening night?
Kaitlin WilliamsTo prepare for this production I actually read through the entire series of The Chronicles of Narnia again. Because the play starts with Peter and Lucy as grown ups returning to the wardrobe many years after their adventures, it was important to have some context and know their larger story, and to know where Wardrobe fits in the big picture.
I also focused on dialect and character voices to help distinguish all the different characters I play in the show. I also spent time reading up on C. S. Lewis and his background and history.
Mack Gordon: It starts with research. Read the books, know about the author, understand the world at that time as best you can. I like to examine the text quite closely. Figure out why the writer chose each specific word so that I know exactly what my character means with each line he speaks. For LWW dialects and character work is also very important. I play no less than seven distinct characters in the show and I need to get to know the physicality, cadence, and tempo for each. Then, in the rehearsal room, we work on relationship and storytelling. How do these characters feel about each other. What offers does the other actor bring to the table that surprise me? How do I respond to these offers? Obviously, somewhere along the way we’ve also got to memorize the lines?
Are there any books or specific authors that have been influential to you so far in your creative journey?
Kaitlin Williams: I don’t read a ton of books on the craft of acting, although some of my favourite authors would be Uta Hagen and David Mamet (True and False). I like to read plays in my spare time, and some of my favourite playwrights include – Kevin Kerr, John Patrick Shanley, Joan McLeod, Steven Adly Guirguis and Lucia Frangione.
Mack Gordon: The man himself, CS Lewis. I think of Peter as a sort of Stephen Fry narrator. Mr. Beaver’s got a little bit of funk to him that I apply with a sort of 30’s gangster feel. These are all just initial impulses though.
What were the biggest challenges for you as an actor in preparing for this production and how did you deal with them?
Kaitlin Williams: The biggest challenge as an actor in this production is the amount of text there is to learn, as well as the challenge of playing so many different characters. I tackled these challenges by working hard in rehearsal and outside of rehearsal. I’ve been focusing on protecting my time during the two weeks of the rehearsal process so I don’t overbook myself when I need to be studying my lines and characters – that certainly helps the process.
Mack Gordon: I think the dialects are going to be a big challenge for me. I plan on working with Dialect Coach Brett Harris. He’s good!
What can you share about any future projects that are in development?
Kaitlin Williams: I just wrote a new one-act play and submitted it to a festival. I’m hoping that it will be accepted and produced in the new year. We are also remounting Wardrobe in the spring of 2013, so I’m looking forward to that. Mack and I are also featured artists in a new book launching in December called We Make Stuff. The book features 100 artists from the Vancouver community. I also just launched a new website where folks can check in to keep up to date on news – KaitlinWilliams.com.
Mack Gordon:I’m going to be in The Cat in the Hat at Carousel Theatre in February and I’ve written a short play for the Pull Festival of emerging artists for January.
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is now on at Pacific Theatre until December 15th before going on tour at The Evergreen Cultural Centre from December 18th to 22nd.