Published on May 19th, 2011 | by Biz Books

The Biz Interview: Kyle Rideout – Director of “The Great Divorce”

Being both an actor and an artist fuels Kyle Rideout’s passion for directing. He recently co-wrote and directed the short film, Wait for Rain (NSI Drama Prize, Bravo! FACT and NFB awards) and Hop the Twig (five Leo nominations), which is playing at festivals worldwide. Recently Kyle formed the film company Motion 58 Entertainment with Josh Epstein and has two features in development. His current project is on stage as the director of The Great Divorce, the newest production at Pacific Theatre. Kyle spoke to us about The Great Divorce and how is acting history prepared him for the challenge of bringing the production to life.

What inspired you to take on a production of The Great Divorce?

I am a big fan of Lewis, read lots of his books and when Ron (Reed) asked me if I would be interested to direct The Great Divorce I didn’t hesitate. I love the challenges and the imagination of tackling a script and story such as Lewis’.

Can you walk us through the creative process for this production, from casting to opening night?

Right from the beginning I was looking at ways of challenging Pacific Theatre’s space, and so the design in this show I feel is very unique and something new. The set designer, Lauchlin Johnston, has really expanded the space and taken a new approach to lighting the actors. The costumes by Florence Barret, are astonishingly rich and beautiful and we played with the ideas of these characters being from different eras. One of the great things about Pacific Theatre is the actors get to rehearse on the stage from day one. From there we’ve been exploring how these characters who have come from hell are still real people with real problems.

How did your acting background and experience help you with directing actors for The Great Divorce?

Immensely. Being an actor I know the challenges that some of this play creates for them and then, hopefully, I’m able to translate that into useful notes for them.

Are there any books or specific authors that have been influential to you so far in your creative journey?

Well obviously I have kept going back to C.S. Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce to a better insight into the world and story of this play. Then after that, would be The Screwtape Letters, another fantastical book, with similar concepts of Heaven and Hell.

You have directed theatre productions and films. What are the biggest challenges for you as a director when dealing with each medium and how does your approach change?

With film, the challenge is gathering all the real life choices involved in a scene, from the props, the set, the colour, the lights, everything needs to be working towards the same goal of telling the story, and I work very closely with the design team, so that is a big challenge. With theatre, it’s the opposite, and the challenge for me, is to come up with only a few specific choices that suggest the world of the story and it’s about igniting the imagination in the audience.

What can you share about any future projects that are in development on stage or on film?

I am looking forward to seeing my first short film, Hop the Twig, play at Worldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto at the end of this month. My second short film, Wait for Rain, which I created with Josh Epstein, will be submitted to festivals worldwide in the next several weeks. Our production company, Motion 58 Entertainment, has two features in development and will begin filming one of them at the end of this year. I am also excited to be returning to the stage for my fifth season at Bard on the Beach in Henry VI: War of the Roses and Richard III.

The Great Divorce is now on at Pacific Theatre. Our thanks to Kyle Rideout for speaking with us.

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