Local thespians have an invaluable resource in John Kirkpatrick, who will be offering tips and advice for aspiring actors and actresses at the North Peace Cultural Centre tonight.
Kirkpatrick, who is from Fort St. John but now lives in Eastern Canada, has been a professional actor for more than 20 years. He’s been based mainly out of Edmonton, but for the last three years he’s been acting at the Stratford Festival – the “premier acting gig in the country,” he told the Alaska Highway News.
An Evening with John will be an informal conversation hosted by Ted Sloan, a member of Stage North and also head technician at the Cultural Centre. Sloan, who had Kirkpatrick as a teacher, will interview him, and the audience will be welcome to ask questions about pursuing an acting career. The evening will finish off with some improv.
“I think the theme is whatever you want to ask about acting, about directing, about education, that if you’re a young person in town and thinking or looking towards a career in the theatre, I can help with that... it’s open to all ages and all questions are fair,” he said.
Kirkpatrick got involved with a children’s theatre when he was 12 years old in St. Albert, Alberta. He stayed with that until he was 18, when he went to the University of Alberta. There, he made what he thought was a reasonable life decision, and neglected his passion for the arts.
“I thought, well I’d better get a degree where I can get a job, so I went into business, and I spent two depressing years there,” Kirkpatrick explained. Business wasn’t his forte.
He decided to switch course. He auditioned and transferred to the university’s acting program, and, from there, his career blossomed.
Today, he’s recognized as an experienced Shakespearean actor, having been the artistic director of Freewill, Edmonton’s Shakespearean festival, from 2003 to 2008. He’s won multiple high level awards in theatre, and taught at the University of Alberta for several years in addition to working as an actor.
Now, back in his hometown of Fort St. John for a two-week visit with friends and family, he’s decided to give back to the community and meet some of the local thespians, and help them along on their journey.
“When he was my prof, he taught me a lot of things, and things that I really valued throughout my short career,” Sloan said, in an interview. “He’s a great resource, and he’s also very inspirational.”
Sloan helped organize the community event with Kirkpatrick.
“I mean, if he’s coming here, why not give the opportunity for everybody in the community, just to see what it’s like, and also to help dispel some myths about acting?” he said.
“We have a lot of young people here in the community who want to be actors, but sometimes their parents or their teachers say, well that’s great, but what do you really want to do? So I wanted to say, well, you can act, it is a thing, and then to help expose John to the community.”
An Evening with John will take place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 16 in the Multi-Purpose Room at the North Peace Cultural Centre.