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Hello, readers of this GCTC Blog! My name is Sean Baek, and I am a Stage/Film/TV/Voice actor with a career spanning nearly 20 years now, having worked in most places from coast to coast in Canada, and internationally. I was pleasantly surprised to be asked by GCTC to share my experience of working on this production of Kate Hennig's The Last Wife. The play is a “modern” re-telling of the relationship between the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) and rather fascinating historical figure, King Henry VIII, and his 6th and last wife, Katherine Parr. This is a co-production between GCTC and the Belfry Theatre in Victoria, BC. In this production I play the role of “Thomas Seymour,” a clandestine lover of Katherine Parr’s, who at times helps Katherine - or Kate - navigate through her tumultuous life with Henry VIII, all the while he himself is doing his best to survive and thrive in a politically treacherous time.
So, what has working on this production been like? You know that saying that goes, “There’s a first time for everything”? Well, as a new father, it was my first time being away from my wife and our daughter (less than one year old) for such a duration of time, so far away. So, before I decided to take on this contract, I had done a LOT of thinking and going back and forth in terms of accepting the offer to be in this production - I just wanted to be sure that it would be worth my time and the heartache of being away from my new family. Also being out in Victoria, BC, with its beautiful surroundings like the Pacific Ocean and the mountains, was my first time, even though I had been out to Vancouver to work on a film in the past.
The staff at the Belfry Theatre were MORE than welcoming, so that helped. I felt that they were REALLY taking such good care of me/us. The stage (the theatre) itself was quite beautiful to work on/around/in, too - a space that has been converted into a theatre space from a church.
Aside from all the beautiful physical things, what was the greatest thing at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria, BC, was finding out that even people who had NEVER been to a theatre before would come see the show because of “Word-of-Mouth” in town about the show. I believe we sold out several performances. It is very gratifying. To be able to share the story with people - strangers - that way. To connect with people that way. To affect people to think and question things told through a story based on history. The ultimate reason why I - we, the whole collective team - do what we do.
And now, here we are, in this regal capital of our beautiful nation, Ottawa. And we are about to open The Last Wife at GCTC. And what I feel is Excitement, Exhilaration, and Exaltation. And hopefully EVERYONE can feel those three “E”s.