AMERICANS joke about the Canadian penchant for offering profuse apologies.
But maybe it's not the apology itself that marks us as Canadians, but the way we say: "Sorry."
Winnipeg-born actress Tamara Gorski suggests that our pronunciation of that word is one of the Canadian giveaways, one that she endeavours to correct in a special workshop she has devised for Canadian actors working on American films.
Often, movies shot here are set in American towns or cities, Gorski says. "Producers and directors from the States who come to town and want to hire locally are going to look for actors who don't sound like they were actors cast in Winnipeg."
"O" words such as "toast" and "sorry" are giveaways, Gorski says, because Canadians pronounce them with lips and mouths forward.
"The American accent is flat, like a pancake," she says, offering up an American pronunciation of "sorry" as "sah-rry."
As for Gorski herself, she offers no apologies for her knowledge. It has come with a couple of decades of working all over the world as an actress on stage, television and film.
"I wanted to give myself the task of sharing the experience I've culled travelling around to teach our local actors what they need to focus on and learn to make sure they can stay competitive with actors from other cities," she says.
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A conversation with Tamara Gorski is kind of like an event movie. It is populated with big names (Peter Jackson, Angela Lansbury, Omar Sharif, and for genre fans, Bruce Campbell and Kevin Sorbo). It hops through a series of international locations: Toronto, New York, Hollywood, New Zealand. There is glamour, tragedy, intrigue, and comedy.
And there is a happy ending: Gorski is the happy mother of a baby girl, one of the reasons she came back to Winnipeg is to raise her family.
But she has also returned with a passionate intent to renew her career on multiple fronts. She has already landed roles in local film and TV including the series Less Than Kind and in Sean Garrity's upcoming sex-comedy My Awkward Sexual Adventure. She teaches acting classes in technique, in addition to more specialized workshops such as the American accent workshops Feb. 16-17 and March 9-10.
She also intends to make up for lost time when it comes to catching up with Winnipeg's cultural scene, which she left behind when she moved to Toronto more than 20 years ago to study Fine Arts at Ryerson University. (She admits she was initially going to take medicine, following in the footsteps of her physician father, Dr. Bronislaw Gorski, who died in 2010. But theatre won out, and it proved to be a smart choice since she quickly earned her first movie and TV credits.)
So on top of teaching, acting and being a mom, Gorski is up to her neck in studying the works of Winnipeg filmmakers such as Guy Maddin and John Paizs, who helped define Winnipeg's culture while she was gone. Since she herself has made films in the interim, she has noticed certain similarities in style.
"The films I've made are not unlike the films that I've seen," she says. "There are themes of isolation and a romantic, almost sentimental, old-fashioned cinematic quality and I find that even though I've sort of been in exile, even though I might have shot them in Toronto or New Zealand, they sort of oddly fit," she says, adding there will be more work to come from.
"I have films to pitch and documentary subjects to shoot, plays to write and songs to sing."
Students interested in taking classes or workshops with Gorski can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 204-272-3799.