April 25, 2019

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Across the country and under the sea

For film and stage actor, MTYP collaboration feels like coming home

Craig Francis photo</p><p>The Manitoba Theatre for Young People's adaptation of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea makes use of high-tech projection to illustrate Captain Nemo's world.</p>

Craig Francis photo

The Manitoba Theatre for Young People's adaptation of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea makes use of high-tech projection to illustrate Captain Nemo's world.

Richard Clarkin is not from Winnipeg. He was born in Aurora, Ont. He did not go to theatre school here. He is a graduate of the National Theatre School in Montreal. And he does not live here now, residing instead in Toronto.

But as he prepares to work with the Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP) in a touring production of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Clarkin is anticipating a homecoming of sorts.

Clarkin has a rich history here.

“I really, really like Winnipeg,” he says.

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Richard Clarkin is not from Winnipeg. He was born in Aurora, Ont. He did not go to theatre school here. He is a graduate of the National Theatre School in Montreal. And he does not live here now, residing instead in Toronto.

But as he prepares to work with the Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP) in a touring production of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Clarkin is anticipating a homecoming of sorts.

Richard Clarkin</p>

Richard Clarkin

Clarkin has a rich history here.

"I really, really like Winnipeg," he says.

"My second job out of theatre school was with Leslee Silverman in what was then Actors Showcase," he recalls, referring to the theatrical forerunner of MTYP. Clarkin went on to co-found the local experimental company Primus Theatre, and even after leaving Winnipeg, he seems to yo-yo back here with some frequency.

"I’ve done a dozen shows in Winnipeg at MTC (including Death of a Salesman, in which he played Biff opposite Judd Hirsch’s Willy Loman) and Prairie Theatre Exchange and Winnipeg Jewish Theatre."

His film work in Manitoba includes his role in the two-fisted hockey comedy Goon (2011), in which he played the well-seasoned Gord Ogilvey, an archetypal shinny player entrusted with some of the film’s more hilarious lines of dialogue.

"Goon was one of the peak experiences of my acting life," he says with a laugh. "Shooting that movie in Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg, we had to shoot it overnights because all the rinks were booked during the day in November.

"Our schedule was like 10 o’clock at night till 10 o’clock the next morning," he says. "But we had a ball. We couldn’t have had more fun.

Handout</p><p>Richard Clarkin, Jesse Nerenberg and Katie Melby in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.</p>

Handout

Richard Clarkin, Jesse Nerenberg and Katie Melby in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

"I’m a hockey player myself, I play a couple of times a week, and it was a dream," he says. "It just doesn’t get much better than what happened on that first Goon."

Of course, playing a hockey player in landlocked Manitoba is a far cry from playing one of the more contradictory characters in science-fiction literature: Captain Nemo.

"Even in the novel, he’s terribly complex and he contains multitudes," Clarkin says. "He’s highly intelligent, highly motivated, he’s got a great esthetic sensibility and he abhors racial injustice. He abhors all forms of injustice and you can quite easily admire him for what he’s created in the novel: this undersea utopia of equality and fair-mindedness.

"But he is also in some ways a megalomaniac and he has removed himself from society," Clarkin says. "And any time someone with power and charisma leaves society with followers, it’s always cause for alarm, because that kind of isolation is anti-community in many ways.

"There’s much to admire, but there’s also some very dangerous moral sensibilities," Clarkin says.

MTYP recommends the show for ages nine to 12, but Clarkin says the tech-heavy production (co-created by Rick Miller, who is likewise using high-tech projection in his Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre show Boom X) will have broader appeal than that.

"The thing about this as a family show is that it’s a really sweet spot for young people, but adults really like it too," Clarkin says. "Sometimes you’re in shows for young people where the adults might just kinda park it and turn it off for an hour or so. But I think this story is compelling enough and visually captivating enough that adults and all ages enjoy it."

randall.king@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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