No makeup or costumes, no set, no lights and no other actors required.
The infamous one-man shows by Jason Stevens are an annual feature at Craigdarroch Castle, his rendition of Frankenstein was a sellout over Halloween and his upcoming performance of A Christmas Carol is a bright light shining in December.
Stevens dives deeply into the characters he plays, creating intimate displays with the use of body language, tone, accents, and a depth of character understanding that profoundly immerses his audiences – because he profoundly immerses himself, he said.
His love of acting began when he moved to London, England from California at that awkward age of 13 – an age we all hated, said Stevens. Luckily, he could do British accents to impress the ladies.
When in London, Stevens began attending theatre performances with his family. In one of those, he recalls seeing a boy about his age who inspired him to pursue his heart’s desire.
“I saw him up close after the performance and thought, ‘Oh, he’s just a person like me so I could do it, too.’”
Theatre in the UK was a big deal and was something he described as very affordable and very entertaining, so it exposed him to the art in a way that resonated.
This later led to his audition and acceptance to the Drama Centre London when he was of university age. The school lists such actors as Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Tom Hardy among its alumni.
When Stevens graduated he moved to New York City where he lived for 13 years, acting and doing voiceovers in commercials, film, theatre, and TV.
“But then … I had two daughters. Manhattan isn’t such a fun place to live with kids, so we picked up and moved to Victoria. We bought a place in Oak Bay – back when you could actually do that.”
During his first 10 years in Victoria, Stevens was a stay-at-home dad and participated in community theatre here and there.
After living in ‘kid-world’ for too long, he became stir-crazy and resolved to participate in a fundraiser at his children’s school. He taught himself the entire infamous script from A Christmas Carol.
The fundraiser at the school was a success and soon after he felt inspired to approach Craigdarroch Castle about performing there. He was booked in and audiences have relished the annual show ever since for nearly 10 years.
“It’s just old-school storytelling and that really draws people in. It sells out – every single seat, every single night.”
Having a strong story makes the job easier, he said, as he and the audience can completely lose themselves in another world, a space imagined.
“The show is not about me and it isn’t about spectacle, it’s about the emotional lives of the characters I portray,” he said. “That’s all I have to offer. It is an intimate experience. It is a connection.”
By day, Stevens keeps busy teaching acting at Victoria Drama School and he also leads workshops through his movement psychology classes available through the 4 Corners Community Collective.
A Christmas Carol shows eight nights at Craigdarroch Castle starting Dec. 11 and ending Dec. 24, with performance times at 6 and 8 p.m. To purchase tickets visit thecastle.ca or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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