Peter MacLeod is a student in the Bachelor of Arts Program at UBCO. He majors in Sociology and will graduate this year. Peter is also the star of New Vintage Theatre’s upcoming production of The Graduate and as he tackles this iconic role which made Dustin Hoffman famous, it is impossible not to ask this up and coming actor of note to reflect upon the role, his experience playing the complicated character and see whether he can relate his own real life to the very fictional Benjamin Braddock.
Peter was kind enough to take time out of his very grueling rehearsal schedule (Benjamin Braddock is needed in almost every scene) to answer some questions about his background and the experience of working with director Brooklyn Ritchie on the play.
How did you get into theatre? What has kept you involved?
"I’m 21 years old right now and you could have asked me when I spoke my first words what I ‘wanted to be’ when I grew up and my answer would have been “An Actor!” My mother was involved in theatre growing up and my father studied it in school. I’d be 8 years old and operating the lights for the dinner theatre productions he’d direct in our small community, so I’ve been involved in some capacity for almost my entire life. Going through high school I’d always be involved in the school plays, but it was when I moved to Kelowna that acting became something I seriously started to pursue. Coming out of high school and moving onto residence at the university I suddenly had this craving that wasn’t being satisfied and I realised it was that I had stopped doing theatre. I did some searching on the internet and came across audition times for a show called “Caught in the Net” with Theatre Kelowna that were three days later. So I went, auditioned for them, and got the role! We ended up competing in the O-Zone Festival and I’ve been doing my best to keep myself involved within the community ever since."
This is the play version of the iconic 1967 film directed by Mike Nichols and launched Dustin Hoffman's career. Have you seen the film? Why or why not?
"I’ve seen the film once, but decided not to re-watch or study it because I didn’t want Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal to influence my own interpretation of the character. However I did get my hands on the original book by Charles Webb which my director Brooklyn and I have acknowledged to get a better sense of the character."
What do you enjoy about playing Ben? Being a university student yourself are there things you can relate to?
"Ben is a character who is very young, naïve, and has never made an independent decision in his entire life. He lacks the skillset to critically think of the possible repercussions his actions may bear, which unsurprisingly gets him into a whole heap of trouble! It’s interesting because Ben and I are the exact same age, and we’re both at the stage of our life where we are so uncertain to what it is we actually want. The university particularly has been very good to me in terms of the opportunities they’ve presented me with and the same statement can be made for Ben, so I empathize with the concept of how removing that institutional safety net can have people like us quite apprehensive of our future."
What are some of the challenges of working on the play?
The tricky thing is that people love this character, love his story, and I have the honour of bringing this character back to life after almost 50 years since the original portrayal that earned Dustin Hoffman his first Oscar nomination. The film is number 17 on the American Film Institute’s Top 100 of All-Time List, so the comparisons between the film and our production will undoubtedly happen. For myself, the challenge lies between making sure I meet (and hopefully exceed) the expectations of the audience while also having faith in my own interpretation of the material. I believe in myself as an artist and acknowledged early on that my take would be very different from Mr. Hoffman’s.
Why do you think audiences should come and see The Graduate?
It’s a fantastic story that not only had an incredible cultural impact back in its day, but has also stood the test of time as Mrs. Robinson is a reoccurring presence in today’s pop culture. There aren’t many shows in Kelowna that can be labelled as fun, sexy, and dramatic all rolled into one, but audiences will find all of that in The Graduate.
Come and see Peter MacLeod and his stellar co-stars-Natasha Davis, Ashley Plomp, Brad Hull, Doug Brown, Leah McMullen, Graham Daley and Erin Smith in The Graduate at The Black Box Theatre, July 22-25 at 7pm nightly. Advance tickets are $20 from www.selectyourtickets.com or $30 at the door (cash only). This is a small venue and the innovative staging of this production means there are fewer seats than we usually offer. Get your tickets early as we expect to sell this show out. Oh yes, and if you are not familiar with The Graduate you should know it is for adults, has mature themes and nudity.
For more information on New Vintage Theatre, check out our website at www.newvintage.ca
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.