Our Howard Family Stage Company has moved to Site at Sen̓áḵw/Vanier Park in preparation for their first performances in July, and we’re so excited to see how they’ll whisk us away to two wildly different worlds!

To learn more about what the Howard Family Stage will have in store for us this summer, we spoke with Tal Shulman, who will be making his Bard debut this Season as Dromio of Ephesus/Dromio of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors. Read on to learn more about Tal and his Bard experience so far!

How has your first Bard  experience been so far?
I’ve been having a great time at Bard! Working with Rebecca, Jiv, and the cast and crew of the Howard Family Stage this Season has been incredibly exciting, and I’m so grateful to be working with such talented people!!

Tell us about yourself and what first drew you to acting! 
I’ve always wanted to be an actor. My earliest memory of theatre is seeing a production of Fiddler on the Roof when I was a kid (couldn’t tell you when or where this production was) and I remember being so excited to see kids in the show who were around my age and feeling so inspired by them. I started by taking classes at Young People’s Theatre in Toronto, and then eventually did school plays and extracurricular programs throughout the suburbs of Toronto. By doing classes and shows in my youth, I gained experience and confidence, and most importantly I developed a strong community. Nothing binds people together quite like the thrill and magic of putting on a show together. Through theatre, I learned to accept my eccentricities and embrace them as my superpower.

What has it been like to dive into a role like the two Dromios in The Comedy of Errors
Playing both Dromios has been a delightful challenge! I have known Rebecca Northan (the director of The Comedy of Errors) for many years and have always wanted to work with her. When I heard that she was coming to Vancouver for this production, I knew I needed to audition and hoped to be able to play one of the Dromios. I had no idea that she was planning on casting one actor to play both! I knew immediately that my first challenge in playing a set of identical twins was to track each of their individual stories. I decided that I needed two copies of the script so that I could learn each of these roles as totally separate people. Rebecca and I (and Jeremy [Lewis], who plays the Antipholi) made some discoveries about each of the sets of twins; we discovered how they are similar, and how they are different. It is important to me to honour both Dromios as individuals, and I think we have found two very distinct characters and I can’t wait to share them with audiences this summer.

Tal, dressed as Dromio, peeks out from behind a makeshift wall at the photoshoot for The Comedy of Errors.

Emily Cooper and Tal Shulman (as Dromio) at the advance photoshoot for The Comedy of Errors.

In addition to playing the Dromios in The Comedy of Errors, you’re understudying for a number of roles in Measure for Measure,  including Aux Cable (DJ), Abhorson, Old Man Escalus, Lucio, and Kevin. How has that process been for you? 
Understudying is a completely different process! Early in the process, it’s important for me to learn the roles and tracks and to stay very malleable. Understudying presents a challenge because it forces me to learn a role through another actor’s lens. Meaning, I need to honour the choices that another actor makes with the director and eventually take them on as if they were my own. Observing rehearsals and trying to memorize lines and staging, while not directly participating in the creation of the character is a very exciting and challenging task. The roles I am covering are very fun, so it is a joy to spend some time in these characters’ shoes, even if it’s just in my living room. Hopefully, everyone will be safe and healthy all summer and my dog is the only audience who will witness my rendition of these characters. But anything can happen in live theatre, and I’ll be ready for it!

What are you most excited for audiences to experience with  these two productions? 
Both Rebecca and Jiv are incredibly creative people. They’ve both created worlds that support the material and enhance the experience for the audiences. I don’t want to spoil the specifics, but I am hoping that people will come to The Comedy of Errors wearing togas. I think that’s such a fun idea and will only help enrich the experience for the actors and audiences alike. Both shows are a wild ride, so I highly recommend that audiences see both; to witness the same actors inhabit both vastly different worlds is such a fun opportunity for audiences and an advantage of having a big repertory theatre in the heart of the city!

Do you have a favourite moment or memory from your Bard  experience so far? 
I feel like we just started so I’m not ready to have memories yet! But I love the first day of rehearsal (and in this experience we got two!). When strangers meet knowing they are about to go through an intense process together, a very exciting energy emerges, and I love that first-day-of-school vibe. The first time we read the play, hear the vision from the designers and director, and make this crazy agreement to play pretend together and hope for the best. How thrilling!

When you aren’t in rehearsal or performing, how do you like to spend your time? 
Waiting to rehearse or perform! That’s (kind of) a joke! If I’m really honest my favourite way to spend my time is napping. It’s just so fun! I also enjoy reality TV, true crime, going to the gym, and ice cream. And napping.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Tal! 

Be sure to catch Tal in The Comedy of Errors, running July 2 to September 21 on the Howard Family Stage! Buy your tickets now by visiting our Season Schedule.