Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black, and the Regina acting scene
Author: bodie robinson | A & C Writer
Is Tatiana opening the floodgates from Regina to Hollywood?
The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards are set to take place on Sept. 18 this year. This year’s Emmy Awards are especially exciting since Tatiana Maslany, a Regina-born actress, was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her roles in the television series, Orphan Black. Maslany has starred in the series since its premiere in 2013. The fourth season of Orphan Black aired in April, and it’s set to have a fifth and final season to be released in 2017.
Credit: BBC America
Orphan Black is a science fiction drama whose main character, Sarah Manning, discovers that she is one of many clones produced by a shady biotech corporation called The Dyad Institute. In the show, Maslany plays the part of Sarah Manning and her several clones. The series begins with Sarah Manning, who is involved with cocaine trafficking and witnessing a suicide. Sarah watches a woman, who seems to perfectly resemble herself, walk in front of a moving train. Sarah, mystified by the woman’s appearance, steals her wallet and ID. She discovers that the woman was named Elizabeth Childs—and that she recently stashed $75,000 in a savings account. Since Sarah has experience making a living through petty crime, she decides to impersonate Beth Childs and withdraw the $75,000 in cash. This escapade leads Sarah through a series of inexplicable confrontations. As the series unfolds, the viewer learns that Sarah is in fact a clone. And, if that wasn’t enough, someone now wants her and all her clones dead.
To better understand Maslany’s beginning as an up and coming star, and to learn more about the acting scene in Regina, I spoke with Robyn Sanderson, a Regina-based actress who recently graduated with a BFA in Theatre from the University of Regina. This summer, Robyn has been enrolled in the Globe Theatre Conservatory, a four-month intensive actor’s training program. After she completes the Conservatory, she plans on debuting in one of the Globe Theatre’s productions during this upcoming season.
Bodie: So what do you think of Tatiana Maslany’s recent Emmy nomination? Do you think this will be a good thing for Regina actors?
Robyn: It can only be positive for Saskatchewan artists, because now that name “Regina, Saskatchewan,” has started floating around. I admire Tatiana’s work and respect her as an artist. She’s extremely talented, but it might not affect other Regina artists. She got there by her own work and the opportunities she was given. It’s not like other artists can piggyback on it. They need to do their own work to get to that place.
Bodie: Fair enough. But do you think her nomination will at least improve the reputation of the Regina acting scene at all?
Robyn: Definitely. For Regina artists, there isn’t one bad thing about her becoming what she is.
Bodie: So how is the Regina acting scene? Is it big, very active?
Robyn: There have been many big Saskatchewan actors who have since moved away to Toronto and Vancouver. But for many U of R theatre grads, there are a few who have stayed in Regina in order to try to make the Regina acting scene thrive. Regina has a very strong and thriving improv scene. Hitchhiker’s Improv Troupe perform at The Artesian regularly, about once or twice a month. And there’s Jayden Pfeiffer, who made his own improv troupe, The General Fools. And he hosts a couple shows: Red Hot Riot Show, at The Artesian here in Regina. He was also an instructor at The Globe Theatre Conservatory.
Bodie: That sounds lively enough for a small city like Regina. And what about the Globe’s Conservatory? Do you want to say anything on that?
Robyn: The Globe Conservatory is held once every two years. It’s an intensive summer program. Four months, May to August. Six days a week, eight hours a day. We receive many guest instructors from all over Canada. The main focus is on developing the Saskatchewan acting scene, giving actors opportunities to work in Saskatchewan, as well as the skills to work professionally in any province. Many of the instructors are Regina-based. The Conservatory tries to cast Saskatchewan based artists in Globe Productions as well. They used to only be able to cast actors from elsewhere, but recently the Saskatchewan scene has developed so that they can do a percentage of the casting from within the province. Each day we spend some time focusing on movement, voice, and acting. It’s a really great experience, and a very unique way of training.