Director's Chair - Karl Sine on 'An Inspector Calls'

September 16, 2016

Karl Sine is an Actor, Director, and Certified Fight Director with the Academy of Fight Directors Canada. Selected Directing Credits include 'Soldiers Heart', 'Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol' (Loudly Whispered Theatre); 'Solo Joe' (Burnt Thicket); 'We Won't Pay, We Won't Pay', and 'Jake & the Kid' (Rosebud Theatre). Selected Actor Credits include 'The Crucible', 'Enron', 'A Christmas Carol' (Theatre Calgary); 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' (Vertigo Theatre); 'Macbeth', 'Othello', 'Land of the Dead' (The Shakespeare Company); 'Boy's Own Jedi Handbook' (Ground Zero Theatre); 'Queen Milli of Galt', 'Mary's Wedding', 'Oliver!', and 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe' (Rosebud Theatre). Karl has been awarded three Betty Mitchell Awards for his work as a Fight Director, as well as the recent Outstanding Actor award for his role in 'The Crucible'.

Karl Sine directs Justin Lanouette on the set of An Inspector Calls. Photo by Nathan Schmidt.

Let’s get this out of the way. You’re a tea fanatic. You own a tea company, Fireside Tea. What tea were you drinking during 'An Inspector Calls'?

Yes, I am a tea fanatic. Exceptional tea is one of those things in my life that is an essential. Life is too short to drink bad tea. During An Inspector Calls I tended to gravitate towards three different teas.

  1. Assam Banaspaty: a black tea from India that is brisk and malty, goes perfect with milk.
  2. Rou Gui: a roasted oolong from China that has a nutty cinnamon flavor.
  3. Hojicha: a green tea from Japan that is also roasted, woody and nutty in flavor.

Have you considered making one for the show? What would it be?

If I had to make a tea for An Inspector Calls I would probably create a blend of black teas, maybe a blend of assam, qimen and Ceylon. Something that would feel English and go well with milk.

You drink tea, this show is set in England. It’s a mystery, you recently played Dr. Watson… Seems like the world of the play is right up your alley. Do you feel an affinity for the time period and place?

I do have an affinity to the place, always have. Some of my ancestry is from England so I think that plays into it a bit… but truthfully, I’ve always loved the culture and the history. I’ve been to England a couple times and loved every second of it. My wife and I are huge fans of Downton Abbey, so getting to direct a play during that period is a real treat.

In ‘An Inspector Calls’, a pre WWI wealthy family is put under question for the seemingly unrelated death of a young woman. Were there modern references you used as touchpoints in directing this show?

I think what J.B. Priestly has created is something that has resonance no matter the year in which it’s being produced. Like any great playwright the themes explored in the play are relatable because they centre around the human condition and therefore are timeless. One quote that I kept coming back to as I was researching was from Mother Teresa:

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

Do you, as a professional actor, approach scripts differently as a director?

I guess to some degree I do, because I’m having to look at the bigger picture and overall arc of the story. That said, my sensibilities as an actor shine through. I have always believed to my core that the theatre is the actors’ medium and film is the directors’ medium. Therefore it’s impossible for me not to think like an actor when approaching directing a theatre show. At its most basic level, theatre is actors telling stories, whereas in film, so much can change once the director gets to the editing room. Neither medium is “less-than”, just different. As a director, my biggest job is to help clarify the story that the actors are telling.

What surprised you in the process?

Just how personal and relevant this story can be. It’s not a history play, it’s a play for now and for each one of us.

This last year you garnered MULTIPLE Betty Mitchell Awards (and Calgary Critics' wins) for Acting and Fight Direction. What was the most challenging artistic endeavor of the last year?

Without question playing the role of John Proctor in Theatre Calgary’s production of The Crucible. The role required so much of me and it truly was an exhausting experience, incredibly rewarding, but exhausting.

What’s currently inspiring you?

I am always inspired by my wife, Lindsey, and my kids Olivia and Charlie! Having a family in the arts is a challenge and a dance. I am so thankful for my family.

What’s a moment in rehearsal that has stuck with you?

Our first real tech/dress was an exciting moment. I loved seeing it all come together!

What’s next for you, artistically?

Fight Directing Richard III for The Shakespeare Company.

Acting in Theatre Calgary’s A Christmas Carol in the role of Bob Cratchit.

And lastly, what tea are you drinking NOW?

Right this moment, I’m drinking a beautiful Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty).

Director's Chair - Karl Sine on 'An Inspector Calls'

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