Although this is Peter Church’s first time on the Rosebud stage, he’s no stranger to the area. He can often be seen performing next door in Drumheller’s Canadian Badlands Passion Play. An actor, playwright, and theatre instructor, Peter spent 8 years as an ensemble member with The Classical Theatre Project ('Romeo & Juliet', 'Othello', 'MacBeth', 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream', 'Hamlet', & 'Oedipus Rex'). Performance highlights include the Dora Award nominated production of ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ (Brookstone Performing Arts), ‘The Rainmaker’ (Pacific Theatre), Shadow Government (Cloud Ten Pictures), and A Camelot Christmas Tale (CTS Television). Recent projects also include his staged radio play adaptations of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Pacific Theatre) and playing the role of Education Manager for Carousel Theatre for Young People.
Where do you call home?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately! My wife and I have been residents of Vancouver for 3 years, but have actually just decided that we’re going to relocate to Drumheller in order to continue our work with the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. Once Miracle on 34th Street closes, we’ll go pack up our things and make the move! It feels a bit like “coming home” since I grew up in Airdrie before moving to Toronto in 1999.
What’s the best kept secret about your current neighborhood, Rosebud?
The Brie Bites at Wild Horse Jack’s!
What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Least favorite?
One of my favorite traditions is listening to Christmas Carols. Traditional songs like 'What Child Is This?', 'O, Holy Night', 'O, Come All Ye Faithful', and 'Joy to the World' can always jumpstart my Christmas Spirit. My least favorite tradition is probably the forthcoming “Black Friday”. At its worst, it encapsulates the ugliness of human greed and commercialism. At its best, it’s just too much for me to bother with.
You’re a playwright with a number of radio play adaptations. What is it about radio that inspires / challenges you? Do you have a penchant for a time period or particular genre?
Radio drama, to my mind, is one of the purest kinds of Theatre. It hearkens back to the early storytellers around the fire, and demands active “co-creation” from the audience. As a performer, radio plays are challenging because your performance, of course, has to be distilled down to just your voice. It’s heightened, exciting, subtle, and rewarding – and certainly very challenging. Many of my stories are often set somewhere between 1935 and 1950, because it’s a period of history I find particularly interesting.
You’re ALSO an instructor for theatre. What’s the essential lesson you instill in your students?
Be honest. And be you.
What’s inspiring you right now, artistically?
Film Noir. I love the style, the dialogue and the dirt.
Any particular projects in the works?
In September, I was commissioned to direct my radio adaptation of a short story for Jason Hildebrand Creative Arts. We’re just editing the final touches on it this week, and it should be up and available for download [here] before this interview is released. It’s a poignant Christmas story called The Wooden Angel, and it tells the story of Emiline, a young girl eagerly awaiting the return of her father from the Mission Field in Ecuador, and the final piece of the nativity set he’s carved for her.
Coffee or tea and how do you take it?
Whiskey. For some reason, I’ve never enjoyed hot beverages.
In ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, you play Shellhammer, the head of the Macy’s toy department. What’s a toy you always wanted for Christmas? Did you get it?
I don’t think I’ll ever forget opening up my Nintendo on Christmas morning. It was the original NES (for which I’m pretty sure everyone my age remembers desperately pleading.) My parents had hidden it in an old suitcase in our basement so I couldn’t even find it when I tried peeking!
Lastly, since your name begs an ecclesiastical question… If you were a character in the nativity, which one would you be?
I’d probably be one of the Shepherds – standing in poops when the heavenly host appears.
Like them, I’m not the kind of person we imagine that a Holy God would invite to participate in His Story. And yet, I stand breathless in my little field – slack jawed, small, and irreligious. None of it makes much sense, but I walk towards Bethlehem anyway… to see this thing that has happened.