We were able to chat with Festival newcomer Daniel Briere about his upcoming debut as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet this season! In addition to playing Romeo, you’ll also see Daniel in both The Three Musketeers and The Merchant of Venice. Find out a bit more about him in this exclusive actor interview!
Stratford Festival (SF): This will be your first season at the Festival, but you’ve been quite active across the Canadian theatre scene. Can you tell us how you got your start as an actor?
Daniel Briere (DB): I suppose I started back in Calgary, where I grew up. I learned at an early age that I loved telling stories and wanted to become an artist, and I was lucky to be introduced to some fantastic theatre happening in Calgary. After high school I studied acting at Mount Royal College, and then felt I needed more training so I headed to Montreal to study at the National Theatre School of Canada. Montreal was really great for my development, because I met so many like-minded artists from all over the country, and I had all kinds of doors and opportunities opened to me. Since then I’ve been based in Toronto, but have worked all over Canada. I’m still young and it’s easy for me to pick up and head somewhere new every eight weeks or so, and I love discovering new parts and people in this great big country.
SF: You’ve played Paris in a different production of Romeo and Juliet – how does it feel to now be playing Romeo?
DB: Actually, in that particular production I was also understudying Romeo, and had an opportunity to go on once, but it was kind of a hip hop adaptation, and I’m not much of a dancer, so I can understand why they had cast me as a more straight laced Paris. Having played on the other side of the love triangle though, I understand how tragic Paris’ story is, that he really is a man worthy of Juliet’s love, and his presence makes the love between Romeo and Juliet more dangerous and maybe even more thrilling. It will also be interesting for me to win a swordfight or two this time around, playing Romeo.
SF: What excites you about this production of Romeo and Juliet?
DB: I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work with Tim Carroll. He’s obviously an incredible source of knowledge when it comes to Shakespeare’s work, and I love his idea of theatre as a game. I’ve been reading about the experimental productions he’s been doing with The Factory Theatre in London, where they’ll do things like switch which roles each actor plays on a nightly basis, or ask audience members to bring random objects that will become the set and props of the show. I’m really interested in the idea that you can prepare so much – like learn every line for every character in the play —and then toss all your acting tools up in the air while you fence with tennis rackets or figure out how to incorporate a fishing pole. I don’t imagine we’ll be improvising in this way at the Stratford Festival, but I know that Tim will bring that same sense of play and investigation into the rehearsal hall, and we’ll have a much stronger and well-grounded show because of it.
SF: What is your favourite line from Romeo and Juliet?
DB: It changes regularly, because this play is full of so much beautiful poetry, but I think my favorite line currently is one of Juliet’s, from the balcony scene.
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep: the more I give to thee
The more I have, for both are infinite.
SF: You’re going to be busy this season – in addition to playing Romeo, you’ll also be appearing in The Three Musketeers and The Merchant of Venice. Will this be your first time working in a repertory theatre company?
DB: I have worked in repertory before in Calgary, with Shakespeare in the Park. They typically do two Shakespeare shows, the first of which opens for a two-week run, then they’ll perform in rep for the rest of the summer. So for a while they rehearse the second show in the day and perform the first show in the evening, making for some long days. Having worked with that company I think will prove a great exercise in preparation for the Stratford company, though I can certainly understand I will be very busy this season. I’ve heard of many other actors at the festival having to juggle two or three leads in different shows, which I imagine can become very taxing. My life is always busy, though, juggling between different projects, and I’m sure this year will only help me continue to build stamina.
SF: We’re lucky to have a lot of amazing talent appearing on stage this season – is there anyone in the company that you’re particularly excited to meet or work with?
DB: I’m very excited to start work with Sara Topham, who has done fantastic work at the Festival and abroad. And I’m also extremely lucky to be currently working with Tom McCamus in Gone With the Wind in Winnipeg, so I’m very much looking forward to continuing to work with and learn from him in Stratford. As you mentioned, this is my first season with the Festival, and I am honored to be part of such a talented company and what will surely be a thrilling season!
Just for fun…
SF: If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only bring one book with you, what would it be?
DB: I suppose I’d have to bring Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. I haven’t read it yet, but after all the hype I think it would be a shame to be stranded on an island not having read it. Other possible options might include Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor, David McIntosh’s How to Build a Wooden Boat, or Oliver Jeffers’ children’s classic The Way Back Home.
SF: The most-played song on your iPod is…
DB: All Night Long by Lionel Ritchie. ‘Nuff said.
SF: Salty or sweet?
DB: Definitely Salty. Unless it’s a swimming pool.
EXCLUSIVE FACEBOOK EXTRA: Join us on our Facebook page on February 13, 2013, from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. for a Facebook Q&A with Daniel Briere to find out more about the man behind our 2013 Romeo!
Read Daniel’s full stage biography here.
Photo credits: Daniel Briere and Sara Topham. Photo by Don Dixon.