1 on 1 with Lori Triolo

by Meeshelle Neal on September 15, 2010

Post image for 1 on 1 with  Lori Triolo

On Saturday afternoon I got the chance to talk with Lori Triolo immediately after seeing her in the Vancouver Fringe production of Canary.  Based on playwright Liesl Lafferty’s real life, this show had me laughing while hitting home some scary truths about a very dark, pervasive presence within all our lives.

Needless to say my friends and I tested our cell phones in the microwave that very night. (to test whether or not your microwave is leaking put your cell phone inside and call it.  If you can hear it ringing, it’s time to get a new oven.)

Meeshelle: Canary is a dark comedy about a young woman struck with a debilitating aversion to artificial light, but what is the heart of this piece for you?

Lori: The fight.  The hope.  How you can’t take it lying down.  How you sometimes need to question everything.  How quickly technology is moving and we don’t have time to adjust to all these new changes.

M: I really like how the show uses humour to get a very valid and disconcerting point across.  Considering your last comedic play was Twelfth Night. How is it doing a modern comedy?

Lori: The laughs were surprising, which happens a lot, especially with a new play.  We’re never sure if it’s going to be funny.  I was very conservative to begin with because I’m playing Liesl (the playwright) so at first I almost shut down because I kept thinking of her and how she would be.  But she really does have that positive attitude that the character has, so I just had to bring that into it more.

It’s nice that the audiences are laughing.

M: Tell me more about your personal process.

Lori: I keep finding moments and I think what really helped me is that I went home last night, after we opened, and really thought about the story.  I found my journey and raised the stakes.  It’s all about finding that journey and those moments.

You keep finding moments.  You keep digging deeper.

M: How was it working on an original piece?

Lori: She (Liesl) ‘just’ added the monologue about our bodies being naturally charged three days before opening.

Heidi Lynne Weeks, who is standing nearby, adds: We did this play in Toronto but things have changed a lot since the original.  The first time around Marie was a smaller role and I played more of the other characters, but since then Liesl has fleshed her out (and now I am just Md. Marie Curie).  I had the most fun playing her anyway.

M: So had you two worked together or met before doing this show?

Lori: No.

Heidi: I live in Toronto and only really come out to Vancouver when I have work here.

Lori: Which isn’t often enough.

(They both laugh.)

M: How long was the rehearsal process?

Heidi: Short.

Lori: Very short.  Just under two weeks.  About ten rehearsals.  Too few to actually sink into it.

M: Considering Liesl’s condition, what were rehearsals like?

Lori: We rehearsed in semi-dark, with the lights off, on the stage at the Beaumont, and there was one tiny bulb up in the corner.  We all had headaches after only a few hours from straining to see our scripts, and Liesl would be sitting there wearing her sunglasses.

M: Considering the quick turnaround time that comes with doing a Fringe show, with only thirty minutes to get in and get your stuff set up, as an actor how do you deal with warming up beforehand?

Lori: I try to do as much as possible at home and as soon as we’re in the space I try to (almost immediately) stretch and breathe.  We basically arrived today, set up the props as quickly as possible, and did a brief warm-up lying on the floor, before we were sent backstage.

M: With your considerable resume in film and television, what keeps bringing you back to doing theatre?

Lori: It’s my first love.  The first thing I ever did.  I thought I’d do it my whole life.  It’s an incredible experience to experience something live.  You as the actor experience it along with the audience.  So if something goes wrong, it’s all a part of that particular show.  The stakes are higher. Everybody’s nervous because it’s live, the actors and the audience.  I like being able to use my craft… to win people back.  Like after I’ve stumbled over a line, to be able to recover and get everyone back on my side.

M: Today’s turnout was pretty good, but how do you deal with small audiences?

Lori: I expect small audiences.  It’s par for the course doing theatre in Vancouver.  I mean, it’s a drag, but it’s what to expect.

M: And don’t you find that Vancouverites usually wait until the last few shows before coming out?

Lori: Totally.  I mean, that’s why we only did five days with Danny and The Deep Blue Sea.  We had a short run and almost sold out every time. The theatre was small (Pacific Theatre) but we had great houses because the run was so short.

M: How is being a part of the Fringe different from doing other theatre?

Lori: There’s more buzz with the Fringe.  And there’s way more community, like you’re meeting people and it’s like, “You’re in a show, I’m in a show, which show are you in?  Oh, I’ll come see it.”

M: Are the audiences different?

Lori: The Fringe is nice because it brings a lot of people who don’t normally come out to see theatre.

M: I think people are more understanding toward Fringe plays and come with a more open mind.

Lori: (nods) And, I think we as the performers take a lot of pressure off of ourselves because we’re doing the Fringe.  I mean, we have no time, well no one has any time really, to do rehearsals and tech and be in the space, so we take that pressure off ourselves and just play.

M: After you finish a piece do you find the character stays with you?

Lori: Depends on the show. I couldn’t shake Olivia (from Twelfth Night). I was probably the saddest I’ve been in years to see a play, and a character, go away.  I think I loved falling in love each night.  I didn’t really have any time between Danny and Canary so I’ll probably grieve Roberta (from Danny and The Deep Blue Sea) with Lily.  I mean Roberta fell in love too, but it was a different sort of love.  Olivia was young, or at least the love that she felt is that young fluttery love.

Long runs are what fuck with me the most.

M: As an actress what has been your biggest challenge this past year?

Lori: Aging (laughs) it’s been my biggest challenge the past 3 or 4 years.  Aging, and less substantial roles for people who usually do leads. Theatre though has been great.  Although I’ve been auditioning a lot recently, more in the last two weeks than months previously.  It’s always good to audition when you’re working because you’re not as needy… you’re more full.

It’s tough getting older.  When I played in Twelfth Night there was a review written about me about how I was this cougar in the play and she (the reviewer) was actually very nice about me but still, I was being called a cougar… which makes sense when I’m working with a 22 year old.

M: Do you have any parting advice for new actors?

Lori: Work hard. Don’t be afraid to work hard.  Know you have to work hard for the things you’re passionate about, also do it for you! (pause) The industry makes no sense.  (laughs) That’s a good one, I wish someone had told that to me when I started, this industry makes no sense!


Lori Triolo hails from New York where she studied at the renowned Neighborhood Playhouse.  She has had numerous film and television roles and can currently be seen at Studio 16 in Canary with the Vancouver International Fringe Festival until Sep 18 2010.

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