Agnes Tong and Dean Paul Gibson in “The Shoplifters,” an Arts Club on Tour show staged at Surrey Arts Centre from Jan. 15 to 25. (Photo: David Cooper)

THEATRE

In return to Surrey, busy actor Gibson could steal the show in ‘The Shoplifters’

Four actors reunite for an Arts Club tour of the Morris Panych comedy

In the back room of a grocery store, surrounded by boxes stacked to the ceiling, pairs of shoplifters and security guards butt heads in the latest Arts Club on Tour show in Surrey.

The Shoplifters is reason for a reunion of actors Patti Allan, Dean Paul Gibson, Agnes Tong and Raugi Yu, who first played in Morris Panych’s comedy a year ago on Granville Island. This time, for about a month, they hit the road on stages around Metro Vancouver, including Surrey Arts Centre’s main boards from Jan. 15 to 25.

“It’s the same people brought together again,” said Gibson, the Semiahmoo Peninsula-raised thespian. “We knew last year there was potential of taking this on tour, and we only wanted to do that if we could all do it together again, because we had such a good time. A big part of it is having a good laugh and also working on material that is fun to do, and entertaining and has a touch of down and a little bit of, you know, social issues and lots of heart. This has all that.”

Allan plays Alma, a career shoplifter who prefers a five-finger discount over any deal for senior citizens. When a theft with her anxious sidekick (Tong, as Phyllis) goes awry, her life of petty crime is halted by an overzealous security guard (Yu, as Dom) and his affable mentor (Gibson, as Otto).

These four misfit characters propel a Panych script that focuses on “small people with small lives,” as the director and playwright calls them – people who want something and will do anything to get it. “I’m really fascinated with what’s happening in the world right now, with people being left behind, and I wanted to write about that,” Panych told an interviewer.

(story continues below video)

Since his school days at Earl Marriott Secondary, Gibson has made an award-winning career of acting, directing, adjudicating and teaching the art of theatre, far and wide. He is a staple at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, where he directed the rarely-staged Coriolanus last summer, and speaks at events such as Work of Art, a day-long conference held in Newton last October.

“It’s a wonderful thing to be a creative person and be gainfully employed and doing what you love, you know,” said Gibson, who now lives in Vancouver’s Main Street corridor.

“With acting and directing, I go back and forth,” he continued, “and this year has been an extraordinary year for acting, and in between, directing some passion projects, including Coriolanus, and teaching and adjudicating and the various other things I do. Quite frankly, as an artist working in the theatre, you have to create a lot of different streams where you’re going to be stimulated and also earning money to pay the mortgage, you know. If I want to keep doing this, I gotta keep that monkey dancing,” he said with a laugh.

(story continues below video)

The Now-Leader caught up with Gibson before Christmas, when rehearsals for The Shoplifters remount hadn’t yet begun.

“The theory is, if all the same people come back again, you’re supposed to be able to cut rehearsals a little bit and be able to get back up in a quicker fashion – and that’s yet to be determined this time, but I’m sure it will be,” Gibson related. “Morris will be flying in and running us through for a week in the hall before we take it on the road (starting Jan. 9). This time it’s all about putting the words back in our brains. So I just did a delete on The Merchant of Venice, a play I did in Calgary, and now I’m uploading The Shoplifters. It’s how it works…. Learning lines, it’s association and repetition, and the next thing you know, you’re doing King Lear.”

In Surrey, tickets for The Shoplifters range from $29 to $49. Call 604-501-5566 for details, or visit tickets.surrey.ca. The run at the arts centre includes several “value-added performances,” including opening night (Jan. 15), a First Friday show (Jan. 17), Paint at the Play (Jan. 18), a pre-show chat (Jan. 21), Talkback Thursday (Jan. 23) and VocalEye description for the blind (Jan. 25).



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Supreme Court upholds White Rock council decision on Lady Alexandra development

Planned 12-storey highrise on lower Johnston Road was stalled in 2018

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MARCH 31: Five more in B.C. have died due to COVID-19

Surrey RCMP not seeing ‘significant loss’ in ranks because of COVID-19

Surrey Mounties say they have a good tracking system to keep tabs on police officers experiencing an illness

No final high school game for Surrey all-stars; six scholarship winners named

COVID-19 forces cancellation of all-star games for boys and girls at Enver Creek gym April 3

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

UPDATE: 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC heart surgery patient rarely leaves home

James Jepson is especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Most Read

l -->