Watch out for Aidan Sank – he’s a young actor and singer who’s going places.
That shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s encountered him in school productions of Annie and Les Miserables (Elgin Park Secondary) or local community productions such as Thoroughly Modern Millie (Impromptu Theatre), Ha! – and even this writer’s The Dawn Patrol (White Rock Players Club).
They’re likely to agree that Sank has always displayed a maturity beyond his years, a highly intelligent and conscientious approach to text and characterization plus the all-important drive and energy to succeed.
Only 17 when he won a coveted spot in the prestigious Circle In The Square theatre school in New York City – where he cut his theatrical teeth in workshop productions of Shakespeare and Chekhov – the personable Elgin Park grad, now 20, says he’s continuing to love life in the Big Apple.
That includes everything from walking in Central Park and hanging out at the Metropolitan Museum to checking out interesting restaurants in the West Village – not to mention a day gig as a host at the historic Monkey Bar in Manhattan’s Elysee Hotel, formerly a hangout for Tallulah Bankhead and other Jazz Age celebrities.
Most of all, he said, he loves the life of a professional actor – and Sank has managed to attract attention, and book acting jobs, even in New York’s fast-paced, competitive environment.
“It’s like the song says – ‘if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere’,” he said. “It’s good to be a small fish in a big pond, rather than a big fish in a small pond. This profession lends itself to laziness, so I try to keep busy auditioning and doing all the things you have to do, like keeping your website current.”
He got his first gig – a supporting character in an off-off Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet – the day after he graduated Circle In The Square and he’s been keeping busy since (even a scheduled phone interview had to be pushed back slightly to accomodate an audition opportunity).
“I’ve done five shows since I graduated,” he said. “ Four out of five were classical, and three of those have been Shakespeare.”
He’s keeping connected to his spiritual side as a regular attendee at his synagogue, and he’s making every effort to stay physically fit by playing squash – even though water polo (which he used to compete in and coach at a provincial level) has had to take a back seat to his acting ambitions.
The only downside, he says, is missing his parents and his two younger sisters in South Surrey – even though he keeps in almost daily touch through Skype.
“I’m very close to my family, and it’s hard to be that far away – I miss being the protective older brother’, “ he said. “I never foresaw myself being one who would travel so far from home.”
Sank also keeps in touch with several good friends from high school, and former drama teacher Stan Engstrom, he said.
If his current life doesn’t sound busy enough, Sank is also involved with the management and marketing for a New York-based wedding band – Madison 35 – for whom he helped set up a Facebook page and just finished filming a promo video.
One of the principals, Dan Baruchowicz, is a good friend he met through synagogue. In addition to both being singers they share a South African heritage – although he was born in Canada, Sank’s family is originally from Capetown.
“It’s a different conduit of my creativity, and one that I’m enjoying,” Sank said. “And all the skills are directly applicable to my own career.”
On stage, he’s enjoyed honing skills in bringing classical texts to an audience, such as playing the dual roles of Marcellus and a player in Hamlet and playing the lead in a musical adaptation of the ancient Greek tragedy Prometheus, attributed to Aeschylus. Naturally skilled in dialects, he’s also enjoyed mastering an authentic accent for the Irish drama Dancing at Lughnasa.
But he also found one of Circle In The Square’s professional children’s shows – an exploration of the Cinderella myth in different cultures – a much more rewarding experience than he was expecting.
“I was acting for 800 kids, five days a week for five weeks,” he said. “
Although I didn’t feel like I was being the serious actor I was trained to be, it was a wonderful feeling that you were having an effect on children in that way.”
He’s also warmed to volunteer work he has been doing with Our Time, an organization devoted to working with preteens who stutter.
“I fell in love with working with kids,” he said. “It keeps you honest. Acting can be a very selfish profession, but this is something that allows you to shift focus from yourself to other people.”
Sank admits the biggest hurdle ahead of him, as a Canadian trying to break into mainstream theatre and film in the U.S., is securing a green card, without which Actors Equity work is off limits for him.
It will involve demonstrating that he is “an artist of extraordinary ability” and that he has good relationships with production companies that will continue to offer him work.
But he has confidence that talent – and the work connections he has already forged – will see him through.
He and some friends are also developing their own theatre company for special projects to intersperse with more bread-and-butter work.
Above all, Sank said, he has discovered that he truly loves acting, and is determined to pursue it as a career.
“I feel absolutely blessed to have gotten into the school that I did and having had the training, even though being out of school is difficult because of the competition.
“But I love the feeling about New York that you’re always on the cusp of an opportunity,” he said. “I always feel like I’m on the verge of something – and most of the shows I’ve got have been from people coming to see shows I’m in.”