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Meet the NSFW Company: James Graham

Rupert  (James Graham, left) goes toe to toe with his boss, Aidan (Patrick Galligan)

Rupert (James Graham, left) goes toe-to-toe with his boss, Aidan (Patrick Galligan)

Next up in our NSFW profiles is James Graham, who plays Rupert, a study in privilege and provocation.

Studio 180: What have you been up to lately?

James Graham: I have been very fortunate this year (only my second since moving back to Toronto from the U.S.) to be welcomed into this dynamic and generous community and to work on a number of projects I am very proud to be a part of. I had the privilege of sharing the stage with the incredible ensemble of HGJT’s New Jerusalem in March followed by a summer under the stars in As You Like It and Titus Andronicus in CanStage’s Dream in High Park. In addition, my small theatre company, The Howland Company, which I help start last July, has taken off. Our first show, 52 Pick-Up, opened to a sold-out run at the Toronto Fringe and was named Best of Fringe 2014. It all still feels a bit surreal.

180: Is this your first Studio 180 show?

JG: This is my first time working with Studio 180, but I have always been a huge fan of their work, dating back to The Laramie Project. Not only is the work they produce engaging and entertaining, I admire their ability to use their plays as a tool for educating young audiences and their commitment to finding new voices telling contemporary stories.

180: Tell us about your role in NSFW.

JG: Well, I think it’s safe to say that everyone has a Rupert in their life. You know that person who’s inappropriate, entitled, and cringe-inducing, but you keep him around because, hey, he’s a hell of a lot of fun! While I have developed a real soft spot for this loveable asshole, he has also made me more conscious of how easy it is to let casual sexism off the hook in the name of a few good laughs.

"Bloody hell babe, how much did they give you?"

“Bloody hell babe, how much did they give you?”

180: What would you say is the most challenging thing about your role in NSFW?

JG: I would say the biggest challenge (as it is often the case with good writing), but the most exciting one, has been learning to separate from my own personal feelings toward the material from my character’s. There are some complicated themes in this show that I have strong opinions on, but ultimately they have no bearing on Rupert’s journey through the play. He is a strong and free personality and, while he and I have a few fundamental differences, it has been an absolute joy to take on such an unapologetic individual. That kind of confidence can be infectious and it’s been a tricky challenge to leave some of his more negative traits in the rehearsal room.

180: Why do you think audiences should check out NSFW?

JG: The play is funny, angry, and incredibly relevant. I can’t see people leaving the show without a strong opinion one way or another and there is really no better reason than that to go to the theatre.

180: What’s coming up for you?

JG: Though I have no big projects immediately lined up, my work with The Howland Company continues in full force. We host a cold reading series (show up and read a play with us) on the last Sunday of every month, we have a couple of very exciting new pieces in development, and plans are afoot to remount 52 Pick-Up this coming March. Check us out at: www.howlandcompanytheatre.com

NSFW plays until November 30 at The Theatre Centre

  • A co-founder of Studio 180, Mark is a Toronto-based actor, writer and producer. As a member of our Core Artistic Team, Mark coordinates the company’s new play development initiatives and is one of our Studio 180 IN CLASS workshop leaders. More posts by Mark McGrinder

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