When he isn’t on stage or behind the TV or movie camera, or traveling across Canada to his next acting engagement, Jamie Williams plays his best role to date – stay at home Dad. “Ironically, my choice of career allows me to spend more time at home looking after my four-year-old daughter when my wife, who is also an actor, can’t be home.” He calls those times his fantasy life.
Unlike his divorced (and remarried) character, Williams is “happily married” to the actor he met at Stratford Festival years ago. Since then, the 15-year veteran actor has learned to juggle career and fatherhood. He is in Prince George this month to play the role of Dennis Turnbull in Theatre North West’s production, The Invisibility of Eileen.
The Toronto-based actor feels quite at home here. “Actors get over-exposed if they stay in one place too long,” said Williams. “In the acting community we usually do move around a lot.” During a rehearsal break Sunday, Williams talked about his new role.
“I play Eileen’s ex-husband. The character is pushing 50. And he and his relationship to his ex-wife is complicated. Basically, Dennis has unresolved feelings for his ex. He has this nagging doubt about whether he made the right choice taking up with a younger woman. He feels bits of anger, frustration, regret and acceptance,” Fullness and range are always important for actors in character development, Williams explained. “There are no bad characters really in this play so I want to bring roundness to my character. I think people will relate to Dennis and recognize aspects of their own life.”
The story by playwright Kit Brennan centres around Eileen Turnbull (Leisa Way) who discovers an older woman sleeping in her flower garden. The chance meeting changes both their lives. Janet Spragge (Delores Drake) is the confused, eccentric stranger. For Williams, the play presents a welcome change in pace.
“I’ve been doing a lot of farces lately,” he said. “So this is a good opportunity for me to do drama that is reality based. The situations are highly relevant but the underlying comedy does come out in it.”
Cast members do become like family, he said. “I like theatre for the process and team work. It’s a collaboration. There is immediate response in theatre. When the audience responds and it’s easier to read that with comedy it informs you about what you’re doing.”
Williams began acting “as a kid” in elementary school. “I was an avid reader and one who was interested in many things. One of the attractions of acting was that it gave me a chance to investigate different aspects of life. I could look into the life of a doctor – or a murderer.
The Invisibility of Eileen runs from February 1 to 20, nightly except Mondays, at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. February 12 and 19. Theatre North West, Parkhill Centre, 556 Nechako Rd. Tickets at Books and Company, Studio 2880. Phone orders 614-0039 or 563-2880.