“By-Products is a fun, sexy, and entertaining night of singing, laughter, touching moments, dancing, and just maybe, a little noshing” – Noah Marcus
The newest show to hit the uOttawa theatre stage promises to be unlike anything you have ever seen before. Directed by Andre Perrier and written by a variety of local playwrights and poets, By-Products/Ottawa Dérivé is a production that explores and celebrates Ottawa in a variety of ways. The show is colingual, it features a cast of 10 performers, 5 who speak primarily English, and 5 who speak primarily French throughout the show highlighting one of the most unique aspects of uOttawa; our bilingual student body. The show is ground breaking in that it will be the first performance to be put on in uOttawa’s newest building, LabO, located on the corner of Waller St and Mackenzie King Bridge. This is one you won’t want to miss, catch it during its run next September!
Lucky for me I was able to catch up with one of the English cast members. Cast member Noah Marcus is a second-year theatre student pursuing his Honours Bachelor of Arts with a Specialization in Theatre Studies. Noah comes from the town of London, Ontario where he got his start by participating in community and high school theatre productions. We spoke about By-Products/Ottawa Dérivé, uOttawa’s Theatre Department, and how he found himself pursuing a career in acting. Read on to learn more!
Her Campus uOttawa: What made you want to pursue acting?
Noah Marcus: I fell in love with theatre in high school, and quickly found that I greatly enjoyed acting. Having been a kid with stage fright until his Bar Mitzvah I had never considered a career in performance, but the more I thought about what I wanted to study in university, the more I found myself drawn to acting and dreaming of performing as my main career. Eventually I decided, along with support from my family and friends, to follow my dream.
HCuO: What do you enjoy most about acting?
NM: A lot of things. There is a certain child-like joy and wonder to continuing to play, and pretend to be other people and do incredible things. There is the rush of the performance, and the pride at getting to show other people something that you have put a lot of time and effort into preparing. But mostly I find that I love telling stories. I love diving into a character to show the world what their story is, and to make audiences feel something, or consider something they hadn’t before.
HCuO: Why did you choose uO?
NM: A variety of reasons. The theatre program blends together a mix of practical, on your feet classes with more theoretical and traditionally academic classes, which was something I was particularly looking for. Additionally, I find that the feeling one gets when in a space is very important, and uOttawa just felt right to me. As well, theatre at uOttawa is special in that it is offered in both French and English, something unlike other theatre programs at other institutions. For me it boils down to the professors and students who are integral to the theatre department. I find that it is the fantastic people of the department that really makes it special.
HCuO: When did you first perform?
NM: I would say that my first notable performance came when I was in Grade 10, and I played one of the Knights of the Round Table in Monty Python’s SPAMalot (Directed by Laura Morland). My first out of school performance was as Claudio in a production of Much Ado About Nothing (Directed by Krista Jackson).
HCuO: What has been your favourite performance to date?
NM: That’s hard to say. I have certainly loved all the productions that I have been involved in. If I had to pick one (aside from the one I am currently working on!) I would say my Grade 12 school performance of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (Directed by Michael Pizzuti). The set and costumes were outstanding and Sir Lawrence Wargrave is one of the most interesting and challenging characters I have played.
HCuO: Part of what makes this new show so cool is that it will be the first one put on in uO’s new theatre building, what is LabO? What sets it apart from the previous theatre building?
NM: LabO is the brand new black box theatre and supporting studio classrooms that have been built for use by the uOttawa Theatre department. The current theatre building is one of the oldest buildings on campus and not originally designed for use as a theatre. The building was later converted so that it could house an end-stage theatre as well as a black box theatre. LabO on the other hand was built and designed with teaching theatre in mind.
HCuO: What sort of person will love By-Products/Ottawa Dérivé?
NM: Anyone and everyone! It is certainly not a traditional play, so anyone who appreciates a little experimentation and “play”, will certainly love this show. We really strive to break down the barriers between actor and audience, and make the audience feel welcome in the new space, much in the same way we’re only just welcoming ourselves as well.
HCuO: What is challenging about the production of By-Products/Ottawa Dérivé?
NM: As someone who would not necessarily describe themselves as a dancer, there is certainly more dancing in this show than any other I have done before. I am also challenged in that one of the characters I am playing is unlike any other I have played in the past, which I am very excited about. In terms of telling a story, our goal is more so to convey a feeling, rather than tell a cohesive story. People are constantly changing characters, and each scene (typically) stands on its own as a sort of mini-story. Working in both French and English hasn’t really posed any problems, and that’s coming from someone who only speaks one of those languages!
HCuO: What is your performance goal in terms of By-Products/Ottawa Dérivé?
NM: With a show like this one where there is no central plot line, and for the most part each scene stands on its own, my goal is really to entertain people. This is a lighthearted show that occasionally touches on the darker aspects of Ottawa, but at its core, it’s about having fun, being entertaining, and coming together from all walks of life, whether you speak French or English to celebrate both Ottawa and the opening of LabO.
HCuO: What do you see for yourself after this? What is your professional goal for the future?
NM: My professional goal for the future is to make a living as an actor. Put simply, I want to hone my skills while in university before throwing myself at my dream profession. So far all of my experience comes from work on stage but I would love to try my hand at film or voice work. A personal bucket list item for me would be to voice a character in a video game, not necessarily the main playable character (though that would be really cool), but definitely an NPC (non-player character) that you can interact with. I just think it would be so awesome to be able to play the game and interact with myself as that character.
Following the main part of the interview we moved into a lighting round of questions.
HCuO: Why did you want to be involved in By-Products/Ottawa Dérivé?
NM: There is a certain level of excitement that comes with being one of the first people to perform in the brand-new theatre. Additionally, the more I learned about the show, the more I loved it and wanted to be a part of it
HCuO: What’s the most fun you’ve ever had putting on a production?
NM: The process of rehearsing and then mounting a show necessitates becoming really close with your fellow performers, and so inevitably shenanigans and jokes between cast mates arise. By-Products/Ottawa Dérivé has been a particularly fun show for me, since the cast is all so entertaining and funny.
* In speaking with Noah, I also learnt of a time he created a “man-wich” with two other cast-mates during the lead up to the run of Julius Caesar. But to get the details of this and other high-jinks I’m told that readers will have to wait for his auto-biography when he’s an old man.
HCuO: Can you describe what it feels like to be onstage?
NM: The powerful feeling of being a part of something greater than oneself.
HCuO: Is there anyone you’d like to thank, for helping you on your theatrical journey?
NM: There are plenty of people to thank. My friends and family for supporting me, every single cast mate, director, stage manager, and designer that I have worked with, and will work with. I think that everyone who comes into our lives changes us, and to all of those people I am truly grateful.
Thank you to Noah for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me about the upcoming show! During the school year Noah maintains a crazy schedule between school, shows, and being a member of London’s and Ottawa’s Jewish community.
**Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.