As the final week of the Classic Theatre Festival production of An Inspector Calls comes to a close (the last show is on Sept. 11 at 54 Beckwith Street East in Perth), Elana Post – who shines in the role of the imperious Sybil Birling – has been reflecting on the terrific ensemble with whom she is currently working.
“Right from the beginning everyone was open and trusting and giving and hard working,” says Post, who hails from southern Ontario. “That list could go on and on. And the humour! What a joy to have light hearts to counter-balance this sometimes intense and exhausting play. It’s been nice to spend a lot of time with them outside of the theatre too. Not all casts are like that. We’ve been on road trips, we’ve been canoeing, some of us went to the fair…. I’m with a group of people who care, and I think that shows on stage.”
Post says she has been blessed to work with similar ensembles throughout her career, which began in earnest when she appeared in the 1993 Stratford Festival production of The Mikado as an acrobat and, later, as a swing with the women’s chorus. Additional roles followed at Kitchener’s Theatre & Company, including as Felicity Cunningham in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound. Favourite roles that followed included Helen in George F. Walker’s Problem Child at Theatre & Company, which she viewed as a “milestone in my career. It was the first time I felt like I was holding my own, that I was strong in my craft. I had matured.” Other roles included Gillian Holroyd in John Van Druten’s Bell, Book & Candle at Touchmark Theatre.
Although she has appeared in many farces, Post was particularly fond of Judy from Robin Hawdon’s Perfect Wedding (at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre). “There was something about that character that I loved, and even though she helped cause a major problem, there were redeeming qualities in her that one couldn’t help but love her for. She is a sincere character.”
Playing Sybil Birling in An Inspector Calls poses its own unique challenges. “It’s tough to play an unlikable character,” Post says. “I always look for ways of opening a door that allows the audience to relate and empathize with the person I am playing. In a quality play, even the worst villain will be appealing in some way.”
Post combines a number of roles in her career, including producer, performer and director. As someone who plays both on stage and on film, she notes the differences between the two media. “There is an interesting element to film that takes a performance out of the hands of the actor. With the guidance of the director, the actor shapes their character, but then the director, and editors, and sound engineers, and sometimes several other technical people, take that performance and manipulate it, and shape it into something that fits perfectly with all of the other elements of the film. It is a ballet of many variables that can seem disjointed at first, but comes together as one. It can be quite incredible.”
A first-time performer at the Classic Theatre Festival, Post will leave with precious memories of Perth. “Perth is stunning,” she enthuses. “I am a big fan of architecture, and historical building preservation. I continue to be amazed by not only the sheer number of historical buildings, but by the fact that they are in terrific shape. The park, the river system, the friendly people. What a wonderful place to spend time in. I’m so glad Classic Theatre Festival is here in Perth. The two complement each other so well.”
To see Post’s critically praised performance in the 5-star production of An Inspector Calls, tickets can be purchased at www.classictheatre.ca or 1-877-283-1283. The show closes September 11.