Remembrances of a Lumbering Bear, Part 2

Wherein Rob reflects upon his theatre career, play by play

Act One, Scene Two – 1985 – Electra, by Euripides. Produced by the UPEI Theatre Society. Directed by David Moses.

Role: Pylades…. Also with a cast of many

At one point in my life – well, for the first 20+ years or so – I was a rather slim, athletic person. I only point that out so that when you read this, you won’t be imagining the current me, the hulking mass of a man that I am resolved to be. As you read on, imagine a sleek, tall, well-proportioned version of me.

Think this guy:


(This was me, a year before, on my way to be Billy Idol at the Halloween Pub at The Barn at UPEI. The vest was a black garbage bag, as was the studded wrist band. The studs were painted on white-out. The pleather pants I stole from Zellers. I won the prize for best costume – the prize was a bar tab.)

I played Pylades, a fried of Orestes, in this production of Electra, the Greek tragedy. The character of Pylades is persona muta, which means he has no speaking lines. I don’t know if David giving me that role was a comment and criticism of my performance in Glass Menagerie or not.  I think I was the first in the cast to be off book. The role itself was pretty simple: “Move here on this line and look Greek soldiery.”

And what’s a Greek soldier wear? My wardrobe consisted of a leather-type black vest or tunic, a leather helmet, and a short, short black fabric skirt.  And sandals with laces up the calves, and a sword. It’s the short short skirt I remember. (It’s also the thing all the ladies remember, am I right, girls?).  An intimidating piece of wardrobe, difficult to wear comfortably and assuredly, for a shy, unsullied young man. I will leave it to the Critics of History whether I pulled the look off or not.  But I can tell you this: it didn’t get me laid.

Also, neither Billy Idol nor a bar tab got me laid a year earlier. I certainly wasn’t secure enough in myself to flirt, and I was beyond naive when it came to the idea someone might want to flirt with me. I remember one night at Gentleman Jim’s, I was actually up on the dance floor – I most likely was dancing by myself, so it must have been Flyin’ Phil’s New Wave Monday Night – and some woman kept groping my ass. Not a careless touch from a swinging, dancing arm. But a firm, committed, obvious grab of my ass. I looked behind me, and an attractive woman smiled at me. I turned around and continued dancing. Another ass grab. Then another bigger, nodding, knowing smile from her. My reaction was not “Hey, alright, she’s coming on to me!”, rather it was more along the lines of “What’s HER problem?” To rid myself of any chance of encounter and confusion, I quickly returned to my seat and most likely finished off a Keiths. Only later, too late later, did it even cross my mind she may have been making a move on me.

What else do I remember from Electra? Well, Glynnis Ranney played Electra (was she just visiting PEI at the time?), and she would go on, a few years later to play Anne Shirley in The Charlottetown Festival’s production of Anne of Green Gables, The Musical. There were quite a few female peers in the cast, many of whom may have even actually been trying to make moves on me, dressed in my balls-high skirt and leather. How would I even know?