Toronto Film School Students Chronicle The Life Of Jude On Stage In Toronto

Eighteen Toronto Film School students got to showcase their acting chops at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse last week when they brought The Life of Jude to the stage.


Yash Dubey Productions/Photos


Touted as equal parts “hilarious and devastating,” playwright Alex Poch-Goldin said The Life of Jude is a parable play about the calamity a boy whose unwavering belief that he’s been touched by God brings upon the fictional town of Hope.



“As Jude tries to ‘heal’ the community around him, he ends up sowing tragedy because he becomes indoctrinated into a form of Christianity that shows no flexibility,” Poch-Goldin, an instructor in TFS’s Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre diploma program, said of his allegorical play’s title character.


“Although it does deal with serious themes, it’s an extremely funny play and I hope the audience laughs a lot.”



While Poch-Goldin’s The Life of Jude first took the stage by storm back in 2013 as SummerWorks Festival’s largest-ever production to date at the time, this year’s TFS production, he said, marked his first time taking over its reins as director.



Poch-Goldin said having cast a talented troupe of 18 of his own acting students to bring the characters he created on the page to life on the stage has made his Life of Jude directorial debut a rewarding experience, to say the least



“To be honest, some of these students have never even seen a professional play, much less done any theatre before…but I come from a theatrical background and I feel very strongly that the best actors are those who have strong theatrical experience,” said the 30-year veteran actor whose credits include major productions for Mirvish, Canadian Stage, and Tarragon Theatre ­– including a recent turn as Joel Singer in the Tony Award-winning play Oslo this past February.



“The whole notion of analyzing text, and how to be present in the moment, and how to take the stage and be seen…a lot of actors get that experience in the theatre, so it’s really important that our acting students get to develop those chops here on the stage.”


One of the stand-out actors working on the TFS production of The Life of Jude, Poch-Goldin said, was Joseph Dancey ­– the 21-year-old cast in the play’s title role.



“He has this youthfulness, but also an integrity and an intelligence that I thought would work really well for Jude,” he said of Dancey. “He’s really filling out the journey of the character extremely well, so I’m really pleased about that.”



Other noteworthy cast members included 27-year-old Sani Jalalzadeh, who Poch-Goldin said brought a “maturity and authority” to the role of Jude’s mother, Theresa, and Michael Abram, 21, and Ian-Michael Paquette, 22, who played the “key supporting roles” of the water-seller and rag-seller.



“I’m actually quite pleased with all of the casting – everyone involved is pulling their weight and I think everyone is also gaining an appreciation for the theatre and for stage acting,” Poch-Goldin said.


The Life of Jude took to the stage for a three-night run at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, 79 St. George St. on Thursday, June 20, Friday, June 21, and Saturday, June 22.