Canadian director promotes theatre in VN

November 10, 2016 - 09:00

Canadian actor and director Keigan Page is passionate about theatre and has settled in Việt Nam to inspire other foreign and local residents.

Passionate about theatre: Keigan Page poses for a photo with the Saigon Players performing "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged". Courtesy Photo of Saigon Players
Viet Nam News

By Thiên Hương

Canadian actor and director Keigan Page is passionate about theatre and has settled in Việt Nam to inspire other foreign and local residents.

Keeping himself busy with rehearsals, workshops, shows and drama classes at the Saigon Players and The American School, he rarely has time to be lonely.

“Theatre has the power to transform people,” he says. “Theatre is a magical place where the truest form of who you are and the essence of who you are and your ability come to life. Theatre has changed who I was and helped to build up who I am today.”

When he was ten years old, he was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). For years he was ashamed, shunned by people and removed from class for disturbing others.

Page finally found the place where he could be himself — in a drama class.

After graduating from college with a degree in theatre and English, he taught social skills to young people through drama and performance at a camp for children with ADHD in Canada. He also worked as a volunteer in Costa Rica and Nicaragua before coming to Việt Nam three years ago.

Inspired by a friend who had come to Việt Nam, Page fell in love with the country “within a day”.

“Việt Nam has given me the opportunity to do what I love and experience an entirely different world and culture,” he said. “I have grown so much from living here and learned so many new things from my time in Việt Nam. The culture and landscape blows me away more than anything else. Việt Nam has it all — from history, to scenic lands to beautiful beaches. I am constantly telling my friends back home that if you want to experience a bunch of different things, Việt Nam is the place to go.”

Page has been an active member of the steering board of Saigon Players. Established in 2003, Saigon Players is the most veteran English-language drama group in HCM City. The group holds live performances of classical plays and newly composed plays by its members.

“We started up very simply doing sketch comedies in bars and many places in town, raising money for charity,” Emily Huckson, writer and director of the Saigon Players, told VTV’s reporters.

“He has a lot of positive energy, ideas for the group,” Huckson said of Page.

 “As a director, I have a vision, I have an idea what I want and then I pass it on to everyone else,” said Page, “I personally trust my actors...I may have a vision but at first I want to see their visions, what they come up with. Some of the best ideas in the play don’t come from me, but from my actors.”

Zachary McMacken, an actor at Saigon Players, praised Page’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“He often tells us: ‘Whatever you want to do, we will figure out how to do it.’ He picks out really funny pieces that need a lot of work. He tackles big projects. I like his ‘go ahead’ way of doing a lot of things, but he’s still flexible.”

 “We want to give all the money to charity,” said Huckson. “Over the years I’m proud to say that we have raised funds for a vast amount of organisations, some that are very small and some very well-known, like Christina Noble or Operation Smile.”

“The money goes to charity but we are definitely professionals in a sense that we will not put on a show that is not worth the money we are asking for,” Page said.

A recent show featuring Shakespeare’s plays directed by Page gathered VNĐ30 million (US$1,333) from ticket sales. The whole sum will be donated to Walking Hope, a foundation founded in 2013 by highschool students at the American School in HCM City.

“Saigon Players help us a lot,” said Mai Trọng Thường, vice chairman of the foundation. “The sum this time will be spent on a building a three-room dorm for Mông children and children of indiginous groups in northern Việt Nam.”

Beside working at Saigon Players, Page has also worked as a drama teacher at the American School in HCM City, which lets him build the drama programme.

The school is currently working on a brand new musical that has never been performed before called "Rumours", set to the music of Fleetwood Mac. It raises serious issues that many teens relate to, including how rumours within a school can destroy lives.

“Some schools may think the content is a bit extreme but really it is exactly what our students face on a regular basis and the school trusts us to create tastefully and with the respect the subject deserves,” he said.

“The students have stepped up to this in a serious way. My students are extremely talented and risk takers. They are always excited about anything I throw at them and often exceed my expectations, which makes it that much better,” he added.

Page likes Vietnamese food.

“The best food I have eaten was from a shop in Vũng Tàu,” he said. “They serve shrimp pancakes that have been fried in oil and served with fish sauce and lettuce leaves. It is an amazingly delicious food that explodes with flavour, and the seafood is so fresh.”

“Of course I am always a fan of bún chả Hà Nội (grilled pork with vermicelli), fried noodles with seafood and morning glory stirred in fat with garlic,” he said. — VNS


Inspiring others: Keigan Page (left) directs a scene of the Saigon Players’ production of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged". Courtesy Photo of Saigon Players