Last year, audiences fell in love with the irresistible Victorian aristocrat in William & James. Soon, queer actor Lawrence Aronovitch will be performing with Toto Too a second time.
While the gay and lesbian theatre company’s first play featured Aronovitch as a man dying of consumption, the new production will see him takes on a rather different role.
“This time I’m playing a man who’s already died,” says Aronovitch.
He plays a recently deceased university chancellor who appears unstage only during flashbacks in David Lohrey’s Jigsaw Confession. The Chancellor’s son, Dennis, searches through his father’s possessions hoping to find clues about the past. Dennis must come to grips with the Chancellor’s decision years earlier to leave his family to live with a young man, one of his students. The Chancellor’s relationship with his son — the same age as his lover — is a troubled one.
Jigsaw Confession, playing at Arts Court in Jan 30-Feb 2, is Toto Too’s third production. To date, the company has had success with their productions William & James last March and Theatrelife this summer.
“The son has issues with his father’s relationship, but is it because of the age difference? Because he’s queer? Because it’s not his mother? Because they just don’t get along?” muses Aronovitch.
In addition to playing lead roles in Toto Too’s productions, Aronovitch is also a member of the Reading Committee that helps select plays for upcoming productions. He believes heavily in the importance of the community theatre in approaching controversial issues that might not otherwise be explored:
“Plays can try and offer a window of exploration,” he says. “How do we pick our plays? They must be well-written and have interesting characters. What’s the special reason for this company? What do you want the play to deal with? What kinds of issues? Does the play speak to you? It must be entertaining and provoking: if you’ve got that happening, I think your company is successful.”
From the looks of it, Jigsaw certainly fits the bill: the play examines what it means for a father to realize he is gay. For the character Dennis, these two aspects of the Chancellor’s life — having a child and having a homosexual relationship — are paradoxical. Aronovitch sympathizes with the difficulty in comprehending this notion, especially for an earlier generation. The Chancellor would have grown up before the sexual revolution, before most people could deal openly with their sexual desires.
“Men were obliged to get married; they took a wife to further their professional ambitions. Only later do some realize ‘this doesn’t fit who you are anymore.’ [The Chancellor] is not being self-aware about a lot of things, which makes sense if you think about gay men who come out later in life,” explains Aronovitch.
The keen actor finds it particularly fascinating putting together the pieces of the relationship between the Chancellor and his male student.
“Was this a thunderclap out of the blue? Love at first sight? What transpires between them? We had a good time figuring out what was going on there, but we couldn’t quite recognize the seed from which evolved chemistry and how it manifested in their first meeting. These moments are key in people’s lives.”
Recently Aronovitch starred in the New Ottawa Repertory Theatre’s production of Family Matters as a man who attempts to formulate relationship with his daughter after leaving his family years earlier. Sounds familiar?
“I’ve been playing strange father figures: weak, troubled, flawed — in their flaws they end up hurting people they love.”
“I guess I’m just attracted to flawed men,” says Aronovitch.