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STEPHEN ON STAGE


Photo by Tim Matheson

Almost immediately after I came to Vancouver in 1968 I started hanging out at the Theatre Department of the University of British Columbia. As many have noted, exposure to theatre can be utterly infectious. Because I wasn’t enrolled in any theatre courses, I simply volunteered for everything and ended up basically living at the theatre. Eventually I was hired by the Department as a stage carpenter and technician!

After my discharge from active duty in the winter of 1971, I returned to Vancouver and at term's end joined with a group of UBC students in the founding of Tamahnous Theatre Workshop.

Tamahnous was an experimental company in true underground style. As much as possible we created new work, or performed new plays, or occasionally adapted a classic. The wonderful thing about the company was that we could miscast ourselves, and by so doing we made opportunities for ourselves that we would never have gotten in the “straight” theatre. We were organized as a collective and pretty much lived our lives as company members. Tamahnous was a very influential company and deserves its own web history. I was with the company for 11 years and it was often hard work, but we did some fantastic work and those were wonderful times for which I will always be thankful.


Photo courtesy DaVinci's Inquest

Film and television production began to take off in Vancouver in 1978 and I began auditioning and writing screenplays on spec. I found the screenplay experience thrilling but terribly frustrating. It usually boiled down to a string of lunches, often wonderful lunches, and an evolutionary re-configuration of the script so that the ingredients shifted about like a Rubik’s cube. The amount of money needed to float a film is ridiculous, but coming from the underground I always gravitated to the no-budget work of my friends. By doing everything that came along, when the Vancouver boom hit I was already one of the more experienced film actors in town. Suzie Payne and I had married and were pregnant and I limited appearances on stage to one per year.

Unforgettable film and television moments include swimming with Hume Cronyn, improvising for a day with Robert DeNiro, carrying Bette Davis down a flight of concrete stairs, stunt driving with Burt Reynolds, delivering Laura Dern's child, and performing in radio dramas at CBC. I really enjoyed my appearances in The Gray Fox, The Accused, and Reefer Madness, the musical. Another highlight was appearing in the pilot episode of the X-Files and two more over the life of the show, after which I was rewarded with a regular role as FBI Assistant Director Andy McClaren in Chris Carter's Millennium. I am proud to have been a three-time Gemini nominee and a winner of a Leo Award for my portrayal of Vancouver Police traffic investigator, Zack McNab, on the critically acclaimed DaVinci's Inquest and DaVinci’s City Hall television series.

I continue to appear on stage at various venues in Vancouver, most recently in the Playhouse Theatre Company's production of Moonlight and Magnolias in the role of Victor Fleming.