Vancouver radio personality and voice actor Doc Harris steps back onto the stage after a thirty year absence to take on the role of the narrator in the upcoming production of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.
“I’ve done a lot of television and movies, but haven’t done something on stage for quite a while now,” says Harris. “I think the last time was back in 1983 or 1984 in a production of Grease.”
What did it take to get Harris back on the boards? It was being both a fan of Vonnegut’s writing and director/producer Matt Clarke.
“Matt asked and I said I would be happy to,” says Harris. “But I’m also a big fan of both the movie and book, and of Vonnegut.” A favourite, Harris ranks Slaughterhouse Five along with a litany of other Vonnegut titles that includes Welcome to the Monkey House, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and Breakfast of Champions.
In this adaptation of the novel by Academy Award winner filmmaker Eric Simonson, it follows Vonnegut’s original story of Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes “unstuck in time” after he is abducted by aliens. Taking its name from a slaughterhouse in Dresden, Germany in which Pilgrim finds himself imprisoned, it is an aspect of the story that also mirrors Vonnegut’s life. With its non-linear time-line, it follows Pilgrim simultaneously through all the phases of his life.
And while Harris says the play’s shattered timeline may leave those that are not familiar with the book or movie behind at the outset, it won’t take long for them to catch-up. “I think three-quarters of the audience will get it immediately and about a quarter will not,” laughs Harris. “But after about ten minutes it will all start to sink in.”
With rehearsals in full swing and opening night just days away, Harris says he has finally been able to see just how funny Vonnegut’s play is: “It is poignant and funny and violent,” he says. “At rehearsals last night I finally got to the point where I could relax and I laughed out loud at much of the show.”
Slaughterhouse-Five plays Studio 1398 (1398 Cartwright St, Granville Island) November 11-15. Visit http://littlemountainlion.com for tickets and information.