Meet Vancouver theatre professional Robert Garry Haacke.
This continues our special series featuring the 50th anniversary fall graduating class from Studio 58, the professional theatre training program at Langara College.
Meet Robert Garry Haacke
Originally from Pinawa, Manitoba, growing up, Robert got through the long dark prairie winters by spending all his time at the rink playing hockey. At age sixteen his dad told him “If you were going to play in the NHL son, you probably would have been drafted by now.” Encouraged by his dad’s form of tough love, Robert started to pursue other interests.
After high school, Robert attended the School of Art at the University of Manitoba where he received a Bachelors of Fine Arts (majoring in painting) and upon graduation, sold his paints and brushes swearing he would never paint or draw again. For the next decade Robert rolled up his sleeves and got down to the business of finding himself – which means working odd jobs and traveling to interesting places until one day you wake up wondering when the hell you turned thirty?!
Somewhere along the way he got the theatre bug and applied to Studio 58 acting program. Upon acceptance he put most of his life into boxes and storage, hopped a plane, and arrived in Vancouver on New Years Eve, 2013.
20 Questions with Robert Garry Haacke
1. Your first job.
Started my own lawn mowing business at age 15 – used my parents’ lawnmower, towed it behind my bike from house to house. Man, I worked my butt off that summer and earned myself a huge wad of cash ($500!!!), which I promptly blew on a brand new, three-disc cd tray/remote control/am/fm radio/duel cassette stereo system! Totally worth it.
2. The job you always wanted as a child.
To be a lifeguard in Australia…because I liked swimming. I didn’t really know much about Australia to be honest – it just seemed like a cool and exotic place.
3. Your pet peeve.
Social media, loud rooms, and missing breakfast.
4. Your hero.
Hmm, that’s a tough one. Most of my heroes have been people that I have idolized/idealized from afar and then once I’ve gotten to know them, it turned out they were flawed, broken, and human like the rest of us. The one person though who stayed honest and true to my perceptions was my paternal grandfather. He grew up during the depression, served in WWII, started a family, built a house for his wife and seven kids with his own hands, and proved to be a loving and generous man all his life. He never saved the world or anything. He was simply and consistently a good man.
5. Your biggest indulgence.
The only meat I will buy is grass fed.
6. One thing no one knows about you.
7. Three things you would want with you on a deserted island.
A lactating goat, a hive of honey bees, Netflix (American).
8. The one word your best friend would use to describe you.
9. If you were not pursuing a career in theatre, what would you be doing right now?
Directing independent films and documentaries.
10. Hero or villain?
In my own mind’s narrative, always the hero. Ask others though and perhaps I’ve played both roles.
11. Your life’s motto/mantra.
We are each a small part of what amounts to the whole.
12. Your favourite playwright.
When done right, Shakespeare. Among contemporary playwrights, I like Daniel MacIvor and have been recently blown away by Nicolas Billon’s Fault Lines Trilogy . I’ve also just been introduced to the plays of Hannah Moscovitch and am starting to suspect that she is amazing.
13. The role you are destined to play.
Lear (which gives me a few decades to figure out this acting thing).
14. If you were a cartoon character what cartoon character would you be and why?
Linus – the sage, sitting apart from the gang, content to do his own thing while Charlie Brown and company carry on. Also, he has a security blanket (I used to have one too – I miss it).
15. What will it say on your grave marker?
He followed his bliss, despite the hurdles.
16. Who would you most like to have dinner with?
My girlfriend. We both have such insane schedules. Just to sit down and share a quiet meal with each other seems like a minor miracle some weeks.
17. Your idea of happiness.
Either a good night’s sleep, a warm embrace, a puppy’s affection, or else all three in combination somehow.
18. The one thing in your life that makes you most proud.
That at age thirty-seven, I haven’t caved, and continue to pursue a dream.
19. Your most memorable moment at Studio 58.
At a monologue workshop. I got up to present my monologue in front of the instructor and my classmates. After weeks of struggling with this particular piece of text, and failing each time, I told myself “Fuck it, today I’m just going to say the words.” And that’s what I did. I didn’t worry about being a character, I didn’t worry about being dramatic, I didn’t worry about forcing myself to cry at the emotional climax of the piece, blah, blah, blah. I just said the words, as myself. It turns out that sometimes less is more because as the story spilled out of my mouth, I could feel that everyone in the room was hanging on my every word. That was an important lesson that day. A lesson that I will carry with me – that acting is simple. Not easy. But simple.
20. To be or not to be?
Even when to do so seems a struggle, be.