On June 28, 2010 I was honoured by receiving the Silver Ticket Award For an Outstanding Contribution to the Stage. I wanted to write about this earlier but I wanted to include the speech that I made but as I did not know beforehand that I was actually getting this award the speech was ex tempore and I wanted to make a transcript so that I could include it here. I have deleted the various pauses and ummms but here is what I said.
“You know I’m going to use this.
Thanks Marlene. I didn’t know and I didn’t have a speech.
35 years ago, almost to the month, I walked onto the stage at the Shaw Festival and said my first words as a professional actor. And on that stage were Teddy Atienza, Mary Savidge and Domini Blythe. I was playing the requisite slave in Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra. I was fresh out of theatre school and the only person who was wearing less clothes on the stage than me was Domini Blythe. For a young man fresh out of the Ryerson Theatre School walking on stage to see Domini Blythe in a skirt and a necklace was like heaven.
Last year in the last performance that I played….oh the very first words I said at the Shaw Festival was..The Romans are in the courtyard.
Last year in Birdland’s production of the remount of the Last Days of Judas Iscariot I played Pontius Pilate and my first words were… Your Honor I have a 2 o’clock tee time. Can I go now?
And so I went from slave to Roman in 35 years.
It’s been an interesting 35 years. You know, you can’t sharpen a knife with cotton batton. And you can’t get rigorous artistic ideas without a really strong intellectual and artistic challenge. You need granite to sharpen and so tonight, for this award, I would like to thank not only the people who have been dear friends and supporters and artistic collaborators but I would like to thank all those who don’t like me.
Who have fought…I don’t know if David Ferry is in the house. David and I, were years ago, almost came to blows over dinner one night. And I respect him to this day as a man of great intellectual vigour.
And to all those people I have not agreed with or who have not agreed with me, who have challenged and we fought and we struggled and everything we have done is to make this a better community, to make this a better art. To make theatre something that is powerful and living and necessary.
Because without art we have no soul and without a soul we have nothing.
And so I welcome this award and I thank everybody for this award because I want to keep going to theatre. I want to keep seeing those intellectual ideas. I want to keep seeing those artistic challenges. To not only challenge me but to challenge everybody else.
Thank you so very much."