Wednesday, June 23, 2010

RIP Tracy Wright

Tracy Wright, veteran of Canadian stage and screen, dies at 50

Peter Saltsman, National Post ·
Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2010

In the realm of Canadian arts and culture, Tracy Wright was veritable royalty.

Over the past 20 years, the actress worked with some of Canada’s most prominent artists, including Daniel MacIvor, Bruce McCulloch, Bruce McDonald, and her husband Don McKellar (the two wed last January after a years-long partnership).

She died on Tuesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 50 years old.

Although many Canadians never knew her name, anyone who saw her perform never forgot her presence, which had a way of emanating from her expressive eyes through to the audience, often without her ever uttering a line.

While she appeared in an almost surprising number of films, Wright was firmly rooted in the Canadian tradition of stage acting. At the beginning of her career she founded the Augusta Company with McKellar and Daniel Brooks, an experimental theatre company that spurred the kind of offbeat and inventive characters for which she would later be remembered. It also earned her a lifelong place on the Toronto stage, where she appeared in shows put on by some of the country’s best and most avant-garde companies, including STO Union and da da kamera.

One of her last turns in the spotlight was in A Beautiful View, Tarragon Theatre’s 2009 remount of the 2006 Daniel MacIvor show in which Wright originally starred alongside Caroline Gillis. She earned rave reviews for her portrayal of a vulnerable straight woman who falls unintentionally in and out of a relationship with another woman. In this, as in her other work, Wright was effortlessly funny, real, and fearlessly smart.

Wright thrived onstage, even planning on returning despite being hospitalized in the last months of her life. An artist staunchly devoted to her craft, she had been preparing for the title role in a staged reading of Bertolt Brecht’s The Life of Galileo by Toronto’s Small Wooden Shoe company (performed May 30 without her) and a role -- to be shared with her husband -- in the Theatre Centre’s rendition of TTTTg (Triple Trooper Trevor Trumpet Girl).

Her presence lives on, though, in her film work, for which she rarely starred but always shone. She established herself as a distinguished character actor whose talents complemented a wide range of genres. From her uproarious Kids in the Hall performance as a woman having an affair with Bruce McCulloch to her scene-stealing performances in McKellar’s Last Night and Reg Harkema’s Monkey Warfare, Wright proved that comedy is subtle, and that a glance, a stare, or a silent shrug can carry more emotional weight than any amount of dialogue. Indeed, her role in Last Night earned her one of her biggest roles, as an art curator engaged in an online affair with a young boy in Miranda July’s 2005 film Me and You and Everyone We Know. The apocryphal story goes that July wrote a character for her film based on Wright’s in Last Night. When July randomly spotted her at a film festival in Rotterdam, Wright was cast in the role she unwittingly created.

Fans can catch a glimpse of Wright in theatres this Friday as the Box Office Woman in Bruce McDonald’s This Movie is Broken, and later in McDonald’s upcoming Trigger, which stars Sarah Polley, Don McKellar, Caroline Gilli and Daniel MacIvor.

Born: 12/7/1959, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died: 6/22/2010, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tracy Wright's western - actress:
All Hat - 2007 (Elizabeth Dokes)

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