Leslieville-based actor Ari Cohen is looking forward to playing a leading role in This is War, a thought-provoking play about the life-changing experiences of three soldiers and a medic in Afghanistan in 2008.
A veteran Canadian actor/producer, Cohen is reprising the role of Capt. Stephen Hughes, the most senior officer among the show’s four main characters forced to come to terms with a fictionalized version of a real-life atrocity that affects each of them differently.
Details about the incident and each character’s perceptions of it emerge through interviews with an unseen journalist.
“It’s a very good role and I really appreciate the opportunity to be telling a Canadian story as well,” said Cohen, adding This Is War also begs the question of how to behave morally in war?
For good measure, the play also includes some light-hearted moments, not to mention the complications of a love triangle, he noted.
Set in the Middle Eastern nation’s volatile Panjwaii region, This is War also aims to transport the audience back to Afghanistan through staging and décor as well as the set’s design, he said.
“The audience feels really part of the action,” said Cohen, adding when people first enter the theatre (the Extra Space at The Tarragon), they may even feel a bit disoriented and need a few moments to adjust.
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Cohen first got into acting in high school and went on to attend the University of Manitoba before obtaining a bachelor’s degree in fine arts (acting) at the University of Alberta.
Cohen, who has starred in a range of television, film and theatre roles as well as worked as a producer over his 25-year career in the industry, lived in the Danforth area for six years after his post-secondary studies. He then spent six years living and working in Vancouver, B.C. before moving back to Toronto’s east end near Leslie and Dundas streets about three years ago.
Cohen’s feature film debut was in 1992 when he starred in the cult hit Archangel.
He’s gone on to play the leading role in The Tracey Fragments, and was a series regular in The Tournament as well as MOW and My Babysitter’s a Vampire.
A Dora-, sterling- and Gemini-award nominated actor/producer, Cohen most recently appeared in the TV shows The Firm, Lost Girl, Against the Wall, Living in your Car, Rookie Blue, Flashpoint, Suits, Haven, King, and The Republic of Doyle.
Some of his most notable stage roles include performing in God of Carnage, Courageous, speed The Plow, Death of a Salesman, Awake and Sing, Lost in Yonkers, Generous, Rune Arlidge, Frost/Nixon, Sunday Father, and Noises Off.
Cohen’s next project is playing a Hollywood producer in Soulpepper Theatre’s True West.
This is War, written by downtown Toronto resident Hannah Moscovitch, Canada’s most produced young playwright, and directed by Tarragon’s Artistic Director Richard Rose, will have its world premiere on Thursday, Jan. 3 at Tarragon Theatre’s Extra Space at 30 Bridgman Ave., near Bathurst and Dupont streets. The show is set to run until Sunday, Feb. 3. Previews began Friday, Dec. 28.
Visit www.tarragontheatre.com or call 416-531-1827 to purchase tickets, which range from $27 to $53, or for details about show times.