It's rare for a thespian to get the chance to perform in a play as epic as playwright Wajdi Mouawad's 'Forests.' Actor Brandon McGibbon seized the opportunity.
Written by Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau and directed by Richard Rose, 'Forests' makes its premiere at the Tarragon Theatre April 27 and runs until May 29.
McGibbon has performed six shows at the Tarragon - three consecutively under the direction of Rose. Being familiar with Mouawad's work, McGibbon said he was intrigued by 'Forests.'
"It spans multiple generations in a family," said the newly minted Roncesvalles Village resident in a recent interview. "It's so huge in scope."
It's the story of a 16-year-old girl who goes on a quest to uncover the origin of a mysterious illness that claimed the life of her mother, Aimee. In her search, the girl turns to her grandparents for help and to wartime Europe before she discovers her ancestors and the forest they called home.
"What is discovered through this play - going back multiple generations in a family - is that one generation had fled society and was living in the wild," explained McGibbon carefully, not wanting to divulge too much of the plot. "The children of the parents who had fled have been raised amongst the animals in the wild."
McGibbon plays one of those children, Gerard, whose nickname is the Boy Giraffe.
"As I grow older, I manage to leave the forest and enter into the world. (The play) deals with what it's like growing up not knowing society and how he deals."
Taking on a role in a play of such magnitude is daunting, McGibbon admitted. However, he said he tends to gravitate towards projects he's never tackled before. Style too is important.
"In my early years, I played young, angst-y-type guys. After that, I wanted to do something different so I did 'The Producers' in Toronto," he said.
McGibbon took on the role of Carmen Gia, the personal assistant to Roger DeBrie, in Mirvish's 'The Producers,' followed by a foray into television. His resume boasts appearances on 'Flashpoint,' 'The Bridge' and 'Little Mosque on the Prairie,' among a long list of others. McGibbon appeared alongside Sarah Polley and Adrian Brody in the June 2010 film 'Splice,' directed by Vincenzo Natali.
McGibbon said he had been playing blue collar types immersed in reality. The role of Gavin Nicoli, the brother of Adrian Brody's charater Clive Nicoli, was a departure.
"This was a chance to do something really interesting, with a fantasy bend to it. It was much more visual. There were a lot of visual affects," he said.
The film was shot all over Toronto and Hamilton and on a farm near Black Creek Village.
McGibbon was born in Scarborough, but moved throughout his childhood. He moved into the city at 18 and to Roncesvalles Village last fall.
He fell into acting, he says, "in a pretty basic way."
"I managed to make my way into a play in high school. I played music in a band and was approached to play music for a play and got into theatre that way," said McGibbon.
After graduating from high school, McGibbon attended Ryerson's theatre school. Acting, he said, is a great way to communicate.
Forests shows Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at tickets.tarragontheatre.com or by calling 416-531-1827.