Showbiz / From ‘Saving Hope’ To Soulpepper: Huse Madhavji Takes Centre Stage In ‘Art’

From ‘Saving Hope’ To Soulpepper: Huse Madhavji Takes Centre Stage In ‘Art’

Showbiz Aug 19, 2019

From broadcast to television drama and now independent theatre, Huse Madhavji has carved a burgeoning name for himself in North American media. He is best known as Dr. Shahir Hamza on Saving Hope, a Canadian supernatural medical drama, which ran until 2017. Madhavji now plays Yvan, a man caught between his best friends in an argument that betrays long-held truths about their friendships, in his debut performance in Art, on stage now at the Soulpepper theatre in Toronto. 

We caught up with him in the midst of a performance-heavy month to ask him about the play, his role and his thoughts on modern art and old friendships. Here’s what he had to say.

Huse Madhavji Takes Centre Stage With His Latest Theatrical Turn In Art
Huse Madhavji Takes Centre Stage In Art: (L-R) Huse Madhavji, Oliver Dennis and Diego Matamoros in Art, a Soulpepper theatre production. Photo Credit: Soulpepper

 

Devika Desai: What can you tell our readers about this play ?

Huse Madhavji: It’s about three friends. One spends a lot of money on an abstract art. The second takes a personal offense to it, he doesn’t understand why his best friend would spend so much on something that doesn’t make sense to him. The third friend, who is going through his own domestic woes, doesn’t understand why these two guys are fighting over a painting. In what seems like an irrational argument, real, deep truths come out about the men and their relationships with each other. I play the middle-man. 

DD: What attracted you to this role ?

HM: First, the play’s director, Philip Akin, directed me in another play at the Factory Theatre last fall. While I was in L.A., my agent called and said Akin wanted me in this role; it was that straightforward. And I just think Akin is so great as a director. Secondly, I was told that this was for Soulpepper who has historically put on outstanding shows and just came out with a fresh feel to the theatre. So, just to be a part of this company is very humbling. Thirdly, the play is just this awesome text. It was originally a French play, translated in London where it won a number of awards It appeared on Broadway in the 1990s and won Tony awards. It has been tackled by great artists all over the world and to get this chance is incredible. 

 

Huse Madhavji On His Latest Theatrical Turn In Art
Huse Madhavji Takes Centre Stage In Art: (L-R) Huse Madhavji, Oliver Dennis and Diego Matamoros in Art, a Soulpepper theatre production. Photo Credit: Soulpepper.

 

DD: How do you identify with your character and/or with the relationships explored in this story?

HM: I relate to all of them. I’ve certainly made decisions that felt right to me, but those closest to me couldn’t understand it. I’ve also been on the other side and have wondered at people’s choices because they’ve made no sense to me. I’ve also acted as mediator, often within my family. The beauty of the play is that by the end, each character has changed, which taught me some lessons. As the play goes on, the more I understand its’ journey and have adopted parts in my own relationships with family, friends and colleagues. That has been a great discovery for me.

DD: As a visible minority on stage, does the play explore themes of interracial friendships ?

HM: It might have been part of the director’s intention, given the diversity of visible minority actors on stage — I am South Asian, and Diego Matamoros, who plays Serge, has South American roots. But I didn’t think about the skin colour much. I will say this though — there’s a part where I do an impression my mom and during the rehearsal process, I mentioned that I use the (South Asian) accent when I do impressions of my parents and we tried it. Everyone agreed it didn’t feel right. We tested out the accent during a performance and there was a noticeable shift in the audience’s laughter, it wasn’t a deep laugh. It was really nice to know that result, that I can bring my South Asian culture to the stage without actually having to do anything.

 

Huse Madhavji On His Latest Theatrical Turn In Art
Huse Madhavji Takes Centre Stage In Art: Huse Madhavji and Oliver Dennis in ‘Art’, a Soulpepper theatre production. Photo Credit: Soulpepper.

 

DD: What do you hope the audience will take away from seeing this play ?

HM: One of the biggest things discussed in the play is loving people for who they are and not loving people for whom you want them to be. I want to hold a mirror to the audience and hope that they can look at their own relationships and appreciate the people in their lives with a fresh perspective. 

DD: How would you react in real life if a friend of yours spent a fortune on a blank canvas ?

HM: If someone spent a million dollars on something I didn’t understand, I wouldn’t immediately judge them. I’d want to understand why they made such an extravagant purchase and what it meant to them. Is it an investment ? What do you love about it ? I want to see it through their eyes. 

Art is on stage at the Soulpepper theatre, Toronto from August 9 till September 1, 2019. You can buy tickets here.

 

Main Image Photo Credit: Soulpepper 

Devika Desai

Devika Desai

Author

Devika (@DevikaDesai1) has a Masters in Journalism from Ryerson University. She's currently a web producer for the National Post. She has also interned at MidDay, a Mumbai-based tabloid. In her free time, she loves to read, work out once every blue moon and ask strangers if she can pet their dogs.

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