By Nicole Schmidt
“Let’s get Duffy,” said the five-year-old version of Joshua Stodart during an elementary school production of Annie. This line was the first of many to come from the eventual-Ryerson theatre student.
Stodart, now 21, has since moved on to bigger roles. One of these includes his lead performance as Kingsley in the Theatre School’s most recent production of The Piper.
But acting isn’t the only thing Stodart has been up to. He’s also been busy building his own theatre company called Ale House. Ale House takes a traditional approach to Shakespeare, focusing on the engagement of the audience through live, classical performance.
The idea for the company came to Stodart two years ago while in a pub with his friends discussing theatre. He had been disappointed in what he had seen recently and was keen to turn things around.
“We saw the possibilities,” says Stodart. “[the idea] came from the spirit of trying things ourselves.”
The company has grown a lot over the past two years, earning a positive reputation among the theatre community. But Stodart says that it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
The company’s first performance took place in a loud, overcrowded bar, making it difficult for anyone to hear what the actors were saying. But later performances of Macbeth proved to be far more successful.
“We filled the house every night,” says Stodart. “That was the beginning — we really established ourselves by the end of the school year.”
Ale House continues to grow, and as it does, new opportunities arise. Stodart says that he’s currently looking into touring high schools and building a globe stage — a type of theatre associated with Shakespeare that originated in London, England.
“I don’t know what this company will lead to and I don’t know where I’ll go, but I’m just going to keep pressing on. There’s no rush,” says Stodart. “That’s the attitude I take on for acting, directing, and life.”