August 27, 2018

4 Questions: Patrick Galligan

50 Years of Disruption

Patrick Galligan (MFA Acting 1988) is a long-standing member of the performing ensemble of the Shaw Festival where he continues to garner accolades for his performances.

This article is part of our series 50 Years of Disruption, in celebration of the Department of Theatre’s 50th Anniversary. In it, we’ll ask each participant four questions about themselves and their time at York.

1. Who are you?

Patrick Galligan
Patrick Galligan

Goodness, I am still working on that one. 

But there are a couple of the things I feel most blessed about: I live in Toronto with my wife of 25 years, Brenda Robins, and our 23 year-old son, Jack (who is just finishing up a Master of Arts degree at the University of Toronto), and I make my living as an actor.

2. What was your favourite moment during your time in the Theatre Department, and why?

There are so many. 

I entered the MFA program in 1986 after completing a BA in English and Philosophy at U of T, and within a day or two I felt the beginning of a transformation that would continue for the full two years I was at York. 

We worked in a studio at Bethune College, well away from the Fine Arts building, so the 12 actors, 2 playwrights, and 2 directors in my cohort felt we had our own private theatrical playground. Throughout our 12 hour days, our professors/instructors would come to our studio and immerse us in the voice, dance, stage combat, scene study, singing, movement, clown, commedia, neutral mask, improv and theatre history classes that would make up our curriculum. I felt like I was being shot out of a cannon.

Here are a few of my favourite memories: doing an exercise called “The Horse” in the fields surrounding York in Steve Rumbelow’s improv class; finding my inner “acid” in Dean Gilmour’s neutral mask class; and the moment of discovery when I found that I did, indeed, have a voice in David Smukler’s voice class. 

3. What comment, quotation, statement, or action that a professor—or classmate—offered had the greatest impact on you?

I learned some very valuable and specific things at York that I always try to draw on.

I learned the importance of “staying humble” from David Rotenberg.

I learned that “all I need is the air that I breathe” from David Smukler.

I learned to always “stay in the shit” from Dean Gilmour.

I learned the incredible resource that the First Folio is from Neil Freeman.

And from my classmates I learned perhaps the most important lesson, that the true power of theatre lies in an ensemble.

For all the infinite number of lessons I learned at York, I am grateful.

Patrick Galligan in The Sea by Edward Bond, Shaw Festival 2015, Photo: David Cooper

4. Is there a way you incorporate a particular aspect of your theatre training in your current work?

It has been 30 years since I graduated from the MFA Acting program and I can genuinely say that York gave me the tools to begin my career as a young actor. But I think it’s most important lesson was to instill in me a desire to continue learning and growing, and to realize that there is always an opportunity to learn in everything I do.

The journey continues.