By Dan Walton
Special to the Chronicle
The Oliver actor who landed a big role on the popular Netflix series Riverdale is taking his passion for storytelling into theatre.
Cody Kearsley has founded the Vagrant Players Theatre Society, a theatre group in Vancouver. For the debut performance, Kearsley presented Red Light Winter, which was written in 2005 by American playwright Adam Rapp.
The show is for audiences over the age of 18, as it contains an “intense scene in there that deals with the whole #MeToo campaign. I just want to warn everyone ahead of time that people are aware what’s in it.”
He describes Red Light Winter as dark and edgy, and the style of storytelling is not mainstream.
“It’s for anybody who craves very raw, visceral, emotional, dark and funny stories, anyone that just wants to go experience all the emotions we have as human beings.”
Despite being more than a decade old, Kearsley said Red Light Winter is even more relevant today, as it illustrates predatory men using positions of power to abuse women.
“There’s a fundamental issue with our culture that allows men to be a little bit more aggressive towards women, taking advantage of certain situations. It’s important for me to be conscientious of what we say and do to people when in compromising situations.”
Kearsley, who graduated from Southern Okanagan Secondary School in 2009, said sexual misconduct is still an issue in the film industry, but since becoming a professional actor, he’s noticed healthy progress has been made.
“The difference is now people are actually talking about it. Before you would hear things like, ‘Watch out, this person’s a creep.’ Just underground kind of chatter. Now change can actually happen, people are acknowledging that it’s a problem.”
Compared to acting behind a camera, Kearsley loves how live theatre allows actors to engage much deeper with their audience.
“For an audience member who’s right there watching this, you can fully connect to the human experience.”
The Vagrant Players are a not-for-profit group with four members on its board of directors.
“It a nice, small and intimate family; a well-oiled machine, and everyone has a big role in the film.”
Kearsley hopes that a successful run of Red Light Winter will allow the Vagrant Players to continue producing a few shows each year.
His vision for the theatre group is to create opportunities for more artists working in professional theatre and to create a bigger community around it.
“It’s about making theatre more accessible to the community.”
Red Light Winter launched on Nov. 18, and its final show was on Nov. 26 at the Revue Stage on Granville Island in Vancouver. For more information about the theatre group, visit vagrantplayers.com.