Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tracy Wright: RIP

I was saddened to learn of the death earlier this week of Canadian actress extraordinaire, Tracy Wright. I hadn't known she was ill with pancreatic cancer. It's a great loss for Canadian theatre and filmmaking.

Though less well-known than her husband, Don McKellar, Wright was a quiet yet powerfully affecting presence in almost anything she appeared in, including Miranda July's Me, You, And Everyone We Know and McKellar's own Last Night, where she stole the show in her few brief scenes as a moony secretary, Donna, in love with her boss, played by David Cronenberg.

Wright was also memorable opposite her husband in Reg Harkema's Monkey Warfare and Bruce McDonald's Elimination Dance, a short film based on Michael Ondaatje's book of poetry. But my absolute favourite roles by Wright were in a sequence of films by Toronto playwright Sky Gilbert in the 1990s: My Addiction (1994); My Summer Vacation (1996); and I Am The Camera, Dying (1998), where Wright played a female heroin addict reincarnated as a gay sailor.

Wright was fearless in the parts she chose, and in the performances she gave (check out yesterday's Globe and Mail obit for details of how she launched herself--quite literally--into her first professional theatre role in The Lorca Play at Toronto's Theatre Centre in 1991). Even while battling cancer she managed to complete two more films for longtime collaborator McDonald: This Movie is Broken, currently in theatres; and the forthcoming Trigger, which I gather is sort of a female take on Hard Core Logo.

Wright's death is a huge loss for the performing arts in Canada.


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