The Oleannekenstein Monster
Profile by Sean McQuaid
It's been said that there are no small parts, only small actors: petite, soft-spoken Nancy McLure would qualify (literally) as a small actor, but she has made a big impression on the Island theatre scene as a founding member of Off Stage Theatre and a longtime associate of Theatre PEI - with whom McLure recently landed the female lead in their late March production of Oleanna.
The play, an intense two-character drama exploring the volatile and ambiguous subject of sexual harassment, may seem a bit of a stretch for McLure (best known for her critically acclaimed work in Off Stage's popular Annekenstein productions); however, McLure gleefully mocks her sweetness-and-light exterior as "a good cover. [Oleanna] will allow people to see me in a truer light."
McLure got her start making up plays as a child, and starred in many school productions before getting more formal training at university. It was at UPEI that she first became involved with Theatre PEI; it was also there that she first met and performed with people like Rob MacDonald and David Moses, whom she later joined in founding the Off Stage Theatre company.
While she speaks glowingly of her Off Stage colleagues, McLure claims to be creatively challenged herself: she is uncomfortable with writing but feels she makes up for that as a good critic. "I justify my non-creativity by being a good audience," she says, and she loves to participate in workshopping new plays.
While McLure is uncomfortable with improv, she identifies comedy as her one, true theatrical love. "I like anything I can do well," she says, though she does like a variety of roles and hopes to avoid typecasting. "The voice has been a touchy spot," she admits, referring to her trademark honeyed tones, but she has learned to accept that as a distinctive asset and is no longer as self-conscious about it as she once was.
All things considered, McLure likes the acting life - as long as it jibes with her longtime day job in Veterans' Affairs. "This way," she says, "I get to have a paycheck and have fun." For that matter, McLure even finds fun in her desk job. "It's a paper factory," she admits, "but you can have fun with it. I truly love the detail of clerical things."
McLure has thought of pursuing further schooling, but says she's "just a chicken. . . and a bit of a homebody." Her only immediate goals outside of her work are good leisure time and getting in shape.
Regardless, McLure has acting aspirations. She'd like to play "anybody in a Shakespearean play," which is not surprising since she considers her early role in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to be her best work to date. She considers her most challenging role to have been The Glass Menagerie's Laura since she identified strongly with the character's shyness and vulnerability at the time. "I'm a lot more uptight than [other actors] are," she thinks, "but I'm getting less and less so."
In fact, her new biggest fear is that she may become too confident. Almost purring with dreamy nostalgia, McLure recalls how Annekenstein (and she in particular) enjoyed very favourable media attention during the show's third season. She also remembers, though, how the attention made her painfully self-conscious at the time. "Whenever I start to get cocky," she says, "that's when I worry." Regardless, Oleanna will be an excellent opportunity for McLure to let her growing confidence shine.