Meet the Cast of Doris and Ivy in the Home – Brigitte Robinson as Ivy Hoffbauer

Lighthouse is pleased that Brigitte Robinson is making her debut on our stage as Ivy Hoffbauer in Norm Foster’s Doris and Ivy in the Home, on stage in Port Dover from May 22 to June 8 and in Port Colborne from June 12 to 23. She played Frau Schmidt in Mirvish’s production of The Sound of Music, and in productions at Young People’s Theatre, Shaw Festival, and Manitoba Theatre Centre. We talked with Brigitte about what has been her favourite role, what drew her to the character of Ivy, and what are the challenges and rewards of live theatre as opposed to other forms of acting.

Brigitte Robinson as Ivy Hoffbauer

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What has been your favourite role to play and why?

Brigitte Robinson (BR): Viola in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Young People’s Theatre in Toronto.  I had the good fortune to perform in this play in Toronto and all over Ontario for two years in the early ‘80’s with a remarkable group of actors who have remained close friends to this day. For this have Richard Greenblatt to thank: he hired me, directed the play and brought me into the world of professional acting.

(LF): What drew you to this character in Doris and Ivy?

(BR): I thought “Doris and Ivy in the Home” was Norm Foster at his best.  Not only is it very funny but it shines a light on the lives and relationships of women and men as they age.  What also drew me to play the part of Ivy was the chance to work with the director Jane Spence with whom I had acted in Calendar Girls at the Mirvish Theatre in Toronto and with Melanie Janzen whose work I had always admired in our days together at the Shaw Festival.

(LF): What are the challenges and rewards of live theatre as opposed to other forms of acting?

(BR): The biggest difference between acting in theatre and other forms of acting is that you are performing before a live audience.  Every night is different as every audience has its own character and energy – anything can happen.  This is what makes live theatre so exciting for the actors and audience alike.  Film and television is a different story.  Actors don’t have the benefit of developing their character over the run of a show.  Once they’ve shot their scene, that’s it – no second chances, unless they have the good fortune of a recurring role in a series.

(LF): How do you approach character development for a complex role?

(BR): I begin by reading the script five or six times, noting first what other characters say about me and what I say about them in the context of the play. Then I break down the script into “beats”, which represent the stages of progression of my character’s journey through the story told by the play. “Beats” are my guideposts to developing my character. 

(LF): What’s the best piece of acting advice you have ever received?

(BR): Two pieces of advice that have stayed with me throughout my career:

“N.A.R.” – (“No acting required”) – in notes to the cast, “Petrified Forest”, 1995 Shaw Festival, from Neil Munro, the renowned director, playwright and actor. 

“You’ve done the work – now give it away.” –  from Christopher Newton, posted on the Call Board at the Shaw Festival on opening night of “Cavalcade” and other plays during his tenure as Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival from 1980 to 2002.