Arts & Culture

Ex-Steveston resident shares insights into his theatre career

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 3:29 PST, Mon February 24, 2020

Last Updated: 1:59 PDT, Fri March 20, 2020

This was Greg Rogers’ neighbourhood. 

Although he recently moved to Coquitlam, for years Rogers was rooted in the Steveston community as the owner of a restaurant across the street from the Steveston Hotel.

“I used to shoot pool in there, actually. My moniker was ‘Hollywood’,” says Rogers. “I knew all the fishermen, all the locals.”

Comparing the community to his native East Coast, Rogers honoured his heritage when it came to serving food. “There was a seafood store right next door, and they had lots of lobster that they brought in from the East Coast. One of our specialties was the lobster dog, which was lobster in a toasted hot dog bun,” says Rogers.

The Steveston Pizza Company now occupies that space, which is on the corner of Third Avenue and Moncton Street. The small window on Third Avenue was cut by Rogers in order to serve Mario’s Gelato in the summer.

In addition to his love of the coastal fishing town, Rogers was also an ongoing supporter of the arts—especially theatre, which has been his passion for decades.

For the first 30 years of his career, Rogers worked as a theatre and radio director. For the last several decades, he’s also been acting in film and TV. He played a villain on the TV show Arrow over the course of a few seasons.

Rogers also created the drama department for The Arts Connection. Although he hasn’t worked there for many years, he still has close ties to the organization.

“After 30 years, I was back there last year, and I coached an individual student to get into the musical theatre department at Capilano (University),” says Rogers. The student was ultimately successful.

Rogers also fought to save the Seine Net Loft at Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site. He thought that it would make a good theatre venue.

“I was in radio drama—I used to direct and produce radio drama for CBC, so I have a pretty good idea about sound,” says Rogers. Ultimately, the Net Loft was saved and still stands today—although it hasn’t hosted any plays yet.

Later this month, Rogers directs the black comedy The Gazebo for Metro Theatre. He hasn’t directed in more than 20 years. 

“It’s very much like riding a bicycle, and rewarding in seeing the relationships evolve and come to fruition (onstage),” says Rogers. “(Directing a show) was an opportunity for me to give back to the community.”

Of his most recent show, Rogers says: “It’s been very rewarding in the fact that the actors have been extremely trusting and they’ve made themselves available to jump on the rollercoaster, so to speak, and go for the ride.”

Having been involved with theatre at many different levels, on-stage, on-screen, and behind the scenes, Rogers is a believer in its power. 

“Involvement with theatre as a kid helps you understand your own (emotion),” says Rogers. “I think it makes a young person stronger.”

In fact, Rogers says the negative connotation around so-called ‘amateur’ theatre is unwarranted. “The word ‘amateur’ means ‘to love to do’,” he explains. Professional actors, by comparison, “have to do it whether (they) like it or not. Money’s involved,” says Rogers.

“They work every day and they have the passion and desire to come out and put their heart and soul into something,” says Rogers of his current cast.

It’s clear that they’re a hardworking bunch. Rogers compares their dedication to that shown by members of sports teams.

“If you have a good skipper on the boat or a captain or coach of the team, that all dribbles down. That’s what makes the core, is that leadership and trust and being a team member.”

To see Rogers’ directing philosophy in action, check out The Gazebo at Metro Theatre, on from Feb. 20 through March 7. Buy tickets online or by calling 604-266-7191.

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