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An Interview With the Adventurous Adam Lolacher

September 17, 2015 11:52 am
An Interview With the Adventurous Adam Lolacher

Photo courtesy of Elysse Gilbertson on the set of Medic

Ottawa born and a University of Ottawa alumni, Adam Lolacher is an actor with some stories to tell.

After giving up his basketball aspirations at a young age due to injury, Lolacher got into acting. Now living in Vancouver, the young actor has been appearing in television series and stage plays since 2005.

OLM chatted with Lolacher about his foray into acting, his new project Medic, and the advice he has for aspiring actors.

Photo courtesy of Farah Aviva

Photo courtesy of Farah Aviva

Ottawa Life Magazine: Tell me about yourself
Lolacher: Well, I’m 35. I was born and raised in Ottawa, although I moved around quite a bit. I guess I kind of fell into acting in my last year of high school. I always wanted to do it but I was timid and introverted.

I went to the University of Windsor for theater. I wasn’t really happy with the clique of theater school, so I dropped out. I decided to go back to the University of Ottawa. I stuck with it, went to school and met some great people. By the end of it I didn’t want to leave. It taught me responsibility and I had some really great teachers. University was a good grounding.

OLM: What first piqued your interest in acting?
Lolacher: I was watching Saturday Night Fever with my cousin when I was 16. The was a moment (while watching the opening) where I was like, ‘wow, that guy is really cool. He kind of just owns the world.’

I started doing improv and classes, but I was timid and I cared what people thought of me. University gave me that confidence to branch out and have fun. Playing basketball and playing in front of people creates that connection, it’s another kind of stage.

OLM: What have been some favourite plays that you have performed in?
Lolacher: I did a play called the Glory of Living in Toronto. It was probably the darkest and most disgusting play (in my career). It was based on two real people in Georgia who kidnapped women. I played Clint, who was a lot more overweight than I am. I put on 15 pounds to immerse myself (in the role). I learned quite a lot about my patience and myself. I met some really cool and awesome people that I still talk to this day. The role really tested me and challenged me.

OLM: Who are some actors that inspire you?
Lolacher: My buddy Juan Riedinger is probably up there. He’s a local actor who is doing really well; he’s somebody who I’ve always looked up to, although I would probably never say it to him. He has inspired me to work harder and be better. Larry Moss has been a great mentor to me. I’m inspired by music a lot as well… feelings, too.

OLM: What was your writing process for Medic? It seems really intense.
Lolacher: I wrote, produced and acted in it. It is intense.

I have a big fascination with homelessness and mental awareness. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work, too. I started writing about somebody who was homeless and who was looking for something… but it wasn’t working. There wasn’t a message. I started talking to my brother who is in the army, and who has gone overseas. He came back in 2010 from a nine-month tour in Afghanistan. I started doing research on soldiers who have returned home. There’s a great documentary called War in the Mind narrated by Paul Gross. I thought, “what if this happened to my brother?”

Photo courtesy of Kristine Cofsky

I dug deeper into stats and horrific things (that soldiers have gone through). I started incorporating these things about a soldier who has returned to Canada, but still feels like he’s at war. He’s reliving it and he doesn’t know what to do. This film exposed both sides of the world: a world of uncertainty and loneliness and a world of selfishness.

OLM: Playing somebody with PTSD would be pretty draining. How did you prepare for that role?
Lolacher: I did a lot of research. I met with different soldiers in town, interviewed them and talked to them, and asked them about their experiences. I met a lot of people who have some form of PTSD. I met with an actual medic. We went over a bunch of military jargon and procedure. I worked diligently on trying to lose weight and immersing myself into it. There was a day or two where I went method on (the part). I went into the city and camped out over night. I don’t recommend it but it was something I felt that I had to do.

OLM: What would you define as success?
Lolacher: As I get older, it’s all about creating my own work. When this film is done and it’s out there, it’ll feel pretty good. I’ll be happy that I did something that I’ve wanted to do. Money would be nice, and I’m sure fame has it perks. To be honest I just want to be a steadily working actor. At the same time, I’m happy to be doing my own stuff. I don’t need to be rich, I just want to be happy and live comfortably.

OLM: Are you working on anything else?
Lolacher: I’m working on a feature right now. I can’t go into it too much because I just finished the outline. It’s set in the Southern US… I’m really fascinated with it. It’s my “Sling Blade.” It’s kind of gritty, indie…. It will be all about the characters.

OLM: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring actors?
Lolacher: I think you have to enjoy it and you have to love it. If you don’t, then don’t do it. You fail more than you succeed unless you’re like, Chris Hemsworth. I would recommend finding some sort of training. I would recommend reading plays, read a lot of books. Not just acting books… actual books. Like Catch-22, Grapes of Wrath… classics. They will widen your imagination and vocabulary. Create your own work, do a play. Theater is where it’s at, that’s where it all came from.

This interview was edited for clarity and length.

A Street of Their Own

10:13 am
A Street of Their Own

Laurier House. Photo by Claire MacDonald.

Laurier Avenue East may have a new name when Canada’s 150th birthday rolls around. A grassroots organization hopes to turn part of the street into ‘Prime Minister’s Row,’ an interactive street museum that will explore the stories of Canada’s nation-builders.

The affected section of Laurier Avenue will be between King Edward Avenue and Strathcona Park. The Prime Minister’s Row initiative would surround this stretch of road with new plaques, statues, public art and landscaping.

“I think it has the potential to really transform Laurier Avenue,” says Leanne Moussa, one of the Prime Minister’s Row co-founders.

Moussa has plenty of experience leading projects like the row. In 2012 she organized more than 20 Sandy Hill families to purchase and restore the old carriage house at 43 Blackburn Avenue. The historical space is now largely occupied by a nursery school.

Bolstered by the success of that project, Moussa set her sights on other local and underappreciated heritage buildings.

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All Saints Church. Photo by Claire MacDonald.

She started looking at All Saints Church in Sandy Hill. All Saints has an amazing history, including Ottawa’s only royal wedding, which united lumber heiress Lois Booth with Danish prince Erik von Rosenberg in 1924. One of the 1,000 guests was former Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden. When Borden died 14 years later in 1937, his state funeral was held in All Saints.

Now the church is up for sale, and about a year-and-a-half ago Moussa started drawing attention to the church’s history to try and protect its future.

“That attracted a lot of people who were very knowledgeable about Canadian heritage and could see the way All Saints fit into the larger national context,” Moussa says, “and that’s really what drove the project.”

Now Prime Minister’s Row is set to celebrate more than 30 Sandy Hill structures, including a number of former PM’s residences and churches.

“Stadacona Hall is very exciting, having been the site of Sir John A’s residence,” says Moussa.

“John Diefenbaker lived across the street, so did Tommy Douglas…so it’s kind of a left and right political history.”

Naturally, almost all of these buildings are closed to the public, but the row project is more focused on their exteriors and the street itself. This will be Canada’s first ‘street museum,’ focused outdoor monuments and an interactive street app. The app will allow visitors to go up to the houses and instantly find out more about them and dig up multimedia background about the people who lived there.

PMR 2

Stadacona hall. Photo by Claire MacDonald.

Moussa also plans to commission art and monuments celebrating all prime ministers and nation builders, not just the ones who lived near Laurier Avenue. The organization will also plant ceremonial trees, one for each PM, in Strathcona Park.

All of this work could potentially open Laurier East up to more tourists.

“It offers the City of Ottawa another attraction for people to understand Canada,” says Moussa. She adds that “at the same time, locals need to understand the history of their own neighborhood.”

While not everyone living in the traditionally quiet area might be happy about the name change and extra foot-traffic, Moussa says she’s only heard good things from the locals.

The end-goal for Prime Minister’s Row is to have the street revitalized and opened under its new name by the time 2017 celebrations begin. Their next step though, is to announce their non-profit’s board of directors and secure funding from Canada 150. Moussa encourages anyone interested in supporting the project to send her an email or sign up to become a member.

Although the row should be open for 2017, that doesn’t mean work on the area will be done for good. In fact, Moussa argues that the street museum should change as Canada does.

“The idea is that this space not only honours our nation builders, but it also hopes to set the course for the future,” she says.

You can find out more about the Prime Minister’s Row project on the organization’s website.

Opinion: Something is Rotten in the State of Ottawa

September 16, 2015 1:47 pm
Opinion: Something is Rotten in the State of Ottawa

It has been said that the reason nothing changes in the criminal justice system is due to the ‘four horsemen’ of political inaction: inertia, ignorance, apathy and cost. When it comes to the Ottawa Police Services Board and their lackadaisical attitude to the issue of carding, it appears all four of these elements apply. How else can you explain the fact that the Ottawa Police Services Board has done next to nothing to address this city’s carding problems?

The role of a police services board should not be to rubber stamp decisions made by the chief of police.  The issue of street checks or carding was first brought to the attention of the Ottawa Police Services Board back in 2012 when university student Andrew Tysowski was stopped by an Ottawa police officer and given a ticket because six years previously he had the temerity to exercise his charter rights under Canadian law.

In 2006 Mr. Tysowski had been asked by officers to get off an OC Transpo bus and answer some of their questions. Someone thought he resembled a robbery suspect and had called police. After answering their questions and producing valid identification, Mr. Tysowski inquired as to why the officers asked him to get off the bus. When one of the officers reacted negatively to his request Mr. Tysowski indicated he had studied police foundations at Algonquin College and that he was legally entitled to receive an answer to his question.

In 2012 when Mr. Tysowski was stopped by an Ottawa police officer for an alleged infraction under the Highway Traffic Act, he was asked to provide the registration certificate for his vehicle, which he did.  The officer checked with dispatch and discovered a report about his interaction with police on the OC Transpo bus six years earlier. As a consequence, he informed Mr. Tysowski that because of his attitude towards police back in 2006 he was giving him a ticket for failing to provide registration for his vehicle even though the officer was actually holding the certificate in his hands.

Following this incident Mr. Tysowski filed a complaint against the officer with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). When the OIPRD finally released their report into the complaint, Mr. Tysowski was shocked to learn that back in 2006 the officers had produced a report on the incident where they stated that they were making a note of his negative attitude in the event he should ever apply to join the Ottawa Police Service in the future.

This case raises a number of issues. First, it illustrates the extent of police ignorance when it comes to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Every day in courtrooms in the City of Ottawa and across the province criminal lawyers make charter applications claiming that officers have violated their clients’ rights. The costs involved in processing these applications are in the millions, and the applications invariably lead to charges being dropped or dismissed in court. So why is it that police officers do not seem to have the foggiest notion of Canadian law and the charter rights of citizens?

Second, upon what basis in law are police in this country allowed to surreptitiously record prejudicial information on individuals and keep it secreted away in their police files without any due process or avenues of accountability for the affected person? What are the consequences when police engage in this behaviour?

Third, why are oversight bodies like the Office of the Independent Police Review Directorate not imposing severe penalties on officers who engage in this kind of conduct?

In the case involving Andrew Tysowski the OIPRD ruled that the officer’s actions were only minor in nature and therefore did not warrant a more stringent penalty than being talked to by a senior officer.  There is something wrong with this picture. Tell that to the hundreds of people who have had their lives negatively impacted by the racial and discriminatory practice of carding or street checks that was documented in a series of articles published in the Toronto Star. Many people told the Star that they were unable to travel to the US, obtain volunteer positions and in some cases even secure employment because they had been subject to carding by the Toronto Police Service.  The fact that all of this was done by the police without the knowledge of the individual affected should be a concern to all people who value their freedoms and civil liberties.

In 2012, I wrote to the Ottawa Police Services Board and made them aware of Andrew Tysowski’s case. In typical fashion they did nothing.

In Ottawa we have a police services board appointed under the Police Services Act of Ontario. This board is supposed to provide the Ottawa Police Service with direction when it comes to issues of policy and other matters affecting policing in the city. Mayor Jim Watson sits on this Board, as does former Mayor Jim Durrell. What is the purpose of these boards if the people who sit on them are going to collect their per diems and say nothing about issues that negatively impact the freedoms of people they are supposed to represent and protect?

Preserving the status quo is not an option. The Police Services Act needs to be amended so it sets out very strict rules and guidelines governing carding or street checks in the province of Ontario. The OIPRD needs to be abolished and replaced with a genuine oversight body that holds police accountable for their actions. Last but not least, the role of police service boards needs to be clarified so that the people who sit on these boards are actually required to do something to earn their per diems even if that means protecting citizens from policing practices that undermine the rule of law in a democracy.

Darryl T Davies is a criminologist with the department of sociology and anthropology at Carleton University. The views expressed herein are those of the author in his personal capacity.

Tummy Time!

10:01 am
Tummy Time!

There is growing research that demonstrates the importance of “tummy time” for infant development. What exactly is tummy time? Tummy time is simply the time which you allow your baby (while supervised) to lay and play flat on his or her stomach. Studies show that babies who have increased tummy time meet major developmental milestones quicker and develop stronger musculature than those who do not. This makes it easier to do things like roll over, sit up and crawl.

When on their stomach, babies can freely move their arms, hands and legs in all ranges of motion. This helps them to strengthen the muscles of the neck, shoulders, back and legs. The infants who spend more time on their tummies usually crawl earlier too. Crawling is crucial for healthy formation of the hip joints.

Tummy time can also prevent positional plagiocephaly. This is when the back of a baby’s head becomes flat. Since babies skull bones are very soft, the more time they spend on their backs, the more chance the skull bones can shift into a flatter shape. Stomach time can also help prevent torticollis. This is a condition when the head gets persistently turned to one side. Please note that although it is important to place your baby on their stomachs when awake, it is not encouraged for you to place your baby on their stomach while sleeping.

tummytime3So, when and how long should you allow for tummy time? You can start to lay your baby on his or her tummy as soon as they come home from the hospital. Just a few a few minutes at a time, 2-3 times per day will help strengthen your baby’s muscles and increase range of motion. As your baby gets used to being on their stomach, gradually increase the time (up to an hour at a time).

There are several ways you can do tummy time with your baby as well! Aside from letting them lay flat on the ground, you can lay your baby on top of your belly or chest so that they are face-to-face with you. While burping them, sit up and place the baby face down on your knees. This will be very calming for them as well. You can also safely carry your baby around by placing your hand between their legs and under their tummy.

Experiment with tummy time and have fun with your baby while doing it.

Click here for more information about Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre.

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