I arrived in Edinburgh to receive some intensely sad news from the other side of the pond: actress Tracy Wright has passed away of cancer. A huge figure in the Canadian theatre and cinema world for the past two decades, if you think you haven’t seen Wright’s work, you’re probably wrong. She’s popped up in countless films – from Last Night to Bubbles Galore to Leslie, My Name Is Evil to Monkey Warfare to Childstar to When Night Is Falling to The Five Senses, all of which proved that Wright was a character actress to be seriously reckoned with.
The first time I ever came across Wright’s work was when I was a teenager and the film Bubbles Galore showed up on Canadian cable channel Showcase in the middle of the night…. A brilliant and totally hilarious feminist take on the porn industry where Wright played porn star Bubbles Galore’s jealous lesbian assistant Vivian Klitorsky. I became mildly obsessed with it, taping it when it repeated later that night and countlessly introducing it to friends. Years later I met Wright when I was working in Halifax for a summer, and my mind immediately went back to .. ‘oh my god, it’s Vivian Klitorsky!’
I’m weary of attempting to properly eulogize Ms. Wright any further, as I’m on like an hour of sleep and my mind is not functioning properly… but here’s two others doing that job for me.
From Lee Ferguson of the CBC:
Some very sad news: gifted Toronto stage and film actress Tracy Wright died early Tuesday, after battling cancer.
A truly dynamic onstage performer (one of her last great turns was in Daniel MacIvor’s A Beautiful View), Wright kept Toronto theatre audiences transfixed for two decades, after co-founding the Augusta Company with Daniel Brooks and longtime partner Don McKellar in 1989.
She made an indelible impression in her film roles as well, forging a career as one of Canada’s most versatile, underrated character actors. She could mesmerize in a tiny part – playing her often vulnerable, left-of-centre characters with such subtlety and empathy, you’d remember them long after the credits rolled.
It’s impossible to single out a single favourite Wright scene. There are too many. Whether she was playing a sex bomb adulteress in an early Kids in the Hall sketch, crazy cat lady Dizelle on Twitch City, an aging pot-smoking radical in Monkey Warfare or a snooty online-dating museum curator in Me and You and Everyone We Know, she elevated everything she was in. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also make special mention of Donna, the faithful gas company employee who cuts loose in Don McKellar’s Last Night – a Tracy Wright performance adored by many in the Arts Online office.
She will be truly missed, and we send condolences to her family and friends.
Here’s The Kids in the Hall clip, which is genuinely one of the most hilarious sketches in KITH history, which considering my passion for the show, is saying a lot.
And from my good friend Brad’s facebook wall:
I first met Tracy in 2004 when I worked as an associate producer at da da kamera – Daniel MacIvor and Sherrie Johnson’s Toronto-based theatre company.
I had been a fan of her film work before I moved to TO, but it wasn’t until then that I had the privilege of seeing her on stage.
Tracy’s performances (like the one in the clip above) were almost always offbeat, understated and deceptively effortless. I once told her that she was “like Willie Nelson” (in that way) and I remember her laughing. She knew what I meant, even if she didn’t necessarily think so herself.
Tracy’s death is a huge loss to the film and theatre community – and an immeasurable one for her husband Don and those who were closest to her. I am thinking about all of you this evening…
Here’s the clip from Miranda July’s “Me and You and Everyone We Know” that Brad references, which is probably how American audiences best knew Ms. Wright. But I seriously recommend paying tribute to her in the near future by checking out the rest of her work.