By Rick Garrick, Anishinabek News
Nlaka’pamux actor Kevin Loring is having a “blast” with his roles as the First Nation owner of the Dog River Hotel and Bar and a First Nation farmer on Corner Gas Animated.
“It’s a lot of fun — it’s a blast actually,” says Loring, an award-winning actor/playwright and artistic director of Indigenous Programming at National Arts Centre in Ottawa. “Voiceover work for cartoons is a lot of fun because you can show up, you don’t have to sit in a makeup chair, you don’t have to get into costume (and) you can basically do it in your pajamas. The characters are hilarious, a lot of fun.”
Loring says the cast has been “great” to work with on the show, which launched on The Comedy Network on April 2 and is set to debut on CTV on Sundays at 8:30 p.m. beginning June 17.
“For my part, I play two denizens of Dog River,” Loring says. “They are pretty small roles compared to (the main cast), but they treat me no less. It’s always a great time doing the work.”
Loring appreciates the opportunity to work with Lorne Cardinal, a Cree actor who plays police officer Sgt. Davis Quinton, on the half-hour show.
“We get to show our humour,” Loring says. “We’re a visible part of this animated community. Of course Lorne’s character is a big part of it, and my two characters show … that we are a part of the Dog River community, and I think that is really wonderful.”
Loring says the character of Lanny, the farmer, is more connected to the land and laid back than the character of Phil, the hotel owner.
“I play (Phil) a bit more edgier and a bit more crusty,” Loring says. “He’s a been around the block kind of guy.”
Loring says the shows are recorded in two recording studios, one in Toronto and the other in Vancouver.
“As a cast, we all get together on the same day, just in different cities, and we do it over the wire,” Loring says. “There is a little second-and-a-half delay across the country.”
Loring says the animators use the recorded audio to create the animations so they can match the actions to the voices.
“When I first started, the characters weren’t drawn yet,” Loring says. “For about three months we recorded (the show) once every two-to-three weeks.”
Loring says there has been a “really positive” response from the audience across the country.
“We just got picked up for a second season on The Comedy Network, which is really exciting,” Loring says. “And the CTV debut is Sunday at 8:30 p.m.”
Loring was awarded with the Governor General’s Award for English Language Drama in 2009 for his play, Where the Blood Mixes, which explores the intergenerational effects of the residential school system.
“A lot of my plays have a pretty strong balance between comedy and drama,” Loring says. “The comedy gets you through the hard parts. It helps to uplift you, and I use it often as a tool in my writing. If there is any sort of darkness in my writing, the comedy will help to bring in the light. I think that is just a part of who we are as a people and it’s what is wonderful about us as Indigenous people.”
Information about Corner Gas Animated, including merchandise, is available at cornergas.com.