SURREY â€” A 23-year-old Surrey actor is taking his first leading role in a Fringe Festival production that’s taking off today (Thursday, Sept. 4) in Vancouver.
Tarun Keram will be playing the leading role of Mark in Meat Loaf Jesus, originally written as a one-person play and set in Edmonton.
"It’s my first professional play," Keram said of his new role, noting that he had always been interested in video and film.
"We had a video and film class in high school and I kind of tinkered with the cameras and stuff and I thought, ‘Hey, this would be cool.’ In grade 12, I finally took a drama class and after that I just went into film school."
Keram, who graduated in 2009 from Tamanawis Secondary School, took classes at Vancouver Film School and caught the attention of instructor David C. Jones, who is the director of Meat Loaf Jesus.
"I helped out (Jones) last year and I just did a small cameo in one of his shows, and then he contacted me a few months ago and said, ‘Hey, do you want to stretch out your legs and do a lead,’ and I said, ‘OK sure,’" Keram said.
The 40-minute play is one of few GLBT productions happening as part of Vancouver Fringe Festival, and deals with coming-of-age themes of homosexuality, religion and a little bit of classic rock. Hint: that’s the "Meat Loaf" aspect.
"It’s a story about three kids who are young. They’re full of fun, full of rage, full of mischief but they all come from very abusive backgrounds but they all have a slightly different situation," Jones explained.
"But they all kind of bonded together and they try their best to help each other."
Keram, who plays the younger version of Mark, said the story was initially a lot to take on, but he’s grateful to use his acting chops.
"It was overwhelming at first," the actor admitted, "just because I’m playing a gay character and I’m not gay, so that’s one of the things I had to get out of the way right away."
Jones said that although he believes in the process of auditioning and casting, he called on Keram because he had the right stuff for the leading role.
"Tarun had the right sort of sensitive nature which alludes to, it doesn’t say it outright, but alludes to that father figure being quite abusive," Jones said.
"It has made the child quite shy and quite scared and again that whole sweetness of Tarun made me think, ‘I think he can probably do that.’ He’s not a loud, in your face kind of person. I thought he’d fit."
Meanwhile, Keram is doing his best in the role, despite differences that he may have with the character.
"I’m just treating it like any other play; I’m just playing a role," he said. "That’s my job as an actor. I think a lot of people would kill to take this role, someone who’s quite opposite from you."
Meat Loaf Jesus starts Thursday, Sept. 4 and runs until Sept. 14 at Vancouver’s Studio 16. Tickets are $14 and can be purchased at Vancouverfringe.com.