Slam Session: Matthew Gouveia, Actor


There seems to be something special about winning the Monologue Slam in December. The list of slam finale winners reads Kristian Bruun*, Krista Morin, Akosua Amo-Adem, Farid Yazdani and Matthew Gouveia, who performed at and won his first slam on Sunday, December 7th, 2015. What followed was an incredible year that included two more monologue slam wins, getting accepted into the highly touted CFC Actors Conservatory, a Dora nomination, a string of incredible plays and shorts and becoming one of the most highly sought after actors in the industry. Matthew is the quintessential artist, who’s passion for the craft is uncanny. He’s also the consummate professional. Anyone who’s had the fortune of working with him can tell you it’s like working with a jar of lighting; well prepared, focused and completely unpredictable. A year later we catch up with 2016’s reigning heavy weight champ to find out what a difference a year makes.

TOSLAM: What would you say is the best thing about being involved in the CFC program?

MATTHEW: I don’t know what the best thing is but I know I’ve been privileged to work in a space where I am encouraged every day by incredible facilitators to refine my art. Building friendships and artistic relationships with fellow actors, writers, directors, editors and producers has also been a great pleasure. I’m learning that I can be an autonomous actor and that is a very special thing.

Which do you prefer, theatre, film or tv? What do you love/hate about each?

Theatre. There’s something that happens between an audience and actors on a stage that just doesn’t exist in the cineplex or on set or in front of a TV. Wait, what’s a TV? There’s just a thrill I get when stepping out onto a stage – it’s like a drug. Once you’re out there, there’s no going back. It’s very much like a sport, the theatre, because it requires every fibre of you to be present at all times. There’s also a spontaneity and the room for improvisation that exists when something is live – it’s a different show every night. The lines are the same lines and the costumes are the same costumes and the set is the same set but you’re a different person today than you were yesterday. And so is each of your cast mates and so is your audience. To go on a completely different journey every night? To discover new things every night? There’s nothing like it. I think doing plays is the actor’s best teacher. If you can do a play, you can do anything.

What was your first monologue slam experience like?

It was awesome. I competed with the year’s champs and I won. End of story. *Mic drop* (that 3-peat clearly got to my head).

How was the last time different? What did you learn?

I didn’t win. I learned that Shakespeare won’t get you into the finals. What a shame.

How do you select your monologues and how do prepare for the slam?

I heard somewhere that you should stay clear of dramatic monologues and stick to comedy for the slam. I won my first slam by performing a monologue of a character who unpacked his experience of being raped at 14 years old in a bathroom at Sears on a Wednesday morning while his mother strolled through the aisles shopping for plates. Do what moves you. Period.

What is your process?

I’m still learning what my process is. I don’t know if I have one. It’s different with every role – I think every project requires different things of me. I have a practice – like reading the script a bunch of times and doing table work and physical/vocal warm-ups and the proper field work and such. But in a pinch (the last-minute audition) I learn the words and then say them like I believe they’re mine.

Where have you trained?

Nicky Guadagni, my first ever acting coach, took me under her wing right out of high school and is still a very dear friend of mine. I’m also a graduate of the Humber College Theatre Performance program (2007-2010) and am currently in the Actor’s Conservatory at the Canadian Film Centre.

What is your dream role? Why?

Richard the Third because he’s a “deformed, unfinish’d” villain with a wicked sense of humour who possesses a frightening ability to seduce in order to get what he wants. He’s larger than life. I also just wanna scream the words, “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

Name three actors that inspire you the most?

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman – they’re transformative. They disappear before your eyes.

What advice would you give aspiring actors?

Do plays. Good plays. On a stage. In front of a live audience. That’s where you’ll learn what you need to learn.

What can we expect from Matthew Gouveia in 2017?

I have no idea what’s in store in 2017. And that’s the way I like it 🙂

*December 2011 was the first ever Toronto Monologue Slam