Tracy Wright, 1959–2010
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Tracy Wright, 1959–2010

Photo by Guntar Kravis.

On Tuesday morning, Tracy Wright died at home after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was fifty years old. You may or may not recognize her name, but if you’ve spent any time at all engaging in Canadian film, theatre, and television in the past twenty years, you definitely know her face. She worked with Daniel Brooks, Daniel MacIvor, Bruce McCulloch, Patricia Rozema, Bruce McDonald, Miranda July, and most frequently, her longtime partner Don McKellar, whom she married earlier this year. (She founded the Augusta Company with Brooks and McKellar.) Tracy was an utterly unique performer with an offbeat yet compelling sense of humour that made her memorable even if she only appeared on screen for a matter of minutes.

The loss of such a talented woman is especially sad because, in a way, we feel we were only just really getting to know her. Sure, we always found her a riot as the cat-obsessed Dizelle on Twitch City, and in this classic Kids in the Hall sketch, and it was fun to see her pop up in bit parts in everything from Last Night to Superstar to the infamous Bubbles Galore. But it’s her more recent projects that have really shown us what she was capable of, from her turn as the gallery curator who accidentally begins an online relationship with a small boy in Me and You and Everyone We Know, to her role as a one-time radical in Monkey Warfare opposite McKellar, to her wonderful work with Caroline Gillis in Daniel MacIvor’s A Beautiful View, she has given performances that are strange, generous, and disarmingly honest.
Despite her declining health, she worked up until the last. She has a small part in Bruce McDonald’s Arts & Crafts ode This Movie is Broken as well as his upcoming Trigger. She had also initially been scheduled to appear in Small Wooden Shoe’s staged reading of Brecht’s The Life of Galileo as the titular astronomer (by the company, she was billed, accurately, as “a magnetic and powerful performer, bringing forth one of the most complex, challenging and powerful roles in modern theatre”). She had to remove herself from that project, sadly, which was performed on May 30, but you might have seen her face on posters for the event around town. It would have been fascinating to see how she would have tackled it.
Somehow, it seems fitting to leave you with this scene from the end of Me and You and Everyone We Know. Goodbye, Tracy Wright. You will be missed.

CORRECTIONS: JUNE 23, 2010 When this article was first published, the year that Wright was born—1959—was correct in the article’s title, but the text of the article mistakenly noted that she was forty-eight when she died. She was fifty. This article also said, incorrectly, that Wright founded the Augusta Company with Daniel MacIvor—in fact, she did so with Daniel Brooks and Don McKellar. Torontoist regrets the errors.