Maggie Salopek: Friend

Editor’s Note: We are honoured to have Maggie as GeriActors and Friend’s Administrative Assistant. Here are a couple thoughts by Maggie Salopek. 

 

I first heard about the GeriActors while I was studying drama at the University of Alberta. I was informed there was a class about intergenerational theatre that allowed you to work with the GeriActors for a semester and I thought that would be a really cool experience. Unfortunately I was unable to take the class, but I was still interested in the work that the GeriActors did and I wanted to be a part of it. So I started to volunteer! I’ve been volunteering and working with the GeriActors since September 2016 and I love every minute of it.

I’ve met a lot of fun people through the GeriActors and I’ve discovered so much about their lives. Every day, I learn something new from them and I try to apply the lessons they’ve learnt to my own life and understand their experiences.  The GeriActors have taught me a lot about seniors’ issues in Edmonton and how the theatre they create can educate our city on those issues. Their current goal is to make Edmonton an Age Friendly City. We are making theatre that reflects that by having the GeriActors talk about their own stories and then we integrate them into our plays.

The intergenerational art we create at the GeriActors speaks to everyone and allows us to connect on new levels with the seniors and young people in our lives.  Enhancing the communication between the older and younger generations can help us make Edmonton an Age Friendly City and abolish the stereotypes we have about seniors and young people.
For the future, I see intergenerational art becoming more popular in our city, not just for the GeriActors but for other theatre groups and other art forms as well. As the GeriActors continue to create art that brings important issues to the spotlight, I’m sure others will follow and help bridge the gap between the younger generation and seniors.

 

The GeriActors have inspired me to use theatre to shed light on overlooked problems in our world and to continue educating myself on the perspectives of others.  I’m grateful for all they have taught me and I can’t wait to see what else I will learn form them and what art we will make together in the future!

 

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Kerry Francis: GeriActor

Editor’s Note: A little journey of Kerry’s life as a theatre artist and how he got to the GeriActors and Friends.

I was born and raised in the Eastern Townships of Quebec in the small town of Lennoxville (home of Bishops University). The townships is a  predominately rural area with a landscape of rolling hills, forests and farms.

It was not until I reached college that I discovered the arts. I was an avid reader from a young age, and in particular was a devoted Canadian literature reader. I had been exposed to great deal of poetry throughout high school and pursued this further in college by taking creative writing and poetry writing classes. One evening while walking across campus I noticed posters for auditions for The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje. My curiosity was peeked. How in earth would this book of poetry be adapted for the stage? Although I had never had any inclination to work on the stage up to this point in my life I showed up for the auditions, got a part in the show and was hooked. I fell in love with the process of acting and have dipped in and out of theatre since that time.

I studied at the Canadain Mime School after college, worked with a Childrens Theatre Company in Montreal and in 1979 moved out west to Nelson, B.C.. In Nelson I attended The Kootenay  School of Art.  At this point in my life I became consumed with the pursuit of the visual arts(primarily sculpture). I transferred to the University of Victoria in the early eighties and completed my BFA in sculpture. During those years I kept my hand in theatre with my involvement with various community theatre groups. I also worked in various art related jobs (visual and performance). In the early nineties I returned to school to get a Bachelor of Education degree. Upon completion of this degree I got a job teaching art and theatre in a junior and senior high school on the north coast of BC in the small city of Prince Rupert. I taught grade 8-12 students there for seventeen years and as the acting coach and teacher produced and directed over fifty productions. I directed one act plays, full length plays and adapted children stories and fables which were then toured to the local elementary schools. During that time I also completed my masters degree in art education. I moved to Edmonton in 2006 with my wife and daughter and have continued to be a supporter of the arts.

I had read about Geriactors a few years after moving to Edmonton and when I turned sixty decided I would love to be involved, Hence, here I am participating and loving working with my cohorts at Geriactors. I love the development of ensemble and devised theatre and wish to continue this journey as long as I am breathing.

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GeriActors Summer School

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Introduction to storytelling, acting, and improv

GeriActors is thrilled to announce their first summer session – GeriActors Summer School – from June 16 – July 14. This program is perfect for anyone wanting to learn more about our performance/acting company, the GeriActors & Friends.

The GeriActors have been turning stories into plays for the last fifteen years. Join us this June and learn how to turn your own stories into moments of theatre to share with others.

THIS SUMMER — GET CREATIVE, BE THEATRICAL, AND HAVE A LOT OF FUN!

No experience necessary and all abilities welcome.

The program will finish with a final performance for family & friends.

 

Date & Time:

June 16 – July 14

Thursdays from 1 – 3pm

Final Performance on July 14

 

Location:  

SAGE Auditorium

15 Sir Winston Churchill Square

 

Cost: $20

 

Register in person at SAGE or call 780-423-5510

Pass this information on to anyone who might be interested. A poster is attached for your convenience. If your organization or group would like hard copies of the poster or leaflets to give out please contact the GeriActors at the contact info below. We will be sure to drop them off!

GeriActors and Friends at ELLA

Yesterday the GeriActors had the honour of performing a section of “We Decide When” at the lunch feature of ELLA.

ELLA, which stands for Edmonton Lifelong Learning Association is an annual conference for seniors as a part of the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension. This three week event features courses in a broad range of topics such as photography, biology of the immune system, mathematics or watercolor technique. Seniors are able to sign up for as many or as few courses as they would like.

For more information about ELLA visit their website: http://web.extension.ualberta.ca/extcms/index.php/ella

Many of the GeriActors take part in this event, as ELLA shares the same belief that creativity and lifelong learning is the gateway to healthy aging.

The event started with a speech made by our artistic director, David Barnet. It featured a description of our process, the intergenerational course and a series of exercises by the GeriActors.

Here were some highlights from the events.

“Never say anything you don’t want to be put into a play”

“Don’t shoot it down (online dating) until you’ve tried it David!”

“Every year at ELLA I feel a bit younger, that play made me feel even younger, something no medication can ever make me feel.”

“Laughter is our form of the handshake, it’s our way of showing that we are all equal.”

“Peaches! Kelowna Peaches!” (describing her favorite food)

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Standing beside Liz (left) is Therezinha Kennedy (right), local poet, a former GeriActors and now world traveler. She will be travelling the Himalayas next year.