We are excited to announce the GeriActors Newsletter sharing highlights from performances, workshops, events, and more. Our newsletter will be published twice per year.
Well… our performance season has come and gone and it was our most successful season yet! Thank you to everyone who invited us to perform or attended a show this year. We had the privilege of sharing our stories with many wonderful audiences (…) Read more about the GeriActors & Friends 2018 performance tour here: Summer 2018 Newsletter
“We are the GeriActors & Friends, an intergenerational theatre company. We write plays based on true stories and issues from our lives. Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy the show!”
The GeriActors & Friends is currently made up of 16 seniors and 5 Friends. This spring we have performed in Edmonton, Stony Plain, and Hanna! Join us for our last show of the year, see what we’ve been working on, and meet the cast!
In collaboration with Age Friendly Edmonton, the GeriActors & Friends have written 5 NEW plays! With stories about family, history, love and dating, ageism, abuse, and maintaining our health and independence these plays explore what it means to be a senior in Edmonton.
Be Careful – Renovations, bank loans, blueprints, and more. The lengths we go to keep our family safe.
Claire & Jacob – From the 60’s to today four people share their stories of coming out.
Love Me Tinder – Times have changed. Life has sped up and online dating is the worst. In one minute you’ve said yes or no to 10 people. What’s next? Breaking up before you meet? Gertrude is about to find out.
Reading the Signs – Just as they are inventing rear view cameras, warning buzzers for changing lanes, self-driving cars, and car-sharing deals, I have to give up driving.
Sanctuary – A play about elder abuse and finding your sanctuary.
Delanie took Drama 427/507: Intergenerational Theatre and volunteered with the GeriActors & Friends Thursday afternoons from September to December. Along with her fellow classmates, she collaborated with the GeriActors to share stories, explore intergenerational experiences, and develop a short presentation that was performed at our annual Holiday Celebration in December. Delanie also developed a final project based on her own family. Read below for her thoughts on the course and developing her final project.
Describe your experience volunteering with the GeriActors & Friends.
I found that this was a wonderful experience for me to learn to lead, as I was given the opportunity to lead warm-up exercises and even a project, and for me to learn about multi-generational interactions. I learned the GeriActors style, which is a wonderful way of storytelling, and a wonderful new way of acting that I have not done before, such as acting out inanimate objects. I also made a lot of great friends that I enjoyed talking to every week.
What is one thing you learned or discovered in this class?
I think one of the main things I learned was how to collaborate in a group and do performer-created theatre. I learned some tools, such as always saying yes and “yes, and,” that really helped to hear every group member’s ideas and to work as a team.
What would you say to future GeriActors students?
I would say to keep an open mind. I learned things that I never expected! I also think being open-minded gives you the flexibility to work with your group and see where you go as a team, rather than trying to control the outcome.
Tell us a little bit about your final project.
My final project was on my family; we have 4 close, living generations. I wanted to celebrate each generation and how we have all evolved within our family. I interviewed my grandfather, great-aunt, mother, father, and two sisters on their feelings and experiences of evolving within our family and put together an Emaze presentation that celebrated these thoughts. Some thoughts included how responsibilities change as you evolve to a different generation, how the focus of the family shifts when a new generation is born (my nieces and nephews) and how we are lucky to have so many generations and to be so close. I include a video at the end of my grandfather telling the Christmas story, as he does every year, to three other generations.
How did you come up with the idea this project?
I am very close to my family and I feel that we put a lot of value on how we all relate to each other. I also found the experience of my niece being born and how I went from being the youngest, center of the family, to now the 2nd generation to be very important to me.
What went in to putting your project all together?
I did interviews with my family members, so that meant driving out to Tofield and spending a few hours with each person. I recorded the interviews and listened back on them to take out quotes that I wanted to include in my presentation, paying attention to any themes of ideas that were coming from multiple people. I then went through family photos, which luckily were readily available because my father is an avid photo taker. Finding photos that worked for what I wanted to show, the four generations, was very time-consuming though. I then put the quotes and pictures together in the slide-show. I included the video because I think it really shows what I am trying to express: our four generations being close and together.
What do you hope people take away from this project? Where do you see it going next?
I hope that this project inspires others to look at their own family and appreciate the ties that they have. Maybe it could inspire some people to get to know their family better or to showcase their own evolving generations. I made this presentation on Emaze because this is an internet-based program, so to share it with all of my family members, all I had to do was send them the link. So it is a very portable and accessible project, which was important because I had 11 people that I wanted to have a copy of it.
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!
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.