GeriActors & Friends Holiday Party

Come join us for a workshop, delicious foods and a performance by the GeriActors and Friends this Friday.

All are welcome and its free!

Holiday Party 2014-page-001



A blessing in disguise.

Editor’s Note: The GeriActors and Friends had a chance to dance with Amber Borotsik this Tuesday afternoon at SAGE. If you have the opportunity, please drop by Tuesday, December 9 at 1pm in SAGE for another movement workshop with Amber. All abilities and ages are welcome! Here is a short post by Bill Yong about a moment in the workshop on Tuesday.

What started as a simple adaptation turned into a beautiful piece of choreography. Here is Helen Klemm and Amber Borotsik during a “Flocking” exercise.



GeriActors and Friends at Jasper Place High School

This week the GeriActors and Friends had an opportunity to work with Mrs. Edith Mitchell’s drama class at Jasper Place High School in a performance storytelling workshop. Here is a post written by Bill Yong about his experience.

    We walked into an auto mechanic turned drama classroom. To our right was a table full of delicious food: homemade brownies, fruit cookies, hummus, dips, fruit trays, vegetable platters, puffed wheat squares, and angel food cake – all prepared by the students. To the left was a circle of chairs.

    We began by sitting in a circle and introducing ourselves. Afterwards, we created tableaux based on stereotypes about seniors and young people, shared stories about “our first jobs” or “a time we got into trouble” and created scenes from them. It truly was full and busy two and half hours.

    Something that caught me by surprise was how empowered these students were. Each game, prompt, and activity was facilitated by a student, in fact, the whole workshop was run by the students. These students had skills I had not developed until recently: listening for time, asking open questions, and the most important, having excessive amounts of good food for coffee break. 

    A question began to percolate my brain as I watched the different intergenerational stories being performed. What is it that makes it possible for a 16 year old high school student to be able to play an 84 year old senior? How are they able to capture the details, nuances and energy of a character who is over 60 years older than them? 

I can only hypothesize what the reasons are, but here is what I think: 

    I think the most authentic storytelling comes from the people who have lived the experiences themselves. These students lived these stories, they know the characters that they are playing, and if there are missing pieces, they are familiar and comfortable enough to fill in the gaps. Authenticity and honesty are key to the work that we do in performance storytelling. As facilitators, what are the prompts, questions,and exercises that open up these channels of memories for us?

    Another reason is the students’ commitment to the characters. In the moment they played the scene, the 14 year old student fully believed and embodied the 84 year old woman she was playing. She never questioned her presence and neither did any of the audience. A beautiful piece of acting. How does the facilitator develop a space that inspires this ingenuity?

    These are lessons we ought to remind ourselves of in doing this work. Thank you Jasper Place High School and Mrs. Edith Mitchell for the wonderful afternoon. 



Oh Brave New World: In Studio with Shula and Stuart

Editor’s Note: Last week the GeriActors had the great pleasure of working with three distinguished artists in the intergenerational arts community: Shula Strassfeld a resident artist with Dance Exchange in Washington DC, Stuart Kandall the founder of Stagebridge in California, and our Artistic Director David Barnet. Here is the last post of a three part series Bill has written about the experience. (Check out Shula’s blog about the experience:

     It’s the last day. We’ve had a full week of workshops, rehearsals, meals, and discussions. In the last six days, it feels like we have tried to take every ounce of knowledge and experience from Stuart and Shula. We’ve just finished our final showcase at the Second Playing Space which featured the dances we created with CRIPSiE, performances by students from David Barnet’s Drama 357 Shakespeare class, the GeriActors & Friends, and an intergenerational dance piece choreographed by Shula Strassfeld.

"Brave New World"  Choreography by Shula Strassfled Performers: David Barnet, Becca Barrington, Stuart Kandall, Barry Bilinsky, Shula Strassfeld & Bill Yong Photo by Mat Simpson
“Brave New World”
Choreography by Shula Strassfled
Performers: David Barnet, Becca Barrington, Stuart Kandall, Barry Bilinsky, Shula Strassfeld & Bill Yong
Photo by Mat Simpson

     As we desperately try and record Stuart’s storytelling and Shula’s dance tools and reflect on the week’s events, we begin to ponder about the future: Whats next? How do we keep the momentum going? How do we continue to create evocative and meaningful prompts? How do we keep being physical in the work that we do?

Makram Ayache & Kianna Woo performing Merchant of Venice Photo by Mat Simpson
Makram Ayache & Kianna Woo
performing Merchant of Venice
Photo by Mat Simpson

     “You know how to do it now, so just keep doing it.” said Shula during a talkback this week. “It’s about giving yourself permission to do all these things.”

We will. Thank you for a week of dance, storytelling, advice, and the provocative offers to continue with this work. Thank you Stuart Kandall and Shula Strassfeld.

Until next time.

Stuart Kandall
Stuart Kandall
Shula Strassfeld
Shula Strassfeld


Our time with CRIPSiE: In Studio with Shula and Stuart

Editor’s Note: Becca, David, and Bill had an opportunity this week to participate in a project that Stuart and Shula were collaborating on with CRIPSiE. CRIPSiE, formerly known as iDance, is a mixed ability dance company based out of the Glenrose Hospital in Edmonton, comprised of dancers with disabilities and their allies. This group creates socially engaged dance pieces in hopes of promoting a more inclusive society. Here is a post by Bill on his experience.  (For more information about CRIPSIE check out their website:

After Stuart gave us the prompt, “my favorite item in my house is..” the room was full of chatter. We each described the physical details of the item: the texture, colors, the object’s placement, and the way this item made us feel. The entire gymnasium was buzzing with poetic energy.

“When I go home, I imagine there are hundreds of adoring fans cheering, and I start to play my electric drum set.”

“I’ve got a collection of crystal sculptures in my house, and whenever I get a bit of extra money, I try to add to that collection.”

“I’ve got this screen in my bedroom where I can watch my favourite shows, lounge, and eat crackers, I love it.”

Later, Shula had everyone create a gesture based on someone’s description of an item and  another based on an impression of the entire experience. This started the process of creating two very dynamic and unique group choreographies.

Photo by Mat Simpson
Photo by Mat Simpson

After, we created a sequence in duets based on the premise of support. 

Photo by Mat Simpson
Photo by Mat Simpson

Its was incredibly inspirational working with CRIPSiE. I admire their inclusivity and openness: from the moment I walked into the room, I became a part of the conversation, the creation, and the process. The thing I will take most out of this experience was the group’s ingenuity: the challenges experienced by members of the group became beautiful offers, gifts unique to CRIPSIE. This is something to keep in mind in our practice with the GeriActors and Friends. Thank you CRIPSiE for sharing this experience with us.