A Photo-Documentary of our trip to Drumheller.

     Last Wednesday, the GeriActors and Friends had the opportunity of performing We Decide When at the Grey Matters Conference in Drumheller. The audience consisted of three hundred caretakers, social workers, health care providers, people interested in the topic of working with seniors. The performance was preluded by a presentation by Jacquie Eales, a gerontologist we had been working with for the last five years on the effects of creative aging. This blog will feature photos of our journey to Drumheller.
For more info about the conference go to: http://greymatters2015.com/

     We Wecide When is an work-in-process intergenerational play based on a scene from Shakespeare’s King Lear and echoes it with stories from Friends, GeriActors and parents of the GeriActors. It is a play about agency, choice and how our choices affect other people’s lives.

We began our journey at 8:45am at Charle’s house, where we boarded a 15 seated van to Drumheller. Driving us was Liz Alchin’s husband, the incomparable driver Daryl.

This was the van that took us from South Edmonton to Drumheller.
The Van

We performed at a multi-functional facility: it included a public library, art studios, art gallery, fitness centre, indoor children centre, banquet halls.

Badlands Community Facility
Badlands Community Facility

We were served a fantastic meal upon arrival, the menu included: Roasted Potatoes, Cauliflower Casserole, Stuffed Pork, Roast Beef, Mixed Salad, Caesar Salad, Apple Crumble.

Charles having lunch
Charles having lunch
The GeriActors and Friends having lunch before the performance
The GeriActors and Friends having lunch before the performance

After our meal, we warmed up inside an art gallery inside the facility and then waited our turn to present at the conference. When we got into the space, we took a few minutes to test out the acoustics and warm up our voices.

Helen waiting outside the banquet hall before our performance
Hansi at the Gallery
Hansi at the Gallery
Our audience
Our audience

We performed We Decide When.


Before leaving Drumheller we had to take at least ONE picture with a dinosaur!

Dinosaur beside our venue

And of the Badlands



We didn’t arrive back in Edmonton until 8:30pm. A beautiful sunset follow us back on our journey to Edmonton.


The Start of Something New.

Pearl Edwards
This is a photo of Pearl, the newest member of the GeriActors and Friends. She is sharing a book that she had bought from Value Village. Someone whom she had never met before had left it for her in the store, and when she opened it, the first page read, “To my black Pearl”.

This was one of the many stories shared last week at a storytelling workshop led in conjunction with the students of David Barnet’s Drama 427/507 Intergenerational Theatre class. Our newest Friends.

The workshop began with an exercise which required everyone to explain something completely outrageous to a partner. How to fly a magic carpet without upsetting it, how to trick a cat to juggle or how to delicately ride a giraffe.
Helen, Angela, Hannah and Theresa - Furniture Story
Theresa, Helen, Angela and Hannah – Furniture Story

At this point, our minds were ready and our bodies active for creation.

We were then given a prompt, “A moment that surprised you”.
It took about forty minutes for the group to create four scenes based on these stories. Among these stories was Pearl’s, a story about a little white lie involving growing tomatoes in the garden, a daughter helping her mother move furniture into her apartment and two birds managing to fly into a house through the chimney.
What we’ll do with these stories now is a mystery, the possibilities are endless. Do we string them all together? What do these stories have in common? What tools can we use to draw richer details from each story? What types of conversations do these stories bring up?

It will be interesting to see what the students come up with. Stay tuned for our Holiday performance in December to see what happens.

GeriActors & Friends are at it again!

Editor’s Note: The GeriActors and Friends are back in rehearsals for their 2015/2016 season. Here is a blog by Bill Yong highlighting the next few months.

September is always a fun time with the GeriActors. The seniors and friends return after a three month break full of energy, new ideas and new stories. This year we are fortunate to have new GeriActors and students from David Barnet’s Intergenerational Theatre Class Drama 427/507 join the group. These new energies and bodies fill the room with inspiration, vitality and conversations that will carry us into the new year.

The end of September also marks the beginning of the GeriActor’s cross-province tour. Starting with the Grey Matters Conference in Drumheller, the GeriActors will perform We Decide: an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear and stories by GeriActors and Friends about agency and choosing their path in life.

The Grey Matters Conference is a two-day (September 29 – 30) event that offers provincial service providers opportunities to network, gain knowledge and increase awareness of issues, supports and services for seniors. The Town of Drumheller in partnership with Alberta Seniors is co-hosting this conference. Which provides seniors’ service providers with the opportunity to hear from dynamic speakers and learn about best practices, emerging issues and trends that enhance seniors health and wellness. It is taking place in Drumheller Badlands Community Facility, 80 Veterans Way.

For more info on the conference go to: http://greymatters2015.com

Be sure to tell your friends in Drumheller to come if they are in town.

Photo by: Ryan Parker (PK Photography)
Photo by: Ryan Parker (PK Photography)


Lessons from March 2015

Editor’s Note: Here is another blog about the residency Dance Exchange spent with GeriActors and CRIPSiE in March by Bill.

After much reflecting and digesting after two weeks with Dance Exchange and CRIPSiE, the thought of writing a blog post about this experience seems a bit overwhelming – so much had happened. What did we do? What did I learn through this process? What will the future look like after our new experience? Here are three things I have learned in our experience together that I will adopt into my own practice.

  1. The Best Plan Leaves Room for Adaptation.

Being able to observe and participate in some of the planning process, I have noticed that the most effective plans leave room for questions and adaptation in their implementation. The concept of being prepared for anything to happen is fundamental when facilitating creative work with a group of people – it is the foundation of creativity. Whether it is something small like the order of activities or something big such as the performance venue, we somehow find a way to find opportunity behind each wrench being thrown at us. Do we have any idea what’s going to happen? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But we can be open to anything and make educated guesses. I learned this first hand when I got very ill the day before performance. What a treat being able to watch the facilitation team adapt and carry on with the performance. Somehow through our time spent together, the team was able to capture essence of my movement and ideas. This concept of openness and patience will be something we carry into our practice.

Charles Bidwell (GeriActors & Friends) & Amanda Newman (Dance Exchange)
Charles Bidwell (GeriActors & Friends) & Amanda Newman (Dance Exchange)
  1. Turn Discomfort Into Inquiry.

I first encountered this idea when I met Liz Lerman at the Winter Institute in Washington DC. I was so captivated by how she started almost all her sentences with “I find it interesting that…” that I began to do it myself. Whenever there was a moment of discomfort or self-judgment I made the observation and phrased it into that question: “I find it interesting that I feel so awkward right now” or “It’s interesting how the audience members did not respond they way I had intended”. The process of acknowledging the feeling of discomfort and turning it into inquiry allows me to continually be on the tip of my comfort zone.

GeriActors, CRIPSiE and Dance Exchange in rehearsal
GeriActors, CRIPSiE and Dance Exchange in rehearsal
  1. Make Unexpected Dances with Unexpected Dancers.

This is how I started dancing. With no formal dance training, I jumped into the world of movement and have never looked back. It begs the questions of: What is dance? Who gets to dance? Where does the dance happen? Why does it matter? (Dance Exchange). Any type of movement (when motions of energy begin to form). Everyone. Anywhere you darn well please. Because our bodies are already dancing, we might as well acknowledge it.

GeriActors, CRIPSiE and Dance Exchange in
GeriActors, CRIPSiE and Dance Exchange in “The Seeing Heart”.

To read Amanda Newman’s blog post from Dance Exchange go here: http://danceexchange.org/2015/04/06/5-things-ive-carried-with-me-from-edmonton/

Paint with Watercolours, Explore with the Bard!

Join us at the Creative Age Festival, June 4-6 and take part in one of our amazing arts workshops including: Watercolours or Acting Shakespeare!

Watercolours with Willie Wong

Thursday, June 4 from 6 – 8pm

North Edmonton Seniors Association (7524 139 Avenue)

Watercolours made easy. Join renowned Edmonton artist Willie Wong in this 2-hour workshop, designed for all levels of experience, as he walks you through the basics of painting with watercolours. Cost: $15 (all materials included)

Acting Shakespeare with David Barnet

Friday, June 5 from 1 – 3pm

North Edmonton Seniors Association (7524 139 Avenue)

Photo by: Ryan Parker (PK Photography)
Photo by: Ryan Parker (PK Photography)

Try out Juliet or Lear – it’s easier than you think! Play and have fun with the bard with award-winning teacher David Barnet. Cost: $15

And that’s not all – there are 7 more workshops to choose from:

Pottery with Elaine Kwan

Memoir Writing with Shirley Serviss

Performance Storytelling with GeriActors

Handbells with Wendy Hoskin

Musical Improvisation with Grindstone Theatre

Dance and Physical Storytelling with Amber Borotsik & Shula Strassfeld


African Drumming with Deborah Bortscher

Photo by: Ryan Parker (PK Photography)
Photo by: Ryan Parker (PK Photography)

Taking a Creative Age workshop is a great way to meet new people, learn something brand new, expand your current skills, and have fun!

For more information and a complete description of each workshop visit the Creative Age Edmonton website and take a look at our Festival Guide. Workshops are filling up fast so call NESA (780-496-6969) today to reserve your place. Lunch is provided to all workshop participants free of charge.

See you at the festival June 4-6!!!