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:

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:

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!!!

Creative Age Festival – Arts Cafe

Join us for a potpourri of music, theatre, poetry and storytelling at the Arts Café on June 6 and close out the 2015 Creative Age Festival in style!

Arts Café

Saturday, June 6 from 1 – 3 p.m.

You’ll be treated to a potpourri of music, theatre, poetry and storytelling at the ever-popular NESA Arts Café which closes out the 2015 Creative Age Festival.

Author, artist and musician Alida VanBraeden will read from her book of poems, Dancing Into Eternity, and play a composition she wrote for guitar. Long-time writer and writing instructor Shirley A. Serviss will entertain with storytelling, and the Rural Route Actor’s Troupe will perform a short skit.

The arts café will also feature diverse musical performances from the Choralaires, NESA Handbell group, African Drumming Group and Beth Dunbar.

Please join us Saturday, June 6 from 1 – 3 p.m. at the North Edmonton Seniors Association (7524 139 Avenue) Tickets are not required but a $2 donation is suggested. Pre-registration is not required.

Read on for background information about some of our talented performers.

Rural Route Actor’s Troupe

The Rural Route Actor’s Troupe was formed 5 years ago to provide artistic outlet to area citizens and entertainment to rural audiences. The Troupe is open for all. They have performed a variety of plays and skits to audiences in a number of rural community halls from Duffield to Beaver Meadows, north of Niton Junction. They rehearse at Zion United Church located between the communities of Alberta Beach, Darwell and Wabamun.

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

Shirley A. Serviss

Shirley A. Serviss is a long-time participant in Edmonton’s literary scene as a writer and writing instructor. She has published three collections of poetry and her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and collections. Shirley is the staff literary Artist on the Wards for the Friends of University Hospitals.

Shirley Serviss


Director: Wendy Hoskins

The Northgate Seniors Handbell program was started seven years ago when a set of handbells was discovered in a cupboard at the center. Some of the ringers have been in the choir years; some are in their first year. The group has performed at churches, hospitals, seniors residences and at various Northgate events including previous Arts Cafés.

Photo by: Trevor Schneider
Photo by: Trevor Schneider


Director: Sandy Ollenberger

Pianist: Vicki McClelland

The Choralaires have entertained audiences in Edmonton and the surrounding area for nearly 30 years. They have performed at the Legislature, nursing homes, private functions, at every Creative Age Festival and put on an annual spring concert.

Photo by: Trevor Schneider
Photo by: Trevor Schneider

Creative Age Festival – Play with Clay

Join us at the Creative Age Festival June 4-6 and take a workshop or see a performance. Pottery Workshop

Experience the joys and challenges of working with clay at our Pottery Workshop led by facilitator Elaine Kwan. You’ll learn the basics of handbuilding with pinching and coil techniques to build a small flowerpot or pencil holder.

Come out on Thursday, June 4 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and have fun with clay! The cost is $15 and all supplies, glazing and firing costs are included.

The workshop is held at North Edmonton Seniors Association (7524 139 Avenue). Call 780-496-6969 to register.