GeriActors & Friends are seniors from Edmonton and area and the ‘Friends’ are students and alumni from the University of Alberta. We range in age from early twenties to nineties.
Using a playful approach to theatre we produce original plays based on our stories and on issues of aging. We write plays by playing games, telling stories, improvising, and taking elegant coffee breaks with free flowing discussion. As we rehearse and perform, we continually rewrite our scripts. Humour and music are central to our work; laughter makes accessible even the most difficult subject.
Working intergenerationally we generate new energy, brilliant ideas and lasting friendships. Our plays are focused on aging rather than age, and celebrate our commonalities.
We give 12-18 performances a year to audiences of seniors and their families, students, health professionals and the general public.
GeriActors & Friends is currently full and not accepting new members. Read more.
“Be careful what you say! He’ll write it down and put it in a play!”
Meet the Cast
“Physically I’m tired [after rehearsals], but emotionally I’m invigorated.”
Birthplace: Regina, Saskatchewan
Carlean was recruited to GeriActors after seeing a play directed by our own David Barnet. In Carlean’s opinion, one of the biggest barriers for seniors is that society treats them as if they are invisible, and she is anything but that! Our company is an avenue for her to demonstrate how vital and relevant seniors are. She loves every aspect of theatre from production to performance. Carlean feels that GeriActors gives her constant encouragement to express herself creatively, and it is a safe environment in which to learn and be challenged. Amidst a global pandemic, working with GeriActors helped her stay connected in these isolating times and retain a positive attitude.
“It’s a great social group because the people are very playful… nobody yells at anybody else, nobody complains if you do forget your lines because we all do that. It adds quality to my week.”
Birthplace: Hamilton, Ontario
From proofreading e-books for Project Gutenberg to taking the stage, Charles is a man with many talents. His path to acting began at a young age, he participated in his high school drama club, voiced Jesus in a radio series, acted in commercials and has worked with the standardized patient program at the University of Alberta. He has always been drawn to the interactions with people that happen through acting. Charles believes that being involved with the GeriActors adds quality to his week and it gives him the opportunity to work or play with students and seniors alike.
“I’ve learned to look back at my past which is something I wouldn’t have thought about and now I’m passing it on to my children.”
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta
When Diane first heard about GeriActors, she thought it was a thing for “old” people and originally turned down joining. She eventually decided to give it a try for one summer and has been a member ever since. Diane considers GeriActors to be one of the most important parts of her life as it gives her something to look forward to every week. It fostered an appreciation of her own family history. Diane enjoys collaborating with people of varying ages and experiences. Some of her favourite moments have been when working with Jasper Place high school students and exchanging life stories with them. With the company, Diane is always having fun, laughing, and learning new things.
“Sometimes you get a part you really like and sometimes you get a part that you think somebody else should have… know the importance of whatever part you play, you have to make the other person look their best. You have to support the other person… Make the other person look their best and when you get a good part, they will do the same for you.”
Birthplace: Hengelo, Holland
John came across an ad for the GeriActors while playing tennis at the Kinsmen Field House. Although he had no prior acting experience, being the ambitious man he is he decided to try it out and is still performing 15 years later. Joining the GeriActors has helped John to stay involved with his community. The social aspect of this group has kept John coming back year after year. John stresses the importance of taking down the barriers that seniors face today, by not being afraid to try something new. John has developed a greater appreciation of the younger generation, who he enjoys working with. He believes they bring a new life and add a new dynamic to the GeriActors.
“Each week different things and new things come up. And it’s always interesting to see what personal stories will come out of that work, so yeah it’s kinda more like magic bubbling, when it comes it comes.”
Birthplace: Sherbrooke, Québec
After retiring from teaching drama Kerry was looking for a way to stay involved with theatre, from there he found the GeriActors. Kerry has always been drawn to the physicality and creativity that comes with acting. Although he may be more comfortable with the writing and collaboration involved in the creation of a script, working with the GeriActors has helped him to relax and be open to an audience while on stage. Being one of the youngest retired members of the GeriActors, he has had the opportunity to help break stereotypes which seniors face. Inspired by playwrights such as Chekhov, Kerry is a poet intrigued by the idea of turning poetry into plays.
“Creative aging means… never losing your sense of adventure. Never losing your sense of expressing yourself, and finding new things to do. And never losing your humanity.”
Birthplace: Midlands, England
Liz has been a part of the GeriActors for ten years. She came to Edmonton in 1981 but was continually inspired by English theatre throughout her life. This led Liz to study drama as her major in college while completing her Teaching Certificate. She loves the safety and comradeship of the group. The GeriActors has opened new doors for Liz. She has been a part of the Fringe Festival for several years in a row, filming, and had a part in the musical “Oliver”. Liz enjoys the energy and enthusiasm that goes along with collaborating with younger generations within the GeriActors. In her down time, Liz is busy writing letters to her local paper, she is on the Board of her local seniors association, does Yoga and enjoys aquacise when possible. She continues to advocate for social change.
“It is a creative and fun experience where one gets to play and interact with young university students in their 20’s, which is a pleasure to me.”
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba
This stage of life (one’s senior years) gives me the privilege of time to try new things, explore new pathways and experiences. It is a joy to meet as GeriActors where we laugh (and sigh) together, but always are challenged. I worked in the field of social justice for many years. Drama is a wonderful platform to raise awareness and educate on justice issues. Ageing has it challenges, and GeriActors is a medium that invites members and audiences to reflect together, and perhaps choose to do something differently. An adventurer at heart, I appreciate the flexibility within the GeriActors. Being a part of the group has not slowed down my desire for travel since retiring, though the Covid pandemic did succeed. I hope to be able to travel again when it is safe for all.
“Don’t sit still, go learn something new, go do something different.”
“I was at Sage one day when I saw the GeriActors, they were sitting upstairs before they even started, and they looked like a cheerful group. And I thought yeah, I’ll join them.”
Birthplace: Felixstowe, England
Margaret’s first public performance was at three years old when she played baby bear in the dance of the three bears. She forgot to turn with the other two bears and had to run to catch up. She was ashamed but the audience loved it. Margaret continued to dance for a few years, but didn’t do any acting until her sixties when she performed in English pantomimes. Soon after she retired, at the Sage Seniors Association, she saw a group sitting around a table talking and laughing. They looked friendly so she decided to join them. Ten years later she is still with the GeriActors enjoying the fun and creativity.
“I love doing things that are totally different; it’s just plain fun.”
Birthplace: Bristol, England
After a career in academia and with CRA, Pat decided to do something totally different in retirement. She ran away to clown school! Following this joyful experience, she pursued training in Improvisation and Laughter Yoga, and undertook a beginning acting class for seniors. As a big believer in laughter and its ability to be therapeutic and relieve stress, she practiced her skills by volunteering with seniors and hospital patients. Pat became a member of GeriActors in 2016. She enjoys acting, as she is able to emphasize different parts of her personality and to learn other people’s stories. One of her favourite roles was playing a dog in “Be Careful.” She had great fun with this, and prepared by basing her character on her own dog!
“Its really funny, the very first time I went on stage with the GeriActors, I wasn’t nervous… Maybe it’s because I was waiting so long to do this. Cause I was about 10… when I thought, I want to be on stage, I want to dance… and now at 78 I get to do it.”
Birthplace: Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
Pearl joined GeriActors in September of 2015. She heard about GeriActors while volunteering for Sage. Although she had no prior acting experience upon joining, Pearl believes that acting is an expression of the soul and anyone can take part. Including the many plays that Pearl has been a part of within the GeriActors, she has also had the opportunity to act outside of the company, performing in The Moon at Midnight across provinces. Pearl is also a dancer, specializing in dancing to the beat of African Drumming. Pearl believes that creativity is the gateway to healthy living and the intergenerational aspect of the GeriActors provides opportunities for young people to realize, “hey, these old folks are hip!”
“We are old, but not cold”
“I enjoy the company … each one has his or her own way of thinking; but we finally all get into one at the GeriActors, we freeze into one group, whatever differences we may have.”
Birthplace: Kandy, Sri Lanka
With the help of Helen, the GeriActors recruited Ranee to the stage in January 2016. Ranee is both worldly and academic as she received her diploma in Speech and Drama at the age of 16. She then went on to complete two Master’s Degrees in two separate countries. Her passion for performing began at a young age, which she carried with her throughout her career in education. In 2005 she directed extracts from the French musical “Notre Dame de Paris” in an international school in Sri Lanka. An artist at heart, Ranee has always enjoyed drawing, sketching and painting, a love that she was able to reconnect with in recent years. Through her travels, Ranee has picked up many stories along the way and is excited to share them through the GeriActors.
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GeriActors & Friends performs at seniors residences, centres, conferences, local events, and more.Hire Us