“August” is over

The stage has been cleared. Set dismantled. Moustache shaved off.  Kings Town Players production of August:Osage County is over.

What a great run we have had.  This is the best production that I have been in.  The play is very well written and keeps the audience engaged throughout. It is intense and emotional and funny and relatable.

I was going to say that the cast and crew have worked like family to put this production together. But given the dysfunction in the play’s family, that may not be an apt analogy. We have worked like good friends. A real ensemble of cast and crew.

Dinner's readyTheatre is a team effort. For it to work, we need to trust and rely on all the other members of the team to do their part and sometimes rescue us if we goof up, forget a line or are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  We all pulled together to mount a show we are all proud of.

I dont understand this meannessOne of the sad and wonderful things about live theatre is that every production, every performance, in fact, is unique. And once it is done, it is done.  Unlike a movie that you can watch over and over again, the theatre play exists only for the couple of hours that it is presented and then it vanishes.  It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with my K.T. P. friends to bring this magic to life in August:Osage County.

AOC 2014

Kings Town Players - August:Osage County September, 2014

Kings Town Players – August:Osage County                 September, 2014



Being me

My barber has been after me for some time to colour my hair. A few years back he convinced me to sit with a tight bathing cap thing on my head as he tugged strands of hair through and dyed them a darker colour. He called them “lowlights”. They made me feel like a skunk. After a couple of episodes of this torture I happily gave up on it and reverted to my natural white.

As Father in The Stone Angel

As Father in The Stone Angel

This month he was delighted when I told him that I thought, for the role I am currently playing in August:Osage County, I should have my white hair toned down a bit so it does not attract so much attention in the stage lights. For my role as Father in Stone Angel last spring it was appropriate. As Charlie Aiken, I thought I should look a little less domineering.

So last week he coloured my hair with a product he told me would gradually wash out over a few weeks, thereby being less noticeable as my white roots grow back in.

At first, the dye job proved a bit darker than I had anticipated and there was such a discrepancy between my hair and moustache and eyebrows that I had to have them done too.

For the role of Charlie it has been great. It has allowed me to feel like a totally different person and inhabit the character. The down side is that , for the next few weeks, I will be looking in mirrors and not recognizing myself. Friends pass me on the street, not knowing who I am.

Me or Ned?Others look at me with a glance of curiosity. Some of them ask me, “Got a new girlfriend?” Others are more direct. “You look like you should be in porn movies.” ” You look like one of the Mario Brothers.” “Ned Flanders” “Tennessee Ernie Ford”. “If you put conditioner on if and leave it in for a bit, it will wash out faster.”

No one seems to think that it is me. Nor  do I. I am blessed with a thick head of healthy white hair and I am 67 years old. Why would I want to pretend to be someone I am not? I am not ashamed of my age. Why should we have  a preoccupation of trying to look younger than we are? Stella McCartney show, Spring Summer 2014, Paris Fashion Week, France - 30 Sep 2013Do I want to end up looking like Paul McCartney – a 70-year-old face with 30-year-old  hair?  He may look good from the back but from the front, the effort to hide his age (that everyone knows anyway) is kind of pathetic.

My hair dresser told me “White hair says ‘old’. People don’t notice you if you have white hair, you are overlooked.”  Baloney.  Tell me that no one notices Bill Clinton or Anderson Cooper or Richard Gere.

Excuse me dear

“Scuse me, dear, Can I trouble you for another beer?”

When this show is over, I will put Charlie Aiken away and within weeks will be back to the real me. Pretending is for theatre and I absolutely love doing that. But in my real life I am not going to try to cover up who I really am. It is too much work. And it would make me feel like I am somehow not satisfied with myself. I think that would be a bit sad.

If I am cast in another play some time that requires a different look to take on the character I will be more than happy to do it again. Temporarily.

But if you overlook me simply because my hair is white … well, that is your problem, not mine. You don’t know what you are missing.

This is me.  Take it or leave it.

This is me. Take it or leave it.



My Dad, Stewart Geddes,  passed away this morning.  Although I am saddened to know that he is gone, there is also a tinge of relief since, over the last month, he has been subjected to one indignity and loss after another.

Dad 1 8x10A few weeks ago, Dad said to me ” I am not worried about being dead. It’s the dying part that concerns me.”   Dad had led a very independent and productive life for almost 95 years so to end up weakened and dependent and bed-ridden was not something he relished.  We would all like to just die in our sleep when the time is near.  Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen.

I will miss Dad’s sensible guidance and advice.  His level-headed approach to dealing with life’s problems was always welcomed.  His generosity of spirit and resources to family and community was a model for me.  I am who I am today, in great part, not only to the genes I inherited from my parents but from their guidance and example.

For the past while I have recognized that I have been the proverbial filling of the sandwich generation with my family relationships and concerns ranging from my youngest granddaughter at 3 to my father at 94.  With Dad’s passing, there is a generation gone and a recognition that I am now one of the pieces of bread on the sandwich.  I hope I don’t get crusty.

I have mentioned Dad i in several of my blog articles in the past. You can find these articles here if you want to know more about him.

Father’s Day 2012

 A surprise at the Stewart Geddes School

A dinner I will always remember

Balls, Christmas ones.

Savouring every last drop.

Our family will gather from across Canada for a memorial celebration of Dad’s life on October 4 – a family Thanksgiving for a life that we are grateful to having had part of us for so many years.

 A family Christmas past.  The endif a generation. You can see from the choice of red clothes that my parents were loved life.

A family Christmas past. The end of a generation. You can see from the choice of red clothes that my parents  loved life.



Playing with friends

Remember when you were a kid and you used to pretend?  Cowboys and Indians (Native Americans)? Selling things from your “store”?  Or serving dinner with plastic veggies?

Well sixty years later I am still doing this.  Starting tonight, my Kings Town Players friends and I are dressing up and playing with each other and putting on a show for you.   I am having great fun playing the role of Charlie Aiken. Over the past few weeks,  I have gradually transfoimagermed myself into the dope-smoking, beer-swigging upholsterer from the southern U. S. A. who is caught up in one of the most dysfunctional families you can imagine.

August: Osage County is an award winning play that was made into a popular movie starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts last year.  I loved the movie but I think that the play has an intensity that can only be felt with live theatre.  We all can identify with the Weston family to some degree.  Are any of our families totally “normal”?  Or is this kind of dynamic more what “normal” is on some level?

Mattie Fay and Charlie Aiken in Kings Town Players production of August: Osage County

Mattie Fay and Charlie Aiken in Kings Town Players production of August: Osage County

There is a lot of very dark humour.  When we were rehearsing, I was almost embarrassed to laugh at some of the horrid things characters say to each other. The “ladies” are particularly foul-mouthed…and loving every moment of it.  We hope our audiences will relax and let go. You have permission to laugh out loud…in fact we are looking forward to hearing your guffaws.  Get ready for lots of startling moments as well.

The three-act play is also three hours long so come prepared to get your money’s worth.  You will feel like a voyeur, peeping through the windows of a family struggling with many demons.  Great live theatre.

We have worked hard to get this production ready. All we need now is an audience. Please join us for a dinner from hell.

August: Osage County runs Wednesday to Saturday from September 17 to 27 at the Rotunda Theatre, Theolological Hall, Queen’s University campus.  8 pm.  Tickets are $20 and available here ( http://www.kingstonboxoffice.com)or at the door.

My TIFF 2014 rehash

Last spring I earned $141 as a background performer in a movie being shot in Kingston. This weekend I recycled those earnings back into the movie industry with tickets to a few shows at the Toronto International Film Festival. (TIFF)

There are over 370 movies from 72 countries that are screened during the two weeks of TIFF and it has earned a reputation as one of the premier film festivals in the world.

For the past five years I have attended TIFF, usually spending three or four days lining up and watching movies. This year my time was limited to two days because of other commitments. While I am on the train on the way hoimageme to Kingston I will briefly comment on the six movies I saw this year. Remember that it is only six of 370, my selection restricted by showing times and availability. There were many more I would like to have seen if I had another couple of days.

The Judge. Starring Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall. I will preface this by saying that one of the reasons I am heading home today is to rehearse a Kings Town Players production of August:Osage County. In many ways The Judge paralleled “August” exposing complicated family conflicts but this time between three sons and their father (as opposed to the mother and three daughters of “August”) after the death of the mother.

Robert Duvall signs autographs at TIFF 2014.

Robert Duvall signs autographs at TIFF 2014.

The performances were strong and will likely get an Oscar nomination nod for Duvall, maybe even Downey. The show was a bit long and the courtroom melodrama a bit  formulaic. There was enough humour interjected to keep the intensity tolerable. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and recommend it. Entertaining and nicely constructed.

Boychoir. With Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates and a collection of boy sopranos.image This movie is basically summed up in the title. The story is of a young orphaned boy with talent gets a chance to train as a boy soprano at an elite music school and yes, ends up being the main soloist for the choir, overcoming all adversity and the attempts of the another jealous peer who tries go derail him. Have I said enough? A good family movie. No F-bombs.  Happy ending. The story was predictable and coincidences quite unbelievable. The choral music provided by the American Boychoir throughout the movie was quite delightful. I would have been satisfied with a half hour concert, however, skipping the story. The ladies sitting beside me had kleenexes out and loved the movie. I was rolling my eyes.

Stories of our Lives. This was a Kenyan-made film, a collection of five black and white vignettes that chronicled stories collected from LGBT people in Kenya. The pre-festival notices gave no credits, in fact listing them as “Anonymous” because of the fear of some sort of reprisals or discrimination of the filmmakers at home. Three of the people involved attended an emotional question and answer period after the showing. The film itself was very amateur in its production, dialogue and acting. But this was more of a cultural experience than just a film showing. It was appropriate to show this at the festival. It represented the power of movies as a platform for cultural and political commentary and, who knows, maybe even enlightenment. The content was comparable to what we might have seen 50 years ago in North America regarding sexual diversity. The film makers were taking big personal risks at home to produce this and the TIFF showing before an empathetic audience was cathartic and emotional for them. I had not planned to go to this film but squeezed it in at the end of my day, my familiarity with Kenya having alerted me to the showing. I am glad I went, not for the movie itself, but for the event.image

Ruth and Alex. Starring Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman. This is a lightweight comedy about an older couple in New York who are looking to sell their condo where they have lived for forty years and buy another. It had the ring of a Cary Grant movie from the forties. A lot of fluff, some interesting supporting characters and a happy ending. There are a couple of filler sub plots involving a suspected terrorist on a bridge and a sick pet dog that spends most of the movie at the vet, but, to the sighs and “aw’s” of many in the audience, recovers. The young couple who play Ruth and Alex in the flashbacks do an excellent job of chanelling the voice and physical mannerisms of Keaton and Freeman. No thinking required while seeing this movie. (A very pleasant, relaxed Morgan Freemen attended the Q&A after the screening and this was worth the price of admission. Too bad but he will not likely be at your local theatre.)

imageBlack and White. With Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer. As I stood in line to see this Kevin Costner film it was a bit like admitting that I was going to a Celine Dion concert. Costner has had his day but I have not seen anything by him that has impressed me for a long time. I thoughts the story might be interesting and Octavia Spencer was a draw for me. It turned out to be a good pick.

The movie is about grandparents, one black and one white, who become involved in a custody battle for their granddaughter after tragic deaths leave them the only responsible relatives left. This leads to some commentary, not particularly deep but there, about race and social status in America. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was engrossed in the characters within five minutes. The opening scenes are quite touching. The audience obviously responded to much if this film, laughing, weeping, applauding after one monologue and even gasping in a couple of spots. Performances by Costner and Spencer were solid and the little girl who played Elouise, the granddaughter, was wonderful. Like The Judge, the movie was maybe 10 minutes too long and the last portion was focused on a courtroom. I did come away from this movie having no hesitation in recommending it.

imageThe Riot Club. I knew little about this film before I saw it. Like the others, it was premiering at TIFF so no audience has seen it before and no reviews are available. It did have some pre-festival hype and I chose it as something different. And it was. The movie is basically a disgusting exposé of a young group of rich boys, Oxford University students, who, because of their privileged upbringing, feel there are no limits that they have to satisfying their unfettered appetites for debauchery. Get the picture? There were three young girls sitting beside me who were all giggly about seeing the young British heartthrob boys who starred in the film and who were introduced on the stage prior go the showing. Their awestruck giddiness turned to dismay as the film unfolded and these cute boys became thoroughly despicable. As time progressed I almost felt like I had been a victim of assault in some way, having to watch this depravity. There was no justice and the movie ended with no consequences to the boys for their unruly and disgusting behavior. A disturbing couple of hours. But then, I guess that is a credit to the film maker to draw this kind if response.

Kevin Costner,  director Mike Binder and Octavia Spencer at the world première screening of Black and White.

Kevin Costner, director Mike Binder and Octavia Spencer at the world première screening of Black and White.

Which would I recommend? Surprisingly to me, Black and White tops this short list followed by The Judge. Wait for Ruth and Alex go be shown on the Saturday Night Movie or Netflix. Find the soundtrack for BoyChoir or buy it for your kids and avoid the Riot Club unless you are feeling like you are feeling a masochistic.