HOST AN ACTOR this Summer

Anyone with a spare bedroom is in for a treat this summer should they decide to host one of the visiting professional actors with the Classic Theatre Festival, which celebrates its 5th anniversary with a historic, theatrical guided walking tour, two hits from the golden age of Broadway (Neil Simon’s comedy Come Blow Your Horn and Frederick Knott’s nail-biting mystery, Dial M for Murder), and a brand new venue at 54 Beckwith Street East. Currently, the Festival has actors who will be arriving in Perth for two separate six-week periods, June 22-August 4 and July 20-September 1. The Festival is hoping individuals or families with spare bedrooms and access to a kitchen and washroom are able to host one of the performers (all of whom pay for their own food). In return, host individuals and families receive free passes to the festival all summer long as well as exclusive invites to special Festival social events. For Perth resident Helen Gamble, 2014 marks the 5th season she has hosted a performer, and she looks forward to finding out who she’ll be billeting this summer. “I’ve billeted at least one actress each year of the Classic Theatre Festival in Perth,” Gamble says.  “At first I wondered how it would work out and whether my guest room was adequate. It’s been a wonderful experience. I meet interesting, artistic people who are passionate about what they do. They are gone most of the day into the evening, busy with their work schedules. It’s fun to have someone coming and going, a bit of company, but someone I don’t have to entertain.” Gamble has gotten used to living with actors she sees turning into completely different people when they assume their characters on the Classic Theatre Festival stage. She, among other billet hosts, has also struck up close friendships with those she has hosted, and they often stay in touch via facebook, email, and reunion visits. And it’s always a nice surprise to turn on the TV or see a film in which one of the people who stayed with her has gotten a role. “All they need beyond their room is a shelf in the fridge and one in a cupboard,” Gamble says. “They feed themselves, tidy and clean after themselves, and respect my house and routine. My friendly dog seems to be a bonus and often they practice their lines with him as their foil. “Billeting costs me very little – really, just a bit of hot water for showers and a spare key – but I meet and interact with intelligent, outgoing people and am invited to casual get-togethers of cast, crew, other billeters, and volunteers. I’m gifted with tickets to the plays which are more interesting than ever, because I know at least one cast member. I’m glad I decided to billet that first year and look forward to meeting this year’s actress and becoming involved once again.” Scott Clarkson, a veteran Festival performer returning for his 4th consecutive season (audiences will remember his star turns in The Fourposter, Two for the Seesaw, and The Marriage-Go-Round), is staying once again with the Hodgins family… Continue reading

YOUTH THEATRE TROUPE brings Perth History Alive

As part of the Classic Theatre Festival’s 5th anniversary celebration season, young people aged 15-29 with a passion for theatre and local history are eligible to become part of a brand new youth theatre project this summer. Perth through the Ages, a theatrical historic walking tour, will animate the town core, re-creating key characters and events in the town’s storied 200 year history. “We are very fortunate to be able to offer paid employment to local young people for this innovative and creative endeavor this summer, thanks to the generous support of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture’s Celebrate Ontario program, along with the valuable assistance of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, and the Perth and District Community Foundation,” says Festival Artistic Producer Laurel Smith, who will be accepting applications for these positions until May 9th. This summer, visitors to Perth will be forgiven if they feel like they are occasionally walking into a time warp. Five mornings a week from Wednesday to Sunday, beginning June 25th, the theatrical guided historic walking tour will take place, beginning at 11 am at Perth’s Matheson House Museum. “Walking the streets of Heritage Perth is almost akin to touring the backlot of a motion picture studio,” says Smith. “These beautiful heritage facades whisper of a history peopled with remarkable characters and compelling stories. Our goal is to enliven the streets of Perth this summer with fictional theatrical re-enactments of historic moments that these buildings represent, and which has been preserved, winning the town the Prince of Wales Prize for architectural preservation. “There have been numerous studies that show rural areas like Lanark County need to embrace the opportunity to animate their town cores, which not only provides a great tourism experience for visitors, but also supports the many small businesses that populate the downtown area, while heightening local civic pride in our unique rural communities,” Smith says. “Along with utilizing research collected from the almost 200 years of Perth’s history, this will also be a cross-generational community project, with teenagers interviewing seniors to get a sense of what the town was like 50 or 60 years ago, ensuring local authenticity of the stories presented.” The Classic Theatre Festival is working in partnership with Perth’s Matheson House Museum, as well as with renowned historian Susan Code, whose annual Halloween Ghost Walks, along with her many heritage publications and projects, have contributed a great deal to unearthing and preserving the still often unknown parts of Perth and Lanark County history. Those wishing to join the tour can reserve tickets by calling 1-877-283-1283. Perth through the Ages will run Wednesday-Sunday at 11 am, June 25 to August 31, meeting at the Perth Museum, 11 Gore Street East. Tickets will be $12 for general admission, $10 for ticketholders to the Classic Theatre Festival, with children 12 and under free. Local young Perth and area residents interested in applying for the walking tour positions can submit their resumés to no later than May… Continue reading