In a rare opportunity, Perth and area residents will no longer have to turn on their TV to see some of Canada’s top performers in their home. Indeed, whether it’s someone who has appeared in a Murdoch Mystery or the latest RBC commercial, a group of professional performers coming to town this summer for the 7th season of the Classic Theatre Festival is looking for spare bedrooms with access to a kitchen and bathroom for a six-week span, beginning June 6 and running through September 11.
It costs the host nothing (actors are responsible for their own food and cooking) and in return, those who provide the space receive a season pass for two to all five shows at this summer’s Festival, which includes the Neil Simon comedy I Ought to Be in Pictures, George Bernard Shaw’s masterpiece, Arms and the Man, and the J.B. Priestley mystery thriller An Inspector Calls. Also running will be the third annual Perth through the Ages historic theatrical walking tour, as well as the Friday night Lonely Ghosts Walk, both with brand new stories.
“Having a visiting actor in your home has been a great experience for many residents of Perth,” explains the Festival’s Artistic Producer, Laurel Smith. ” It can also work if you go away for a time during the summer, since our professional performers are perfect as house sitters who can water the plants, take in the mail, and feed your kitty while you’re gone. Whatever works for you works for us. And it’s a great experience to meet new people.”
One of Perth’s most enthusiastic hosts is Helen Gamble, who for the 7th consecutive year will be hosting Classic Theatre Festival actors 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 says it’s a very simple process. “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.”
For those who can help out, the dates required for billets are June 6 to July 18, July 4 to August 15, and August 1 to September 12.
“If those dates don’t work, we also have designers, for example, who are here for 10-15 days who need a space, so shorter time periods are needed too,” says Smith.
Individuals interested in hosting an actor should call (613) 264-8088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.