Keith Martin Gordey, Dave Campbell, Annabelle Kershaw, Suzanne Ristic, Terence Kelly,
Marlee Walchuk, Vince Metcalfe, Merrilyn Gann, Steve James
Photo by Javier Sotres
Western Gold Theatre is one of only two professional theatre companies in Canada solely devoted to centring the voices and stories of seniors and Elders (55+) across cultures and communities. We have the express mandate of addressing and mitigating ageism by presenting both theatre classics and newly commissioned Canadian works that reflect the rich experience of this rapidly growing demographic. The one thing all productions have in common, and which guides our artistic choices, is the all-important theme of how all of us embrace and/or confront our lives and the passage of time.
As part of this mandate, Western Gold also mentors emerging professional artists of all ages, experiences, and communities as they share the boards with us. This intergenerational and intercultural sharing is integral to what we do.
To create a range of opportunities for senior artists to continue their life-long work.
To mentor emerging artists in all aspects of the performing arts.
To engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds in theatrical performances by senior artists.
To encourage conversation amongst the Canadian public on the impact and joys of aging.
Western Gold Theatre was founded in 1994 by Joy Coghill O.C. in response to the dearth of roles for veteran professional artists in the Vancouver area.
Western Gold has been helmed for the majority of its time by a number of Canada’s leading theatre artists including: Founder Joy Coghill, Artistic Directors Pamela Hawthorne, Colleen Winton, Anna Hagan, and General Manager Glenn MacDonald—trailblazers all. Tanja Dixon-Warren was appointed Artistic Director in 2019.
In the early days, Western Gold toured senior’s centres. Our partnership in 2010 with PAL Studio Theatre allowed us to take up residence in Coal Harbours’ intimate theatre-in-the-sky, build on Joy’s inaugural production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1995), and successfully evolve our programming to include:
MAINSTAGE: At least one production of an established and/or commissioned work each year, showcasing established theatre practitioners in collaboration with emerging artists.
ON OUR FEET! (OOF!) STAGED READING SERIES: Launched in 2012, this highly popular series presents a minimum of two plays per year; each with all the hallmarks of a full production (blocking, sets, costumes, sound etc.). This same year, we also initiated our Mentorship Program, and Anna coined our tagline Creativity has no Expiry Date!™
VIRTUAL GOLD – LOOK! LISTEN! LEARN!: Originally a COVID19 pivot in 2020, this program has thrived. Led by guest curators, it offers on-line presentations, creative workshops, and cultural conversations. Call it armchair theatre, if you will!
HAVE A SENIOR MOMENT FESTIVAL (EST. 2022): A curated, multi-discipline series celebrating the performing arts for old folx and/or by old folx!
DEVELOPMENT: Western Gold offers dramaturgical support and multiple workshops of new plays, leading up to full production. We have added eight new plays to the Canadian Canon.
INTERGENERATIONAL MENTORSHIP: Western Gold provides a hands-on, immersive, apprenticeship-style mentorship program (est. 2012) where we offer leadership roles to up-and-coming artists and arts professionals. We learn from each other.
CREATIVE ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAM (est. 2021): Instead of negating normal experiences of the life process, we examine barriers, find solutions, and integrate them into our creative practice.
Now in its third decade, Western Gold is a force to be reckoned with! Our focus on everything golden: text-based classics; newly commissioned works by senior artists; intergenerational knowledge sharing; and on-going professional development makes us unique in the region, and our reputation for excellence has earned the respect of audience, critics, and colleagues.
For full programming history, visit our Vintage Western Gold page.
CREATIVE ACCESSIBILITY STATEMENT
Western Gold Theatre was founded with the aim of supporting, nurturing, and providing opportunities for senior artists and audiences.
Instead of hiding the normal experiences of the life process, we aim to shine a light on them and make them integral to creation, design, rehearsal, and performance processes.
It is no secret that challenges come with aging, including physical mobility, stamina, memory loss, cultural displacement and the inherent emotional barriers that result. We believe all older adults can and should participate in the arts—and not just any arts, but high-quality, innovative, and contemporary arts that engage them fully and reflect the lives they lead.
Thus, as part of every project we embark upon, we examine these barriers and challenges and find opportunities and solutions therein.
The questions we ask are:
- What are the barriers?
- How do we fully support senior artists on stage in rehearsal?
- Are there commonly used accessibility tools we can apply to theatrical creation?
- How do we bring practices such as viewpoints, Laban (a method and language for describing, visualizing, interpreting, and documenting human movement), or biomechanics to senior artists?
- What new technologies and digital media can be used to support our artists and audiences?
- How can we ensure cultural comfort?
- How can we aesthetically illuminate the experience of seniors’ day-to-day living?
For the Audience: This means ensuring our venue is fully accessible and offering ASL and Vocal Eye performances for each production as well as audio assist. It means we acknowledge, support, and advocate for Cultural Ceremony and Protocols.
For the Artist: This means actors may be seen using an earpiece / having a prompter to the side of the stage / integrating a teleprompter into the set design / incorporating the script as a prop (i.e. a diary, a memoir, a journal) / the set being wheelchair accessible / adjusting the lighting / using sound cues to facilitate memory / increasing visual markers; or only rehearsing two hours per day for six weeks, instead of seven hours a day for two weeks. It means we acknowledge, support, and advocate for cultural safety and protocols. It varies and adapts to each artist and each production.
This is what you will see on our stage: An artistic form suited to senior artists; one which also reflects the experience of our audience. It embraces adaptability and, at heart, celebrates the notion that life experience fully informs artistic practice.
“One hindrance to society’s fuller understanding of aging is that people rarely understand it until they reach old age themselves . . . . While individuals often encounter stereotypes associated with race and gender and are thus more likely to think critically about them, many people accept age stereotypes without question.”
~ William Little, Introduction to Sociology – 2nd Canadian Edition
Head Hog of Fundraising!
Creative Marketing Manager
Dr. Julia Henderson
Creative Accessibilities Facilitator
- Bernard Cuffling
- Jane Heyman
- Terence Kelly
- Annabel Kershaw
- Colleen Winton
- John Webber
- Michael Fera
Board Of Directors
Keith Martin Gordey
COMMUNICABLE DISEASES PREVENTION PLAN (CDPP)
In accordance with the latest BC government guidelines on indoor events, as of April, 2022, Western Gold Theatre patrons will not be required to present proof of vaccination.
To ensure the safety of all, we have a Communicable Diseases Plan in place (which adapts as needed).
Some principal points:
- Please stay home if you are ill.
- Masks are highly recommended at the PAL Studio Theatre and lobbies and serve as a mutual benefit for all.
- You are encouraged to sanitize your hands upon entry.
Western Gold Theatre safety protocols will continue to be revised as PHO guidance and orders are released. Be sure to check back here for updates.
Western Gold Theatre is committed to respecting the personal information of all Western Gold Theatre patrons. In order to protect the privacy of our supporters and patrons, Western Gold Theatre has the following policies:
Collection of Information:
1) Western Gold Theatre collects personal information (such as addresses or ticket history) only from ticket buyers, donors, and others who have actively shown an interest in the Company.
2) Individuals will be informed about the purposes for which this information will be used when a ticket is purchased.
Storage of Information:
1) Personal information is stored in our data base and in hard copy files. Only authorized Western Gold Theatre personnel have access to this information.
2) Visa and Master Card numbers are not retained after point of purchase.
3) Personal information that is no longer required to fulfill the stated purpose will be destroyed or made anonymous.
Use of Information:
Western Gold Theatre uses personal information to better serve our patrons and to expand our community. Primarily this includes:
1) mailings (by post or electronic) and phone calls to provide information about tickets and donations.
2) mailings (by post or electronic) to issue tax receipts.
3) mailings (by post or electronic) or phone calls to invite supporters to special events.
4) phone calls to sell subscriptions, tickets, and to solicit donations.
Western Gold Theatre is committed to using personal information in a respectful and useful way. Patrons and supporters will receive information that we believe will be in their interest. Western Gold Theatre will also commit itself to making sure patrons and donors do not receive more than a reasonable number of letters or phone calls.
If an individual requests that their personal information not be used for one of these purposes as noted above, or for any other purpose, that request will be honoured. The individual’s account will be updated accordingly.
Disclosure of Information:
Western Gold Theatre never discloses the personal information of subscribers, single ticket buyers, or donors to any third party.
Individual Access, Questions & Requests:
If you have a question about the contents of your file or a request about the use of disclosure of your personal information, please contact Western Gold Theatre at 604-363-5734 or via email to either Tanja Dixon-Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org or Glenn MacDonald at email@example.com
Creativity has no expiry date! ™
The McGrane-Pearson Endowment Fund,
held at Vancouver Foundation
held at Vancouver Foundation
We gratefully acknowledge that we are on the traditional and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam),Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. We deeply thank them for so generously allowing us to live, work, and play on their beautiful lands.