Set design by Glenn MacDonald
Lighting design by John Webber
Photo by Javier Sotres
Western Gold Theatre Society is a professional company of established senior theatre artists (age 55+) committed to producing plays of the highest quality and relevance to audiences of all ages. As part of this mandate Western Gold also mentors emerging younger professional artists as they ‘share the boards’ with us.
We present both theatre classics and newly commissioned Canadian works that reflect and illuminate the rich experience of our senior community. The one thing all productions have in common and which guides our artistic choices is the all-important important theme of how all of us embrace and/or confront our lives and the passage of time.
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. It is the only professional theatre company in Western Canada solely devoted to providing work for and supporting senior artists.
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 –trail blazers all.
Tanja Dixon-Warren was appointed Artistic Director in 2019.
In the early days Western Gold toured Senior Centres. Our partnership in 2010 with PAL Studio Theatre allowed Western Gold to take up residence in Coal Harbours’s intimate theatre-in-the-sky; build on Joy’s inaugural production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1995); and successfully produce one mainstage presentation of classic work by a major playwright each year.
Under the creative vision of Anna Hagan, in 2012, Western Gold launched the highly popular On Our Feet (OOF!) Staged Reading Series , which presents two plays per year, each with all the hallmarks of a full production (intricate blocking, sets, costumes, sound etc.).
This same year we also initiated our Mentorship program and Anna coined our tagline Creativity has no Expiry Date! ™
Now in its third decade, Western Gold is a force to be reckoned with! Its focus on everything golden – text based classics; newly commissioned works by senior artists; intergenerational knowledge sharing; and on-going professional development makes it unique in its region, and its 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
- Bernard Cuffling
- Jane Heyman
- Terence Kelly
- Annabel Kershaw
- Colleen Winton
- John Webber
- Michael Fera
Board Of Directors
Keith Martin Gordey
We’re back, with COVID 19 protocols in place.
Western Gold Theatre resumes live performances on Nov. 10, 2021.
For the comfort of our patrons and artists, although the Provincial Health Authority allows 100% capacity at indoor events as of October 25, out of an abundance of caution, Western Gold Theatre will be operating at reduced capacity for the run of The Ballad of Georges Boivin. PAL Studio Theatre’s policy requires that all attendees be fully vaccinated. The second vaccination must have been done at least fourteen days before the performance.
We have a strict Communicable Diseases Plan in place. Some principal points:
- Please stay home if you are ill.
- Masks are required at the PAL Studio Theatre at all times.
- You will be requested to sanitize your hands upon entry.
- One-way traffic flow is in effect in the theatre; staff will be on hand to guide you to your seat.
- An extensive cleaning regime is in effect in the theatre.
- Front of house volunteers will all be masked and fully vaccinated.
Proof of vaccination is mandatory. We will be checking your proof of vaccination as you enter the building. We ask for your patience and support to make the process as easy as possible, and request you have your proof of vaccination ready to show BEFORE you enter the theatre, i.e.: have your digital vaccine card open on your phone/a paper copy ready for us to scan and have your ID ready to show.
Patrons will be asked to proceed immediately to their seats.
Creativity has no expiry date! ™
The McGrane-Pearson Endowment Fund, held at Vancouver Foundation
McIlwaine Stewart Family Fund
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.