Geordie is 35 years Young!
If you are from the Tyneside region of North East England, you are a ‘Geordie’.
Geordie here in Montreal, however, has a very different meaning. It means inventive, innovative, proactive, and often interactive theatre for children…and for the child in every adult.
Geordie is magic!
In this city of ever growing cultural diversity, Geordie Productions is doing what many parents and schools are unable to do. It stimulates an understanding of each others beliefs. It diminishes fears that are created by mainstream media – real or not real. It, quite simply, puts life into perspective.
How does it do all that? It opens up dialogue where others fear to tread with topics that many can’t deal with! It leads parents and children, teachers and children, grandparents and children, into the realm of discussion, of race issues, ecology, bullying. Most importantly, it gets children talking about important topics amongst themselves.
Geordie, created in 1980 by Elsa Bolam (a real Geordie), is 35 years old! It is the third largest theatre company in Montreal. In those 35 years, it has presented productions on the main stage, taken shows to schools here in Montreal, throughout Eastern Canada and the U.S., and has commissioned 20 new plays. It also maintains a Theatre School, thus, encouraging children and teens to express themselves, learn the discipline of the art and…it plants the seeds of a love for live theatre in young minds.
In 2006, Dean Patrick Fleming took over the reins as Artistic Director of the company and has forged forward with his own sight and creative ventures for its future. Fleming is leaving at the end of this season after an extremely successful tenure that has seen the company grow and flourish. His thoughts on the company he has served for these many years are warm, loving and respectful. “From these children, our audience, come the future leaders. In choosing a play, we have to ask ourselves what the topics are that we are going to talk about – we ask how can we nurture them. How can we talk about war, refugees, skin colour?…How do you talk about that? I think that’s exciting!”
Fleming’s work with Geordie didn’t actually start as Artistic Director. Bolam hired him right out of theatre school in 1994, and he was cast in what became Geordie’s signature play, A Promise is a Promise. He worked for 15 years as an actor in theatre, film, television, and he hung around Geordie for some other jobs there as well. He was well ensconced in the company’s ‘workings’by the time Bolam personally chose him to take over. (The next Artistic Director will be chosen from submissions after the job is posted.)
The company has always been “looked at differently because it is a company geared to children but the artists we work with have great respect for the work Geordie does. They love it.”It is clear that he has loved his work there as well.
Dean Fleming has left his mark on Geordie. During his time there, he has worked with young playwrights to create some of the most imaginative pieces of work that Geordie has produced. He has seen 25 new shows produced. He has committed himself to cultural diversity in casting, as well as in play content and, he has instigated a return to touring in the U.S.
Geordie, as does every theatre company, always appreciates financial support. Its main funding is from the government, fundraising, ticket and school sales. (If the teachers strike continues, the sale of tickets to Hana’s Suitcase will be affected.) It has opened up an ‘Indiegogo’account where everyone can show support for this theatre company that does so much in engaging the imagination of children and adults. Also, coming up is the Christmas Carol Fundraiser, performed every year by lawyers and other members of the business community.
A most satisfying way one can give to the company, is by donating to ‘Suspended Tickets’. What a great idea! The public purchases tickets that provide a means for kids to attend performances, who otherwise could not afford to.
What’s in Fleming’s future? He hopes to continue directing here in Montreal for different companies and across the country. Whatever he takes on, one thing is certain, he will do it with the same commitment and artistic vision that he has done with Geordie.
What! You’ve never been to a Geordie production! You are just in time to get tickets for Hana’s Suitcase (November 5 – November 15) and Beethoven Lives Upstairs (April 29 – May 8, 2016)
For more information on tickets and how you can support Geordie:
Suspended tickets info- http://geordie.ca/press-release-suspended-tickets/
Link to the 35th anniversary video https://vimeo.com/132091017