Meeting Minutes - Jay Wilson: My Life as an Actor - February 21st. 2019
Julian Sale, Vice-President, filling in for Martin Alderwick, opened the meeting at 9:55 am with 47 members in attendance. Julian welcomed all present with a special welcome to today’s presenter, Mr. Jay Wilson. Also welcomed were two visiting guests, Detlan Schultz and Bob Rowe as well as one new member, Tony Hayes.
Julian informed us that greeting cards were on the greeting table for members to sign to offer best wishes to Ed Herold and Martin Alderwick. Ed is experiencing a spell of Bell’s Palsy and Martin was admitted to the hospital last evening with a suspected heart attack.
Activities – Ray Biffis - The Valentine’s Dinner was a good function; - April 4th is the Anniversary Luncheon at $15 per person, please sign up ASAP
Coffee – Andy Curtis - Next Thurs, Jan. 31st at the Symposium Restaurant and the Airpark Café.
John Sneyd introduced Jay Wilson on "My Life as an Actor"
Jay is an illustrator, performer, puppeteer, elocutionist, writer, producer and director. Upon graduation with a B.A. in Drama and Theatre Arts from the University of Waterloo, he embarked on a 40 year career in the arts. He created his own puppet company called "Pandora's Socks." Jay has worked on governmental theatre projects and was Company Manager for The National Tap Dance Company of Canada (1981-1984). The Tap Company toured most major theatre centres throughout Canada, the United States and Bermuda. Jay collaborated with Echo-Logical Theatre to create “Healthspell” an educational theatre product sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Health. His current project begins on April 27th for Doors-Open-Guelph when Jay will be stationed at Gow’s Stone Bridge and Royal City Park and this will be his kick-off to his new venture, Jay Walking, which will be walking tour of Guelph’s past derived from his love of history and flare of story-telling.
Jay Wilson’s Presentation Jay Started off by warming up as he does before any performance to be sure that his diction and breathing is good. So, he recited a piece from Gilbert and Sullivan’s "Nightmare." He did this by going through the gestures and motions as he would in theatre.
His interest in theatre came from his mother who was in theatre and dragged him to rehearsals when he was just a child. From his father he listened to Noel Coward records who wrote some interesting things in theatre. It was this that inspired Jay in the beginning. He loved the magic of theatre and the colosseum-stage. He was enthralled with an empty theatre where he would stand at the front of the stage and sing shrilly into the empty theatre. He found an empty theatre very romantic. This was magical stuff to a little boy.
Jay started as a child in amateur theatre like Guelph Little Theatre. His mother was involved in amateur theatre and his father ran sound effects for the same. As a teenager Jay worked in a group called The Grand Suite Players travelling from place to place doing summer camps. Eventually he wrote a play about Galt and the history of Galt. From there he went to the University of Waterloo to study theatre arts. At U of Waterloo he got to play “Puck,” his favourite character from Shakespeare as well as the “Crucible.”
From the University of Waterloo, he and a friend, Karen Waterman, started up Echo-Logical Theatre and worked for the Ontario Camping Association. They did a show with four actors that needed eight characters and this was where puppets started to come along. Years later when he needed more characters this was his solution when he couldn’t afford a cast.
There came a time when he needed to expand because he couldn’t spend all of his time doing stage acting. He didn’t do movies or television, so, he had to change his course a little bit. He preferred to perform on stage but when he wasn’t on stage since he worked for a theatre company he would go around to administrative offices selling memberships, group sales, accommodation and meal-packaging, program advertising sales – all the things you to do to get money other than ticket sales.
He was the theater manager of the National Tap Dance Company of Canada traveling around North America, mostly in the United States, with a group of about 14 dancers and stage crew.
Jay also worked for the Ontario Lottery Corporation as a contract worker and he did theatre for large groups like Carabana. But Wintario, which originally went from town to town all around Ontario, eventually decided to stop touring because of television. Since the trailer units of tractor trailers were no longer being used one of the managers suggested converting a unit into a movable stage unit that could be moved from event to event. This provided an opportunity for local talent to still be used in productions from town to town where there was no local stage facility.
After working for the Ontario Lottery Corporation, Jay ended up in Gravenhurst working for the Gravenhurst Opera House where he started something called “Show Biz Kids” for children and also something called “A Taste of Muskoka.” This was an event where travel-writers from all over were invited to come to Muskoka for a weekend and where all the shows being put on in the Gravenhurst Opera Company were featured. Then the writers would go back home and write about all the great productions being put on in Gravenhurst in order to attract patrons to come to Gravenhurst to see the shows.
After several years at Gravenhurst, Jay worked for eight years at Theatre Collingwood. Next he created “Pandora’s Socks.” This is where he used puppets because he didn’t have enough money to hire a cast so he played all the parts using puppets. From what started out as a children’s show he developed a few shows for seniors who couldn’t get out to shows, performing them in senior’s residences.
Jay talked about all the different characters he got to play in his performances and some of the various shows that he performed. In so doing, he went into character reciting parts of productions that he did. He also recited several stanzas of favourite poems.
A few years ago, Guelph Museum decided to do a production called “backyard theatre.“ This was performed in the backyard of the John McCrae House. Jay took part in this production using the concept of portraying the sender or receiver of an old postcard. This was something that he picked up on from Cameron Shelley who is a collector of old postcards that portray past histories from the pictures on them. Jay finished off his presentation by reciting several poems, one titled, “To the River Speed” by Thomas Laidlaw.
Following a Q&A to Jay Wilson, Julian Sale thanked Jay for his excellent presentation and gave him a token of appreciation from the Club.
Adjournment @11:00 am Recording Secretary: Kerry Gennings