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Equity in Theatre partners with theatre groups on International Women's Day

As posted by the Stratford Beacon Herald, March 8, 2015
By Cory Smith, Stratford Beacon Herald

Pam Brighton's name appears as a footnote in Stratford Festival history, and Brigit Wilson intends to change that.

Wilson, a 10-year Stratford Festival veteran and the wife of current artistic director Antoni Cimolino, took part in the Equity in Theatre Hackathon Sunday aimed at raising the profile of female artists in Canada.

It coincided with International Women's Day, and those who took part were invited to create a Wikipedia page or add information to an existing page to better represent the artist of their choice.

Brighton passed away a couple weeks ago.

“It's unfortunate that she has ended up being a footnote, and not even that in the Stratford Festival history,” Wilson said. “Not knowing her personally, I still feel it's just not right. Because I've been fortunate enough to work at the Stratford Festival – I'm now in my 10th season – I feel I owe it to our history, and they're on to something, this group. We need to be better represented online, and I'm not sure it was anyone's intention to exclude information about her. It's not to criticize, just to enlighten.”

Brighton had been battling an illness for several months and died Feb. 22.

She was a theatre giant in Ireland, where she helped create the West Belfast Dubbeljoint Theatre company in 1991.

Theatre director Sam McCready called Brighton “a courageous artist in everything she did.”

“She lived her life according to her personal politic and put integrity before money — to her cost, financially, but not in terms of the friends she ultimately made and who will remember her for her courage and conviction and for putting community, especially the community of west Belfast, before fame and fortune,” McCready told the Belfast Telegraph.

Brighton was a director in Stratford and Toronto, and in 1980 she was named as part of a four-person collective artistic directorate, which also consisted of Martha Henry, Urjo Kareda and Peter Moss, appointed to succeed Robin Phillips.

That group was disbanded before it started.

Wilson invited others from the Festival to drop by the Performing Arts Lodge on Brunswick Street Sunday afternoon and join her in the Hackathon, which included theatre groups and organizations across Canada.

“How (Brighton) served the Stratford Festival and who she was in the Canadian landscape of theatre” were important, Wilson said. “She didn't just work in Stratford, she worked in Toronto as well and was married to a high profile artistic director, Guy Sprung, who is in Montreal now. She's part of our Canadian history, and people may identify her as a Brit, but that's not to say she wasn't here and didn't matter.”

Brian Reynolds 1935-2015

REYNOLDS, Brian - Brian Victor Reynolds was born Sunday's child full of grace on August 25, 1935 in Birmingham, England, third of John and Vera's ten children.

As a boy family outings to visit stately homes and gardens and days skipped from school spent in the history or science museum, the art gallery or wandering the English countryside gave Brian a deep love of his heritage, fine craftsmanship, invention and above all the natural world. He apprenticed as a production woodturner, served in the Royal Engineers and after university moved to beautiful Tasmania Australia, a land he loved, to work as a field entomologist for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and to raise his family.

As a conservationist he fought to save the Franklin River wilderness and old growth forests. A good athlete he swam, sailed, hiked, played golf, tennis, soccer and especially enjoyed coaching young Tasmanian soccer players. He was a story teller, a world traveller, a collector of British and Australian stamps with faults and variations, an inventor, an entrepreneur, a fan of the violin and a life long lover of cheese.

One hot January eve on a Hobart street corner Brian stopped to give directions to a tourist from Canada. A few days later he saw that tourist again standing under a tree at Salamanca Market and asked her out to dinner. Three years and thousands of telephone dollars and travel miles later, ever patient and persistent, he married that lucky tourist in 1992 and came to live in Stratford.

Brian opened a custom woodturning business and "played" brilliantly at his craft until illness led to retirement. Brian was a strong, determined, soft hearted optimist. He encouraged everyone to follow their own path and not to let anyone steal their dreams.

On February 8, 2015 Brian died.

He is survived by his wife Gayle Tribick, her sister Jane and their mother June of Stratford, his daughters Mandy (Serge) Belpatronne of Noumea, New Caledonia, Carol Reynolds and Tracy Payne and their mother Sheila of Hobart, Tasmania. His girls and grandchildren Oliver, Bianca, Brandon, Jessica, Luke and great grandson Damien were his pride and joy. His parents and siblings Michael, Lynda and Clive Reynolds predeceased Brian. Living in the United Kingdom are his sisters Pauline Catley and Judith French and brothers Peter, Roy, Richard and Christopher Reynolds and their families.

There will be no funeral. Brian's body was bequeathed to The Schulich School of Medicine at Western University, London, Ontario.

Plant a tree for Brian.

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."

-- John Muir

Welcome to PAL Stratford

Who Are We?

Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) Stratford is a volunteer-based Canadian charitable organization dedicated to the provision of affordable housing, social assistance and other services to local members and associates of Canada’s professional and performing arts community who are in need of assistance by reason of low income, age or disability.

PAL Stratford was established as a non-profit organization in 2002 and in 2005 was registered as a Charitable Organization (86363 2881 RR0001). PAL Stratford is one of eight Chapters of PAL Canada; others are located in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Each Chapter is an independent organization.

The "Places, please" capital fundraising campaign is seeking community support to retire the mortgage on the recently opened affordable housing units at 101 Brunswick Street, Stratford.

What Do We Do?

The principal object of all PAL organizations is to provide affordable housing to those fifty-five years and older who are, or were, associated with Canada’s professional and performing arts communities. PAL’s goal is to assist senior members of our community in living independently and securely.

PAL Stratford is already providing services to the community through Supporting Cast, a volunteer outreach group, which offers confidential support to retirement age or ill members. Services include assistance in dealing with local social and community agencies, as well as offering companionship, check-up phone calls, rides to appointments and running errands. organization. Supporting Cast also organizes group activities, including a weekly coffee and conversation hour at a local restaurant.

Supporting Cast has an email for easy contact, If you would like to join this group, please email us at:

A Brief History

In October 1999, Tom Patterson, Stratford Festival Founder and Herbert Whittaker, Critic Emeritus for the Globe and Mail, spearheaded the inception of PAL Stratford, using the PAL Toronto Lodge as a model.

They recognized that the Stratford Festival had a substantial legacy: an aging theatre and arts community whose members wished to continue living in and around Stratford. As well, there are others in the professional and performing arts who have also chosen to make their home in Stratford.

True to Tom’s vision, PAL Stratford’s long-term goal is to provide affordable congenial housing for these valued members of the Stratford community. Our primary need is to find a building or a site that can be used to provide this kind of facility.

Over the years we have been involved in a number of different projects: twice with different owners of 500 Ontario Street, the land immediately west of the Arden Park Hotel as well as with the owner of 210 Water Street. We seriously considered Falstaff School when it was available. In 2005 we made an unsuccessful bid for City-owned property on Queensland Drive.

We recently opened an affordable housing unit PAL Place at 101 Brunswick Street, Stratford.

PAL Stratford is governed by an elected Board of Directors.

PAL Stratford Endorsements

The Stratford & Shaw Coalition of
Theatre Professionals & Friends of Pal

Statement of Support for PAL Stratford

A sanctuary, a safety net, a home, a community, PAL Place Stratford will be there for those of our own who find themselves in times of need during and at the end of careers that can be uncertain and insecure.
We the undersigned extend our enthusiastic endorsement to the Stratford Performing Arts Lodge project at 101 Brunswick Street, Stratford, Ontario.
PAL is a proven success story in several other locales nationwide. We heartily endorse and look forward to the same success story becoming reality here in Stratford.

(I authorize PAL to acknowledge my endorsement in its fundraising materials)

Geraint Wyn Davies Peter Hutt Ian D. Clark
Len and Heather Cariou Terri Dans Roberta Maxwell
Frank Moore Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick Bruce Dow
Barbara Bryne Denny Spence Martha Henry
E. B. Smith Xuan Fraser Juan Chioran
Ben Carlson Tristan Tidswell Nicola Pantin
Tyrone Savage Luke Humphrey Lucy Peacock
Jeff Hughes Victor Ertmanis David Collins
Steven Gartner Keith Dinicol Margret Palmer
Kelsey Rae Shira Ginsler Don Sweete
Alicia Kuntze Nancy Benjamin Art Fortin
Nick Glenn AnthonyGentile Tim J. Hartman
Alec Cooper Angela Marshall Carl Danielson
Michael Barber Barry Gammon Joyce Lange
Margaret Blowes John Hautin Sandy Dunn
Scott Boyce Nicko Giannakos Jordan Till
Karl Wylie Cindy Tousshan Stephen Cota
Zeph Williams Gail Sorensen Jill Merner
Jay T. Schramek Ben Thomas Judy Smith
Brian Counihan Callan Potter Christine Yundt
Patricia Taylor Margret Lamb Ruby Joy
Caroline Yates Kelly McIntosh Lois Zurell
Karen Mills Deborah Howes Josie Muncaster
Dianne Chisholm Leslie Lee Ingrid Schmekies
William Gosling Jason Collier Leslie Wade
Lally Cadeau David Keeley Amanda Ryan
Margaret Ryerson Tina Watson Vic Ryan
Pam Brierley Brenda Keogh John Banks
Kyle Golemba Dan MacDonald Brenda Martin
Ann Swerdfager Richard Fitzpatrick M. K. Bohdanetzky
Roy F. Brown David Spence Brian Reynolds
Gayle Tribick Paul Shilton Robert King
Marie Fewer Renate Hanson Varrick Grimes
Alon Nashman Paul Thompson Vern Good
Sarah Mansikka Gillian Gallow Brenda Pilatzke
Daniel Mac Ivor Jessica Stinson Janine Pearson
Scott Farley Katherine Laing Nigel Bennett
Skye Brandon Christopher Sibbald John Vickery
Robin McCulloch Kristian Truelsen Maria Vacratsis
Stephen Woodjetts Michael Gyapjas Raemond Fletcher
Steve Bayne Barbara Young Kelley Teahen
Angela Smith Linda Mackay Brian Tree
Nora Polley Paul Elliot Aggie Elliot
Iain Paterson Wayne Mahon Dean Gabourie
Karen McCabe Maxine A. Graham John Pennoyer
Kim Foster Kevin Gormley Stacy Smith
Denise Fergusson Alan Laing Rachel Neville-Fox
Patti Muma-Cook Nancy Ferguson Ian Deakin
Jeff Wincott Jeremy Kushnier Michael Roth
Dave Collier Benedict Campbell Lisa Dent-Couturier
Kennedy C. MacKinnon Mark Beckett Ted Dykstra
Brian Crockatt Barbara Ross Carmen Grant
Carol A. Miller Peggy Mahon Chilina Kennedy
Jacob James Carol Zimmerman  

Endorsement List

Note to Stratford & Shaw Theatre
Professionals & Friends of PAL:
You can add your endorsement by clicking the link
below to send us an email. We will add your name
as soon as possible after we receive your email.

 I endorse PAL Stratford 

PAL Canada Newsletter: February, 2015

To download the latest PAL Canada Newsletter, please click on the graphic above.

A Tribute to Jim Biros - In support of PAL Canada


A Life in the Arts: A Tribute to Jim Biros

Music and Theatre World to Pay Tribute to Late Toronto Musicians’ Association Executive Director

Toronto, ON – Toronto’s artistic community will turn out in force on January 12, 2015 to pay tribute to the late Jim Biros, the beloved executive director of the Toronto Musicians’ Association ( ) who, after a valiant struggle with cancer, passed away on September 19 at the age of 66.

Louise Pitre (Tony Award nominee, Mama Mia!; Les Misérables) hosts the event, which will feature performances by Alana Bridgewater (Gemini Award nominated singer/actor), Dan Chameroy (Stratford Festival; Ross Petty Pantomimes), Melanie Doane (Juno Award winning singer/actor), Joe Macerolo (Canada’s preeminent accordionist), Jeff Madden (Jersey Boys), Mark Masri (singer-songwriter), Jackie Richardson (Gemini and Dora Award winning singer/actor), Alexander Sevastian (accordionist, Quarteto Gelato), Michael Therriault (Dora Award winner, Lord of the Rings: the Musical; Stratford Festival), Claudio Vena (accordionist; Gemini Award winning composer), The Dave Young Trio and members of Tafelmusik. All backed by a 35-piece orchestra comprised of members of the Canadian Opera Company and National Ballet of Canada orchestras and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra along with some of Toronto’s top theatre musicians.

A Life in the Arts: A Tribute to Jim Biros is to be held at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto. Proceeds from the event will be directed to PAL (Performing Arts Lodges) Canada ( ) and the TMA Members’ Assistance Fund, organizations with which Jim was closely associated.

Jim Biros’ unbridled enthusiasm for the arts, and his tireless support and devotion to artists’ well-being, endeared him to all that knew him.

“The disarming gentleness of his smile was the first thing that struck me,” says Canadian Opera Company Music Director Johannes Debus. “His conviction that music and the arts are vital parts of human life and belong at the heart of our society shone through in everything he did and said. His selfless dedication and commitment to ‘his’ musicians as well as his honesty, integrity and fairness impressed me always.”

As the Executive Director of the TMA, Jim negotiated on behalf of the musicians associated with the city’s premiere musical organizations, including the Toronto Symphony, the National Ballet and Canadian Opera Company orchestras, Tafelmusik, Mirvish Productions and the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. Jim’s work had an impact on musicians across the country as well; at the national level, Jim committed his time to the negotiations of the national Commercial Announcements and CBC agreements, while at the international level he worked with the American Federation of Musicians in negotiating the Sound Recording Labor Agreement and the Film-Television agreement.

Jim could always be counted upon to bring a calming influence to the negotiating table. “The other side is a partner,” he wrote, and one that should be treated with respect. “Everybody loved the man”, says Dan Broome, the TMA’s acting Executive Director, “even the people who were on the opposite side of the table.”

A true Renaissance man, Jim delved into a variety of artistic disciplines over the years. Starting off as an accordionist in high school, he graduated university with a degree in fine arts and then focused on an acting and directing career. As the Artistic Director of Theatre on the Move, he won a Dora award for best children’s theatre. Prior to joining the TMA, Jim served for almost nine years as Actors’ Equity’s business representative.

Panasonic Theatre, 651 Yonge Street, Toronto at 7:30 PM, Monday January 12, 2015. Ticket prices are $21.00 + HST (general admission). For Tickets and Information, click on this link or call 416-872-1212

Joint Press Release

In a joint statement today, the Stratford Public Library (SPL) and Performing Arts Lodge Stratford (PAL Stratford) announced that the Chalmers Public Theatre Resource Collection and the Richard Monette Library would move to PAL Stratford, located at 101 Brunswick Street, in the New Year.

In 1990 the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation provided an endowment to create the Chalmers Public Theatre Resource Collection at SPL. The collection became an important community resource for works on history, criticism, and stage craft for students, tourists, and professional practitioners.

However, as online research resources became available, there was a sharp decline in the use of the collection. Due to the limited space available in the Library, a careful “tough love” decision had to be made and a new home for the Chalmers Collection needed to be found.

The question then came to the Board of PAL Stratford. “While there is much detail to be worked out as to physical accommodation and public access, in its deliberation on the matter, the unanimous Board consensus was that the collection must not leave Stratford” said John David Sterne, PAL Stratford Board President. “PAL is not only a residence, it is a centre for social gatherings and supporting professional artistic pursuits. The guardianship of the collection will improve the services that PAL is able to provide to our local community of theatre professional, and will foster new relationships with other researchers that seek out this material. Our volunteers will curate, cultivate, edit and open the collection when needed.” Sterne said.

In addition to the Chalmers Public Theatre Resource Collection, SPL is transferring the Richard Monette Library to the PAL Stratford location. This includes Monette’s personal collection of theatre-related materials, signed gifts and materials with his own marginalia. This collection was donated to SPL in 2008 but was not catalogued for use by the public due to space constraints.

“We are delighted that the materials from the Chalmers and Monette collections will be used and appreciated,” said SPL CEO Julia Merritt. “Transferring these collections offers both organizations an opportunity for future growth and the Library couldn’t be more pleased.”

For further information, please contact by email:

Off the Wall — Friday the 13th

Brian Mcdonald will be remembered ...

Funeral Service, Saturday, December 6th at 2:00 p.m.,
Central United Church, 194 Avondale Avenue, Stratford, Ontario.

As posted in the Beacon Herald, December 1, 2014.

Brian Macdonald, the legendary director and choreographer behind some of theatre's most beloved musical productions, died at his Stratford home on Saturday at the age of 86.

Macdonald was born in Montreal in 1928 and is widely recognized as a pioneer in Canadian theatre. His talent and expertise were boundless and his productions were admired internationally.

His first introduction to the Stratford Festival came during the theatre's early days. In 1957 his satirical revue My Fur Lady played at what would become the Avon Theatre and then went on to tour 82 Canadian cities with more than 400 performances.

He would return to the Festival in later years and was a member of the company for 17 seasons. He left an indelible mark on the Festival with his fresh approach to several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas like The Mikado, HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance which also toured across Canada and in London and New York.

“At Stratford he will be especially remembered for reinventing the Gilbert and Sullivan canon,” said Antoni Cimolino, artistic director. “He brought an entirely new and contemporary approach to what, by the early 1980s, had become neglected classics. Under his inventive direction, the updated lyrics and movement sparkled with the same creative lustre as the iconic music. The result, like Brian himself, was unforgettable.”

During his 60-year career, Macdonald was honoured with many prestigious awards among them are the Order of Canada, of which he was one of the first recipients, a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, the Molson Prize, Paris International Gold Star for Choreography and Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

Just last year, Macdonald was awarded a Bronze Star—a program established by Stratford city council in partnership with the Festival back in 2002 to recognize individuals who have contributed to the cultural or social fabric of the city. ​

Despite his many awards his humility remained intact.

“I was completely surprised. I'm very happy they thought of me,” he said after receiving the Bronze Star.

Macdonald's star is in front of the Avon Theatre.

He started his career as a child actor on CBC Radio and later moved to CBC TV as a dancer/ choreographer and began directing live variety shows.

Though he loved ballet an injury ended his dancing career. Regardless, he was a significant part of the Canadian and international ballet scenes. He was a founding member of the National Ballet of Canada and he was closely associated with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet throughout the 1950s and '60s. He headed up important ballet companies in Sweden, The United States and Israel.

Just this past October, though he had cancer, he directed a revival of his 1990 production of Madama Butterfly. It was the sixth time the Canadian Opera Company mounted his production.

His final public appearance was for the curtain calls on opening night.

Macdonald leaves behind his wife Annette av Paul whom he met at the Royal Swedish Ballet in the 1960s, and his son Wyatt. He was predeceased by his first wife Olivia Wyatt.

Macdonald's funeral will be held at W.G. Young Funeral home on Saturday. [Please note change of venue below.]

A memorial will be held at the Festival Theatre on May 3 and, fittingly, the 2015 production of Carousel, a play he once directed at the Festival, will be dedicated to his memory.

Also: Obituary posted at the W G Young website.
Service Information: Funeral Service, Saturday, December 6th at 2:00 p.m., Central United Church, 194 Avondale Avenue, Stratford, Ontario.
Memorial Donations: PAL Stratford

Famed Canadian director, choreographer Brian Macdonald dies

As posted in the Globe and Mail, November 29, 2014.

The Globe and Mail

The esteemed Canadian director and choreographer Brian Macdonald died Saturday in Stratford, Ont. at the age of 86.

Mr. Macdonald, a charter member of the National Ballet of Canada, went on to direct musical theatre, opera as well as the award-winning productions of Gilbert and Sullivan for Canada's Stratford Festival.

Mr. Macdonald was an early recipient of the Order of Canada, later elevated to the status of Companion in 2002, and received numerous awards over his lifelong career which started when he was a child actor for CBC Radio.

Born May 14, 1928 in Montreal, he leaves behind his wife of 50 years, the former Les Grands Ballets Canadiens ballerina Annette av Paul, and his son from an earlier marriage, Wyatt Macdonald.

A stern task master with a strong, defined perfectionist streak, Mr. Macdonald still worked collaboratively with many Canadian artists including the composers R. Murray Schafer and Gilles Vigneault, as well as visual artists and designers like Robert Prévost and Walter Redinger.

A former dancer, Mr. Macdonald's best partnerships were formed at the ballet, including the National Ballet of Canada, which he joined in 1951 under then-director Celia Franca. In 1956 he founded his own company, the Montreal Theatre Ballet.

In 1957 Mr. Macdonald directed the McGill satirical review, My Fur Lady, which toured Canada with 400 performances in 82 venues.

Mr. Macdonald worked with the country's leading dance companies, including Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

He also had a long and fruitful association with the Banff Centre in Alberta, where he served as choreographer, teacher and mentor to several generations of performers for more than 45 years.

Mr. Macdonald had also been artistic director of the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm, one of the oldest and most prestigious classical dance companies in the world, from 1964 to 1967. He then went on to become artistic director of the Harkness Ballet in New York City from 1967 to 1968, and Israel's Batsheva Dance Company from 1971 to 1972.

He created a total of 19 productions at Stratford, including musical theatre and operetta.

Most recently, Mr. Macdonald returned to the stage in October as director of his own production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly for the Canadian Opera Company, which took place in Toronto.

An indefatigable spirit and towering presence in the Canadian arts scene, Mr. Macdonald was a true one-of-a-kind.

Also: Stratford Festival Media Release, December 1, 2014.

Stratford mourns the death of renowned director and choreographer Brian Macdonald
"... The Stratford Festival is dedicating the 2015 production of Carousel to Mr Macdonald’s memory.
It will hold a memorial at the Festival Theatre on May 3."

Stratford Festival Image Gallery

Also: Article posted on Start Stratford, September 2011.
Interview by Lee Macdougall. Photos by Ann Baggley.