‘Queer as Folk’ actor dreams of New York stage

An actor can never afford to coast. One day she’s eating steak from the proceeds of a regular part on a TV series. The next she’s back in the audition pool facing rejection with all the other waitresses, began a Feb. 22 Winnipeg Free Press profile of 1992 York theatre grad Thea Gill."I used to be demolished when I didn’t get a part," said Gill, a BC-based thespian who stars in Prairie Theatre Exchange’s new production, Honour. "I couldn’t function for a week. All actors are insecure. Now I’m just better at faking it."

The tall blond beauty was working in Toronto in 2000 when she landed the role as uptight lesbian Lindsay Peterson in the US Showtime cable network series "Queer as Folk". For five years Gill worked steadily and became a sex symbol and role model to North American gays and lesbians. By the time the series ended in 2005, her husband Brian Richmond had taken the job as head of the University of Victoria theatre department. Gill happily followed him to the West Coast. They met when she was 22 and in her final year of her acting degree at York University. Richmond was divorced and had just returned from a year in Europe to teach audition technique to York students. Not long after Honour closes at PTE, Gill will fly to Hawaii to film her second season of Dante’s Cove. (She plays a bisexual witch.) She and Richmond have plans this summer to go to New York, where Gill will take one more shot at breaking into big-time film and stage work.

So, how are the kids?

According to Anne-Marie Ambert, the kids aren’t all right, wrote Sue Bailey in an op-ed piece about the retired York sociology professor’s research in The Globe and Mail Feb. 22. More and more children are exhibiting "problematic behaviours," from irritability, lying and hitting to delinquency and, at the extreme, murder. The list of contributing factors includes, well, everyone: parents (particularly single parents), other children, society, genetics, poverty, materialism, individualism and, high on the list, the media’s violent programming.

It is hard to know how to approach Ambert’s report, created for the Vanier Institute of the Family, continued Bailey. Much of what Ambert says about the travails of raising children in an increasingly fragmented, busy society is well expressed. But the overlay of moral lecture, which finds societal villains hiding in every corner, makes it difficult to take the report at face value, argued Bailey.

  • Editorials and news stories about Ambert’s report also appeared Feb. 22 in the Sault Star and the Peterborough Examiner. Her report was also the subject Feb. 21 of regional radio and television news casts and talk shows, such as the "Bill Carroll Morning Show" on CFRB in Toronto, the "Dave Carr Show" on CFOS in Owen Sound, "News" on CIGM in Sudbury, "Windsor Now" on CKLW in Windsor, and "CH Live @ 5:30" on CHCH-TV in Hamilton.  
  • Ambert was also quoted in the Toronto Star Feb. 22 about the value of Nuit Blanche, an artistic, literary and musical event organized by the Arts and Letters Club for children and their parents to enjoy together. If it sounds too sophisticated for the stroller set, it’s not, said Ambert. "We really underestimate in our culture what children can do. They can learn far more and far younger than we allow," she said. "We always think that parents have to do fun things for children. Why not turn the table around and have children doing activities with their parents?"

Glendon receives funding for French-language programs

York University’s Glendon College will receive $740,000 from the provincial government as part of a $7.5 million package aimed at bolstering French-language post-secondary programs across the province, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 22. The money, announced this week by Colleges and Universities Minister Chris Bentley, is to create new courses and promote francophone culture at bilingual colleges and universities. At Glendon, officials plan to focus on cultural events and expanding French-language programming at the school.

Radical voting proposal gains steam

Ontario is a step closer to a radical change in the way MPPs are elected to the Legislature, reported Toronto Star columnist Ian Urquhart Feb. 22. The citizens’ assembly on electoral reform, a randomly selected body of 103 ordinary Ontarians established by the provincial government, voted overwhelmingly last weekend for a system called "mixed member proportional," or MMP. The system can lead to permanent minority governments and a proliferation of fringe parties. In a list of alternative systems put before the assembly last Sunday in a meeting at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, MMP was the overwhelming choice.

Ballet and Indian dance a beautiful mix

Menaka Thakkar’s innovative choreography in Canada is a fusion of ballet, modern and African dance movements with Indian classical dance, reported The Toronto Sun Feb. 22 in a story about the renowned dancer, choreographer and teacher giving a class at the National Ballet School. Thakkar’s first experiment with fusion resulted in her major creation Moods of Morning, in which she teamed up with Canada’s best-known modern dance choreographer, Robert Desrosiers. It was a resounding success and led to many subsequent fusion creations. Her contributions are perhaps best summed up in the citation made when she was awarded an honorary doctorate from York University in 1993: "A rare jewel in the richly encrusted crown of Toronto’s dance community."

Whom do you trust?

In a letter published Feb. 22 in the National Post, York political science Prof. Terry Heinrichs wrote: Anyone who claims to be a scientist and at the same time says that global warming is a "totally settled issue" is not a scientist; he’s an ideologist, a partisan and a propagandist for a cause. He’s not interested in truth as much as winning a debate. He presents only the evidence that will suit his case. By contrast, a true scientist is interested in truth first and "winning," if at all, second. He would never say that a scientific proposition is "totally settled," because that would mean that debate on the matter should cease. A true scientist, to paraphrase Charles Sanders Peirce, does not block the road to future inquiry; he believes all scientific theories are in principle capable of refutation. Indeed, far from looking for evidence to confirm his pet theory, he looks for evidence to falsify it because he knows that scientific theories are inherently both temporary and conditional. Those scientists like David Suzuki, who look in the opposite direction, seem more interested in preventing debate and fomenting hysteria than advancing truth.

Justice all in the family as daughter now judge

The daughter of a longtime Welland Superior Court justice has been called to the bench, reported St. Catharines Standard Feb. 22. Maureen Forestell was named a judge in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice. Forestell, 46, is the second-oldest daughter of retired Welland Justice Paul Forestell, who sat on the Superior Court for nearly 20 years in Cayuga and Welland. In addition, her grandfather, Toby Forestell, was the Crown attorney in Welland for many years. Maureen Forestell earned a law degree from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1984 and was called to the bar in 1986.

On air

  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor and director of international business programs at York’s Schulich School of Business, talked about how Chinese auto vehicles and parts are likely to flood North America, on CBC Radio’s "The Current" Feb. 19.