Sunday, March 28, 2010

saying goodbye to Goldie

What a loss, what a loss. Today was the memorial event for Goldie Semple, a luminous actress, dead of breast cancer at the age of 57. The Shaw Festival did her proud - the theatre was jam-packed, the event beautifully produced with gorgeous slides of her life and work, a series of moving speakers, and afterwards, food and drink in the lobby for a schmoozefest of her colleagues and friends, a Who's Who of the Canadian theatre world.

The speakers were marvellous, no surprise; even the Shaw costume mistress spoke with respect and affection - "She was never difficult, never complained" - let alone Goldie's husband of 33 years, actor Lorne Kennedy, and friends. Her daughter Madeline, who's 15, sang "For Good," and an actor sang the devastating "Send in the clowns" that Goldie herself had performed on that stage. Then a surprise - a woman who was not from the theatre but a neighbour and fellow mother talked with great humour and passion about their good times together. Goldie was a rarely fine human being and talented, versatile performer. Heartbreaking.

Jackie Maxwell, the Artistic Director, said to me in the lobby afterwards, "We did one of these for Neil Munro not long ago, and now Goldie. I said to the crew, 'Let's not get too good at this. This is enough.'"

Well, hard to believe but tomorrow I hit the road again. I'm not quite packed, not quite ready, but you know what? It'll be fine. The days just before departure are the worst, the lists, the waking in the night with more lists ... And then you're there and the only thing that matters is ... onward.

Onward, in memory of the beautiful Goldie Semple. Impossible to believe she's gone.

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