JANET BANKS (writer): “I am inspired by the human condition as it unfolds around me a million times every day, next door and across the oceans. I have had the opportunity to travel the world and observe how the human condition is informed by culture, history and world events. People tell me stories and I attempt to capture them for the stage.”
Janet worked for the Royal Ontario Museum from 1984 - 1990 as a security administrator; then promoted to Head of Security two years later. This promotion was historical as she was the first woman to hold this type of management position at the museum and in addition to this, she was the youngest person to do so. During her career, a few highlights included shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth II, playing hide and seek with an international jewel thief and personally escorting the road transport of precious Jewish artifacts, from Houston to Toronto, while under a terrorist threat from the PLO.
Written plays (unpublished) include: The Acorn Trilogy (Dirty Little Secret, My Brother’s Keeper, and Inspiration Stump), 1000 Cleopatras, Hand Washing Techniques, Pilgrimage, Season Tickets, Maybe It's Mabeleen, Rice Pudding, In the Beginning, Wilde’s Women and Sundance, of which four were produced.
Janet has had the privilege of having two incredible mentors: the Interim Head of Security of the ROM who hired her, and Timothy Findley. When she first met Timothy, it was in a class for aspiring writers. While critiquing students’ work in class and after reading her first piece, Timothy told Janet: “All I can say to you is just keep writing.” Before he passed away, Janet had the amazing experience of corresponding with Timothy while she wrote Pilgrimage.
Mentor Me Through This Wonderland was originally an unfinished book entitled Friends with Benefits and was adapted for the stage by her widowed husband, Lorne Hiro. Janet passed away November 2011.
LORNE HIRO (actor, writer, producer): Lorne was privileged to perform in three of Janet’s plays: (My Brother’s Keeper, Maybe It’s Mabeleen, and Inspiration Stump) and to direct Rice Pudding. As founder of Hiroic Productions, he performed and produced the English version of René-Daniel Dubois’ Being At Home With Claude, as seen at the London (ON), Hamilton and Windsor Fringe Festivals in 2009 and the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2010. At the same 2009 festivals, he also performed in the Jeeperz Crow/Cheshire Unicorn co-production of Gary Owen’s Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco. Lorne was also proud to be involved the indie film Kidnap Capital (Felipé Rodriguez), which received rave reviews in the film festival circuit.
As a child, through his father's influence in both Zen Buddhism and art, Lorne was always a big believer in the mystical nature of life and the power of story. It isn't surprising then that the kind of stories that influenced and inspired him most were fantastical. His biggest dream since he was a teenager: to find a mentor that could guide him to “the ways of the force.” It took him many decades but eventually, he did find two: a transcendentalist teacher by the name of Mary Morrissey and a chiropractor/neuroscientist by the name of Dr. Joe Dispenza. Both helped Lorne open his eyes to the writings of Henry David Thoreau, Albert Einstein and many others, teaching him how to appreciate his imagination, intuition and the power of thought.
SHARON WARREN (director)
Special Thanks to Kevin McGarrigle-Schlosser, movement coach
JIM TOOBY (stage manager): Jim has had quite an extensive film, theatre and concert career. He’s been sound engineer for The Ramones, AC/DC, Tom Cochran, Blue Rodeo; Carpenter for X-Men, Resident Evil, Cinderella Man, and Murdoch Mysteries; stage managed Elvis & Dick (Toronto Fringe) and have done lighting and sound for Sweet Will at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto
As for his mentor, Jim looks fondly upon his father and the life he led. At the age of seventeen, he signed up with the RAF so that he could help defend his homeland, England from the Nazi regime. After V-E day travelling with the REF (Royal Expeditionary Force) through Egypt, India and finally Singapore, he helped the Americans defeat the Japanese. His travels, including moving to Canada and settling down always intrigued me and encouraged my own wanderlust. He also had a love for history and culture which is why the ROM has always been one of my favourite places in Toronto.
ERIN ELDERSHAW (fight choreographer): Erin is a Toronto-based actor, dancer, and fighter, currently certified as an Advanced Actor Combatant with the Fight Directors of Canada. As a fight choreographer, independent theatre credits include: Getting Odd (HollyWould Productions), Snow White (The Army of Sass Toronto), and will be fighting in an upcoming short film The Witness Box (Witness Box Productions). Erin wants to thank Luke Marty for being her constant mentor/partner in all things. Quick memory: performing a puppet version of Hamlet in the basement of the Royal Ontario Museum with only four cast members to an audience of three hundred rowdy children on their March Break (Shakey-Shake and Friends).
FIONA HAQUE (actor): Fiona has been blessed with many exceptional mentors throughout her dance and theatre training: people who taught her skills and concepts that have helped to shape her as an artist whether it was how to write in iambic pentameter or the minutiae of how to "be" a turkey. But when it comes down to it, nearly everything she does seems to come back to her main man, Billy Shakes. She read his Romeo & Juliet, in the sixth grade and ever since then, she knew that she had to spend the rest of her life affecting people that way and creating something just as moving and meaningful.
Kathryn Romanow (actor)
GABRIEL CAMERON (actor): Gabriel was born in Hertfordshire and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he received the Merriam T Thornbury Award of Distinguishment as well as the C.M. Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence... Okay, so none of that is true, but it sounded cool, didn't it? And you totally believed it for a second. Alright, here's the truth:
Gabriel got into acting through improv during high school and currently studies at Lonsdale Smith & Co Studios, which has not only helped him grow as an artist but as a person as well. He credits his cousin and mentor Stefano DiMatteo for spurring many changes in his life. He remembers one conversation in particular where he was posed the question; "what do you want to do with your life?" Gabriel was drifting aimlessly through life at the time and had no response. Fast forward a few years later and Gabriel is pursuing what he loves. He would like to thank Stefano for his unending support and guidance.
CHRISTOPHER ZAMAT (actor): Chris is immensely grateful to all the teachers and mentors whose paths he has been fortunate enough to cross so early on his journey through acting. In particular, he is indebted to Shannon Lawson for all of the blood, sweat, and tears she has painstakingly put in to help mentor and shape Chris, not only as an actor and artist but as a person as well. Having worked with the likes of Shirley Maclaine, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jeff Daniels, Shannon has been able to share her experiences as a Canadian award-winning actress; not only in the form of invaluable skills and tools for the craft, but also in the form of guidance and wisdom in all things relating to acting, relationships, business and life. Shannon has always, always been there for Chris as a teacher, mentor, and a friend, and Chris will always be eternally indebted to her for her friendship, and for teaching him not to put her to sleep.
ADAM BONNEY (actor) Adam’s recent stage credits include The Lady In Shoes From Hell at the Red Sandcastle Theatre, The Mousetrap as part of the Confidential Theatre Project. Who You Calling Black Eh? in the New Ideas Festival and Grindrd in the InspiraTO Festival at the Alumnae Theatre.
"Always say Yes". Call it perfectionism, call it laziness, call it depression. What ever it was, it had Adam paralyzed. Scared to fail, scared to succeed, scared to try, he was in a rut. His best friend Lorne (not the one you're thinking of) convinced Adam to come work and help him start his construction company. "But I've never even held a power tool before", Adam said. "Well, that's a great reason to try it, not an excuse to avoid it,” Lorne replied. That was lesson #1 . So he did. He got pretty good at it. Over the next couple of years the business grew. They had a few employees. One day Lorne said to him, "I need a vacation. I'm going over-seas for 3 weeks and leaving you in charge". Adam replied, ”But I don't know what to do... what if the customer asks me to do something and I don't know how?" "Always say Yes " Lorne replied simply. "You can figure out the how later." This was just lesson #1 all over again. But now, Adam understood it. Always say yes. It has become his mantra.
FRANCESCO GALLÉ (artist) is an established painter, illustrator and graphic artist in Canada and his native Italy. Born in the southern region of Calabria, he emigrated with his family at the age of six and grew up in Toronto’s Little Italy, where he still lives today.
Gallé credits his childhood days in the mountain town of Serra San Bruno with his affinity for the Canadian wilderness, a major subject of his work. His desire to preserve this natural landscape and our connection with it are entwined with the other key theme of his art: paying homage to the traditions of southern Italian culture.
Gallé’s eclectic style employs techniques as diverse as pencil drawing and non-brush painting. Often the simplicity of composition and prominent use of white space recall old master drawings. At times his heavy brushstrokes and saturated colours are more akin to the work of his mentor, celebrated Canadian abstract artist Richard Gorman.
His work has been exhibited widely, including shows at the Bata Shoe Museum, De Luca Fine Art Gallery, and the Lonsdale Gallery (Toronto), and Palazzio Florio (Sicily). Awards include Applied Arts (2008, 2009) in Canada and a Certosa (2009) in Italy.
FRANK HORVAT (composer, opening theme music) An accomplished multi-genre composer who has made the tricky musical leap that allows him to pursue a niche of his own, Frank Horvat gives his audience time and space to reflect in our fast-paced world. His compositions tell deeply personal stories while permitting audiences to ponder their own. Whether he writes for his band, the concert stage or film/TV, his music is both aggressive and introspective. Influenced by the post-modern idea of eclecticism, his compositions have a driving minimalism and a haunting reflection. Frank’s works are often based on social injustices, as well as the wondrousness of life and love. Learn about his upcoming album releases at www.frankhorvat.com.
ZOLTAN HAWRYLUK (web developer) has been developing websites since the web began in the 1990s. Along with creating award-winning websites for major Canadian and global brands, he has also worked on several Fringe productions sites, including Selling Love, Rice Pudding, Being At Home With Claude, and the Jeeperz Crow production of Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco. When he's not coding for clients, he writes about the latest web technologies on his blog User Agent Man and acts as the lead crooner with his lounge-punk band, Conflicting Plaid.
Lorne Hiro would like to give special thanks to Sally Jones for her dedicated work to the original direction and dramaturgy of this play.