Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on October 7, 1995 · 35
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Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada · 35

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Issue Date:
Saturday, October 7, 1995
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f BEST COPY AVAILABLE I See ntertainmen D 111 ' f. TVD6 tdmontoit Journal EDITOR: Bob Remington, 429-5346 ' fii k ' ' 'i i i i i U i m od no ' V' I In l r HFA TM st C8LH-1 Distinguished Canadian actress Frances Hyland would like to slow down, but the public won't let her i The Toronto Star and file photos The many faces of Frances: Hyland in Toronto last year when she won the Toronto Arts Foundation award and, clockwise from top left in black-and-white, as a young actress in 1956, at the Shaw Festival in 1984 and at her debut at The Citadel in 1975 LIZ NICHOLLS Journal Theatre Writer Edmonton Frances Hyland was having a wonderful dream. She was on her old Victorian couch with her miniature poodle Rufus, and they were flying through the air over the Prairies with someone who seemed to be a Chinese guide. "I woke up with a big grin," says the puckish 68-year-old Hyland, who opts for the beer and smoke combo to launch her afternoon off from rehearsals for Duncan Mcintosh's production of Da, opening Wednesday at the Citadel. She remembered that dream when she got the Toronto Arts Foundation's grandest award this year. Part of the prize, she explains, "the best part, the smartest part someone from Saskatchewan must have thought of it was that you get to commission a younger artist to do whatever you want. I thought and thought I wracked my brain." Suddenly it was perfectly obvious. A young Chinese-Canadian painter lives in the same apartment block on the Esplanade in Toronto. And so it came to pass that K. Tchew "painted a big glorious picture of me looking very happy floating on my couch. Serendipitous. He won great praise for it." It's been a year of awards "I figured I must be getting old" for the diminutive ac lordirector, one of Canada's distint lished artists, and a woman of san.. it and good humor. When they phoned Hyland to tell her she'd won the Governal General's 1994 Lifetime Achievement Award for the Performing Arts, she thought they must want her to be on the jury. At the gala she sat next to Neil Young ("an absolute darling, I loved him; I told him I'd known his old man for years"), Robert Charlebois, and the Quebecois director Robert Lepage. Each recipient got to choose a favorite performer for the evening's enteitainment. Hyland picked her old friend, actor Jackie Burroughs (Aunt Hetty on Road to Avonlea), who's "fine, crazy as a hoot owl," as Hyland says with great affection. The only question about the Governal General's award is why they waited so long. Hyland's has been, and continues to be, a remarkable career that has taken her to the West End, Broadway, Chicago, 12 seasons at Stratford and 11 at the Shaw Festival. It's taken her from starring roles as . Tennessee Williams' deceptively fragile heroines to Shaw's deceptively formidable dragon matrons. It's taken her to every big theatre in this country including, on more than a few occasions, the Citadel, where she made her Edmonton debut in 1975 as the title heroine in Forever Yours, Mary-Lou, still her favorite Michel Tremblay, and where she returned, most recently, half a dozen years ago to direct Driving Miss Daisy. The Canadian option has always been a positive choice and never a default position in Hyland's career: consider that she was Perdita in a production of A Winter's Tale by the legendary British director Peter Brook, and the original Rita Jo in the seminal Canuck drama The Ecstacy of Rita Jo by George Ryga. Why has Saskatchewan delivered more than its share of the country's artists, you wonder. "The landscape and the light," thinks Hyland, originally from the tiny "two-elevator, 500-soul" southern Sask. town of Ogamah "don't worry, no one's heard of it." I "My mother had a passion for books; my grandfather was a Cornishman and they're all mad," says Hyland. "He loved a good yarn, and he read me the first book I ever heard, Moby Dick," including the endless chapters on whale morphology that even David Suzuki probably hasn't read. It's one of those coincidences on which theatre is built that Hyland's first directing gig years later was a stage production in Vancouyer of the Orson Welles' version pf Moby Dick. C'Why not? Vancouver is a seaport. There are whales here,... .") Hyland and her grandfather read Rider Haggard, Joseph; Conrad, Jack London. "What an education!" she says. "By this time J could read myself, so we'd do alternate chapters of Crime and Punishment... . We didn't know how to pronounce the names, so Dostoyevsky was Dost and Raskolnikov was Rask. We just figured it was a great detective story, and we wanted to know who won... . He loved words!" She smiles. "I guess I inherited that gene from him." "I was one of those maddening smart-ass kids who memorize everything," she laughs. She mm Da Theatre: Citadel Maclab Director. Duncan Mcintosh Starring: Leon Pownall, Jeff Haslam, Frances Hyland When: through Oct. 29 Highlights in the career of Canadian actress Frances Hyland: Born: Ogamah, Sask., 1927 Awards: Governor General's Award (1994); Toronto Arts Foundation award (1995); Order of Canada; two honorary doctorates, Dora, Jefferson (Chicago). Training: Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (silver medalist) Worked with: Peter Brook, John Gielgud, Tyrone Guthrie, Anthony Perkins, James Mason Theatre: West End, Broadway, Chicago, Stratford Festival (12 seasons); Shaw Festival (11 seasons); theatres across Canada, leading roles and directing. At the Citadel: Forever Yours, Marie-Lou, Night of the Iguana, Driving Miss Daisy, Arms and the MAn, Troyan Women, The Black Bonspiel of Wullie Macrimmon. remembers making something so vile in chemistry lab that the entire school had to be evacuated and then got 100 per cent on the final chem exam by "sheer memory work." Hyland went straight from university in Saskatoon to London's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. "My mom was teaching school and she and her friends financed a year till I got a scholarship." Hers was a precocious talent. Still in theatre school, Hyland landed a lead role in the controversial BBC drama Deep Are The Roots, that would later cause a furore in New York in its expose of racial tension. The BBC's director of drama had noticed "the nice Canadian girl" the summer before when she was an usher at the outdoor Shakespearean theatre in Regent's Park. "I graduated from usher to prompt girl. I'd crawl along the hedges, changing the gels (on the lights)." Deep Are tlie Roots caught the collective eye of the biggest theatrical management company in London, H.M. Tennant at precisely the moment Renee Atchison and Vivien Leigh were leaving the West End production of Streetcar Named Desire. "One night I was called down into the stalls by a man who-esked me 'How would you like to sign a contract with us?' I said I wasn't sure, and he said 'Do you think playing Stella in ', Streetcar would keep you busy?' " The man, though Hyland didn't know it at the time, was the ? legendary Hugh (aka Binkie) ' Beaumont. "I said 'I'm terribly sorry but I didn't catch your name' and he laughed." And so it came to pass that the 18-year-old Canadian girl made her West End debut in a star role. "I was terrified, but I had a lot of sincerity," says Hyland dryly. What followed were seven years of working with the likes of Edith Evans, Peter Brook, John Gielgud. And Hyland conceivably might never have returned to these shores had it not been for Tyrone Guthrie, who came to her dressing room one night with the news that there was "a lovely new Shakespearean theatre in Ontario" and the offer of Portia in Merchant ofVenice, followed by Isabella in Measure For Measure and Bianca, the goody two-shoes sister in Taming of the Shrew the next season, In the off-season, she worked for CBC, for Toronto theatres like ; Crest, not to mention "meeting this fellah and having this baby." By this time Canada was hatching and attracting notable directors, Michael Langham and John Hirsch among them. And the latter said to her, " 'Frannie, you lived through the Depression!' So I started to use my own life and my own experience. Which means, I guess, that I started to grow out of being a feisty ingenue into being an actress." She remembers rehearsing Brecht's The Good Woman of Szechwan at Chicago's Goodman ' it' Theatre while Canadian actor Zoe Caldwell was doing The -Madwoman of Chaillot there. The .- Kav rfftra cto (T want ll7ctoi n Q 1 i' wnen "someone wanted two tickets for The Madwoman of Eight months on Broadway in a 1 1 production of Look Homeward -j Angel opposite Anthony Perkins ; was undeniably exciting, says Hyland. "But I didn't want to stay, in New York. For one thing I had a two-year-old. For another I had j these what would you call them? moral scruples. It was easy to get a green card but you had to say it was your avowed , intention to immigrate. And I j couldn't do it." These days "I keep trying to " slow down but my agent won't let me," sighs Hyland with half-fake ruefulness. As a ; ' friend told her this year, "You 1 w understand, Frannie, that getting a lifetime achieve-ment award .- doesn't mean you can stop." "This summer I kept trying to go -to Shaw and Stratford to catch shows and see my buddies. Everything has conspired against ; it." First there was Lonesome Dove , (the TV series shot near Calgary) "hard work, but lots of fun." ,. v Then "just when I got back and rearranged my Stratford tickets, my agent phoned with an air -1 ticket to Budapest (to shoot a " , Harlequin romance for t Alliance)." ,.j It was, she says, "a good script , "r of its kind, and heaps of fun.... VK There were all-night shoots, and I can say I've seen dawn over the , , Danube." There have been u- episodes of Due South, a kung-fu ' " movie-of-the-week ... and now Da, Hugh Leonard's warm, affecting , ; memory play about the , ,,, reconciliation of a boy (Jeff Haslam), now grown up, and his '. Z dad (Leon Pownall). , , Hyland plays mom, and every , , '. time she talks about the role there's a lilt of Irish in her voice. , "I'd go anywhere to work with Duncan," she says of the Citadel's new resident director, with whom ,.. she's worked at Theatre Plus in . ,j such productions as Transit to ', , Venus, he Bal, and another Irish play, Faith Healer by Brian Friel. . , "He's great at creating a company, ,. of creating a real feeling of ; warmth, enthusiasm and trust...." ' 1 Pavarotti won't sing about rumored affair Luciano Pavarotti had music on his mind. Everyone else wanted to know about his love life. Pavarotti, during a news confer ence i nursaay about a weekend concert in Rome, fended off questions about his rumored affair with his secretary, Nicoletta Mantovani. "Let's just talk about pure music," he pleaded. Pa va rotti 's IJIIll l .1 M, i jim I J Pavarotti wife, Adua Veroni, has denied reports they were getting divorced and that she was trying to get 80 per cent of his wealth. Asked if he would someday ded icate the Tosti opera i piece Non T'Amo Piu (I Don't Love You Any-mme) to his wife,, Pavarotti replied: "The soap-opera stuff, we'll leave it for another day." Maria's former PR man in the soup again A man convicted of stealing Maria Maples Trump's shoes and lingerie has been arrested again, this time accused of repeatedly sending photos of her by fax to Donald Trump's office at the Plaza Hotel. , Chuck Jones, who once was Maria Trump's publicist, was arrested Thursday on ian aggravated harassment charge, punishable by up to a year in jail. Jones said he sent a photograph of a nude Maria Trump only to people who had called asking for it. Trump said the photo is a body with his wife's head superimposed 5l Trump on it. "He's a very sick puppy," Donald Trump said Thursday. Jones has been free on bond while he appeals a 4&-year prison sentence for stealing 70 pairs of ' shoes and underwear from Maria Trump's apartment last year. He spoke openly during his trial of his "sexual fascination" with women's shoes. NBC's Single Guy plans to stay that way Jonathan Silverman, star of NBC's The Single Guy, says he isn't at least not all the time. "I certainly have had my share of single days, but I've been seeing a wonderful girl for quite some time now," Silverman said. What about marriage? "No ... You see, I have the perfect excuse," Silverman said. "I'm a method actor. I cannot get married." Silverman, who did not identify the woman in his life, said they share something with characters on the show: "We're always fixing up our friends." "We only do it when asked," he said. "Unfortunately, we're asked quite a bit." African Queen to sail again If Katharine Hepburn has an urge to take a nostalgic trip on the African Queen, she won't have to go far. The famed steamboat used in the 1951 movie The African Queen, starring Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, will be on the Connecticut River this month and close to Old Saybrook, Conn., where Hepburn lives. Boat owner James Hendricks of Key Largo, Fla., usually rents the African Oilmen Hepburn out for m0re than $3,000, but will charge only $20 for rides as part of an event honoring Connecticut steamboat pioneers. Rides will be given from Oct. 7 to Oct. 15 from eight launch sites along the river from East Hartford, Conn., to Old Saybrook. r v. iiril

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