Artist Profile: Jeff Gladstone
Meet Pi Artistic Associate Jeff Gladstone! Jeff is the co-creator of Pi's Lost Words series with Pippa Mackie (who you can read about here). Associate Producer sat down with Jeff to find out just what goes on inside his head.
Linda Pitt: Who is Jeff Gladstone?
Jeff Gladstone: An odd duck
LP: Where did the idea for Lost Words come from?
JG: About five to ten years ago I was on tour and watched a documentary about George Ryga and really related to what he had done; he had something that he wanted to say that didn’t fit with the norm. He pushed the edge of the right thing at the right time with The Ecstacy of Rita Joe and then got increasingly controversial. Then he wrote Captives of the Faceless Drummer, about the FLQ hostage incidents, which was probably too close to home for people. Five years ago I photocopied 12 copies of that script to do a reading that never happened. Last year Pippa and I connected and decided we wanted to work on something together and started throwing ideas around and I mentioned it, which got us the idea for Lost Words. I’m an ideas man but thanks to Pippa it’s actually happened!
LP: What is your favourite production you’ve worked on recently?
JG: I wrote a musical, Hell of a Girl, which has been really fun. I’ve done it three times all with different approaches, musicians, designs etc.
LP: Tell me about some of your other projects?
JG: I have a band called “The Bad Ideas”, and the four of us host “The Bad Ideas Cabaret” at Guilt & Co. We have guests that we work with and bring on the show too. I also work at Vancouver Theatre Sports and then there’s “The Life Game.” The “Life Game” is an improv format created by Keith Johnstone, where we interview a person about their life and the improv is about telling their life stories. Whereas other improv is about exaggerating for comedic effect, The Life Game is all about being truthful and getting to the heart of someone. We just recorded a bunch for CBC radio and they’re going to broadcast 12 of them. I do that with Veena Sood, she’s amazing. I do lots of writing and side projects too and I’m doing Bard on the Beach again this summer.
LP: When was the moment you decided you wanted to work in theatre?
JG: I’ve been doing it since I was a baby. When I was 5 or 6 I used to write and film movies about Star Wars, it was called “Kids in Space”. In grade 6 I wrote the school play. It was about aliens invading the school and how the school nerd comes to the rescue, obviously I played the school nerd.
LP: Favourite thing about going to see live theatre?
JG: When things go wrong- it’s always the best part!
LP: One thing you would change about Vancouver if you could?
JG: I would love to see more risk-taking (regarding the theatre community). I’d also love to see people (including myself) take better care of their audiences; communicate with them more and find out what they want to see, follow up with them and find out how the work affected them. When an art form is built around taking care of its audiences it usually does pretty well.
LP: Silly questions now! Three things you’d want on a deserted island?
JG: A guitar, a knife… (thinks for a really long time) and a spare set of guitar strings.
LP: Weird celebrity crush?
JG: Betty White. I had crushes on all the Golden Girls when I was a kid. But she was my favourite. That was way before she had her renaissance too. My sister-in-law actually bought me a Betty White Calendar for Christmas one year and I still have it up in my apartment.
LP: What really grinds your gears?
JG: Being misinterpreted can be frustrating.
LP: Weirdest thing you’ve done on stage?
JG: I started and used to run a festival called Here Be Monsters that included a Cabaret called “Classical Theatre Naked” where we took 10 second segments of three different plays Medea, A Doll’s House and Hamlet, naked. It’s actually recorded somewhere…
LP: Can you impersonate anyone famous?
JG: Mickey Mouse (he does it and Linda thinks it’s pretty good)
LP: First job?
JG: It was for “Burn’s Hot Dogs” at the Calgary Stampede. I also was a children’s birthday party clown for a while.
LP: Something that you feel really passionate about this week?
JG: I recently got back from a trip to New York, which really inspired me, especially the thought that anywhere can be a performance venue. I’m also feeling passionate about diversity in theatre and the value of it. I'm really passionate about diversity, and always have been. I feel the best way to move forward is to listen and to seek out diverse work and support it as an audience member.
Join us for the final one in our series, Lost Words: CANADA on March 22nd at The Emerald. More info and tickets HERE.