July 22, 2014
It was a wonderful surprise to discover Sheila Jordan on Pender Island. She is an actress and there is something special about watching a really talented thespian walk across the theatre boards. (Personally, I believe a real good actor stands out whether she or he is doing live theatre or movie screen work. Even being on the small screen does not diminish the shine of a really good actor. I give you Robin Williams on “Mork and Mindy” or all of the incredible cast on “3rd Rock from the Sun”. On television, I think, really good are much more likely to shine in comedy, interestingly enough, than they do on dramas.)
I admit I was surprised to discover Sheila on Pender Island. Why, I am not sure. Maybe because the Pender islands (there are actually two joined by a bridge) has a small population, maybe 3000. I expect talented people to be more likely found in a larger population base.
Nowadays, Sheila lives on the larger metropolis of Salt Spring Island (10,000 to 12,000 population depending the time of year). She quite often stages one woman shows at ArtSpring and keeps bees as well as a tea room on her property.
But back in 2000, I decided to do a profile on her. I always enjoy doing a profile on talented people (and in one way or another we are all talented). The following piece is about Sheila Jordan:
Gulf Islands Driftwood — Pender Edition
June 7, 2000
Jordan’s artistic direction inspired by social issues
by Tanya Lester
Sheila Jordan makes a difference no matter how she expresses herself artistically.
Recently in the spotlight for her role as Constance Ledbelly in Solstice Theatre’s production of Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning Juliet), Jordan was often greeted at the end of a performance night by older women. They wanted to thank the actress — at least one woman had tears streaming down her face — for her portrayal of someone who was able to get out from under the male bullying inflicted upon her for many years.
Five years ago, Jordan’s arrival in B.C. from Ottawa made another huge impact. That’s when she premiered her documentary film called No Surrender. It was about a group of Cheslatta First Nations people who were relocated by Alcan and the federal government in the 1950s so a hydro-electric project could be built. No Surrender attracted 1,100 people to Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre on opening night.
Just last year Jordan took a seat at the Women in the Director’s Chair program offered at Banff’s School of the Arts. Occupying another of the “chairs” was renowned dancer Veronica Tennant.
Respected Winnipeg-based film director Norma Bailey was the program’s facilitator and she is interested in directing the feature film Jordan is writing.
In its third draft and called Honey in the Rock (not to be confused with the blues and gospel band called Honey on the Rocks), the plan is for Jordan to “shadow direct” with Bailey.
The film script is a romantic comedy about two women who fall in love while one woman’s husband is away fighting in World War II. The affair end when the husband returns home.
Freddie, the former lover, who is a painter and belly dance teacher, shows up on the couple’s doorstep 50 years later where they live in a small New Brunswick town.
Jordan likes the idea that eight of the 11 cast emmbers will be women over 65 because she believes that age range has always been invisible in film.
She also likes the scripts’s look at being lesbian just as she enjoyed Goodnight Desdemona’s treatment of homosexuality.
“We feel we have to be slotted,” said Jordan. “It’s okay to express and explore. I love people who follow their hearts.”
Just as Freddie “crashes” into her former lover’s life, Jordan intends to do some “crashing” of her own soon.
The focus for Jordan will be auditioning for professional theatre parts in Vancouver. She said although they are called “open auditions”, the directors hosting them have a tendency to brush off anyone who does not have a resume that they deem impressive.
Community theatre does not usually fit their bill, said Jordan, but she is going to get lessons in crashing auditions soon. Her coach will be Andrew McIlroy, who adjudicated at the B.C. Festival of Amateur Theatre in Lake Cowichan last month.
When McIlroy gave Jordan the award for best actress, he said, “I would hire her in a minute.”
Coincidentally, Jordan literally ran in McIlroy a couple of weekends ago when she was taking an acting workshop in Vancouver.
She “cornered him” and asked him if he really meant what he had said. His response being in the affirmative, he then agreed to be her audition coach.
Her ambition to go professional will not deter her from doing community theatre, she said. Having participated in five Solstice Theatre plays, Jordan is fascinated with how acting can help people develop.
“I love watching the transformation of an actor,” she said.
Jordan does want to see more professional theatre people come to the Penders to do workshops with those in community theatre, including courses on directing. “That’s a way to pay back the actors,” she said.
Jordan’s many talents extend to television series as well with involvement in Aboriginal Voices, Evergreen, Under the Umbrella Tree and recent writing for In the Company of Women. She has also produced and directed documentary films.
Getting into CBC Radio and even starting a Gulf Islands radio station are other career directions Jordan would like to take.
She lives on the Penders with her two daughters. Allie is seven years old and Rowyn is three, and both are especially supportive of their mother’s acting endeavours.
When Allie was asked recently what her mother does, she responded. “She’s an actor.”
When Goodnight Desdemona was in performance, Rowyn sat mesmerized through two entire shows.
Jordan said the Penders community is, like her children, completely supportive of her acting work. Yet given Jordan’s passion for the stage and film, it is safe to say that “they ain’t seen nothing yet.”
To read earlier posts in this blog, go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author. You can read the first few pages of the book on amazon.com
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