(First posted October, 2021)
Vicki Greenslade, founder of CBS Harps, has always dreamed about the possibilities for a performance space in Conception Bay South. What she didn’t know was that her dream was shared by others.
"After 40 years as a nurse and nurse educator, I took down the shingle to pursue the creative side of life," explains Dr. Mary Greenslade, known to her friends as Vicki. "I'm always doing new things, managing projects and getting people involved, and having served on the town's Arts Committee, the idea for a theatre group entered my head. Discussions were had, telephone calls were made. And Theatre CBS was born."
Vicki started with fellow harpist and well-know music teacher Jacqueline Cook and life-long friend and retired teacher Gord Billard. Communications Manager Susan Bonnell soon joined the happy band.
Jacqueline Cook may be well known for her long time career as a music teacher at Topsail Elementary, but her interest in theatre has been lifelong.
"Growing up in England, I took part in many theatrical productions and prior to moving to Newfoundland and Labrador, I studied acting," she explains. "In 1975 when I settled in my new home of CBS, I joined the St. John's Players and took part in basement theatre productions."
After a long hiatus from the stage, Jacqueline is excited to be involved in the generation of a new theatre group in CBS. "I hope this group will become a true resource for all members of the community and I'm really excited to be playing the Superintendent who sends Clarence to earth to save George in our upcoming production of It's A Wonderful Life."
Gord Billard is a freshly retired teacher whose career began in St. John's where he taught French Immersion, Drama and Improv for 10 years before moving to Arviat, Nunavut, where he spent 20 years as a Drama and Video Production teacher. Gord acted in, directed and produced shows with the Beothuck Street Players, MUN Drama and Bill's Bad Dance Production Company before heading north. For his efforts and achievements in Arviat, most notably with ground-breaking drama productions, and youth film initiatives through Skills Canada Nunavut and the Arviat Film Society, he was nominated for and subsequently awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014.
"I am thrilled to be back in my Newfoundland home and I'm delighted to be a part of the team that is finally bringing theatre arts to CBS," says Gord. "I believe the time is right and the ground is fertile on the Shore for growing a vibrant performing arts community. I hope this first show will lead to the emergence of an abundance of hidden talent that has been waiting so long for an opportunity to blossom, right here, right now."
Communications professional Susan Bonnell was brought in by Vicki this summer and she is very excited to be part of this project. Like Jacqui, Susan took a long hiatus from performing as she built her career and family, but she's been actively involved in the local amateur theatre scene since 2015. She's performed with DW Productions, the St. John's Players, Second Light and others, but has always wanted to see something happening in her hometown.
"More than 20 years ago, we tried to get something moving in CBS and did produce some shows here, but it 'didn't stick' last time - this time, I think it's going to be different," says Susan. "When you have a groundswell of people from the community looking for an opportunity like this, you know its time, and I'm so excited to be part of the building process for this new theatre group."