Performing Arts

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Cinema of Pain

Cinema of Pain

On Quebec's Nostalgic Screen
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Silver Hair and Golden Voice

Silver Hair and Golden Voice

Austin Willis, from Halifax to Hollywood
edition:Paperback
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Excerpt

Toronto Beckons

Once I got to Toronto I immediately got myself into radio drama, as this new world offered dozens of possibilities in those days. Everything the CBC sent to any competition invariably won and it was very difficult to get in as a young, relatively inexperienced actor.

 

Radio drama was also terrifying because it was broadcast live in those days—but at least we had our scripts in front of us. In rehearsal, directors would get you to do a scene over and over again. You would often do things you didn't know you could do. An actor named John Drainie gave me advice one day that I have never forgotten. We were rehearsing a fight scene and I knew I just wasn't getting it to sound right for radio. Drainie said, "Aust—you are not making any pictures. For every word that I speak on radio I make pictures in my mind. It's in colour, and that seems to get it off the page."

 

How I Started the Second World War

Shortly after I moved to Toronto to work for CBC Radio, I got blamed for starting the war. CBL was the "anchor" station for the network, because we broadcast news to the whole country. One day, I happened to be sitting in the CBL booth as we were playing "Smoke Gets in your Eyes." Someone came running in wild-eyed from the newsroom and handed me a piece of paper. I broke in and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen: I interrupt this program and bring you a special bulletin—Canada has declared war on Nazi Germany."

As required when announcing a bulletin of this importance, I read it a second time.

"Ladies and Gentlemen: I interrupt this program and bring you a special bulletin—Canada has declared war on Nazi Germany."

After making this grave declaration, I returned to regular programming. On this day, unfortunately, it meant listeners digesting the ominous news were served up an utterly ridiculous but popular novelty tune: "Inka Dinka Doo." (The Financial Post later reported that "incredible stupidity had been shown by Canada's state-owned broadcasting...with no sense of the sober gravity" that the announcement warranted.)

From that time on, I appeared in books as having started the war.

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My Vancouver Dance History

My Vancouver Dance History

Story, Movement, Community
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
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