Women at centre stage
Gili Roskies co-stars in Red Birds, which opens Nov. 2. (photo from Gili Roskies)
Jewish community member Gili Roskies co-stars in the world première of Red Birds, written by Aaron Bushkowsky. Presented by Solo Collective Theatre and Western Gold Theatre, the play opens Nov. 2.
Described as a “bittersweet comedy,” Red Birds centres around “three generations of dirt-poor women whose lives are thrown into chaos when a birth mother is revealed. She is both incredibly wealthy and ready to marry a charming gold-digger.”
“I play Ashley in Red Birds,” Roskies told the Independent. “She is Carol’s daughter and helps her mother navigate through difficult decisions and new relationships. Despite being the youngest character in the play and dealing with her own hardships (that most 30-year-old women experience), she is the voice of reason in the play.
“I love the female relationships in this story,” Roskies said, “and, also, I’m more and more appreciative of seeing and starring in shows that have more women on stage than men. It’s rare and shouldn’t be. This show deals with a woman diving into some sort of unknown and the support the other women in her life provide her with. That is timeless.”
According to the production’s promotional material, Red Birds is a sister piece to Bushkowsky’s The Big Blue Bird, which had “a workshop reading by Western Gold more than 12 years ago. The Big Blue Bird looked at the sad but poignant relationship between three generations of men: a grandfather, father and son. It was subsequently nominated for a Jessie Richardson Award for outstanding original script.”
Red Birds will be Roskies’ first show with Western Gold Theatre, but her third with Solo Collective Theatre.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Solo Collective on two other occasions. I was in a really fun musical called Cool Beans that was written by Anton Lipovetsky and directed by Rachel Peake in 2013. That show, I think, will always remain high on my favourites list. It was so hip and new. The music was catchy and fun, the story was relatable and relevant.
“I also was in Dressing for a Wedding, written by Aaron Bushkowsky and directed by Sarah Rodgers, in 2015. In both cases, I had the chance to assist in the creation of a new show, which is always an exciting process.
“I find Solo Collective really supports its playwrights, giving them time and space to better their pieces,” she said about what keeps her coming back to the troupe. “It’s an ensemble environment, which I consider myself lucky to get to be a part of. Aaron was my writing teacher at Studio 58 and has (thankfully) continued to allow me opportunities to learn about theatre-making.”
This summer, Roskies starred as Girl in Arts Club Theatre’s Once, which “was a blast,” she said.
Roskies was also in what she called “an incredible new show this past year called Glory. Tracey Power masterfully wrote and choreographed an important show about the Preston Rivulettes, a women’s hockey team from the 1930s. Steve Charles created the most intricate music for our insane hockey games/dances. James MacDonald directed a real winning show. It’s a must-see and will be on next year at the Richmond Gateway Theatre April 4-13. We were welcomed and loved debuting the show in Kamloops and performing in Calgary. We have a tour in the summer through B.C. and Ontario. Though I sadly won’t be able to be a part of this remount, I highly suggest going.”
As for future roles, she said she doesn’t have anything big coming up. “At least not to my knowledge!” she qualified. “‘I audition all the time,’ as my character Ashley states so aptly. I’ve been happy tinkering around with some music-making lately, that might take up some of my focus this year. Hard to say.”
Directed by Scott Bellis, Red Birds also stars Anna Hagan, Christina Jastrzembska, Gerry Mackay and France Perras. The set is by Stephanie Wong, lighting by John Webber, sound design by Ben Elliott, and costumes and props by Alaia Hamer.
Red Birds is at PAL Studio Theatre, 581 Cardero St., Nov. 2-18, with shows Tuesday to Saturday. Tickets ($27/$32) are available from redbirds.brownpapertickets.com or 604-363-5734.