A Family Affair

Married actors Madeleine Donohue and Geoffrey Pounsett drove from Toronto with their two small children in early June to North Rustico PEI to spend the summer performing at the Watermark Theatre. Madeleine is starring in “Dial M For Murder” as Margot Wendice, while Geoffrey tackles the roles of James Tyrone in “A Moon for the Misbegotten” and Max Halliday opposite his wife in “Dial M For Murder”.

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“In the play I have an affair with my husband’s character, Max, while my stage husband- played by Artistic Director Robert Tsonos- seethes in the background”, says Madeleine, “Despite the spooky subject matter I’m having SO much fun playing Margot, and the whole creative team’s done a terrific job”. “We’ve never worked together before”, says Geoffrey. “The opportunity has arisen a couple of times, but each time one of us was already committed to something else. In the past, one of us has usually stayed in Toronto with the kids while the other is away for work. This was the perfect opportunity to finally share the stage while also having a great summer experience together as a family.”

The two met in the summer of 2008, when they each appeared in both the Fringe and Summerworks Festivals. Madeleine had written her very first play, and Geoffrey was appearing in Erin Shield’s “If We Were Birds”, which continued on to a successful run at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre . “The Fringe/Summerworks scene is pretty social, so we bumped into each other often. Eventually we discovered that we lived a block away from each other” recalls Madeleine. “Our colleagues were pretty encouraging; we had both attended the same theatre school so we had a lot of friends in common, though we’d never met.  I’d just ended a relationship, and my girlfriends wasted no time in “suggesting” that I check out this Geoffrey guy. Thank goodness for pushy friends!”

Having performed at both the Neptune Theatre (A Few Good Men, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and the Charlottetown Festival (Fire, Anne of Green Gables), Geoffrey was eager to return to an east coast stage this summer. His work has taken him across the country, including multiple seasons at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Theatre Calgary and the NAC, as well as a villainous turn in the Canadian production of the international hit “War Horse”.  He is also a noted director of new Canadian plays, including two Governor-General’s Award nominees, and a classical theatre instructor at George Brown Theatre School in Toronto.

Madeleine has appeared in 9 Shakespeare productions, including five tours with Ontario’s Driftwood Theatre Group. She has also performed in four shows with Theatre Gargantua, a physical theatre company in Toronto.  She has worked extensively in children’s theatre, touring North America with Roseneath Theatre and Metaphysical Theatre. With her company Down n’ Out Productions, Madeleine produced five productions at Toronto’s Campbell House Museum, including a play she wrote about the war of 1812 which went on to tour the province. Her most recent children’s plays were commissioned by the Royal Ontario Museum.

Madeleine also loves teaching theatre to kids and teens. “With both of us working in theatre, scheduling is probably the biggest challenge we face as parents, whether in Toronto or elsewhere”, says Geoffrey.  “We’re very lucky to have a reliable network of friends in the city, as well as the world’s most committed grandparents. Our kids have spent quite a few hours in audition waiting rooms and theatre greenrooms, or hanging in parks with friends while we audition. They’re pretty familiar with the transit system already” Madeleine adds “I did two shows when they were tiny babies, and both times the companies were incredibly supportive when it came to scheduling issues, or providing space for babysitters or nursing, etc. And we love that our kids are already passionate theatregoers! So far, puppets are a MAJOR hit.”

Geoffrey reports “the kids are loving the island. They just went to their first Ceilidh and have now decided that they’re step-dancers. I’d worked here twice before (at the Charlottetown festival) but it’s Madeleine’s first time on the island, so we jumped at the opportunity to drive east. The kids are at the perfect age; at 3 and 4 they don’t mind being whisked away from friends and activities for a few months.”

“I don’t think they want to go back!” adds Madeleine. “I don’t blame them. We’re living in York, and they have so much space to run around. And they’re fascinated by the fishing boats in North Rustico. It’s been a magical summer so far.”

Both plays, “Dial M For Murder” and “A Moon For The Misbegotten” run to September 1st. Tickets can be purchased via the company’s website http://www.watermarktheatre.com or by calling 902-963-3963.

For more information, or to further interview Madeleine or Geoffrey, please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Watermark Theatre is a proud member of the PTN (Professional Theatre Network of PEI)

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