Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 23, 2007
Ghost to spin tale of Catholic schools for fringe festival
Author Tony Cashman unites history, story-telling in yarn spun from Grandin School
By BILL GLEN
"Where better to find a ghost that knows all the secrets?"
Cashman attended the school in the 1930s and he still recalls the squeaking wooden stairs.
Edmonton Catholic Schools tapped Cashman in 1975 to research and write a history of the system. The result was Edmonton Catholic Schools: A Success Story published in 1977.
In 2005, the school system was creating a diverse archive, which now includes the book An Act of Faith: The Women and Men Religious of Edmonton Catholic Schools. Cashman was asked for his input and the idea of creating a live production occurred to him.
Cashman's wealth of knowledge easily fills the time span - 1888 to 2007.
The play, he says, is largely a tribute to the women and men religious who started Catholic education in the city.
"For the first 60 years, it was the black and whites who held the system together. It couldn't have operated without them," he said.
"Archbishop (Henry) O'Leary also had a great hand in keeping it together by recruiting many of the nuns and priests who kept up with the growing population. This is just another way to tell the story."
Bringing history to life is a gift that Cashman possesses. From thorough research, he deftly conveys facts with heaps of anecdotal humour. He can look at a photograph from another era and give you 1,000 humorous words as if he were the person who took the picture.
"He is such a good storyteller. It's a highly enjoyable show."
- Frank Glenfield
"The Irish wit is very quick. It zooms in and out. It's very entertaining," Cashman said.
Tim Marriott plays the ghost. A history buff himself, Marriott was thrilled with the chance to act in one of Cashman's shows.
"The ghost is the only character we see. Every small thing leads to a memory, which leads to a story," Marriott said. "In the course of the show, there are a lot of the important parts of the development of the Catholic system."
Marriott is looking forward to the musical interludes that includes a 1945 radio performance by Danny Kaye.
"Ghost Radio can pick up anything from the past," he said.
Cashman is a master storyteller, says Edmonton theatre legend Frank Glenfield, a founding member of Walterdale Playhouse.
Glenfield is directing Irish Ghost. He's had a hand in all of Cashman's shows.
"He's very factual in everything he writes, and he's getting more theatrical. His plays appeal to seniors because of the history, but also to their grandchildren because a lot of the time, the stories deal with schools they attend," Glenfield said. "His work is easily digestible."
Glenfield says the ghost will appeal to the kids.
"The ghost has a lilting Irish quality about him that describes the interesting political atmosphere that surrounded the early schools. We know it's a story and we know he's going to give us all of the details. But he is such a good storyteller. It's a highly enjoyable show."
Irish Ghost of Grandin School will run from Aug. 17 to 26 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, at 84 Avenue and 101 Street.
The Aug. 17 performance starts at 2 p.m. The remaining performances have various start times. More details are available from the Fringe Festival at 409-1910.
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