Some sad news from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario today:
“The Shaw Festival mourns the passing of renowned Canadian actress Goldie Semple. Ms. Semple died peacefully yesterday morning at her home after a courageous battle with cancer. She leaves behind her husband of 33 years, Lorne Kennedy, and their 14 year old daughter, Madeline. Upon making the announcement, Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell noted: “The loss of Goldie is inestimable — for both the Shaw Festival and the Canadian theatre community of which she was such a celebrated and beloved member. We are determined, however, to celebrate this extraordinary actress and woman of the theatre who combined an unequalled grace, beauty and elegance with a deep passion and, so delightful when you got to know her, a surprisingly wicked sense of humour and ultimate pragmatism. We celebrate her as a great actress, mentor, teacher, company member, friend and supporter to so many of us.” Ms. Semple was a member of The Shaw ensemble for seventeen seasons. Her love of theatre was evident on and off the stage. From her outrageous comedic turn in last season’s production of Brief Encounters to her deeply moving portrayal as Desirée in the 2008 production of A Little Night Music, her elegance in The Cassilis Engagement and fire and passion in The Magic Fire; her extraordinary range as an actor thrilled audiences time and again. Among her many acting credits at The Shaw, she will also be remembered for her heartbreaking performance in the 2001 production of Picnic and her brilliance in Coward’s Easy Virtue. Her early years at The Shaw included stellar performances in Eden End, Heartbreak House, Cavalcade, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Androcles and the Lion, Candida, The Vortex, Too True To Be Good, Camille and In Good King Charles’s Golden Days. Her work behind the scenes as a teacher and mentor touched the lives of many aspiring drama students who took part in a special summer intensive course for Queen’s University, which she taught annually at The Shaw. She also taught at a number of other Canadian academic institutions as well as New York University in the United States. An active member of each community she lived in, Ms. Semple was co-founder of the Stratford-based theatre company Foolscap and also compiled and performed programs of poetry and music for the Niagara Historical Museum. A celebrated performer across the country, Ms. Semple has graced the stages of the Canadian Stage Company and Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, the Vancouver Playhouse, Alberta Theatre Projects, and the Manitoba Theatre Centre among others. She appeared for many years on stage at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in such leading roles as Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, Kate in Taming of the Shrew, Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra and Constance in King John.” “She had a rare gift,” recalled Antoni Cimolino, general director of the Stratford Festival, where Semple first appeared in 1980. “She was luminous both on stage and in real life; a leading lady who was not only a statuesque beauty but had extraordinary warmth and intelligence. Her wit and vitality made her a delightful comedienne but her courage to reveal the truth – as when she played Constance in King John, who has lost her only son – made her utterly heart-rending. The Stratford Festival is in mourning for her loss.” (Cimolino quoted from The Star)
Details pertaining to a memorial service for Ms. Semple are yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.