In June 2022, three of Centaur’s most generous patrons agreed to match all donations to a total of $15,000 during our “10 Days to Make a Difference” campaign. Thanks to these matching gifts, this campaign raised a whopping $30,344 in vital funds for the theatre!
One of these matching gifts came from Mr. John Gallop, who ranks among Centaur’s most dedicated and enthusiastic supporters. In addition to supporting this matching gift campaign, John is also a member of Centaur’s Imagination Society and has bequeathed a gift to Centaur in his will. When we asked John why he is so passionate about supporting the theatre, this was his fascinating response:
Where does it come from, this passion for live theatre, when my adult life has been all mathematics, computers, and money management?
Going way back, there are many memories: first, the Children’s Theatre at Victoria Hall in Westmount during WWII directed by Dorothy Davis and Violet Walters. (Look it up.) And post-war, Wayne and Shuster in the British-styled Christmas Pantomimes at His Majesty’s Theatre on Guy Street. There, in the late 1940s, I saw George Bernard Shaw’s rarely performed Back to Methuselah. It starred Hollywood hunk Victor Mature, who faced the lions in those old Biblical film epics. (Look it up.)
At the same point, I was reading many of Shaw’s plays for pleasure. I still have several of the Penguin paperbacks priced at 50 cents (but the print size must have shrunk). One advantage was to absorb the extensive and interesting prologues that Shaw provided, which you don’t see in theatre programs.
But I jump ahead about ten years to my favourite theatre story. In 1957, I had just graduated from Bishop’s University and was on a six-week training course at the IBM offices in Toronto in the pioneer punched-card computer era.
It was the first year of a permanent theatre at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (after having performed for five years in a tent). The Toronto Telegram was running “Telly Tuesday Tours” to Stratford for the Festival. I jumped on board, literally: the tour included a train trip to Stratford with a complimentary Telegram on your seat, a quick stop in Brantford for a “Dale autographed rose” for the ladies, a bus to a church supper and the performance preceded by a stunning trumpet fanfare from the terrace, and finally a return train to Toronto arriving at about 2:00am.
The play was Hamlet. The star was Christopher Plummer. The total cost was $12!
That is where my ardent support of theatre and Centaur comes from, now and in my will!
Thanks to John’s generous gifts, Centaur is poised to continue providing transformative theatrical experiences for Montreal audiences for many years to come. For more information about getting involved with Centaur’s Imagination Society, click here.