An elderly woman eagerly awaits birthday greetings only to realize it’s up to her, and her surprising friend, to make her birthday happy.
Doreen Brownstone is my dear friend and surrogate ‘Mama.’ She is 95 years old. She has starred in all three of my short films. We had so much fun making the first film, she excitedly signed on to the second, after which she pretty much insisted that we couldn’t “just do two; we have to do three.” So, I wrote therapy for Doreen.
At Doreen’s wonderful age her birthdays are a big deal in the arts community in Winnipeg. Theatres are booked and decorated, songs are written and rehearsed. She has arrived by limo. A dressing room has been named in her honour. She thoroughly enjoys the attention and fuss because it makes her feel special and loved.
When I was developing the screenplay for therapy I wanted to showcase Doreen’s acting chops. The theme of aging was on my mind (aren’t we all heading down that road if we’re lucky?). The setting of a birthday intrigued me. But what if it wasn’t a ‘happy’ birthday?
I wanted to show how happiness can be a choice, even when the circumstances may say otherwise.
About Ti Hallas
Ti spent many years working as a director, actor, playwright, general manager, stage manager and tour coordinator in theatre in British Columbia and Alberta.
She co-founded Chinook Theatre in northern British Columbia and toured plays for young people, many of which she had written or directed, to schools and communities in British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Chinook became the founding company of Canada’s first fringe theatre festival in Edmonton, of which Ti was the first general manager.
Her career took her to Ontario where she worked on stage and taught acting and voice at Laurentian University, and drama, dance and English for the Toronto District School Board.
Since returning to her hometown of Winnipeg, she taught high school drama and English, performed on stage and in numerous independent films, and works in the Manitoba film industry as actor, actors’ assistant and tutor. She served on the board of ACTRA MB for 12 years and is the CAEA ex-officio on the Board of Performing Arts Lodge, Winnipeg.
In 2012 Ti created her first short film. The Swimming Lesson, starring then 90-year-old Doreen Brownstone, was entered in the 2013 one-shot competition of ACTRA Manitoba’s Member Initiated Productions (MIP) Festival where it won the Crocus Award for most outstanding MIP single shot. It went on to screen locally at the Gimli Film Festival, was selected for the NSI Online Short Film Festival and was broadcast on CBC TV’s Short Shots.
She wrote, directed and produced her second short, Good Fortune, in 2015.
therapy is Ti’s third short film and third collaboration with her son, Stuart Paisley, who shot and edited all three films. It stars, for the third time, iconic Winnipeg actor Doreen Brownstone, who was 95 when therapy was filmed.
Ti lives in Winnipeg with her husband Laurie Urban and their fur family, Jazzmine the corgi and Meow Meow the cat.