Illuminating Conversations in Barrie lets people share their stories

By Susan Doolan, Special to QMI Agency
Listen in on a conversation with some of the most interesting people in Barrie, Simcoe County and beyond. The first of four ‘Illuminating Conversations’, the brainchild of Beth Foster and Lin Wilson, will begin Monday.“It’s meeting a different niche in the city (for) people who are intellectually curious, engaged in current events and kind of interested in stories of people who accomplish a lot,” said Foster, who will be interviewing each guest in a conversation on stage at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts over the next several months. “My guess is the audience may be surprised.”The first conversation features Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, a former high school dropout who is currently serving as Vice Provost at Lakehead University, Aboriginal Initiatives. The former Barrie resident – her daughter still lives here – makes her home these days in Thunder Bay.

The idea for ‘Illuminating Conversations’ emerged out of a special evening event for Talk is Free Theatre patrons where Foster interviewed the local theatre company’s artistic producer.

“I interviewed Arkady (Spivak) to talk about the next season and his reflections on this season and his reflections on theatre in general in the Mady Centre,” Foster recalled. “It seemed to be really well received and people found it informative and entertaining. Lin, who was in the audience, said it would be a good idea to do with other people in the community.”

The series also includes Robyn Doolittle, an investigative reporter with The Globe and Mail who wrote a book called Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story – she appears Dec. 1. Willard Kinzie, who has led an interesting life full of adventure and was also Barrie’s first mayor is featured Feb. 2, 2015 and Dr. Brad Dibble, a cardiologist, author and environmentalist, who documented the link between cardiovascular problems and the changing environment and wrote about in his book

‘Comprehending the Climate Crisis: Everything You Need to Know About Global Warming and How to Stop It’ wraps up the series on May 25.

Foster and Wilson chose people they would like to hear about if they were in the audience and their criteria included: someone who had impacted the community in a positive way, someone who had achieved what others have not, someone who would be missed if they were not here, someone who had a bit of a public persona and someone who could generate an audience. They also wanted people with a range of interests and ages.

The interviews will include a mix of their professional and personal lives.

“One of the things that surprised us the most was how many we came up with on the short list; about 50 people who had done quite extraordinary things,” said Foster.

Foster has had a long-time interest in theatre. She has served on TIFT’s board of directors for a number of years and prior to it the Gryphon Theatre board. She recently retired from Bear Creek Secondary School where she was an arts leader, drama teacher and improv coach. After she retired in January 2014, she became a Wedding Celebrant – to perform marriage ceremonies for people outside of a church setting.

Each of the people being interviewed have donated their time to be there. As such, tickets are nominal $15. All performances take place at the Mady Centre at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available through the TIFT box office at 705-792-1949, or the Mady Centre at 705-739-4228. For information, visit

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