LETTER: Don’t be one of the ‘Forgotten Ones’

Whether you juggle or ride a unicycle, the Society of Versatile Entertainers refuses to let talent go to waste.

A well-deserved rest in the shade for the Versatiles. The entertainers performed at Fraser Downs during last year’s Blueberry Festival in Cloverdale.

A well-deserved rest in the shade for the Versatiles. The entertainers performed at Fraser Downs during last year’s Blueberry Festival in Cloverdale.

It’s not until you sit down at a banquet or party that the memory of some kind of entertainment performed at a convention or gathering, comes to your mind and you think, “Why don’t we have entertainment like that any more?”

What people fail to realize is that those entertainers or musicians are senior citizens now, and like you, wonder what they will do with their retirement.

In the last couple of years comments like, “I wondered what you were doing?” or “I thought you were dead,” kept cropping up when meeting performers from a few years ago.

A lot of us had to go out and get a “regular job” to feed the family. When Disco and DJs came along with all the different sounds and songs, and the fact that you didn’t have to pay for a whole band, things changed.

We all became mechanics and salesmen, or women, just to make a living. Some of us managed to keep going with the occasional “gig” but unknowingly a whole style of entertainment was being lost.

I still liked the feeling of performing in front of a live audience and so with some of my retired friends, started up a volunteer performance group called the Versatiles, and we went out and put on full variety shows and sang and danced and made people laugh as we had in the past.

Since the Versatiles were formed in 2005, we have had any number of people join and leave and come back again because of the fun we have and the joy that we see on the faces of our audiences.

Festivals, hospitals, senior residences and elementary schools have benefited and enjoyed the old style of entertainment. Our oldest member is now going on 92 years and we take anyone that is retired and over the age of 55.

Do you have music, dance or acting in your own history? Maybe you juggle or ride a unicycle. Maybe you just like working with sound and lights or costumes and props.

We need some new people for the next season of shows. (We already have four shows booked this fall). As long as you like to have fun and want to join a crazy group of people, come on down. Every Monday starting Aug. 5 at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6, at 17567 57 Avenue, at 12 p.m., come and see us, or you can e-mail Susie Francis (Hall) at prop-shop@shaw.ca to find out more about the new Society of Versatile Entertainers.

Don’t become one of the forgotten ones and let your talent go to waste. Always keep a smile on your face and people wonder what you’re getting up to, you’re only as young as your imagination.

– Susie Francis is director of the Versatiles