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About the Cast

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Joanne MillerNellie Gordon, NDP backbencher

As an actor, director and writer, Joanne has extensive experience in leading theatres across Canada including the Stratford Festival, Theatre Passe Muraille, the Grand Theatre, the Globe Theatre, Persephone Theatre, the Banff Centre, Neptune Theatre, Eastern Front Theatre, the Stephenville Festival, Mulgrave Road Theatre and many others. She has produced and written radio drama and satirical commentary for CBC Radio as well as numerous plays for the stage. Her most recent play, Cradle and All, will be featured at Calgary's Lunch Box theatre.  Joanne's film credits include most recently Halo, DWB, Bernard the Magician, and Stu and Fitz Go to Hell. She is the voice of Olliver in the Gemini award-winning animated series Olliver's Adventures on Teletoon and she is a frequent performer for Plays That Work.  Joanne spends much of her time as the director of Perform!, a program which brings professional performers to classrooms throughout Nova Scotia. Joanne has been delighted to imagine herself as a member of Parliament and work with Peggy Hemsworth, Wendy Lill and Pat Martin and all of the terrific Nova Scotian actors featured in CBC's Backbencher. She lives in Halifax with her three children, two cats and her exceptionally talented husband Christopher Shore.



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Lee J. Campbell:  Herb Proctor, Tory backbencher

Lee J. lives in beautiful Portuguese Cove, Nova Scotia. To support this idyllic lifestyle, he works as an actor, director and teacher. Recent favorites include directing Sunnyside Café, acting in The Gin Game at Valley Summer Theatre, A Ship Portrait at Ship's Company and Out the Meadow for Forerunners Co-op. One of his greatest joys is turning high school students on to his great love of Shakespeare.



renault300x300.jpgLouise Renault:  Renée LeBlanc, Nellie's Admin Assistant

Louise began her professional life working backstage in theatres in Montreal and Toronto. She then began her work as an Assistant Director on over 60 film and television productions across Canada. Since 1996, Louise has found a niche in Halifax as a voice-over performer, working in both official languages on hundreds of commercials, readings, industrials, including a French marionette version of the Musicians of Bremen, where she played four animals and two humans. She has been a fill-in co-host and cultural reporter for regional shows on Radio-Canada in Halifax. Louise's experience as an Assistant Director serves her well in her work in arts administration in dance and theatre. Lately, she spends much of her time as Administrator of Dalhousie University's Department of Theatre, and continues to work as a voice-over performer. Directing credits include Dancing at Lughnasa, Thirteen Hands, and Circus Circle, a circus/theatre show involving professional and youth circus artists. While in university, Louise produced, directed and performed in her own weekly half-hour radio drama and has always had a love for this form of story telling. She has been truly enjoying the process of discovering who Renée really is in the company of such a strong cast, great production team and excellent writing. She lives in Jollimore, Nova Scotia with her husband J, their dog, and their many projects.



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Christopher Shore:  Lars Edmunds, NDP MP

Christopher is overjoyed to be working with Peggy Hemsworth, Pat Martin, Wendy Lill and the many talented Nova Scotian actors working on Backbencher. He has worked on a number of CBC Radio dramas produced out of Halifax, including In the Blood, Clean Sweep, The Road to Rankin's Point and most recently Y-Soccer. Christopher is a successful actor and writer and has appeared in many of Canada's leading theatres including Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, the Globe Theatre, Persephone Theatre, Neptune Theatre, The National Arts Centre and Eastern Front Theatre. Christopher has written for CBC Radio, the children's animated television series Olliver's Adventures, and produced numerous plays for the stage. His play Liar won a best new play award at the 2001 Robert Merritt Awards.  Christopher's film credits include Sea Wolf, Just Buried, October 1970, Trudeau II and Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion. Christopher lives in Halifax with his three children and his multi-talented wife, Joanne Miller, who plays the lead character Nellie in Backbencher.



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John Dunsworth:  Earl Higgins, Nellie's former boss


My first memory of drama at the CBC was at the old CBC studio in Halifax, between the Argyle Grill and the Neptune Theatre. I think John Douglas was directing. I'm pretty sure that wonderful Harold Porter was the sound guy. I had one line in response to the church minister's evocation, "Who will go to the gates of hell?'  And I uttered it in a half-witted sincerity, 'Me go sir, me go'.  That was my character's name too. There are no small parts.

I'm privileged to have worked with John Douglas, Elizabeth Fox, Don Allison, Bill Howell and now Peggy Hemsworth. Radio is a wonderful medium. I love the CBC.



bennett300x300.jpgNigel Bennett:  Charlie Dunn, Leader of the NDP

Nigel Bennett moved to Canada over 20 years ago and has become one of the busiest actors around. He has worked as a series regular on five Canadian-shot series (Forever Knight, Psi Factor, Lexx, At The Hotel, and The Border) and appeared in guest roles in many more. Nigel has appeared on the big screen in, among others, Murder at 1600, Narrow Margin, The Skulls and Strike! He also works widely in theatre and will be seen at the Stratford Festival in 2010. On radio, he has been featured in many episodes of the long running series IDEAS, as well as the drama series Y-Soccer. He is very pleased to be working with Wendy Lill and Peggy Hemsworth once again. His website is www.blackhatstation.com



jacob300x300.jpgJacob Robertson:  Ben Gordon, Nellie's 12-year-old son

Jacob Robertson lives in Bedford, NS with his mom, dad and three younger brothers. From an early age Jacob loved music, sports, camping and being an active and sociable kid. Jacob's acting career began with the Global hit production Are You Smarter than a Canadian 5th Grader? During that experience, Jacob discovered his passion for performing and working with directors and crews. Jacob's film credits include a lead in Darwin's Darkest Hour with PBS/National Geographic where he had the pleasure of working with Ian Cusick and Francis O'Connor. In the fall of 2009, Jacob worked with Jason Priestley on a principal role in Meet Phil Fitz for the Movie Network. Since the spring of 2009 Jacob has been working on the CBC Radio production Backbencher. Radio drama has become another passion of Jacob's!



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Deborah AllenCatherine Gordon, Nellie's mother

Deborah began her professional career over 40 years ago at Neptune Theatre in Halifax as their first apprentice. Since then she has worked as an actor, director, producer and coach. Her work as a character actor has seen her play a range of roles from the classics through farce to musical theatre around the country. She has had extensive experience on screen as well appearing in films like Snow Angels and as a recurring character on Black Harbour.

Deb has loved and been involved in radio for many years. She was the original afternoon show host for CBC Charlottetown from 1978-82 as well as frequent freelancer for CBC Maritimes. Listeners may remember her as Bonnie Marsden in the acclaimed series Clean Sweep for CBC's Mystery Project. She also keeps busy with voice-over work for commercials, film and museum installations.



genevieve300x300.jpgGeneviève Steele:  Tina Simmons, Nellie's campaign manager

Geneviève Steele was born in Montreal but has lived in Nova Scotia most of her life (with the exception of a ten-year stint in Toronto). Happy to be back on the east coast and thrilled to be involved in Wendy Lill's series Backbencher, Geneviève is no stranger to radio drama.  She has performed on Clean Sweep, Peggy Delaney, The Old Guy and Homestead, and fondly recalls reading The Candyman for CBC Radio's Between the Covers
Her theatre work includes playing Lady Macbeth (Shakespeare by the Sea), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (LunaSea) and Rita in Educating Rita (Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre). She has toured all over Canada and the U.S. with Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, as well as the CanStage production of The Overcoat. In 2009 she went to Tehran with One Light Theatre's production of The Veil.



bowles300x300.jpgCory Bowles:  Sean Higgins, Nellie's East Nova Office Assistant

Originally from Truro, NS, Cory is the principle choreographer and director of the companies Verve Mwendo and Black Rabbit Films, and has created over 40 works for the stage and film.

He has a strong passion for his cultural background, and finds his home in storytelling traditions of the African Diaspora.  Continuing to study its advancements, he frequently travels to South Africa, Mozambique, Brazil and worldwide to study afro-roots. A sought after teacher and instructor, his workshops take him throughout Canada, from northern communities, to the Banff Centre for the Arts, mentoring youth and professionals alike. He is an instructor at the Bishop's University Drama Program, and a frequent mentor and facilitator with Viewfinders International Festival for Youth, He has received a Gemini for his role of "Cory" in the hit television series Trailer Park Boys, provides the voice for the animated series Poko, and wrote and directed the award winning short film The Scavengers which has enjoyed screenings worldwide. He is currently in post-production with his next short film, the Linda Joy Media Arts
winning story, Righteous, and the development of a theatrical performance of Buck 65's celebrated album Secret House Against the World.

He is stoked to be back with CBC radio after his first run, playing the character Robbie Singh in Y Soccer. You can catch him again this summer on the same show.
 
 
 
 
Stackhouse3.jpgSusan Stackhouse:  Anna Dobchuck, NDP House leader
 
Susan Stackhouse is an actor and a voice and speech specialist.  She received her training at Dalhousie University, the National Theatre School of Canada and the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.  Susan began her career at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake and spent sixteen seasons as a member of the acting ensemble and as a voice coach. She has performed at many other theatres across Canada including the Royal Alexandra, Blyth Festival, Theatre New Brunswick, Young People's Theatre, Persephone, Kawartha, Festival Antigonish, Ship's Company and Neptune.  She has had the pleasure of being involved in several CBC radio dramas and series over the years, including The Adventures of Willie and Arthur, A Tombstone a Mile High, Vanishing Point and Clean Sweep.   Her career as an educator has afforded her opportunities to teach at George Brown College, Ryerson and NTS and since 1996 Susan has been an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at Dalhousie University.
 
 
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 Hans Böggild:  Rudy the cabbie
 
Hans Böggild is thrilled to play Rudy the cabbie in The Backbencher.  Hans has worked across Canada as a playwright, producer, director, dramaturg, story editor, teacher, and actor.  He has a BA from Dalhousie and holds an MFA in directing from the University of Alberta.  He was also Special Research Fellow in Playwriting at the Yale Drama School, one of America's leading centers for new play development.  His production of "The Satchmo' Suite", which he co-wrote with Doug Innis, has had seven runs across Canada over the last several years, including Eastern Front Theatre, The Neptune Studio, The Magnetic North Theatre Festival, The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts in Montreal, Vancouver East Cultural Centre, Western Canada Theatre, and Manitoba Theatre Centre.
 
Hans' radio plays "Black Sheep" and "A Silent Agreement", originally produced by CBC radio, have been translated and produced in Germany, Japan, Ireland, and Finland.
Thumbnail image for Thompson.jpgShelley Thompson:  Rhonda Akbari
 
Raised in Alberta, trained in the UK, Shelley Thompson is a CFA who feels very much at home in Nova Scotia. Shelley's UK work includes the West End (Me and My Girl, Rick's Bar, Casablanca) and the Royal National Theatre (After The Fall). Also leading roles in regional theatres including Ipswich and the Bristol Old Vic, and a long running TV series.
Shelley's favorite work in NS includes: Ariel-The Tempest, Viola-Twelfth Night at the Atlantic Theatre Festival, Closer- Neptune Theatre, Shakespeare Unplugged-Willpower Productions and the Globe Theatre Regina, and numerous productions for Festival Antigonish including Sexy Laundry, Grace, and Glorious. Awarded a Nova Scotia Theatre Award (Merritt) for Bob Metcalfe's 2009 FAST production, she reprised the role of Florence in Winnipeg at PTE in April 2010.
Television, radio and film have been extensive, working often for the CBC and BBC. She is Barb (Trailer Park Boys) but recently she's been most proud of Wake, a short film by Jeremy Webb.
 
 
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 David Christoffel:  Galen Cameron, Liberal MP from Cumberland Strait
 
Originally from Saskatchewan, David Christoffel brings a wide range of experience to Backbencher.  A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, he has worked in theatre, film and television across the country.  Highlights include work at the Globe Theatre (Regina), Prairie Theatre Exchange(Winnipeg), Tarragon Theatre (Toronto) and the Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake).   Most recently he has appeared in The Devil's Disciple and Disney's High School Musical at Neptune Theatre in Halifax.  Film credits include The River King, Death in Paradise, The Plain Truth and The Real Howard Spitz.
David has lent his voice to hundreds of radio commercials, as well as the radio drama series Clean Sweep for CBC Radio.


 

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Pasha Ebrahimi:  Behrouz Akbari 

Pasha Ebrahimi is a Halifax trained actor who graduated from the acting program at Dalhousie University. Currently he has been working between the Atlantic provinces and Ontario. He was fortunate enough to experience radio drama first hand during his university career at CKDU and later through science fiction satellite radio with Sonic Theatre. Pasha is happy to be back at CBC Radio as a part of this new drama series. He also performed in another CBC Radio series 'Y Soccer', which will have an encore broadcast this summer during to the FIFA World Cup Soccer Championship in July. 

 




Creative Team


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Wendy LillSeries Creator and Writer

Playwright and former parliamentarian Wendy Lill has written for radio, magazines, film and television. Her plays have been produced internationally and across Canada from coast to coast to coast. Her work has resulted in two Actra Awards, a Golden Sheaf Award (for her film Ikwe), nominations for Chalmers and Gemini awards, as well as four nominations for the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama (for The Occupation of Heather Rose, All Fall Down, Glace Bay Miners' Museum, and Corker). Chimera, a play examining the entrails of Parliament Hill, premiered in January 2007 at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. After a production of Chimera at Prairie Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg, Tom Anniko at the CBC pondered whether a radio drama series might lurk somewhere in there; something to explore the humanity within that beleaguered and much maligned institution. Our Canadian Parliament. Out of those ponderings, Backbencher was born.
 
Wendy was the Member of Parliament for Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, from 1997 until 2004.  She remains a strong advocate for persons with disabilities, the environment and Canadian culture. She has two grown up and incredible sons, Sam and Joe and lives with her partner Richard Starr, Sam and the cat Qwinner in Dartmouth.



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Dave Carley: Script Editor, Author of Episodes 5 and 7
 
Dave Carley has been politically active since the age of five, when he and his brother would tear around their neighbourhood ripping down the campaign signs of the candidates they deemed unacceptable. Disillusion with that kind of direct action eventually set in because the targeted candidate (usually the Tory) always seemed to win. Dave now observes the niceties of free speech in a western democracy, and mostly expresses his views through his writing.

A Toronto-based playwright, Dave has had his plays produced over 350 times across Canada and the United States and in many countries around the world. They include Writing with our Feet (nominated for the Governor General's Award), After You, The Edible Woman, Taking Liberties and Orchidelirium. Dave's website is www.davecarley.com
 
 
Production Crew
 
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             Pat Martin, Recording Engineer, Peggy Hemsworth, Producer, Wendy Lill, writer and Maggie Rahr, Associate Producer