Friday January 05, 2018

Friday January 5, 2018 Full Text Transcript

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The Current Transcript for January 5, 2018

Host: Scott Simmie


Listen to the full episode


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We are going to see what meteorologists call a 'bomb'. A storm strengthens so rapidly that it almost seems like the hurricane with snow.

SCOTT SIMMIE: He is a meteorologist in the American south but the weather bomb he is describing is heading right up the Eastern seaboard right up to the Maritimes. That's where we're starting today with the latest onslaught of winter but won't let go. Then, after a high profile allegations of sexual harassment in the Canadian theatre world this week a new approach to curbing inappropriate behaviour on stage by borrowing a page from fight scenes.


I am more of a fight director and the interesting and easy crossover that that has with intimacy is that it is a very personal relationship. We all talk about sex and violence and how connected that is to the human animal.

SS: More from that intimacy director and her want to choreograph both violence and sex in half an hour. Also coming up today, examining the bones of the world's first celebrity animal: Jumbo the elephant.


VOICE 1: Jumbo was taller than he should be.

VOICE 2: Jumbo is about 20 percent taller. He's a leggy elephant for his age.

SS: A new documentary tells us the whole story of the larger than life pachyderm who entertained the world before an untimely death in small town Ontario. I'm Scott Simmie and this is the Friday edition of The Current.

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People will die in this cold snap without city's help, says homeless advocate Cathy Crowe

Guests: Harry Forestell, Cathy Crowe, Bruce Kemp, Ellen Close


VOICE 1: It sounds terrifying. Bomb cyclone. It's also called Bombogenesis.

VOICE 2: A massive winter storm called a bomb cyclone threatens to.

VOICE 3: In Georgia a place usually known for its sweltering heat. They're dealing with their first major snowfall in 30 years.

VOICE 4: It is cold but it is awesome at the same time. I am loving it.

VOICE 3: Much of the eastern U.S. has already been in a deep.

VOICE 5: These are sharks. They're sharks that have either died from cold, shock or their gills frozen as well. White Shark conservancy say they are very worried about the cold weather it's doing to the sharks that are trapped...

SS: That's right. It's been so cold in the US this winter that sharks are dying and iguanas are falling from Florida palm trees. Here in Canada Ontario and parts of Quebec are in the grip of an extreme cold weather alert. But it's the Maritimes dealing with a particularly fearsome-sounding system dubbed a 'weather bomb'. Harry Forestell is a CBC anchor in Fredericton, New Brunswick. That's where we reached him. Hello.

HARRY FORESTELL: Good morning Scott.

SS: Harry, first of all, how bad is the weather in Fredericton this morning?

HARRY FORESTELL: Well it abated a bit. It was at its worst late yesterday afternoon in through the evening. We had upwards of 25 centimetres of snow in the Fredericton area. Elsewhere in the province further north they got a lot more 43 centimetres. What was worrying everyone though was the high winds. The expectation that this wasn't just a blizzard or a snow storm but that those high winds would cause havoc as well and strip power lines, knock over power poles and cause a lot of problems for people. We do know that there are about 20,000 NB Power customers in the province now without power. Many of those will have gotten through the night without power as well. So as you're waking up and flicking the lights on nothing's happening. But the storm has moved by and it has been quite a busy 24 hours of your time.

SS: Was it as bad as people anticipated?

HARRY FORESTELL: Well you know just in the introduction there I heard the word Bombogenesis. That's a new one to me. But you know we've been talking about Bomb cyclones and weather bombs. I believe you and I are of a certain vintage scout, when back in the day we referred to these as blizzards or north easters. So not quite as colourful as the current language but it's another thing that the Maritimes hasn't seen before.

SS: Yeah Bombogenesis was it was a new one to me as well, but what is it that makes us different from other winter storms?

HARRY FORESTELL: Well the speed and the strength they think more than anything that surprised people. You know I'm not a meteorologist but I've talked to a couple in the last couple of days and they describe this weather bomb as we call it in Canada, or a bomb cyclone in The States as a 'confluence of a low pressure system moving up the coast with slightly warmer temperatures colliding with the cold air front off the coast and there is this sudden drop in central pressure that causes this rapidly even explosively developing storm'. So as I said it is effectively [unintelligible]. Some have described it as something akin to a winter hurricane, very compact, very powerful. And we certainly felt the effects of that. Nova Scotia and PEI getting hit hard as well. Last check Nova Scotia had more than 100,000 people without power. They got mostly rain and heavy heavy gusts of wind up to 110 kilometres an hour. In New Brunswick, we got the snow and some fairly strong gusts of wind up to 80 or 90 kilometres an hour.

SS: Wow. That's a lot of wind.

HARRY FORESTELL: You know they want to name all these storms that's increasingly popular. So thinking well maybe a fitting name for this storm would be would be 'jumbo' given some of the content on the show today.

SS: [Laughs] How long has it been since Fredericton has had a storm like this?

HARRY FORESTELL: Well yesterday interestingly enough was the 20th anniversary of the day of the great ice storm of 1998. I don’t know where you were at that time in 98, Scott I was broadcasting from the UK but heard lots about the damage that a storm did a devastating Eastern Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. So that was 20 years ago. Last year, New Brunswick had a serious ice storm in the what we refer to as Acadian peninsula in the north east of the province that snapped power poles like twigs and left people up there without power during a very very cold period of the point of the year - left them without power. There were substantial consequences too. When the power when the power goes out and temperatures drop as low as they did last year, people do things they probably shouldn't do like think it's a good idea to set the barbeque up in the garage and cook a meal or you know put a generator underneath a bedroom window to get some power and there are a lot of problems with their carbon monoxide poisoning. So officials in New Brunswick are always warning about that asking people to be careful. So you know this is the first big storm of the year for New Brunswick. I doubt it's the last one and we've still got a lot of winter to get through.

SS: Give me a very quick sense, at the very peak what it was like? Could you see across the street for example?

HARRY FORESTELL: Well just barely. The snow was not coming down so much is moving sideways in the teeth of that wind. It was very heavy. I look out the window at about midday yesterday and it was bumper to bumper traffic on some of the busiest streets in Fredericton. I thought 'this is crazy what are people doing?' but what they were doing was they were leaving work, leaving government offices and university campuses and private businesses and getting home as the authorities were warning them to do. And after those previous two occasions 20 years ago and even earlier last year, people here know what to do when they are told there is a serious serious storm on the way. So they listen to authorities. They got home. They got off the roads and you know by two o'clock the roads were empty completely deserted.

SS: Thanks Harry. CBC anchor Harry Forestell joined us from Fredericton, New Brunswick. In Canada's largest city this week, homeless shelters are struggling to meet the need as a deep freeze continues.


VOICE 1: There are zero beds. They don't even have a reserve bed for anybody coming in an emergency.

VOICE 2: I know that if you don't open that armoury soon people are going to start dropping.

VOICE 3: You can't be in a room during the day here. You can't rest and it is really really cold. We have is nowhere else to go. We are in the shelter. So everyone aggravated. So they were yelling at each other and screaming each other.

VOICE 4: You're on your own basically. I just walked in Lakeshore back up here. My hands were so damn cold I couldn't even move them. They will not let you back into [unintelligible].

VOICE 5: I can sleep with my jacket, and I use my shoes as pillow. We just need a place just to go inside. We just need this warm place.

SS: Those were the voices of some homeless men in Toronto struggling to find space in a shelter to escape the bitter cold. This cold stretch has homeless advocates in Toronto worried and there's been controversy over what critics say has been a delay in opening up an extra temporary shelter at an old armoury. Cathy Crowe is a long time street nurse an advocate for the homeless and a visiting professor at Ryerson University. She's with me in our Toronto studio. Hello Cathy.


SS: You have unfortunately seen this many times over the years. What are you thinking listening to those men?

CATHY CROWE: Well they're speaking the truth and I have got great concern for people's lives both in Toronto and across the country who are homeless, because city officials don't seem to understand what they actually have to do.

SS: From your sense what is the gap between the available shelter beds and the need?

CATHY CROWE: It is enormous. It's just enormous. The shelters have been full for years. If you look at last year we had two 24 hour warming centres in Toronto and now were up to seven, potentially nine, this weekend. There's easily in Toronto 600 men and women sleeping on floors, not even in real shelters, such as across the street from CBC studio at the Metro Hall building.

SS: Now Toronto's mayor John Tory called this homeless crisis unprecedented. What are we seeing this crisis?

CATHY CROWE: Well we're not seeing the senior levels of government step up to build affordable housing or put new money into shelters. We're seeing massive gentrification. So we're losing rooming house and affordable housing stock. We're seeing institutions such as jails and others as dumping people out on the street with no place for people to go and you know the cost of hydro, of food everything is so much higher that those folks that are right on the edge are on the edge in falling into homelessness.

SS: Of course the fear is the people who are out on the streets might actually die in temperatures this low. Has that happened this winter?

CATHY CROWE: I believe it has happened. Certainly there's the reported case in Winnipeg where you know now Chippendale an activist there is massively trained and mobilize to get the mayor there to open a warming centre. We did have a death in December that was an outdoor death, young man 20 years old. Yes. On Tuesday, this coming Tuesday as our monthly homeless memorial. On average, there are two homeless deaths per week some are related to cold, some are not but still dying homeless is inexcusable.

SS: On a bitterly cold night like last night, if people are sleeping outside, how did they actually survive?

CATHY CROWE: I don't know. I honestly I don't know. Coping skills and warmth. Last night the city did open one facility that looked amazing. You know had hot food. Outside I really honestly I don't know and I think there were unreported deaths that were not hearing about through the [unintelligible] and through paramedics and police.

SS: Now as a nurse maybe you could tell us what some of the greatest health risks are from being exposed to those kinds of temperatures.

CATHY CROWE: Sure. Dehydration believe it or not occurs quite frequently in the winter. Frost bite, the worsening of people's other health conditions whether it's diabetes or heart disease. The amazing Toronto volunteers that raised money to put people into hotels last week that was all over the news. One of those individuals had severe frostbite and needed medical attention. So if they hadn't been brought in who knows what would have happened. And then of course the ultimate is freezing to death.

SS: What about - I mean we sometimes we hand out meals or sleeping bags. How much does that help? Is it really a solution?

CATHY CROWE: What's the survival option. Unfortunately many cities don't really allow their community agencies to do that any longer. Believe it or not because it's considered to be enabling people to stay outside whereas I would argue it helps to build relationships. If you can offer somebody a sleeping bag and visit them again the next night or in a few hours with hot food you know you're going to be more welcome and they're going to consider more working with you and may be coming inside.

SS: You've been in touch I understand with homeless advocates in other cities and Canada. What are you hearing from them about how the homeless are coping this year?

CATHY CROWE: They're having the same problem as us and the problem is as they look to Toronto to see that we're doing the best thing and we're not. We're not any kind of role model. You know as I mentioned Winnipeg does not have a 24 hour a warming centre. They have only maybe one tenth of the number of shelters they need for others. People in Kingston have been in touch with me. They're desperately trying to figure out how to manoeuvre in and wake up their city council and their mayor to respond. You know we should be the lead in showing them that in Toronto.

SS: You've been doing this work for a long time now. How frustrated would you say you are by this situation?

CATHY CROWE: I am furious. I have been a street nurse 30 years. The ice storm you're talking about is is what propelled me into calling homelessness a national disaster 20 years ago and we can do this. We are a rich country. It's absolutely horrible to see city bureaucrats and city officials deny the basic human right to shelter, to men, women, and families with children by the way as well. So it's infuriating but the one good thing I will say is. Torontonians, and people across Canada, but Torontonians have totally stepped up on this and the swell of support to get the armoury open in trouble and to get things dealt with is huge. I haven't seen anything this large in my career.

SS: Thanks Cathy. Good luck.

CATHY CROWE: Thank you.

SS: Cathy Crowe is a long time street nurse and advocate for the homeless. She's also a visiting professor at Ryerson University. She was with me in our Toronto studio. Well the weather bomb exploding over the eastern seaboard today may be a storm for the ages but it's hardly the first. Just over a century ago in 1913 a weather bomb devastated the Great Lakes. Bruce Kemp has been investigating that storm for decades. His new book is called Weather Bomb 1913: Life and Death on the Great Lakes. And Bruce Kemp joins me from Merrickville, Ontario. Hello.

BRUCE KEMP: Good morning Scott. How are you?

SS: Fine tell me about the storm of 1913, how did it develop?

BRUCE KEMP: Well it is actually an interesting story. There were two storms. They individually were serious but not deadly. And on the morning of November 9, 1913 the two storms came together over Washington D.C. and the first storm had come from Prince Rupert across the prairies and across the Great Lakes. The second storm had come up from the Gulf Coast in the States. And the two of them conjoined over Washington and that's where the weather bomb started to fall. This particular weather dropped 31 millibars in less than 24 hours going from approximately a thousand millibars to 969. And this is a substantial drop. Then the storm itself started to move north and its stalled over London, Ontario and the centre of it was over London. And because it's an extra tropical cyclone - which is a snake or cyclone a hurricane that occurs outside the traditional or standard cycle zones - the storm winds rotate in a counter clockwise direction. So the winds coming out of this storm were coming down from the north on to Lake Huron and Lake Superior and a couple of days day later started to come from the west across Lake Erie.

SS: And in fact what why did it do the ships that were on the Great Lakes at the time?

BRUCE KEMP: It overwhelmed them. It created some substantial waves that some of the ships were literally just pounded under. The Charles S Price was always capsized. We know that because that was for a long time the only ship we could identify and locate after the storm. It's believed they James Carruthers also capsized in Lake Huron. And a number of ships were drivelled up on the shores. The Great Lakes unlike the oceans have a finite amount of space. If you're a ship captain you can't run ahead of the storm and get away from it because it is usually a rocky shore they're run upon.

SS: How many people died during the storm?

BRUCE KEMP: Okay 256 people were are reported as being lost in the ships themselves. And then the number of people onshore were under reported. My best estimate is about 20-25 people onshore. Close to 275-200 Navy people.

SS: Now you spoke in many cases, decades ago I presume, to some of the survivors of that storm. Briefly what did they tell you?

BRUCE KEMP: Well essentially the November 9th started out to be a relatively nice day. It was warm, still sunny, but as the day progressed snow developed, the wind developed and to the point where the cabal were freezing in the corners of the fields. One woman told me that when she looked out her window she saw I was chickens frozen in the yard and they looked like you know feathered flowers frozen up right in the snow. The waves were coming ashore around Sarnia, at the mouth of the St. Clair River and just completely took out dark structures. In port Huron, Michigan the waves destroyed the life boats at the lifesaving station. The U.S. life saving station. So it was pretty - it was a vicious storm.

SS: Thanks Bruce. This is a story I'd never heard of. Your book sounds absolutely fascinating. Whether Boomb 1913: Life and Death on the Great Lakes. Thanks for joining us Bruce. Bruce Kempis the author of Weather Bomb as I said Life and Death are the Great Lakes. He was in Merrickville, Ontario. The CBC News is next. Then Albert Schultz resigned yesterday from Soulpepper one of Canada's leading theatre companies. He's just the latest powerful figure in the acting world to face allegations of sexual harassment. We'll hear about a new approach that may be part of the solution. Choreographing sex scenes the same way that actors choreograph fight scenes. I'm Scott Simmie and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.

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SS: Hello I'm Scott Simmie and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.

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SS: Still to come. More than a century after his untimely death in a small Ontario town, Jumbo the elephant remains larger than life. The original animal superstar captivated circus audiences in the 19th century. Now a new documentary is separating fact from legend. In half an hour we'll hear from the filmmaker behind Jumbo: The Life of an Elephant Superstar. But first, pulling back the curtains on sexual harassment in the theatre.

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SS: It's a story that's rocked the Canadian art scene this week and continued our social reckoning with sexual harassment. Four female actors have filed civil lawsuits against one of Canada's leading theatre companies, Soulpepper edits founding artistic director Albert Schultz. The actors allege they were subjected to unwanted sexual touching and harassment by Mr. Schultz. None of the accusations has been proven in court and Mr. Schultz says he'll defend himself vehemently. Anna Maria Tremonti spoke with two of the complainants yesterday, Kristin Booth and Patricia Fagan. In that conversation Kristin described an incident with Albert Schultz who directed her during a 2005 production of Olympia, and a warning her description contains sexual content which some listeners might find distressing.


KRISTIN BOOTH: We were on stage. We were rehearsing and we were coming up on our opening night. And my co-star was the lovely Stuart Hughes. Albert directed me to lay back on a chaise lounge enticing Stu, that Stu was to come to me and starting at my ankles rub his hands up my legs, up my thighs, up my hips, up my abdomen then up to my breasts. Once he reached to the sides of my breasts he was to stop himself because in the context of the play he wasn't going to give in to his desire. And Stu did as he was directed. Albert was not satisfied with Stu's interpretation of his direction. So Albert jumped on stage and said that he would demonstrate to Stu how or how a man should touch a woman to get the audience wet.

AMT: That's what he said?

KRISTIN BOOTH: Yes that is what he said. And then he proceeded to rub his hands up my body from my ankles to my breasts and he was like 'there that's how it's done'.

AMT: How did you react to that?

KRISTIN BOOTH: I did as I was told.

AMT: How did you react in that internally?

KRISTIN BOOTH: I was angry. I felt it was a deliberate attempt to cop a feel.

SS: That was actress Kristin Booth yesterday on The Current. You can visit our Web site or the CBC Radio app to hear Anna Maria's full conversation with Kristin booth and Patricia Fagan. In the wake of the four lawsuits, Albert Schultz resigned yesterday from the theatre company. Of course these allegations are just the latest to be levelled by female actors against men in positions of power in the acting world. And now there's a burgeoning movement aiming to hold top performers from sexual misconduct on the stage in the set. It's called 'intimacy direction'. The idea behind it is to treat sex scenes as fights scenes, breaking them down step by step so everyone involved knows exactly what's going to happen. Siobhan Richardson is an intimacy director in Toronto and co-founder of Intimacy Directors International. In 2011 she was the fight director on Soulpepper's production of White Biting Dog. But she also helped direct the sex scene in the play at the request of the lead actor. The Current's John Chipman sat in on a training session Siobhan Richardson held with eight actors in Toronto this week.


SIOBHAN RICHARDSON: [To trainees] So folks if you try to find a partner and stand opposite them. So come on over. [To John] My name is Siobhan Richardson. I'm an intimacy director as well as a fight director and an actor. [To trainees] Now I am going to give you a little bit of circumstances. You are in love with the person in front of you. You need them in your lives, desperately. You just need them so badly. [To John] Personally, I started as a folk director and several years ago I was in a scene where I was kissing somebody and I started giggling like a 12 year old. I was like 'How do I not have a process for this? Why am I so off my base when all I am doing is pressing my lips to somebody else's lips?' And that's for me when I recognise that I really needed a process for this work. [To trainees] Eye contact with your partner and three two one. Go [To John] I was able to take a look at my fight directing process and my process of choreographing those kinds of scenes and saw how it's a very similar kind of process. And the interesting and easy crossover that that has with intimacy is that it's very similar in that it's a very personal relationship. We always talk about sex and violence and how instinctive that is and how connected that is to the human animal. [To trainees] Now you happened to be seeing each other at a party. This is finally the moment you're going to talk to her. [To John] Sometimes my job as an actor is to commit. So we commit and we don't always have an awareness of how we're overstepping other people's boundaries, and we are still don't always know how we're overstepping our own boundaries. So it's helping people have a process to understand where do I say no and what what else is left as a yes. [To trainees] Yes that is what we are doing is asking for consent. 'May I place my hand on your shoulder?' .

Trainee: You may.

SIOBHAN RICHARDSON: Thank you. And then my partner will ask back.

Trainee: May I put my finger on your elbow.

SIOBHAN RICHARDSON: Yes you may. Cool. And remember that saying 'no' is totally allowed. Listening to your internal monitor that is saying 'yes' or 'no'. So I'd say 'May I put my elbow on the nipple?'

Trainee: No.

SIOBHAN RICHARDSON: [To John] If the actors are simply working off their own impulses every night, sometimes a movement can change and if it changes every night then suddenly someone is surprised. So let's say that a hand has been choreographed to go around somebodies waist. But one of the actors kind of changes their mind written some night and they go 'oh I feel a bit different. I'm going to actually grab their bottom.' Then suddenly the actor who's bottom is being grabbed maybe surprised into that and they're actually thrown out of their flow as an actor. If it happens once sometimes it's maybe someone slips and they grab someone accidentally and then starts a conversation that happens 'hey the choreography was different tonight and that's kind of weird,' if it happens again and again and someone is choosing to change the choreography, not only is it unprofessional behaviour because we're changing the choreography but also that's when it borders into assault. That's want to borders into non-consensual touch.

Trainee: May I put my elbow on the top of your head?


Trainee: May I place my hand on your clavicle.

Trainee 1: You may place your hand on your shoulder blade?

Trainee: You may.

SIOBHAN RICHARDSON: [To John] So we tag in and tag out which is a way for all sorts of parts of your psychology to go 'This is the beginning of this work and then this is the end of this work' because it really helps with the psychological self-care to make sure that I know when I'm in my character's context and when I'm in my real life context. It's a really clear way for us to go 'Work-time, play-time, life-time'. [To trainees] Has anyone said 'No’.

Trainee: Yes.

SIOBHAN RICHARDSON: Alright great. So let's gather again well. How was that. How was it like to say 'No'?

Trainee: I felt almost apologetic, I'm sorry but no but it is kind of I wanted to tell myself I shouldn't be sorry. Just say 'No'.

SIOBHAN RICHARDSON: [To John] I'm not saying that people have always intentionally assaulting people on stage and some people very much want to work in that really alive physical place. When you have the agreement to do that, that's fine but if that's not what you've agreed to, then that's not part of the work. And again we're not saying that people have been terrible monsters in all cases before this. We are simply saying there hasn't been a process and there hasn't been an acknowledgement of choreography for these scenes can be set so that it's emotionally reliable. The audience is getting the same story every night and the actors can stay really connected to the story that they're telling.

SS: That was intimacy director Siobhan Richardson working with a group of actors in Toronto this week. Ellen Close is the artistic director of Downstage Theatre in Calgary which hosted Siobhan Richardson for two days the intimacy direction workshops last fall. Ellen Close is in our Calgary studio. Hello.


SS: Why was Downstage Theatre interested in hosting intimacy direction workshops?

ELLEN CLOSE: Well I heard about their skill set the year before and was really interested in introducing it to professionals in our community. I felt like it connected really well with conversations that were happening around consent and boundaries and how do you negotiate these things in a theatrical context. Given that the work that we do is quite unique and unusual and can pose these specific challenges.

SS: I understand that Gillian Keeley, well respected theatre director in Stratford, brought in an intimacy director for one of her own plays. So tell us what that said to you?

ELLEN CLOSE: I think it's such a great useful example for other practitioners to look at Gil and see she's a really confident and gifted director and yet she saw the opportunity to bring in someone with an even worse specific skill set than hers to deal with the particular challenges of that play The [unintelligible] which had an overtly sexual content and that bringing in someone with the skill set of an intimacy director and both help with the level of comfort in the room. It sounded like for Gillian and also the performers but also led to clearer and more powerful storytelling. And I think it's really helpful when having this conversation with artists about why we might want to bring this skill set into our rooms, to look at it from both angles that we are trying to prevent harassment or things that border on assault from happening. And we're also looking to make the work stronger that we can actually take more artistic risks, break more boundaries, do better storytelling if we're approaching the work from a safer and more thoughtful way.

SS: Can you tell us how sensitive scenes are normally handled when an intimacy director is not on the scene?

ELLEN CLOSE: Well it ranges and I've certainly witnessed and experienced what Siobhan referenced that it can be almost like an improvisation and the feeling is that you know if you're both adults you are both professionals and so you can kind of make it up as you go along. But that can lead to a situation that feels really blurry, in a bunch of ways and in terms of the overlap of your own personal lives and what’s happening onstage. You kind of miss an opportunity to make clear that when consent is given for something to happen in rehearsal that consent is not then implied for other situations. It does not mean that kind of touch or those kinds of words are appropriate offstage or in the hallway or when you are having a drink after the show. And there also is I've heard of many instances where even when choreography is generally set that choreography can change during the performance, in a way that's really hard to broach as a performer if you haven't been really clear about what's supposed to be happening. It gets a lot blurrier to go like 'I feel like this has changed and you're touching me in ways that I didn't expect but maybe that's okay maybe that's part of the artistic process'. And so what I love about this approach to intimacy direction is that you're getting super specific about where people's hands are going, with the level of intensity, how long things last. And then as Siobhan referenced you then have the opportunity if things shift to to say 'Okay is that a momentary - is that an accident? Is that a slip? Or is this something where we need to go back and re rehearse the choreography to make sure it's really clear.

SS: Right and you sort of touched on it right there. But you know maybe you could expand on the benefits that you see from treating intimate scenes with that same sort of precise step by step choreography that might be used in it in a fight scene.

ELLEN CLOSE: Yes I am so excited about the work. So when I took the workshop I realised that there are even more benefits than I had anticipated. There's some obvious benefits in making sure that the performers are comfortable with what they're doing. This makes the work more sustainable for them because you know you might be performing over a couple of weeks or a couple of months. And so if a performer is being asked to do something that they're really not comfortable with that's that's crossing a boundary from them, that takes a physical and psychological toll over the run of a show and can hurt the work. It's so useful to compare this to fight choreography because when you do a fight onstage it's not real. And there's that same sense in in scenes of intimacy that of course as performers we want to to go to risky places and dig deep but if we're doing something that's actually psychologically damaging to us, it hurts our ability to do the work in the long term. And then it also makes the storytelling really clear. This was so exciting in the workshop to see very little scenes that that performers were devising and just the level of nuance in the story telling of someone making a physical offer and the other person you know excepting that maybe hesitantly and then with more enthusiasm. Like there's these beautiful moments of nuance. Sometimes when I've seen intimacy that's more improvised it's you know, it's a little bit messy. It's generic it's. They kiss or they have sex and it's and we're kind of missing an opportunity of you know learning about these characters and their relationship and the power between them and the history between them. And so I'm really excited to see the way it elevates our ability to tell really great stories onstage as well.

SS: Tell me about the so-called grey area that can develop when actors really are given explicit directions during sensitive scenes.

ELLEN CLOSE: Often it's interesting because I think like if you're in the exercise it can be a little awkward at first to actually ask for consent, to say 'Can I touch your shoulder'. It feels silly because we're not used to practising asking and when we're not used to practising saying 'no' unapologetically. But when we don't ask it can lead actually to a hesitancy or an immaturity in the realm of not wanting actually to say out loud what it is that you're rehearsing. Maybe no one has said out loud like 'is it okay if my tongue is in your mouth when we're kissing?' And so if that's never negotiate it and it's never clear, the scene might start off one way and then as you get more comfortable in rehearsal it feels like the intensity of the scene changes. All of a sudden there's a time in a case that can be really surprising and like you said like really blurry and really grey, is this other character in the scene putting their tongue in your mouth? Or is that the other actor harassing you or misinterpreting the relationship feeling like they now have permission to behave romantically with you offstage?

SS: Sure. And in fact in their in their conversation yesterday with Anna Maria the actors talked about you know the actors need to push artistic boundaries as a justification that some men will use to behave inappropriately. What's your view on that?

ELLEN CLOSE: Yes absolutely even the way that actors are trained, 'No' is a dirty word. You want to be the person who never says 'No'. You know it's an improv tenant to always say yes and to move the scene forward but there's also the sense in scripted works that if you're a really good actor you're open to anything. You're going to risk anything. And so a moment of saying 'no' in a rehearsal can feel like you're creating a conflict with the director, the other actors and often I think of performers in the back of your head is 'is saying 'no' in this small moment actually a 'no' to future work? Is this the the moment where I say I don't really like being touched on my neck actually the moment were I am saying I don't expect to ever work here again?'

SS: I mean it really sounds so much like the parallel with the Hollywood issue. I'm curious how prevalent you feel this might be in Canadian theatre culture.

ELLEN CLOSE: I think the hesitancy to say 'no' is really prevalent and then it's very difficult, especially for young performers or artists because it's not just performers. But even for much more established performers, we've been trained to conflate like our ability to risk and say and do anything with the quality of our work. And so I think this is a really important moment to start to disentangle this and to really understand what is artistic risk and how perhaps is that more possible when we create rooms where it is safe to say 'no' and where 'yes's are then enthusiastic 'yes's and informed 'yes's and saying 'yes' to actions that are that are ultimately sustainable for performers.

SS: Do you think there might also be situations where there are some real actors and directors who actually and truly just don't realise how their behaviour may be affecting their colleagues?

ELLEN CLOSE: Oh yes absolutely. And I think that's a really exciting element of this work to do to make that kind of thing overt because I think we currently work in a way where it's so easy for misunderstandings to happen as well as deliberate crossing of boundaries or abuse. And so I think you know even to get practiced to saying it out loud 'can I touch your shoulder?' 'yes' or 'no'. 'No' without apology 'no' without having to give a reason. I think as we practice that and kind of push through the discomfort of that feeling a bit foreign to our way of working out those misunderstandings will also really decrease.

SS: Now Intimacy direction addresses conduct sort of on stage. How do you handle situations offstage or off set when actors are at work but not necessarily performing or rehearsing?

ELLEN CLOSE: Yes. I mean that is a separate issue. Definitely a lot of those questions came up in the workshop that Siobhan hosted for us because it can even be hard to pull those things apart of what's happening in rehearsal and what's happening offstage. Where I think this approach helps as it is quite overt about that consent is contextual and so it's not appropriate, although it is common, to kind of feel like 'well if I'm touching you with this way on stage then that's okay offstage' or 'if I'm calling you this derogatory word onstage then it's okay to say that jokingly in the hall'. So one element would be saying quite overtly in rehearsal that that the consent is given just for that context and actually being quite clear that that's not okay to continue outside of the rehearsal context. And then there are other - you know it's a whole other big challenge but in terms of what are the standards of conduct that each Theatre Company has and our professional associations have that should also govern behaviour that happens off stage.

SS: Do you think that intimacy direction in fact would work well in film and television? And what's your view on how likely it is to be adopted more widely?

ELLEN CLOSE: Yes I got a great appetite to adopt it here in Calgary which is really exciting and certainly we have more interest for the workshops then and are able to accommodate. My experience isn't really in film and TV but I do know that it is applicable, that part of Siobhan practice is also doing this work for this screen and that ACTRA which is the professional association for actors in film and television - They're much more specific in their agreements about nudity in particular but also kissing and intimacy than we are in our theatre agreements. And so I think we can actually use it because it may seem there are some practices in film and TV that we can apply to our theatre reckons well in terms of being quite specific and overt about when intimacy is expected. Even talking with different theatre companies in Calgary about whether we can be on more overt in our audition cards so that actors really clearly know that when they're applying to audition for a role if an intimacy or nudity is expected. [Unintelligible] is already clear around nudity, but there's this whole shades of other forms of intimacy that sometimes are not really clearly outlined in the job calling. That way performers can also make an informed choice about whether that's a role that they're interested in first place.

SS: Ellen, this is a fascinating topic, a very timely topic and thanks so much for joining us today.

ELLEN CLOSE: Oh thank you so much for having me on.

SS: Ellen Close is the artistic director of Downstage Theatre in Calgary which hosted two days of intimacy direction workshops last fall. She was in our Calgary studio. Coming up in our next half hour a look at the world's first animal superstar. Ladies and gentlemen: Jumbo The Elephant. And there is no doubt he was a star in P.T. Barnum circus in the 19th century. And former Ontario politician Steve Peters has a piece of him, a piece of the elephant's tusk to be precise. When jumbo died tragically after being hit by a train in St. Thomas, Ontario. Barnum heard the animal scuffed by a taxidermist named Henry Ward. Here's former St. Thomas, Ontario mayor and self-proclaimed Jumbo maniac Steve Peters talking about how the tusk came to be part of his jumbo memorabilia collection.


In the circumstances surrounding Jumbo's death one of his tusks was badly destroyed and they actually had to use a replacement tusk on the final melted Jumbo. Barnum being ever the entrepreneur encouraged Ward to have small slices of Jumbo's tusk made and turned into these commemorative slices that talked about Jumbo the king of the elephants. There is about five of these that I can find that are known in the world. Most of them are in private collections. This wonder turned up in an interesting auction in Toronto about seven years ago. I was able to fortunate acquire it at the auction sale to have it as part of my collection as well too but I am working with the Ogden County Museum. This is on permanent loan to the Ogden County Museum carrying using it so that people can come to St. Thomas, come visit Jumbo the monument. They can go out and see the Ogden County Museum and this task is on permanent display there. So it's nice to actually be able to physically see a piece of Jumbo.

SS: I'll talk to Christine Nielsen the writer/director of a new documentary called Jumbo: The Life of an Elephant Superstar. And we'll look at what scientists are finding out about Jumbo now and the conspiracy theories around his death. Yes we are going big on Jumbo in our next half hour. I'm Scott Simmie and this is the Friday edition of The Current.

[Music: Circus music]

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Jumbo the Elephant: The life and mysterious death of the world's first animal superstar

Guest: Christine Nielson

SS: Hi I'm Scott Simmie and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.


VOICE 1: If you could read something on, what would it be?

VOCIE 2: A lion, an elephant, or a giant. 10 feet tall

VVOICE 1: Girls, I think I have an idea.


VOICE 1: Imagine a place where people can say things they've never seen before. This venture is rather bizarre. People are fascinated by the unusual and the macabre.

SS: P.T. Barnum the legendary 19th century circus owner is still pulling in the crowds. That's a depiction of him in a new movie called The Greatest Showman. In a circus filled with big stars. P.T. Barnum's biggest in both size and as well none other than Jumbo the elephant. The Showman described him as the biggest elephant in the world which may or may not have been true. But the crowds around him certainly were huge. The elephants arrival in New York in 1882 drew 10,000 people, the largest gathering the city had ever seen at the time, but behind the spectacle of Jumbo the elephant was a tragic life ending with a tragic death in St. Thomas, Ontario. Writer director Christine Nielsen explorers Jumbo's story and new science is telling us about who's life in the documentary Jumbo The Life of an Elephant Superstar. It will air on CBS's The Nature of Things this Sunday. And Christine Nielsen joins me in our Toronto studio. Hello.


SS: So tell us who was Jumbo the elephant?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Jumbo was the most famous animal the world had ever seen. In fact to this day there probably has never been an animal that achieved greater celebrity on two continents in Europe and in North America. He was the world's first animal superstar.

SS: And what was it that made him such a big star?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Well you have to you have to sort of break Jumbo's life down into phases to really understand that. He arrived in London Zoo as a calf. And even in Europe, well in the whole Western world, most people had never laid eyes on an African elephant. So when Jumbo arrived in London Zoo people flocked to see him by the thousands a week. Queen Victoria's children rode on his back, a young Theodore Roosevelt rode on horseback. He was big. He was an African elephant not an Asian elephant which people were a bit more familiar with, and that was really the start of it.

SS: Now Jumbo obviously wasn't born in the UK, came from Africa. How did you wind up in the West?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: It's believed that Jumbo was captured by hunters and they killed his mother in order to capture the calf because a calf was easier to transport. Zoos in Europe were - It was an area where they were trying to get all kinds of exotic animals as a draw because people were not familiar with animals from Africa and Asia at the time. So transporting a calf was obviously considered easier than trying to get a grown elephant to Europe. So hunters killed his mother and took Jumbo on a very long journey to Europe via the Paris zoo. He was then sold to the London Zoo where he spent the better part of 20 years before he came to America and became an even bigger superstar.

SS: Wow! What we know about his life at the London Zoo?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Well we know that he was very loved by the public. We also know that he had an incredible relationship with his keeper, a man called Matthew Scott. Matthew Scott was an odd duck. He was a loner. He didn't really like human beings, didn't get along with them but he loved animals and he truly loved jumbo. And it's believed that they had their own secret language, their own way of communicating. In the 16 years that Matthew Scott worked at London Zoo, he only took five days off. If you think about that you realize this is a man who was committed to his charge, Jumbo.

SS: No kidding. Well what do we know about how Jumbo behaved in captivity?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Well this is one of the interesting things that we set out to find out in our film. Jumbo was an angel by day and keep in mind he was he was surrounded by throngs, children climbing on his back sometimes up to a dozen at a time, sometimes adults riding on his back, people feeding him sticky buns. Matthew Scott says he occasionally fed whiskey and beer. And yet by day he was this absolutely wonderful gentle giant. At night was a different story. He had terrible rages. At two different phases in the 60s and then again - in 1860s and then again in the late 1870s, rages so bad that he destroyed his elephant house. He destroyed his own tusks. He bashed his head into the bars and into the walls which was obviously terrifying for Matthew Scott and the others who cared for Jumbo because you have to remember nobody knew much about elephants in that area. So they were worried what if something starts to happen in the daytime when he is surrounded by crowds of children. So those night rages which were unexplained at the time but we set out to try to understand better in this film - those night rages set Jumbo's life on a very different course and ultimately it's why he ended up in America.

SS: And what did you learn in your research about what may have contributed to these rages?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: There were a number of theories from different scientists. It's been believed by many that the rages were caused by Jumbo approaching sexual maturity and something called must which is basically when its hormones are raging and he you know wants to find a mate. That theory was pretty much discounted by the scientists in our documentary. One of the most compelling things we learned was from Professor Karen McComb at the University of Sussex and she has done exhaustive studies of elephant behaviour and cognition with sophisticated playback experiments. What she postulates is that jumbo may actually have been suffering from something very akin to PTSD in humans for a couple of reasons. But the main one being if he had watched his mother die he quite possibly was suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress syndrome which manifested itself more at night when he was alone. It was dark and he didn't have the distractions of people during the daytime.

SS: And what about captivity itself, the fact that this is an animal that at one point was presumably roaming the Savannah and now it's in a fairly small enclosure at night?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Absolutely. We visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust just outside Nairobi, Kenya. It is the world's foremost elephant orphanage where they take young elephants very much like Jumbo. They rehabilitate them. They give them all kinds of love and affection and care and then return them to the wild. And the people at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust said there's absolutely no doubt that an elephant kept in a cage is going to have psychological problems that it's not the way they were meant to be. Jumbo would have had a generic memory. You know if he didn't specifically remember his young years he certainly would have had a genetic memory for what life should be like.

SS: Now as you touched on your crew visited a sanctuary for orphaned elephants in Kenya where they met an orphan baby elephant named Moussiera. Here Edwin Lucicci and Angela Sheldrick of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust describing the state Moussiera was when he arrived and what he needed when he got to the sanctuary.


EDWIN: Very skinny, very thin and very weak, a sign that he has been without a mother for quite some time.

ANGELA: This kind of Tactile nurturing that they get from their elephant keepers is everything because they need to have a will to live again. You know they've lost everything that's dear to them.

SS: Jumbo was also an orphan. Tell us what we know about the death of a parent means to a male baby elephant in particular

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Yes there's been a lot of work done on female elephants. Not as much on male elephants so that was one of the other interesting things about this documentary, it was focusing on young males. And what we learned from the people at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is that young males are even more needy of their mothers then females. They are bigger so they need to suckle more. They need to suckle more frequently but they're also they're also bigger babies in a way. They're kind of momma's boys. So losing their mothers is - well it's obviously traumatic for any young elephant but it's especially traumatic for a young male. So at the Sheldrick Wildlife trust they put all their efforts in to substituting the love of the mother and the nurturing of the mother with the love of the keepers and also young female elephants. So Moussiera bonded with a young female elephant but that sort of became his mother.

SS: Something jumbled didn't really have.

CHRISTINE NIELSON: That is exactly right. And what what Moussiera - the orphaned elephant gets at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is just in such sharp contrast to what Jumbo didn't get.

SS: What have scientists discovered more broadly about the effects of trauma on elephants?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: They've certainly discovered that it can pass down through generations. So for example Karen McComb - Professor Karen McComb from the University of Sussex - studied two herds of elephants. One that is a protected herd in Kenya another in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa where the elephants as young had witnessed their parents and elders being culled. And the difference in those herds, not just the elephants that witnessed it, but their offspring. The difference in how they respond to outside threats is remarkably different and it demonstrates that elephants can suffer a trauma for generations.

SS: Now as we continue following the thread of Jumbo's life, how did you end up leaving the UK and winding up in Barnum's Circus?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Well it goes back to those terrifying night rages that he was having. They started in the 1860s a few years after he had arrived in London Zoo. Then calm down through the 1870s. But approaching the end of that decade the night rages started again and by now he was a really big elephant. So now it was truly terrifying when he was bashing around in his stall at night. So the people who owned Jumbo at London Zoo decided basically they had to get rid of him. And around that time the circus impresario P.T. Barnum realized that a big male African elephant could augment his collection, if you will, and potentially draw even the biggest crowds ever. So he bought Jumbo and Jumbo was shipped to America but not without a lot of trouble. Jumbo for a considerable period of time refused to get into the crate that was supposed to go on the ship to America. And there's a lot of people who believe that he and Matthew Scott were kind of colluding a bit on that and communicating but maybe they should try to delay this as long as possible.

SS: Now this documentary is also part of the detective story, almost part of a forensic examination. Now you worked with scientists who got access to Jumbo's bones and even his preserved tail. What did the scientists find out about Jumbo's health and the effects of captivity?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Right. So we brought scientists into the Brooklyn Army Terminal which is where Jumbo's bones have been stored. That's where the American Museum of Natural History who owns his bones where they keep specimens that are not on display. So those bones came out of storage for the first time in decades. And we brought in DNA scientists, an isotope scientist, paleo pathologist, a large mammal specialist and they all studied Jumbo's bones in different ways to try and answer a number of questions and a number of mysteries that have swirled since his death. One was how big was he really because P.T. Barnum claimed he was the biggest elephant that ever lived. How close was that to reality? Did Jumbo's suffer from tuberculosis? And also did Jumbo die accidentally or was somebody involved in his death?

SS: Here are John Hutchinson professor of evolutionary biomechanics at the Royal Veterinary College in London and Richard Thomas paleo pathologist at the University of Leicester. They were very excited to get to study Jumbo but also dismayed by what they found.


JOHN HUTCHINSON: I've dissected elephants. I've seen them inside and out, worked with live ones. I feel I know a lot about elephants but I've never seen an elephant like Jumbo. It is truly extraordinary.

RICHARD THOMAS: What is immediately striking is just the deformity that we see in Jumbo's teeth. It is like nothing I've seen in any other elephant. Elephant teeth shouldn't be almost oblong in shape. They are sort of rectangular in shape. This tooth on this side is really really curved in this direction and the teeth on the other side is curved but in the opposing direction. This is a huge and significant deformity.

SS: Now Christine tell us what Jumbo's bones and tail like?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Well it was I think what John and Richard were most alarmed by, in addition to those deformed teeth that you just heard Richard talking about. The other thing that they were very alarmed by was the amount of new bone growth on various parts of his skeleton. So his knees and his ankles on his front legs but also in his pelvic area and around his hip bone there were masses of new bone growth which initially really puzzled them. But ultimately the conclusion was that Jumbo was constantly trying to regenerate his own bones which were being damaged by the way he was kept at a combination of factors. The fact that he was chained, the fact that he was kept on hard surfaces and very clearly from the damage that was discovered in his pelvis this new bone growth carrying all these people on his back in this carrier or howdah as it was called in its day. And probably before he really - I mean not that an elephant ever should be carrying people on his back but he probably started very young which would have precipitated the damage.

SS: So P.T. Barnum claimed that Jumbo was the biggest elephant on the planet, was he?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: All right. Well P.T. Barnum did have a gift for hyperbole. However in this case he may not have been far off. As Richard Thomas and John Hutchinson the scientists discovered when they measured Jumbo's bones what they do is they take measurements of his femur which is the largest bone in the body. And from that they can make calculations and determine precisely how tall Jumbo was. And he was 3.2 Meters tall which made him very tall for his age. He was 24 years old when he died. Elephants grow until about age 40 and John and Richard the scientists think that he would have been an extraordinarily large elephant, had he grown for his entire lifetime.

SS: Now there are some conspiracy theories around Jumbo's death in 1885. Just tell us how did jumbo die.

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Well Jumbo died in St. Thomas, Ontario. In those days the circus crisscrossed North America by train. St. Thomas was the perfect place for a circus because many rail lines converged in St. Thomas in that day. Jumbo and the other animals had finished their performances for the night and they were being taken back to their boxcars to head to the next location. And suddenly as Jumbo and a small elephant called Tomthung were being led to their box car. A train came roaring down the track and it was a collision course for jumbo. He was hit and mortally wounded. He died within minutes.

SS: What are the conspiracy theories? It seems odd that someone might not see a train approaching and be able to get an elephant out of the way.

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Well there had been a lot of rumors circulating prior to Jumbo's death that he was that he was dying, because he would get ill and then he would recover. He would get ill and then he would recover. The most common theory was that he had tuberculosis. And tuberculosis and a dying elephant would have been very bad for business and even in that day there were animal rights activists who were after P.T. Barnum for how he was treating his circus animals. So there was a theory that circulated after Jumbo's death that perhaps the death had been staged because that would create a big moment that that impresario could make use of as opposed to an elephant slowly dying in public view.

SS: What have scientists been able to figure out about some of these conspiracy theories?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Well we got bone samples sent to the world famous ancient DNA lab at McMaster University where they studied the bone samples to determine whether or not Jumbo in fact had tuberculosis. Because if he had to close it then the conspiracy theory you know potentially holds more water. If he did not have tuberculosis, well, that takes us in another direction. I probably shouldn't give away what the answer is but I will say that it took months to get an answer. And the tuberculosis is very difficult to detect in DNA analysis because there are many other substances naturally occurring in the environment that can present as tuberculosis. So it was a real mystery and it was really exciting.

SS: Just briefly there was one thing that struck me when I had a chance to screen the documentary and that was the scene of Jumbo's death and the scene between his trainer and the elephant. Perhaps you could just tell us briefly about that?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Yes. It actually gets me a little emotional even have I've seen that scene alive. I wrote the script. I know this story very well by now. I watched the show through again last night in preparation for today's interview and the scene still just gets me. Jumbo was lying beside the track. It took him some minutes to die. His keeper Matthew Scott stood there and stroked his head and reportedly he wept like a baby. There is a lithograph of him standing over jumbo weeping like a baby as this great beast died.

SS: Now Jumbo is still almost mythical in St. Thomas, the city where he died on those train tracks. He's so famous. There is a giant monument to him which was erected on the 100th anniversary of his death. We visited Steve Peters a former mayor of St. Thomas and a former Ontario MPP as well as a self-described Jumbo maniac. Here he is describing his collection of Jumbo memorabilia.


I've been collecting things since I was a little kid and one of the first things that I started to collect were items relating to Jumbo or the elephant. And I am asked here - it's a small part of my collection. It also demonstrates I think in many ways how Jumbo has been utilized from an advertising perspective in so many different products, whether it's Jumbo beverages, Jumbo ginger beer, Jumbo cigars, Jumbo popcorn, Jumbo peanut butter. One of my favorites is this bottle here which is this is Dr. Peter's double Jumbo turpentine. My favourite item is a letter that was written December 14, 1881. It's written to the head of a London zoo Abraham D. Bartlet. And in it is in Barnum's pen. Barnum writes that "our agent Warner writes that your elephant is so nervous it would be impossible to get him to New York. This may be correct but I don't like the word impossible. I fancy that with care, watchfulness, kind treatment we can land him in New York." And land him in New York they did to tremendous crowds. This was a really exciting piece for me to acquire to actually have in Barnum's hand the letter that he wrote to the London Zoo seeing if they would inquire to sell Jumbo in a real cherished piece. For me it's I'm trying to do my part to keep that story alive and to make sure that we remember the past but we can learn for the future too, and you know remember some of the challenging lives in the tragic lies that orphans led in circuses and zoos over the years. But you know we're learning that they should be left in the wild. We shouldn't be doing this to animals like that.

SS: Christine Nielsen if you were to sum it up briefly why is Jumbo still important both in St. Thomas and beyond?

CHRISTINE NIELSON: Well I think the fact that he was such a huge celebrity. He was the world's first first animal superstar. I think that's the main reason. But Jumbo also had a remarkable personality. In fact one of the scientist said to us after studying all of us and after realizing you know what hardships he had in his life, the scientist said 'I actually think Jumbo was a saint.' And so I think it's mainly because he had been made famous in the London Zoo. P.T. Barnum made him even more famous. So obviously when he comes to St. Thomas the whole town comes out. There are descendants of those people who saw Jumbo in real life who still live in St. Thomas but also it's just the story has so much pathos. It's just impossible not to love it.

SS: A legend. Christine thanks so much for coming in.


SS: Christine Nielsen is the writer and director of the documentary Jumbo: The Life of an Elephant Superstar. She was in our Toronto studio. The documentary airs on CBC's The Nature of Things this Sunday January 7th at 8 p.m. 8:30 in Newfoundland and parts of Labrador. And that's our program for today. Stay tuned to Radio 1 for Q. Acclaimed actor Lesley Manvill will talk about starring alongside Daniel Day Lewis in his final film Phantom Thread. And remember you can always take The Current with you to go on the CBC Radio app that lets you browse through past episodes of our show or search for stories you missed and start listening in just a few seconds on your smartphone or tablet. And hey it's free from the App Store or Google Play. Finally today, after our discussion about the weather bomb and deep freeze that's been affecting much of the country this winter. Let's go out on some heartwarming music. Robert Thiessen of Oak Lake Manitoba posted this performance to his Facebook page last weekend. A cover of Toto's Africa performed with his brother in law Joe who hails from Zambia. It's been given some suitably wintry Canadian lyrics and a bit like the flu, it's been going viral. I'm Scott Simmie. Thanks for listening to the Friday edition of The Current.


Hear my house cracking in the night.

Frost's is building up on my doorway and in my windows.

And it is 50 with the wind-chill tonight.

See it's colder here that in the South or even the North Pole.

I am stirring crazy but I can't go outside.

I try but all my doors are frozen shut.

It is going to take a lot to break me away from you.

There is nothing that a 100 man or more can ever do.

I must have froze my brain up in Canada.

Otherwise why would I live up here and think it is fine.


I remember when it was just a boy.

I got this cold one time and school was out.

It drove my poor mom crazy.

She sent my brother and I outside to play.

I guess they needed just a little bit of solitary company.

My brother to meet a metal pole.

He said when it gets cold it makes it taste just like frosted candy.

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