BJ (Bill) Castleman

The fine arts have played a large part in Bill’s life since his early years in Texas where he studied music, wrote poetry and performed in theatre throughout his school years. At university he was an enthusiastic student of english, french and drama; earning a BA at North Texas Stae where he was also introduced to painting and music composition. He arrived in Grande Prairie in 1965 where he taught English and Economics and started a high school drama club. After a summer in the Okanagan picking fruit and listening to the Beatles, he settled in Wetaskiwin where, for the next few years he was Head of English at Wetaskiwin Composite High School and established the Troubadours, the school choir. Bill also enjoyed working with community theatre, playing parts as varied as Will Parker in Oklahoma and the King in The King and I. He directed other large productions like Oliver and Mame. After completing an honours year at the University of Western Ontario, he took a position at Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute inToronto and was soon promoted to Head of Drama and Film, building the department into a thriving and award winning program. Over the years several former students have pursued successful careers in theatre, television and film. During these years Bill turned his focus to writing and penned more than 40 plays; a couple of which found their way to television. In addition to the demands of teaching, Bill found time to be involved in amateur and semi-professional theatre ventures in Toronto. He wrote “Bloodsong:a Vampire Musical” which was performed at The Old Morgue, played George in Fairfield Theatre’s production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe” and Tobias in “A Delicate Balance” at the Old Firehall. He directed several shows for The Village Players and “West Side Story” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” for Broadway North. He retired after 40 years of teaching in 2006, moving back to Wetaskiwin to be close to family. There he served on the local Arts Council and sang in the Dulce Canto Choir. Bill moved to Champion in the spring of 2020 to enjoy a quieter lifestyle. Now in his 80s, his artistic nature has led him back to an earlier passion for the visual arts. He has a small studio - useful in the warmer months - and spends his time learning and experimenting with acrylics on canvas. He looks forward to the monthly Tim Horton’s Pop-Up at the Pioneer Club and teaches kids to play chess at the Champion Library. It’s a good life.

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