a bio au gratin
Before reading gather the following ingredients:
2lbs fresh cod fillets
Chuck was born on a farm* in Norton, Suffolk, UK. on February 24th, 1965. His memories of his first two years in England appear as scratchy clips from an old standard 8 camera – vague pictures of feeding deer through a chain-link fence in Weybridge, watching John Lennon's Rolls Royce drive past, train spotting...
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
...and not being allowed in his Granddad's Bentley**. He realized early on that he had an older brother whom he called Witchid. It wasn't too long before he realized he had a younger brother, Mycoow, whom, he couldn't help but notice, had an enormous head.
Lightly grease a casserole dish and let the margarine melt (in a pot large enough for the milk and flour) over medium heat.
The projector grinds on, the yellowed silent film of Chuck's childhood is spliced ...
Exterior. Day. The deck of a passenger liner crossing the Atlantic to Canada. 1967. Passengers lounge on the deck. Mummy sits in a deck chair holding Mycoow. The camera pans the deck. Children run past laughing. One of whom, our hero, Charlie, stops and looks oddly into the lens. A girl runs up behind him and deliberately pushes him over.***
Toronto, 1969. This is when Chuck (known then as Charles) started to become aware of what was going on. Witchid, however, wasn't and demonstrated this by riding his tricycle into a parked police car. Mycoow also had a brush with the law – he was sure he would get arrested for telling a policeman that his horse wasn't black but blue.
Don't let the margarine burn! Add the milk – good, now the flour – stir often until it thickens.
Chuck was almost seven**** when his family moved to Newfoundland and on a beach in New Melbourne, Trinity Bay, he found a segment of whale vertebrae and an orca tooth which he has never parted with. Eighteen months later in '74, Chuck's family moved to St. John's and his little sister Grace, was born, and within a year she was calling Richard “Witchid”, Michael “Wickle” and Charles (who was being called “Chuck” at school) “Cuck” (which provided much amusement when we thought she said something slightly different).
The cod should be done. So should the sauce. Mix the two in the greased casserole dish with some onion. Grate the cheese. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Put it in the oven for about half an hour.
Chuck started his acting career in '75 portraying the Fairy Godmother in a Holy Cross School production of Rumplestiltskin. His costume, thrown together at the last minute, consisted of a tiara, a wand, and his mother's see-through nightie. The race car undies were an added bonus. It was at Holy Cross Elementary (an all boys school) where Chuck discovered acting. He played various roles in several annual musical productions, but after he played the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz in 1978 and there was no turning back.
That same year Chuck won his first paying gig playing Town Crier/Sailor in The Sleeping Beauty, Festival '78. He continued acting with various amateur theatre companies and performed parts in several CBC Radio plays and began playing the clarinet.
It was around this time he discovered that he could fart tunes by squeezing the palms of his hands together. He took singing lessons and sang in several church choirs (usually at churches where his father, John, was the organist). At the end of Grade 8, bored with playing the clarinet, he taught himself the bassoon and joined the Gower Youth Band. In High School a scheduling issue forced him to choose between Acting or Bassoon.
Feed the cat, put out the garbage or load laundry.
By the time University rolled around Chuck didn't have a clue what to do with his life. He wandered around Memorial studying History, Geography, Russian, German, English (several times) but not Math. He spent a year in Music as a Voice major and hated it. He sat in on a rehearsal of William Witcherly's The Country Wife directed by the late Michael Cook. They needed a Sir Jasper Fidget. Chuck auditioned and was given the part on the spot. Michael and Chuck became great friends and it was Michael who convinced Chuck to audition for the National Theatre School of Canada.
Immediately after graduating, Chuck and his two NTS roommates, Michael O'Brien and David James Young along with good buddy Sanders Whiting, travelled across Canada doing the Fringe Festival circuit in the smash hit The Last Temptation of Christopher Robin, receiving rave reviews everywhere they played.
Chuck has adjudicated school drama festivals and given workshops in theatre all over the island of Newfoundland and in several places in Labrador. He has taught English 3350 (Acting for the stage) at Memorial University of Newfoundland on numerous occasions, and regularly gives master classes at schools in St. John's.
Chuck's highly successful Sheila Na Geira hit the stage in '97 (Click here for more info). In '98 Chuck went to Toronto to play Ben Gunn in Young Peoples Theatre's production of Treasure Island. In '99 Chuck was the Artistic Director of Ferryland's Southern Shore Folk Arts Festival and the Placentia Area Theatre d'Heritage. He gave up both jobs when he moved to Ottawa in '01 where he found employment at the National Arts Centre. Marti Maraden (Artistic Director, NAC), who had seen his Ben Gunn, hired him for the NAC's productions of Love's Labour's Lost and The Winter's Tale. He became a regular visitor to schools where he gave workshops and classes as part of the NAC's Outreach Program. Chuck performed in several plays in Ottawa, most notably Third Wall Theatre's production of Greek, directed by Kevin Orr, which won the Ottawa Critics Circle Award for Best Professional Production in Ottawa '05. Chuck moved to Newfoundland with his lovely wife, Nina, and in the winter of '06 he returned to Ottawa briefly to remount Greek for Montreal's Repercussion Theatre. This time the play won the first annual Rideau Award for Best Professional Production in Ottawa.
The fall of '07 saw Chuck assume the helm and adapt the children's book Borrowed Black for the stage for RCA Theatre. In the summer of '08 Chuck returned to Rising Tide Theatre's Season's In The Bight after a 15 year absence where he acted in three plays, most notably Jody Richardson's King of Broadway in which he played 18 characters.
Chuck currently lives in St. John's where he works as a freelance actor, director, playwright, voice-over artist, mask-maker and theatrical educator.
He is very happily married to his wife Nina, and has two incredibly wonderful sons, Luke and Ben.
Open the oven! Your Cod au Gratin is ready!
*This might explain the symptoms of mad cow disease he often exhibits.
Manor Farm, Thurston, Suffolk, UK, 1973. Richard, Michael and Charles are finally allowed in Granddad's 1953 Bentley S3News