Orenstein, Joan, 1923-2009

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Orenstein, Joan, 1923-2009

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Joan Orenstein was an accomplished Canadian stage and film actor. She was born Joan Travell on 4 December 1923 in London, England, and studied sociology at the London School of Economics during World War Two. She emigrated to North America in the late 1940s after meeting her Canadian-born husband Henry Orenstein. They moved to New York for two years, where he studied painting, she worked for the economist Karl Polanyi, and together they helped to register voters for the civil rights movement. After moving to Toronto she worked with the United Jewish Peoples Order and sang with the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir. In the mid fifties, when Henry's work brought them to Halifax, which would remain their home, Joan began writing for radio and television while raising their five daughters. She began acting in her forties, and had leading roles on major stages across Canada, including Centuar Theatre, Montreal; National Arts Centre, Ottawa; Tarragon Theatre, Toronto; Belfry Theatre, Victoria; Theatre Calgary; the Shaw Festival; and the Manitoba Theatre Centre; and, primarily, Neptune Theatre, Halifax. She also acted for radio, television and film, winning an Atlantic Canada Award and Genie for her work in The Hanging Garden (1997) and an Atlantic Canada Award for The Event (2003). The youngest of her daughters, Sarah Orenstein, was also an actor, appearing with her mother in Mrs Klein and Song of this Place at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. Joan Orenstein died on 10 October 2009.


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