When you walk up to the grand white house at 1983 Fairfield Road, you’d never imagine what’s inside. Besides the two bedrooms, a sunken salon-style sitting room and sunny den, this house also boasts an incredibly intimate 40-plus+ seat theatre with tiered, plush seating (taken from Langham Court after its recent renovation), an office for puppeteer and owner Tim Gosley and a backstage dressing room.
Over the last year and a half that Gosley and partner Petra Kixmöller have owned this house, called Merlin’s Sun Home Theatre, it has played host to numerous private house concerts, theatre and puppetry workshops for children and adults and Gosley and Kixmöller’s own performances.
The couple returned to Victoria from Quebec with their two children, ages 11 and 15, when the opportunity came around to purchase the house from original owner, Romany Miller.
“To return to Victoria after 30 years and live in a house with a theatre around the corner from where I grew up — in my hood as they now call it — it’s a dream,” says Gosley, who did nine years as Basil Bear on Canadian Sesame Street, and also worked on The Muppets and Fraggle Rock.
After a shift in television production meant less room for puppetry and more cash being spent on computer animation, Gosley was left wondering what to do next.
“I had a great career through the ’80s and ’90s and even into the 2000s, but I was left at the top of my skills with nowhere to go,” says Gosley.
He decided to reconnect with old friends in Victoria, notably Clayton Jevne of Theatre Inconnu and Jan Ross curator of the Emily Carr house (which his father, Jerry Gosley helped save), did a few shows at the theatre and decided to move home.
“It was like coming to a new town, but with a foundation,” he says.
Although Gosley and Kixmöller open the theatre for concerts, it is still a private home.
“This isn’t a professional venue,” says Gosley, “But it sure feels like one.”
People interested in catching a house concert at Merlin’s Sun should send an email asking for an invitation. Each show has a suggested donation for admission, which is collected at the door. People are asked to bike or walk if possible or park away from the theatre and walk.
“We really try to be considerate of our neighbours,” says Gosley. “Although sometimes I think the music is so good I’d like to open the fire exit and share.”
The space is also his workshop and laboratory. Gosley has built some massive puppets in the space, which has 11-foot ceilings and a 16-foot stage.
“The proportions of this room are magnificent,” says Gosley.
Local musician, music promoter and founder of the Vancouver Island Music Awards James Kasper met Gosley a couple years ago and has wanted to perform at Merlin’s Sun since he heard about the space.
“I used to work as a recreation programmer in Fernwood and one of my ideas was to put on the largest puppet shows ever and someone mentioned Gosley’s name. I didn’t know how to reach him so I left it, but shortly after I got an email from him asking if he could get involved,” says Kasper.
It wasn’t long before Kasper was volunteering at Merlin’s Sun, working the door and using his skills as a promoter to help spread the word about the unique performance space.
Now he’s using it to launch his first official music video.
“I want to help bring the venue to light and help more people see it,” says Kasper.
Kasper will be joined by Kitchener’s Mike Alviano, and Ladysmith’s Ryan McMahon for a triple bill. Gosley will also be providing projected visuals for the performance. M
For an invitation to Merlin’s Sun Home Theatre, email firstname.lastname@example.org.