Short form stage shows

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Theatregoers pining after variety and perhaps something a little less taxing on the attention span will find plenty of opportunity during the Vancouver Island One Act Play Festival, Nov. 5 to 10 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach.

“We have 12 different entries. The beautiful thing is so many of them feature original scripts,” said Peter Bendz, chairman of the festival now in its third year.

One act plays offer their own set of advantages and drawbacks but attendees can expect less in the way of elaborate sets and design. Small casts and intimate, oftentimes monologue-driven performances, are typical of a form that needs to deliver its punch quickly and with precision.

Seasoned groups from across the region will be represented by the likes of Parksville Players, Sandcastle Players, Actors at Large and Portal Players.

Emerging talent hasn’t been forgotten though. Kwalikum (KSS Players) and Ballenas (Whalebone Theatre) secondary schools will each send a contingent to try their hand in the challenging form that dates back as far as Euripides and his one act play The Cyclops.

Doug Campbell teaches drama at Ballenas and is preparing three of his students for the festival.

“This one was written and directed by the guys,” said Campbell of three male students who have prepared a one-acter entitled Hit the Road.

“They’re workshopping and rehearsing as much as they can ... it’s their first time in competition it should be interesting.”

Travis Lebid, aged 17 and in Grade 12, is one of a trio that includes Brad Statham and Bashu Naimi-Roy who co-wrote the play.

“It’s mainly about the troubles of three roommates,” said Lebid, “It’s mostly a drama ... It’s all about getting tangled up in lies.”

Lebid said he and the other two actors have been busy brainstorming on the piece for over a month now, polishing their lines and preparing for competition.

“One act is a good thing to do,” he said of the shorter form that consists of about 25 minutes of stage time. “You don’t have to have a huge story line but it’s a challenge to build the characters up.”

Over at Kwalikum Secondary, a much larger troupe is also in rehearsals. Director Sam Ries was spotted on set Tuesday leading the group through their lines. The KSS Players chose a play by Jerome McDonough entitled Dolls as their selection.

“It’s a play that has a lot of meat. It’s really intense and dramatic,” said Ries who picked up some directorial tricks during a stint as director’s assistant with Bard to Broadway.

“It’s more difficult with not so much action,” chimed in actor Samantha Edgar. “We have to be creative and get it all to flow.”

Dolls, the troupe said, is a play centred on the trials and tribulations of teenagers. It’s an unorthodox choice, with more than a dozen actors, but Ries is confident they’ll be ready when the curtain rises.

“It’s been a learning experience but everyone in the play is amazing.”

For information and tickets to the One Act Play Festival, call 752-3522.


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