If theatre is big on your radar, you won’t want to miss Theatre BC’s North Island Zone Drama Festival at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach from May 17 to 24.
ECHO Players is hosting the event that will see six community theatre groups presenting an exciting mix of outstanding performances.
With the usual mix of tragedy, comedy and classical works the festival offers a theatrical feast for all audiences.
The North Island Zone is one of eleven that operate under the umbrella of Theatre BC and all zones are holding spring festivals that include an awards ceremony.
Awards will be handed out in several categories such as best performance by an actor, best direction, best lighting and best play.
The best production from each zone will then compete at the Theatre BC Mainstage Festival being held in Kamloops in July.
Fran Gebhard who teaches drama at the University of Victoria is this year’s adjudicator. The accomplished actress and director will provide a public adjudication following each performance and a private in-depth coffee critique for the cast and crew.
Alistair McVey, president of Echo Players said Gebhard is well known in for her professionalism and the audience will get to hear her feedback at the end of each play. He said the next morning the cast and crew will get even more pointers from her.
“She will go through the entire play and give insight into how we did. We are not professionals but we want to be as good as we can and her critiques are part of the festival.”
Rose Knabb, festival chairperson said they are especially excited about having an entry from Vanier Secondary School’s the flying Squirrel Productions which is an insightful and brutally honest look at the cause and effects of homophobia in Canadian high schools.
It is based on interviews with high school students and on their real life experiences and it is a collaboration by the community Justice Centre and the Head of Drama for Vanier. The story is told using the actual words woven through one student’s journey. It was developed in 2011 following a series of high profile and nationally reported teenage suicides resulting from bullying and homophobic abuse.
On opening night May 17 Echo Players will be presenting Mrs. Reynolds and the Ruffian, a play about a troubled juvenile delinquent who ends up befriending a little old lady after he vandalizes her garden. Two stereotypical generations are locked in battle but eventually a friendship grows as the tale unfolds on stage. McVey admits their play is a challenging drama and is not for everyone.
“The subject is tough. It has adult content and strong language. It deals with disaffected youth … kids from broken homes and poor circumstances and festival dramas don’t attract big crowds,” he explained. He said although their current production is not appealing to some theatre-goers, people have thanked them for putting on the play because they want the full range of theatre presentations.
The following other plays will be presented:
May 18 – Sticks and Stones and Names May Break Me by Flying Squirrel Productions from Comox
May 19 – God of Carnage presented by the Nanaimo Theatre Group
May 21 – On Golden Pond presented by the Courtenay Little Theatre
May 22 – Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean by the Portal Players Dramatic Society from Port Alberni
May 23 – Over the River and Through the Woods by the River City Players from Campbell River
May 24 – Awards celebration at the Thalassa Restaurant at the Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Course 6:30 p.m. dinner awards 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available from the Village Theatre Box Office or by phone, 250-752-3522. For information on box office hours visit www.echoplayers.ca.