Some local productions took home awards at the Vancouver Island One Act Play Festival last weekend and theatre goers were treated to five quick and diverse hits of drama and comedy at the Village Theater in Qualicum Beach and the Whalebone Theatre at Ballenas Secondary School in Parksville.
Adjudicator Peter Wienold from Port Alberni who is well known in the theatre both with Portal Players and Theatre B.C. provided excellent feedback to the amateur actors, directors and playwrights who took part in the seventh annual festival.
Haughty Towers, which got an honorable mention for Best Original Script was one of the of the five plays presented. The ECHO Players comedy was inspired by the BBC series Fawlty Towers and was written by Mike Andrews who has been with ECHO Players for two years.
He said he was pleased with the recognition he received for his original script considering it was the first play he had ever written.
“The cast and crew did a great job and the adjudicator’s comments were positive,” he said and added, “I achieved what I was hoping to do and I have started to write another play.”
Andrews said he wrote the play as a full length production but condensed it for the festival and now he will bring it back to its original form and present it as a two act play.
He said at 45 minutes in length it is too long for a one act play but he thinks it will be a hit if it is presented in two acts. He admitted he has already had a request from the Gabriola Players and another group in Duncan, who are interested in performing the play.
He said the response from the audience to the play on Sunday was excellent and he can’t say enough about how the cast performed, particularly Bev Birchard who played two roles in the performance.
Birchard’s husband passed away on Sun., Oct. 30 the same day the play was being presented at the Seniors Centre in Parksville. Birchard had to be replaced for that performance but Andrews said she decided to perform for the festival on Nov. 6 to honour her husband.
The one act play festival is a good way to encourage first time directors to get their feet wet and Doug Toombs, who is one of the founders of the festival, said it provides new and experienced writers, directors and actors an opportunity to showcase their talent.
He said the juror discussed how each play could be improved making it a learning experience for all involved.
The festival, which ran on Nov. 4, 5 and 6, featured five community theatre groups competing for bragging rights and trophies.
Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role went to Janet Dol and Brenda Jemmeson for their performances in Haughty Towers, while Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role was awarded to George Marshall for his role as plumber Igor Budski and William Browne in Haughty Towers.
Andrews said Dol and Jemmeson were hilarious together and the juror recognized that he couldn’t hand out only one trophy in the category because the two had to play off each other.
Dori McGarrigle. who directed Haughty Towers. received an Honorable Mention for her directorial work.
Best Ensemble was awarded to Kwalicum Players for their production of the comedy Her Majesty the King while the Whalebone Theatre group got an Honorable Mention for their ensemble in Something I’m Not.
Best Play was awarded to the Dramarama group out of Nanaimo for their comedy Chaos And The Cosmos. The play also took home awards for Best Director: Jesse M. Cooper; Best Original Script: Graham Roebuc, Best Female Actor in a Lead Role: Amber Lochead, and Best Male Actor In a Leading Role: Geoffrey Moddle.