Wednesday Evening @ The 66th Annual Sears Drama Regional Festival
This post is also published on www.CKReview.ca
The 66th Annual Sears Drama Festival is under way and the second tier, the regional level is being held right here in Chatham at The Chatham Cultural Centre. There are 14 plays over 5 nights (Monday April 23 – Friday April 27th) Doors open at 6pm to the general public tickets are $10.00 per evening available at the box office, lobby or through CKtickets.com
Derek Robertson brought greetings from The Mayor and his fellow city councillors.”The communities that have the will to support the arts and culture are the ones that grow and prosper” explained Councillor Robertson adding that that The 67th Annual Sears Drama Festival Regionals will be held in Chatham again in 2013 and Chatham will be playing host to the 68th Annual Sears Drama Festival Provincial Showcase in 2014.
Ruth Ann Dodman a Trustee with the Lambton Kent District School Board extends her welcome to the schools who have travelled so far to participate and as well the local schools that worked so hard to make it this far, “I see a lot of team work here and that is more important than anything.”
Anonyomous performed by St Jean de Brebeuf (Hamilton-Wentworth) is a look at the life of a teenager in high school, we are greeted by a noisy cafeteria and an aside from our narrator, a young girl who has just started at a new school. This production analyzes the teen struggle mostly from her point of view. As a teen angst based script I was surprised to see so few males on the cast, there were only two male roles, one being so brief that audience members I spoke to couldn’t recall his role. He simply bumped into the new girl in the first scene then walked off stage never to be seen again. I began to wonder have these two boys mistakenly been placed in an all girls school and then left there as some strange prank? No… I’m left to assume there were issues with casting and a small number of males were interested in the production. Technically speaking this production was very well executed, sound clips were used very well to accent the ambience, careful attention was taken to used sound clips that coincided with the age and setting of the characters so before the lights lifted we knew that we were in a high school, or in one scene for example a elementary school. I would also like to commend Anne Marie Mantione for her impecable memorization, wonderful projection and pacing as the narrator and leading role.
Rhinoceros performed by Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School (Niagara) is a symbolic look at the horror of an ideology such as nazism taking over society, with the rhinoceros being the nazi. This absurd drama set in 1940s France is a very complicated script and required many cuts in order to meet the 50 minute time limit which is strictly enforced, this presented a huge challenge for this company to be able to still give the audience the full effect of a 3 act play in only one act, could they pull it off? I’m happy to say yes they did. This was my first time seeing Rhinoceros and I felt very moved by the struggle Berenger faces and his inevitable mental decline as he become the only human left. At times I had some difficulty keeping up with the pace of the dialogue, it may be something to consider for this company to cut even more material in order to slow down the pace of dialogue and let the audience savour the skills of these fine young actors, commendations to Calvin Miller for the role of Jean and his daring and wild portrayal of transformation which at one point had his pudgy body flailing about shaking all over in a Homer Simpson type jiggle which brought the crowd into a frenzy of laughter that only fat funny men like John Candy could do. As well wonderful acting from Jeremy Knapton in the role of Berenger, I truly believed he had hit himself with a hammer to try and stop the horns from growing from his forehead, his desperation and fear was very believable. I cannot finish talking about Rhinoceros without mentioning the technical aspects. To all those involved in the set, truly remarkable, a very challenging design executed creatively and effectively. This production used multiple flat panels with moving doors, as well as false pieces that break away from a door which Jean smashes during his transformation, simple awnings and furniture changes moved us from a cafe, to an office and finally Bereneger’s apartment. The sound design for this production was astounding, the audience could feel the rumble of the rhinos like they were right there in the theatre! Lighting design and operation is one thing I love to see on the program, I was heavily involved with my high school’s drama department and I spent a lot of time designing, programming and perfecting our lighting cues, I felt this company mastered the one button lighting strategy and I would certainly hope this cast and crew gives a lot of credit to Jordan Kovacs.
The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet by Cayuga Secondary School (Brant-Haldimand) is a new twist on Romeo and Juliet, it’s becoming more and more popular to take a Shakespeare play, or multiple and turn them into quirky one act play that relates to pop culture and uses more current language. This version uses the rhyming styles of Dr. Seuss and the basic story line of Romeo and Juliet, but everything has become absurd. For example Lord Capulet is now Lord Capitulate and Lord Montague is now Lord Monotone. Mercutio and Tybalt have a bumbaloon fight and in the end nobody dies! What a lighthearted version, yes it’s true, I gave it away but really nobody dies in the end. It’s quite satisfying to see a group do something that different with Romeo and Juliet. The cast of this production looked like they were having fun on stage and that is always a great sign. I enjoyed the use of light sexual innuendo as nothing left me grossed out or offended but rather intellectually humored. I did however have one point for this company, the sound levels between recorded audio and “Prologue” were out of balance, I found it difficult to hear her speaking until the recorded audio died off, her projection could be louder but the audio could also be lower. The whole cast is must be made of stone, I couldn’t see a single eyebrow twitch during tableaus and it is obvious a lot of work went into this. Lighting was used very well to create mood, just be careful not to get too dark with the reds, this is a light hearted play after all.
Thursday April 26
Never Swim Alone – Park Side Highschool (Hamilton-Wentoworth)
Sophie’s Picture -F.J. Brennan Highschool (Windsor Essex)
Lockdown – Stamford Collegiate (Niagara)
Friday April 27
A Case of the Munschies – Brantford C.I.V.S. (Brant-Haldimand)
Triangle – Westdale S.S. (Hamilton-Wentworth)