Thursday Night @ The 66th Annual Sears Drama 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
Anne GIlbert of Chatham-Kent City Council was the guest speaker for the evening her family has fond memories of The Sears Drama Festival and said that the years her son spent in drama at CK were some of the best times of their lives.
Never Swim Alone written by Daniel Mac Ivor, performed by Parkside High School (Hamilton-Wentworth) is a wordsmith’s masterpiece in which two men who have been friends since they were boys give us a glimpse of their minds and how they ended up staring down the barrels of each other’s guns. The play starts with the two men on opposite sides of the theatre, lights come up and startled audience members in the front row are greeted by an outstretched hand from each man, he quickly shakes hands and gives greetings then walks on stage. What a fun way to open the play it grabs our attention and pulls us in immediately. There are only three characters in the play the two men, and a girl who doubles as referee between the two but shares a more grim role in their rivalry as well. The two men walk on stage greet the audience then remove a green towel from the girl in a blue bathing suit, she springs to life and tells us in third person about the two boys and a girl on a beach by the bay, the girl challenges them to race to the point. Her words become worrying and frightening, we realize something terrible must have happened. Alex Lloyd pulls off the character of the distressed girl very well, I could feel the pain in her voice and her eyes. As the two men battle through rounds of verbal assault it slowly becomes more personal, there is some underlying problem between the two men, and it’s been there since they were boys. The girl acts as referee calling fouls and declaring a winner at the end of each round. The rounds are each basically pissing matches between buffoons, and they point out the absurdity of society in each line. I was very impressed with Scott Beedie and Sam Tomlinson’s impecable pacing and syncronization. Very good technical work and very good direction, I can feel the close knit fabric of this group.
Sophie’s Picture based on an original script by Brandon Rollo and inspired by the books: My Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson produced by FJ Brennan Catholic Highschool. Sophie’s Picture is a dramatic view of one young girls struggle to believe in humanity, Sarah a 14 year old girl wakes up in a dream world, as characters come and sit down to speak with her she expresses her frustrations with the world and we watch her break down. Some characters give her energy and hope, and eventually they convince her to stick it to “The Man”! Sarah has her final showdown with “The Man” where she puts him in his place and he sees what harm he is causing to the world. Each character is really a small piece of Sarah and she is being torn in each direction, but it’s not until that final showdown with “The Man” that she can finally come to peace in her dream and wake up to the real world. This production makes awesome use of lighting and sound, the opening track sets the mood for a short period before the lights lift and lulls the audience into a dream world. Once the lights come up they isolate Sarah and the bench she sits on, keeping the characters in the background frozen in tableau worked wonderfully to create a visually stunning backdrop and allowed characters to enter the scene quickly. Thank you, thank you thank you for using a false mirror, too many productions use real mirrors on stage, this is a big no no in the theatre world for many reasons, but mainly as not to blind your audience, so whoever was wise enough to make this choice kudos to you! Very good projection, pacing and pronunciation from all characters, I do have one note for Sarah (Miranda Lavoie) you can take the pronunciation down one notch, at times I felt taken out of the moment because there was a little too much emphasis on pronunciation careful not to talk like a book, don’t be afraid to be a just a little sloppy with your words as it creates an effect of realism. Otherwise Kudos all around for an amazing performance.
Lockdown written by Douglas Craven performed by Stamford Collegiate is a very dramatic look at a classroom during a lockdown. Since Columbine and other high profile school shootings there have been procedures put into place in schools across North America for teachers and students to follow in the event of an emergency situation. Basically students sit on the floor with the lights off and the door locked and are told to keep quiet until the coast is clear. This class is unaware if this is a drill or if there really is an intruder. The tension becomes very high once their teacher leaves the classroom and doesn’t return. It’s never entirely clear if this really is an emergency until one girl gets through to the police on her cell phone, they learn there are police outside but nobody knows what is going on. This cast was very believable and as the play goes on the audience grows more and more concerned for their safety, at one point some one bangs on the door of the class room ominously then walks away, the students begin to panic and look to each other for support. The use of a lighter that is passed around and lit by different cast members at different places on the stage signifies the passing of time, there is a line after each short montage by a various student asking how long it’s been, I think this line could be removed as it’s not necessary for the audience to know precisely how long it has been, the montage with the lighter creates a sense of time effectively enough. I didn’t quite understand the beginning when the cast came out and set the desks on their sides, I think the desks could have already been laying on their sides with cast members sitting on the floor, or alternately there could be additional scripting to allow for the audience to see the class go from normal to lockdown.
Friday April 27
A Case of the Munschies – Brantford C.I.V.S. (Brant-Haldimand)
Triangle – Westdale S.S. (Hamilton-Wentworth)
Ecole Secondair l’essor, le bourreau, st. john’s college, the escape, chatham kent secondary school, ckss, beyond tolerance, grimsby, the man who laughs, leamington, much ado about shakespeare, john mcgregor, jmss, sunnyside meadows, st jean de brebeuf, anonymous, ridgeway crystal beach, rhinoceros, rhino, cayuga, the sessification of romeo and juliet, parkside, never swim alone, FJ Brennan, Sophie’s Picture, Stamfor Collegiate, Lockdown, Brantford CIVS, a case of the munschies, wesdale, triangle, Alan Haenel, Christopher Rouse, Victor Hugo, Eugene Lonesco, Playscripts Inc., Daniel Mac Ivor, Douglas Craven, Sears Drama, Sears, The Sears Drama Festival, Drama Fest, Drama, Chatham, Regionals, 66th, 66