Dewdney gets its act together for regionals
Arts: Local theatre group prepares three plays for annual festival
Wednesday, Mar 07, 2018 06:00 am
Okotoks’ local talent is at it again.
Dewdney Players Group Theatre is putting itself up against some tough competition in the Foothills Zone Regional One Act Play Festival next month with three thought-provoking plays.
Cast and crew will warm up with performances in Okotoks March 8-10 and March 15-17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rotary Performing Arts Centre. The Dewdney players will then head to High River for the regional festival on March 22-24, which will feature one-act plays by six Foothills theatre groups.
Okotoks actor Stephen Buoninsegni, who has half a dozen best actor awards under his belt, is challenging himself this year with the monologue Alien Boy, directed by Florence Maione.
“It’s basically a coming out and a coming of age story of a 13-year old boy as recounted by his adult self,” Buoninsegni said. “It’s pretty impactful because it deals with pretty heavy subject matter. It’s bigger than the idea of homosexuality, it’s learning to find that self-acceptance.”
Alien Boy has a message Buoninsegni believes will resonate with everyone.
“We all go through our own personal struggles, our own personal demons, and I think because of that, regardless of whether it’s homosexuality or whatever, I think the bigger message is something we all as humanity at some point go through and maybe continually go through in our lives,” he said.
Although Alien Boy is still in the development stages, Buoninsegni sees great potential with the combination of sound and lighting in this play.
“You don’t often find that in a monologue piece but this is one of those that allows for a lot of creativity from the technical end,” he said. “The next couple of weeks are really critical because you want to be able to seamlessly combine all of these elements without having it look like it’s sloppily put together. It’s all got to work in a smooth manner so that it looks good.”
As for the acting component, Buoninsegni may be alone on the stage for 40 minutes, but he said he’s not on his own.
“I really rely on the director and technician to really guide me as to what is the most appropriate choices for the character,” he said. “We talk about costumes, props and set and how that will work with the movement and the blocking so all of that also becomes important so it really is the complete package.”
Another regional one act festival award-winner, playwright Reg Gothard, has something special hatched up for this year’s festival.
Gothard, aka Kelvin D. Hatch, wrote the 35-minute comedy The Thespian Fantasy, where a local television station hosts a debate about a town that supports arts and culture to the detriment and almost total exclusion of physical recreation and sports.
“The fictional town has had several studies done to see whether it required any dedicated sports facilities but it’s found that there wasn’t any need,” he said. “The town used to be a mining town and the mining industry crashed. To stop the local economy from collapsing completely they came up with changing the town into a culture destination and made a ton of money. They have all these great theatres and studios, meanwhile the local hockey team is having to flood and freeze the school gymnasium floor.”
The debate occurs between the mastermind behind the town’s transformation and an out-of-towner wanting to bring soccer to the community, explained Gothard.
He was inspired by Okotoks, with its state-of-the-art sports facilities, which stand in contrast to a refurbished church used for the performing arts and transformed train station for the visual arts.
“I’ve been involved in three studies now revolving around culture inventories and cultural infrastructure needs and each one of them has gone precisely nowhere in my opinion,” he said. “We are in the midst of doing one again based on the population cap having been removed. Meanwhile, we’ve had the Pason Arena built and then twinned and the swimming pool double.”
Gothard said he sought approval from the theatre group board before writing the play. Although he received approval, he said the decision wasn’t unanimous.
“I hope everyone looks upon this as a healthy way of getting a conversation going,” he said. “I would like people to talk about the inequality between those two camps.”
Actors are Logan Coutts, Shamir Ladhani, Mark Huott, Dayna Coles and Jennifer Pegg.
“They are doing a fantastic job,” said Gothard. “They are really bringing the play to life – the emotions are there the power is there.”
In the 15-minute play You Never Say a Scottish Play, written by Gary Pederson and directed by Mark Huott, three experienced actors attempt to explain the superstition behind Shakespeare’s play Macbeth to new actors while awaiting auditions. The cast includes Ladhani, Huott, Coles, Coutts and Pegg.
Dewdney one act festival director, Joanne Lobb, said while she’s confident about this year’s round of plays, she never knows what to expect in terms of awards.
“With 16 different plays it’s going to be interesting,” she said. “I think Reg’s could win again and Stephen is phenomenal, but I don’t know what we’re up against. Dewdney usually places well with its original scripts.”
Bringing the plays to the stage in Okotoks not only prepares for regionals, but promotes the performing arts locally, said Lobb.
“We do this for fun, we do it for the community and we want the community to enjoy it,” she said. “If we can go on and perform these at the provincial level it’s great exposure for the actors.”
To purchase tickets for Okotoks’ performances go to www.dewdneyplayers.com or call 403-938-3204.