2013 Community Theatre Festival
A rich variety of original creativity—A fine success!
The theatre of the Carrefour de l’Isle-Saint-Jean was a very lively place on Saturday afternoon, April 6th, 2013. Several hundred people—some for the whole afternoon, others who dropped in for an hour of two—enjoyed a smorgasbord of six short plays in celebration of World Theatre Day. The variety was so rich, in both the style of play and nature of the performing group ... small children and seasoned elders ... cultural pageant to biting satire. A wonderful thing: five of the six pieces were original—developed by the groups themselves.
For the first time we had a play in French, and it was about the French language. In their home theatre, students of the dramatic arts program of L’école François-Buote staged “Le français—c’est moi.” It was a hoot: each character claiming to be the representative of La Francophonie ... and what a potpourri of characters—ranging from snooty Parisians to down-home, full-of-bonhomie Island farm-boy. Adjudicator Monique Lafontaine commended the amusingly iconic portrayals. Comic it was, yes, but with the good message about the breadth and strength of French language coursing through cultures around the world as well as our own Island community.
The Bonshaw Young Players are a children’s group (ages 7 to 14) who work with Ruth Lacey. “The Mystery Men - the Mystery of Joe Hardy” was scripted by youngsters Benaiah Johnson and Qwyn Scurr. The mystery was a series of thefts from the Hardy’s own house, which connected with the presumed, but unverified, death of Joe himself in a plane crash in the Amazon ... and a trap caught the surprising criminal. The audience was delighted with the comic touches, especially the car which alternately backed up and then raced forward across the front of the audience. All was eventually revealed in fine irony as super-sleuth Joe was led off to jail.
Colour would be the word which would best tell you about “Mi’kmaq Legends”. The Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors were dressed in shiny bright regalia, and the mood was set by a campfire and drum. The presentation included a haunting song, dancing, and effective flashing of lights. It was great to see a range of ages working together—adults, youth and small children. Adjudicator Wade Lynch pointed out how good stories, with good lessons-for-life, cross cultural boundaries: ‘The legend of Little Scar Face’ and ‘The Ugly Duckling’ aren’t very far apart.
ACT (a community theatre) brought back, from its ‘fairy tale’ show last month at The Guild, “Mirror Mirror”. The three sexy-looking women were, in a way, outclassed by the Mirror—the man in the fittingly termed ‘vanity’ set-piece who stepped out for his bow to reveal Superman underwear! An impressive achievement was the way two actors portrayed a succession of very different princes. There was lots of laughter in this satiric refashioning of the Sleeping Beauty tale.
“Folding Tables”—A Play a Week’s portrayal of a dysfunctional life-coaching seminar—could well have been called ‘Turning the Tables’. Over the course of 25 minutes the roles of coach and participant gradually reversed in hilarious fashion. The wonderfully effective silences between the inept facilitator (Lennie MacPherson) and his straight-faced and taciturn victim probably outweighed the amount of dialogue. Body gestures and facial expressions worked without words, and the audience was repeatedly in stitches. No one who watched will ever behave the same at any future self-improvement workshop they might attend!
The final play was “My Buddy Mark” by the duo All the World’s a Stage. It was a quasi-improv-style portrayal of a rehearsal of itself—as old-pro Bill McFadden provided commentary and led his buddy Mark McIntosh through a reflection on their past few months of working together and building a friendship. The audience was bolstered by a strong contingent connected with the Island’s Brain Injury Association, there to see their fellow-member or friend Mark take the stage. Take it he did, climaxing the afternoon with his singing of “The Impossible Dream”. The lyrics were so meaningful in this context: emotion surged, and the audience rose to give a standing ovation.
It was a fitting conclusion to an afternoon of not just engaging entertainment but also exceptional achievement for the participants. What a great springtime tapping of the creative juices running in Prince Edward Island’s community theatre landscape.
Click on ‘Gallery’ - see the photos