The nuances of Canadian theatre will be on full display next week at Theatre B.C.’s Fraser Valley Zone Festival at Coast Capital Playhouse (home of the White Rock Players Club).
Hosted by Surrey Little Theatre, eight different performances will take over the venue May 21-27, and each was written by a Canadian playwright.
That requirement was set this year to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, and festival chairman Mike Busswood – SLT president – says the festival will provide a great opportunity for local theatre fans to experience the Canadian style.
Busswood, while admitting a personal bias toward Surrey’s own entry, said the overall lineup of shows this year is “fascinating.”
The week will be kicked off by Offtopic Theatre’s presentation The Life History of the African Elephant by Clem Martini, which will be followed by Unity 1918 by Kevin Kerr, presented by COPSA.
Surrey Little Theatre will present Homechild by Joan McLeod (May 22), followed by Emerald Pig’s presentation of The Little Years by John Mighton.
Sunday through Thursday performances include Stage 43’s Bingo! by Daniel MacIvor (May 23); Chilliwack Players’ The Romeo Initiative (May 24); Opening Nite Theatre’s presentation How It Works by MacIvor (May 25); ending with Langley Players’ The Grandkid by John Lazarus (May 26).
Closing ceremonies are to take place on May 27, with the winner of the festival to be selected by well-experienced professional, Fran Gebhard, who will also be presenting awards for standout leading and supporting performances and technical work, as well as ‘adjudicator’s choice’ awards at her own discretion.
Gebhard, who has had a 30-year career acting in film and television, currently teaches theatre at the University of Victoria.
Adding further motivation for performers to impress the adjudicator, the winning play will move on to the provincial festival in Vernon this June and July with a chance of being chosen best in B.C.
Asked if the pressure of having a judge in the audience makes any difference to the quality of each performance, Busswood said “it depends.”
“There’s different kinds of pressure, it’s what you make of it,” he said, adding that everybody is a volunteer and the audience – by and large – will be seasoned playgoers.
“It’s a very friendly audience, these people want you to succeed.
“Nobody wants to see you bomb, which unfortunately still occurs, it’s amateur.”
Coast Capital Playhouse is located at 1532 Johnston Rd.
Matinee (12 p.m.) and evening (8 p.m.) tickets are on sale for $20, and can be purchased online (www.whiterockplayers.ca) or by calling 604-536-7535.
Festival passes range from $54 to $128.