Zone drama festival a cultural fix for stage junkies

Archie the thug (David Brockhurst, left), and Bevan the antiques dealer (Marinus Vesseur) discuss a scheme to swap a priceless painting with a fake in Mercury Players
Archie the thug (David Brockhurst, left), and Bevan the antiques dealer (Marinus Vesseur) discuss a scheme to swap a priceless painting with a fake in Mercury Players' comical farce The Original Cast. It's among five plays in the South Island Zone Drama Festival at Shawnigan Lake School this weekend.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland/file

Five plays in four days promises to provide stage junkies their theatre fix during this week's South Island Zone Drama Festival.

The May 15 to 19 festival — happening at Shawnigan Lake School — makes its Cowichan return after last being locally mounted at the lake's Old Hall in 1988.

This year, the zones are honed for SLS's Wilkinson Theatre, hosted by the Shawnigan Players and the Mercury Players.

The Shawnigan Players are presenting Murder In Green Meadows, while the Mercury Players mount The Original Cast.

The Last Weekend comes courtesy of the Ladysmith Little Theatre Society. The Affections Of May is being delivered by the Yellow Point Drama Group. And the Parallel Players are providing The 25-Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

To festival spokesman Alex Gallacher, the works spell a honey of a chance for folks to taste local culture — then toast it during Monday's gala awards and lunch party.

"It's an amazing opportunity to see plays back to back, in the same venue," he said touting the festival's pass deal. "Viewers also get to see adjudication by (director) Drew Kemp, and each the play's critique the morning after."

Adjudication, said Gallacher, offers "fantastic insight into each show and interpretation of the show by judges."

"It's very educational for the public, actors, and crew. For actors, it really enhances whatever their next performance is."

SIZ's winning play will be announced by Kemp on Monday. It travels to Kamloops' July provincial festival.

That's where Gallacher's plays Big Plans, and King Lear — and fellow Player Josephine Rose's The Lesson — appeared in the early '90s.

Meanwhile, the zones loan Cowichanians "local theatre performances produced by locals from local communities," said Gallacher.


2014 South Island Zone Drama Festival schedule

May 15: 8 p.m., Murder In Green Meadows by The Shawnigan Players. Coffee Critique May 16, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

May 16: 8 p.m., The Last Weekend by Ladysmith Little Theatre, Coffee Critique May 17, 9 to 11 a.m.

May 17: noon, The Original Cast by The Mercury Players, Coffee Critique May 18, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

8 p.m.: The Affections of May by Yellow Point Drama Group; Coffee Critiques May 18, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

May 18: 8 p.m., The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by Parallel Players; Coffee Critique May 19, 9 to 11 a.m.,

May 19: Gala Garden Party Luncheon, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Gala Awards Show, 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Tickets: $20 per show, $60 festival pass (except Gala luncheon/show). Gala is $20; awards show, $15. Call Cowichan Theatre box office at 250-748-7529, or sold at the door.

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