Mackenzie advances in the Sears Drama Festival
SEAN CHASE/DAILY OBSERVER Fellowes High School took home the cast ensemble and hair/make-up awards at this week's Sears Ontario Drama Festival. Here the student cast of (left to right) Jenna Sonoski, Emily Inglis, Emma March, Anna Halvorsen, Jessica Green and Sophia Quesnel act out a scene from their stage presentation of "Just Girls Talking."
With their twisty-turny interpretation of a classic Danish tale, Mackenzie Community School has punched its ticket to the next level of the Sears Ontario Drama Festival.
One of the largest and longest running secondary school student drama festivals in the world, the Upper Ottawa Valley district festival, co-ordinated by Gerald LaRonde of Fellowes High School and Alison McIvor, of Mackenzie, attracted three high school groups to compete this past Wednesday.
The event, held at Pembroke's Festival Hall, gives students the opportunity to show off their talents, creativity and passion for theatre through the presentation of an original production. Ultimately it is a celebration serving to advance quality drama and theatre in Ontario schools. According to LaRonde, while the event gives students a chance to stretch their acting legs it is done in the spirit of competition and learning.
"There is a competition attached to it but that's not what the focus is," he said. "It's for us to get together and show the best that we have to offer."
The students must put on productions between 15 and 50 minutes long. They must set up and tear down their sets and operate their own lighting and sound equipment. Each entry must consist of two or more performers engaged in interaction. LaRonde added Festival Hall is the perfect location for the festival.
"It's great to have this venue as opposed to being just in a high school because you have the full opportunity of a theatre without any of the outside distractions," he said.
LaRonde noted that drama as a subject still resonates with students, even in an age where they are distracted by so much technology. These drama clubs really have to work towards a common goal, he added.
"They are thinking more creatively and working together as a team," he explained.
This year's adjudicator was drama teacher Janet Kish, who is a former Curriculum Leader of the Arts for the renowned Claude Watson Arts Program and head of drama at Sir Oliver Mowat. Once the results were tabulated, Mackenzie Community emerged as the winner for outstanding production for their rendition of Hamlette by Allison Williams. The cast included Nataliya Korolevych, Matthew Douchant, Michael Ryland, Patrick Burton, Demi-Lee Bainbridge, Elyse Goyette, Michael Lusty-Smith, Jonathan Steele and Monacco Dunn.
Awards of Merit for acting were presented to Renfrew Collegiate Institute's Taryn Cameron, Zach Bidgood and Jesse Wilson. Awards of Merit for sound and lighting went to Mackenzie's Desi Davies and Keith Corbett, and Kayla Yoki and Liam Rodgers respectively.
The cast of Fellowes, which put on Just Girls Talking, won the Award of Excellence for ensemble acting. They were Jessica Green, Anna Halvorsen, Emma March, Sophia Quesnel, Emily Inglis and Jenna Sonoski. The cast also took home an Award of Merit for hair and make-up. Mackenzie's Jake McIvor received the Stage Management Award. Mackenzie's Zach Fogal was recognized for direction for Hamlette.
Mackenzie will be performing next week at Perth Collegiate Institute in Perth for the Eastern Regional Level of Sears. The Showcase Level (all Ontario) takes place in Hamilton in May.
Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist