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Wednesday, 06 May 2015 15:54

Swift Current drama students performing at provincial festival after regional success

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Drama students from Swift Current Comprehensive High School (SCCHS) will showcase their talents on the provincial stage this week after their recent success at the regional drama festival.

They will perform the comedy The 9 worst breakups of all time by U.S. playwright Ian McWethy at the Saskatchewan Drama Association (SDA) Provincial Festival, which takes place at the University of Regina from May 7-9.
The students presented this comedy at the recent SDA Region 3 Drama Festival in Swift Current, which was hosted by SCCHS on April 17 and 18.
SCCHS Drama staged three plays at the regional drama festival and won best overall production with this comedy. Students presented an encore performance of The 9 worst breakups of all time at the school  April 30 as part of their preparation for the provincial festival.
SCCHS drama teacher Stefan Rumpel said the success of the production came as a bit of a surprise.
“We did not expect to do quite as well as we did,” he mentioned. “We went into this production thinking we would use it as an opportunity to get a lot of kids involved and a lot of new kids involved.”
The cast and crew for this play therefore include quite a few Grade 9 students. This production was seen as a building and learning experience for the younger students when it was presented at the regional festival.
“It just happened to come together really, really well and the kids really stepped up,” he said. “So they kind of ran away with it a little bit.”
The comedy won a number of other awards at the regional festival, including best visual production, best technical production and best technical crew. Grade 11 student Kaitlin Olmsted is the stage manager for The 9 worst breakups of all time.
“I was just hoping to go through the play without a hitch essentially, so to make people laugh and maybe have some fun with it,” she said. “We never expected to win, honestly.”
Olmsted was the runner-up in the award category for best stage manager, which was won by fellow SCCHS student Erika Erlandson for the play Asylum.
This is the second time that Olmsted is the stage manager for a SCCHS drama production. She stage managed the play Cheating death in the second semester of her Grade 10 year and last fall she was the assistant stage manager for the school’s production of A Christmas Carol.
“I’m definitely no actor,” she laughed. “I’m much better organizing to ensure things run smoothly and I’m always interested in how things are built. Whenever I go to a play I always enjoy the acting, but I always want to know how the sets are built and how are things done.”
There are around 40 students from Grade 9 to 12 involved in the production of this comedy. She considers the timing of the various transitions to be the most challenging part of her role.
“The biggest challenge was figuring out the transitions and organizing the cues and the timing because it is a comedy, so timing is the most important thing,” she said.
She noted there are about 80 changes during the production, which is a combination of lighting, sound and transition cues.
“I essentially have a script and then I’ve written in exactly what cues go on what line and then I cue it,” she said. “I go based on the timing and how the actors are doing, what happens during the performance.”
SCCHS also received awards for the other two productions, Asylum and The Masterpiece, at the regional drama festival.
“We consistently do well,” Rumpel said. “Over the past so many years we’ve usually won or received runner-up, probably due to the fact that it is a bit of a smaller region, but also our kids really take it seriously.”
He added students have worked really hard and SCCHS was therefore still able to do well when the talent of students were spread out over three plays.
“We’re lucky enough that we have enough talent that we can still bring it to a high level and sometimes even achieve success at provincials,” he said.
The SCCHS students will perform The 9 worst breakups of all time on May 7 during the opening night of the provincial festival.
“There will be 12 plays from all over Saskatchewan that all won their region,” he said. “So we’re hoping to have a good showing. I think what we’ve put together will do well.”
Olmsted felt the encore performance of the comedy at the school April 30 was a good way to help them prepare for the provincial festival.
“It gets us used to the timing and the laughs of the audience,” she said. “It makes it easier for us to figure that out so that when we go to provincials it’s easier for the actors to perform and then also for me to give the cues and the crew to do the transitions.”
There is an active drama program at SCCHS with 64 students this spring and around 80 students last fall.
“It’s usually a little bigger in the fall,” Rumpel said. “It goes down a little bit in spring because there’s the travelling involved.”
Drama is one of the larger programs at the school because no students are turned away and there are no cuts.
“If you want to be in it, you’re in it,” he said. “We find you a job, whether it’s backstage, onstage, whatever we can do. That’s what this play was about, getting as many kids involved as possible.”

Read 3438 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 May 2015 10:33