The cycle rotates daily. A performance is followed by an engaging green room socials, which precedes a coffee critique the following afternoon before workshops and a new performance at night.
“It’s just so much going on. It’s like you’re bringing the Vancouver theatre forum to Vernon,” said Richard Kerton, Theatre BC Mainstage co-chair. “Every night is a different show. Every night is a different experience.”
Theatre BC’s Mainstage Festival kicks off at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre June 29 with Collected Stories by Donald Margulies presented by E.C.H.O. Players of the North Island Zone. Each night sees a performance from each of the eight theatre companies entered in this year’s festival, which culminates in an awards banquet July 7 at the Schubert Centre.
“We’re getting excited. We’re feeling the anxiety just crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s,” Kerton said of the looming festival kickoff.
“Mainstage likes to set a certain quality. Giving them (community theatre companies) the opportunity to perform in a professional theatre is an experience. It’s giving them a chance to see what it’s all about.”
Prior to the festival, theatre companies joined together with other companies in each of Theatre BC’s eight competing zones to decide which company proceeded to the provincials. In the Okanagan Zone (Ozone) that honour went to Powerhouse Theatre’s Calendar Girls directed by Tanya Laing Gahr.
As part of their initial performance, Calendar Girls, in the vein of the true story itself, produced a calendar from which a portion of the proceeds was donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
According to Barbara Keith, with Powerhouse Theatre, those donations total $4,650 and will be presented to Anni Rychtera, an LLSC volunteer and a Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma survivor, prior to Calendar Girls’ July 1 Mainstage performance.
Other performances include The Best Brothers by Daniel MacIvor presented by Terrace Little Theatre of the Skeena Zone June 30, Halo by Josh MacDonald presented by the Chilliwack School of Performing Arts as a wild card entry from the Fraser Valley Zone July 2, The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble by Beth Graham presented by Between Shifts Theatre of the North Shore Zone July 3, No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre presented by Theatre In The Country of the Fraser Valley Zone July 4, Hand To God by Roberts Askins presented by Williams Lake Studio Theatre of the Central Interior Zone July 5 and Blackbird by David Harrower presented by Stage North of the Peace River Zone July 6.
“Some of the companies are used to performing in their own facility and are getting used to (performing on new stages). Some have never performed in a big theatre either. We try to make it as comfortable as possible. Our goal is to welcome them to Vernon and relieve their anxiety,” Kerton said.
“Theatre BC is a non-profit. Our mandate is education. I’m confident that what we are doing is the right thing.”
Kerton said feedback from adjudicator Stephen Drover, artistic director of Rumble Theatre and associate artistic director at Arts Club Theatre Company, is provided not only to actors but to all who work on a production. And, for one Mainstage workshop, the feedback presented to Cathie Young, full-length winner of the Theatre BC 2017 Canadian Playwriting Competition is the highlight.
“She’s bringing her play to Vernon. That’s, of course, a brand new play never performed before,” Kerton said of Young who works with Expect Exceptional Theatre Company.
Scenes from Young’s play Port Moody Confidential – Glimpses will be workshopped by Kathryn Shaw at Powerhouse Theatre as part of the festival.
“It’s hard when you have it on paper to see what it’s going to look like on stage,” Kerton said.
In addition to the performances and critiques, local theatre star Amelia Sirianni will lead the Theatre Youth Camp Workshop July 5-7. Sirianni led the workshop last year with success.
“The biggest struggle is getting young people into community theatre, actually getting them on stage,” Kerton said.
At the banquet July 7, awards will be presented to theatre companies, actors, set designers, costume designers and more.
“We want people to come to the show. You’re not just buying a ticket to see a show, you’re supporting the theatre community,” Kerton said.
“This is a great opportunity for people to see great theatre in a short period of time at an affordable cost.”
Tickets to Theatre BC’s Mainstage Festival are available through the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. Single performances are $30 or $25 Theatre BC member, a three-day pass is $87 or $72 respectively, a five-day pass is $140 or $115 and an eight-day pass is $216 or $176.