Driftwood students steal the show

Jan DeGrass/Arts and Entertainment Writer / Staff writer
January 31, 2014 01:00 AM

Driftwood's JoAnne Bennison hams up her role with director and theatre school instructor Ingrid Bilton.

Trust those theatre people to turn what could be a boring legal requirement into an entertaining evening.

Driftwood Players held their annual general meeting Jan. 23 and accomplished the required business. In between the call to order and the adjournment, they heard from many youthful actors learning their skills at Driftwood Theatre School.

Some adults from the Driftwood Story Theatre also gave snippets from their shows. Actor JoAnne Bennison warmed up the crowd with a reprisal of her Scrooge's charlady role.

Dr. Dread and his amazing head in a box (played by Stephen Archibald and Adam Crane) entertained with a horror skit, while Maureen Shields reprised the story of "The Dog and His Bone" for the audience.

The Story Theatre is a travelling troupe that has been giving free shows in parks and malls. Producer Radhika Samwald told the audience that the Story Theatre staged 21 performances at 18 different venues last year, including Halloween and Christmas events. She invited the crowd to join, saying that they wanted more writers, actors and crew for their season that starts in April.

"It's satisfying volunteer work with a high level of community engagement," Samwald said.

The Driftwood Theatre School, a non-profit under the Driftwood umbrella, had a great year. Bennison, still in her Scrooge's charlady costume, pointed out that she had entered the school as an actor, continued as a writer and had gone on to learn how to direct.

"We've pushed ourselves, we're always moving forward," she said of the growing theatre school.

Instructor and director Ingrid Bilton was on hand to introduce the junior advanced class (10- to 13-year-old range), who stole the show. "I asked them if they wanted to work their tails off and learn new pieces for this show," Bilton said. "Eight of them put up their hands."

Trinnatey McAdam was so enthusiastic she gave two performances, first as the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland and second as the new French instructor.

By his own choice, James Stinson tackled the seven stages of man from Shakespeare's As You Like It.

Hanna Short proved herself a natural while playing an angel and Jasmine Fitzsimons worked with props and a sense of wonder. McKenzie Thomas played a disgruntled Rose at boarding school, a difficult piece. Young Gabriel Ryan speculated delightfully on life as Calvin.

Taking theatre on the road was the Driftwood theme. President Sandi McGinnis told how last year's dinner theatre comedy No Ordinary Séance went to various restaurants from Gibsons to Garden Bay.

"The community and the restaurants really liked it," she said, and they hope to do more travelling this year.

Plans for forthcoming Driftwood productions are vague at this time, but discussions are underway with Lori Pepper, director of Peninsula Players' popular A Bed Full of Foreigners, to mount a June show. Driftwood has really reached out lately by organizing voice workshops, a crash course in becoming a director and play readings for fun.

Registration for the theatre school has already begun and the junior advanced drama meets on Mondays at St. Bart's in Gibsons. Sandi McGinnis is the registrar and can be reached at 604-886-0143. More about the school and about Story Theatre is at www.driftwoodplayers.ca/dts.htm.


© Coast Reporter

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