Write-On! puts spotlight on young local playwrights

Heritage Playhouse

Three young Sunshine Coast playwrights are about to see their stories brought to life on stage in a series of upcoming performances at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons.

The plays, to be performed Nov. 9 to 11, were created thanks to Write-On!, a youth theatre outreach project launched last January by the Driftwood Players Society. The plays could not run longer than 20 minutes, but that was the only restriction placed on the young imaginations in terms of theme, topic or language. Teens would also act in and direct the productions, with veteran adult mentors lending a hand. There are also a few adult acting roles in each production.

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The plays are The Regulars, a whodunit written by Emma Judd and directed by Darius Meikle; The Tour Guide, a comedy set in an Albanian tourist office, written by Darius Meikle and directed by Jadan Rostau; and Raindrops on Roses, a family drama about a sudden bonding between estranged teen siblings, written and directed by Gabriel Leonard Ryan.

Troy Demmitt is mentoring director on The Regulars, Mac Dodge on The Tour Guide, and Stephen Archibald is helping Gabriel direct his own creation, Raindrops on Roses.

Archibald is a familiar face in local productions and a 50-year theatre pro. He said he’s had experience in just about every aspect of the business, but this is the first time he’s mentored and he’s been treading lightly with young protégé, Gabriel.

“I probably say 30 per cent of what I think of saying,” Archibald said in an interview prior to a recent rehearsal. “There are some things I know I should just say quietly to Gabriel away from the cast. Then there are some things I just jump in and automatically offer. He takes it very well. He has a lot of maturity.”

Archibald added that it’s obvious Gabriel has been exposed to good directors in the past. That stands to reason, given that the 16-year old – son of local actor Francesca Ryan – has already been acting for seven years, appearing in a dozen local productions and having attended workshops put on by Bard on the Beach in Vancouver over the last three summers. This is his first shot at directing.

“I love acting and I love dance, everything about theatre,” Gabriel said. “Now I’m directing and I love it, because I sort of get to play all the parts, in a sense.”

Writing the play, which starts just after the sudden death of two parents, was also a bit of an imaginative stretch for him.

“I’m an only child but have always wondered what it would be like to have a sibling,” Gabriel said. “So, it was an interesting experience to write about an older brother who has to start a relationship with a younger half-sister.”

All three of the short Write-On! plays will be performed on each night of the run, at 7:30 p.m. Friday Nov. 9 and Saturday Nov. 10, with a 2 p.m. matinée on Sunday Nov. 11. Admission is by donation at the door.

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