Skip to content

Driftwood Players pop up with Story Theatre this summer

The Sunshine Coast’s resident theatre company plans to put newly minted strategies into practice through a series of pop-up public performances.
Performers rehearse in Gibsons for upcoming performances of community Story Theatre by the Driftwood Players.

The Sunshine Coast’s resident theatre company plans to put newly minted strategies into practice through a series of pop-up public performances. 

Story Theatre by the Driftwood Players is light-hearted drama that will appear al fresco during summertime festivals. Four miniature productions are on the playbill for community gatherings as early as Canada Day in Sechelt’s Hackett Park. 

The local Story Theatre tradition was revived last year following a COVID hiatus. This summer, the kid-friendly plays reflect the findings of a strategic planning session conducted in April by Jay Dodge, artistic producer of Vancouver’s Boca del Lupo Theatre.  

Dozens of members from the Driftwood Players participated, identifying corporate sustainability and expanded involvement as essential priorities for the 55-year-old volunteer organization. 

“Story Theatre helps achieve that,” explained Jeanne Sommerfeld, who is co-directing Barnyard Surprise alongside Francesca Ryan. “We have directors who are mentoring other directors. We’re trying to expand the scope of directors, and continuing to bring more theatre into the community directly, outside of a theatre space.” 

“Also, we’re doing intergenerational performance,” added Sommerfeld. “It’s another thing we talked about: making sure we are open to all ages.” 

Billy Goats Gruff will be directed by longtime Story Theatre coordinator JoAnne Bennison, who is collaborating with first-time director Irene Bradley. 

“Children do not often see live theatre,” said Bradley, “especially not outside. It’s free theatre and it’s volunteers only. I think it brings a lot to the community.” 

Actor Justin Huston, a fixture of popular Hallowe’en comedies in Lower Gibsons, will direct Silent Red. Gabriel Ditmars and Marissa Fischer are taking charge of Alice in Wonderland. 

For Ditmars, a performer in his early twenties who teaches youth at the Driftwood Theatre School (affiliated with the Players), Story Theatre provides an opportunity to lead by example. 

“There have been improvements this year by getting everybody together and feeling a little bit less rushed,” Ditmars observed.  

Anastasia Shvartsman, who also performs with the youth company of Waldorf Ballet, will return for a second year of Story Theatre performances. “I love to express myself,” she said. “My parents told me I’ve always been a lot of an actress. I really like telling a story with my body, and also my language.” 

Carole Carlton is a veteran Coast performer who will also appear in Alice. Carlton said she is invigorated by awakening a love of theatre in youth. “I love it,” she said, “because children just love it. And if they want to get involved, they can.” 

During the Sunshine Coast Festival of Performing Arts, the Driftwood Players enlisted adjudicator Nitasha Rajoo — herself an actor, director and Shakespeare scholar — to lead a new directors’ workshop at Granthams Landing Community Hall. Ditmars subsequently taught a free training session for new actors. 

“It’s really nice to have that energy of multiple generations,” said Sommerfeld. 

“We’re giving a chance for the community to express themselves,” emphasized Story Theatre coordinator Linda McTurk. “I think we’re already right on the cusp of things that the Driftwood Players wants us to do. Stay tuned for what will come next.” 

Story Theatre performances by the Driftwood Players will occur at Canada Day celebrations in Hackett Park, and at community festivals in Halfmoon Bay, Madeira Park, and Labour Day in Gibsons. A schedule of performances is available online at