Five young playwrights will see their works staged before Trinity Western University lowers the curtain for good on its theatre program.
The Langley university’s theatre department, due to shut down over the next couple of years, showcases five live shows back-to-back from Tuesday to Saturday (Feb. 1-5).
Young Surrey-based actors are involved in the mega show, New Words, New Works, to feature 13 actors in different characters.
“It is such a delight to celebrate young artists, particularly when the pandemic has been so hard on the performing arts and TWU is closing its theatre program,” said Angela Konrad, professor and co-chair of the theatre department.
Each play, approximately 15 minutes long, will be performed by TWU theatre students, directed by instructor Kerri Norris.
Surrey’s Jenna Shaffrick makes her stage debut in Hailee Boks’ “The Drive Home,” a mother-daughter story about leaving home and letting go.
“I’ve worked backstage on a number of shows here, but it’s thrilling to take a turn in the spotlight,” Shaffrick said. “And it is really special to do so in a production that celebrates emerging playwrights.”
Also hitting the stage is fellow Surreyite Delaney Scholz in “The Den-Aisle,” by Braedon Grover Sunnes. The story involves two friends living in the local Costco store, “avoiding paying rent and other difficult realities of impending adulthood.”
Scholz was seen on the TWU stage in another play by a student playwright, and she jumped at the chance to do it again.
“I loved acting in ‘Spin Cycle’ as part of New Generations a couple years ago, so I was thrilled to be cast again,” Scholz said. “Braedon has written such a heartfelt and contemporary play that it’s a real treat for the actors and I know it will be for the audience, as well.”
Konrad explained that along with the actors, two stage managers and a half-dozen people were involved behind the scenes in key roles.
The department was initially unsure about organizing the event due to rising Omicron cases, but Konrad said she is excited that the event is able to go ahead.
“We never knew from one day to the next if we would actually be able to get this play on stage, but it is happening,” she noted.
Konrad shared that COVID had made it difficult for the team to rehearse. She further explained that Norris could only focus on one actor at a time due to physical-distancing requirements. Multiple times, stage managers had to step in to take different roles to cover for a cast member in isolation.
Theatre-goers will have to wear masks throughout the performances. Proof of vaccination will be required at the time of entry to the hall, which will run at half capacity.
The five plays were selected from more than a dozen applications as part of a contest the department ran in the summer of 2021.
The department tried to cover most of the genres through its selection for the mega show.
“Whether you like fantasy or realism, drama or comedy, big box stores or blanket forts, New Words, New Works has something for everyone,” Konrad noted.
The five short plays to be performed are:
- Medium Auburn Cherry Crush by Lani-Marie Carbonel. “Love is hard, especially when you’re 17. Thankfully, there’s best friends and hair dye.”
- Wishing on a Steve by Emma Wiebe Giesbrecht. “A star named Steve makes people regret not being more careful what they wished for…”
- She Who Flew Too Close by Annie Zander. “The sun isn’t the only light that catches on your wings.”
- The Den-aisle by Braedon Grover Sunnes. “Whether living in dorms or in Costco, it’s never a good idea to lie to your roommate. Or yourself.”
- The Drive Home by Hailee Boks. “One chasing dreams and the other hiding from fears – where will their drive take them?”
“Being able to encourage these playwrights and performers that what they do is valuable is especially meaningful when the theatre program is closing. We hope people will forego Netflix for an evening and come out to see some future stars in action. The show is funny, touching, and inspiring – what more could you want?” Konrad said.
Performances will run Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Western University’s Langley campus. There will be an additional matinee show on Saturday at 2 p.m. For tickets and more information, people can visit the school’s website at twu.ca/theatre.
with file from Tom Zillich
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