There are seven plays vying for the opportunity to represent Region 1 at the Provincial Festival in May and four of them were written by yours truly. I still cannot believe my good fortune! To make matters even sweeter, the festival this year is being held in my hometown of Oxbow, Saskatchewan. I would have been crazy to miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I booked my plane tickets home faster than you can say "curtain!" Not only will I get to see several of my own plays in one weekend, but I will be able to share the experience with my wonderful friends, mentors, and family members who have always supported my artistic endeavors.
It seems like just yesterday that I participated in my very first drama festival. I was in the eighth grade and somehow ended up getting plucked from obscurity to play the husband of a girl that was in the twelfth grade. Needless to say, I was horrified! The rest of the cast was entirely made up of girls -- all much older than I was -- and they made my life a living hell every chance they got. They smeared the darkest red lipstick they could find onto their lips and plastered my face with kisses. They took turns announcing I was their boyfriend to strangers. They sneaked pictures from Playboy magazine into my script. And you know what? I loved every minute of it. From that play on, I was hooked on the theatre. (Playboy not so much...)
In the years that followed, I either wrote, directed, or acted in nearly every production we took to these festivals. Some were good and some were terrible. Once we even managed to win, for a production of The Flattering Word by George Kelly. At the time, losing was a complete heartbreak that took weeks to get over and winning was just about the greatest thing that could ever happen. Of course now it doesn't matter whether we won or lost -- it's the amazing memories that count and those memories have left a far greater footprint on my life than any number of medals or trophies ever could.
Whenever I sit down to write a new play, I think about the way I felt as a teenager when I opened my script at the first rehearsal. I think about the smell of dollar store make-up as it melted down my face under the spotlight. And I think about the confidence I felt every time I stood in front of an audience and took my bow. These are the moments that made me who I am today, and the idea that the plays I write now might allow a new generation of teenagers to experience magical moments of their own is all the inspiration I need.
So to everyone that will be in Oxbow during the festival, I hope to see you at the performances. All seven productions are sure to be fantastic and I think it's vital that we keep the arts alive by supporting the many students, teachers, and parents who have worked so hard to create this exciting weekend of entertainment.
The following is a schedule of events, which all take place in the brand new facilities at Oxbow Prairie Horizons School. Admission is $5 per session.
Friday - March 30th - 1:00 PM
Arcola: NOTE TO SELF by Bradley Hayward
Lampman: THE AUDITION by Don Zolidis
Friday - March 30th - 7:00 PM
Oxbow: GARGANTUA by Carl Grose
Moosomin: WITH REGARD TO COOPER CLAWSON'S CONSCIENCE by Bryan Starchman
Carlyle: SPLIT by Bradley Hayward
Saturday - March 31st - 1:00 PM
Redvers: SPLIT by Bradley Hayward
Carlyle: LIP SERVICE by Bradley Hayward