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One Act Play Festival returns to Sterndale Bennett Theatre this week

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After a two year break due to Covid, the Alberta Drama Festivall Association (ADFA) One Act Play festival returns to the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Saturday, May  14.


 Three plays have been submitted for the festival  plus there will be a reading of “the Cremation of Sam McGhee”  by Bryson  Brown and  “The Lion and Albert”  by Kate Connolly.


Jocelyn Steinborn is part of this year’s One Act Play Festival. Photo by Richard Amery

Playgoers of Lethbridge  artistic director Rita Peterson is just excited the festival is back.


“I'm just excited it’s back. I’m very excited,” Peterson said.


When Covid happened, we had just finished ‘Daisy.’ and were getting ready for the One Act Play Festival. But we had to cancel it because of Covid. It takes some time to build up momentum, which we haven’t been able to do over the past two years,” Peterson said.


 The main event is  Ed Bayly’s  Playgoers of Lethbridge favourite “ Priscilla Pringle‘s Predicament.”


U of L goes for the gore in A Night at the Grand Guignol:2022 for the last show of season

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The  University of Lethbridge props and  costume mavens  had a bloody good time designing costumes, props and special effects for “A Night at the Grand Guignol: 2022”  the last University of Lethbridge main stage production of the year, which runs April 22 and 23 in University Theatre.


Quinn Larder plays the emcee for the U of L’s production of A Night at the Grand Guignol: 2022, April 22 and 23. Photo by Richard Amery

 The show is a tribute to the renown Grand Guignol theatre in the Pigalle district of Paris, which featured horror plays from 1897-1962.

It features three shor blood tingling  horror thrillers featuring 15 actors, described as a “horallity (a mix of horror and hilarity) by Mia van Leeuan, one of the directors.

Despite the strike at the U of L, which caused a month’s delay in the production and meant minimal contact wth the actors and directors, MFA students Carla Simon and Jaime Johnson had a lot of fun creating elaborate costumes and props for the production.


Jaime Johnson shows masks she created for the U of L’s production of A Night at the Grand Guignol: 2022, April 22 and 23. Photo by Richard Amery

It features The Lighthouse Keepers by Paul Autier and Paul Cloquemin, translated by Justin A Blum and directed by Jay Whitehead; The Masque of Red Death, an adaptive theatre piece based on Edgar Allen Poe’s story, created by Mia van Leeuwen and the cast; and a staged reading of Jean Aragny and Francis Neilson’s “ The Kiss of Blood.”


Prop and costume designer Carla Simon noted “ A Kiss of Blood,” is more than just a staged reading.


“It’s hot and cold. It’s a melodrama, but more over the top and extreme,” she said.


“It’s like the Evil Dead 2,” described Quinn Larder, who plays the emcee who guides the audience through all three short plays, dressed in an Alice Cooper inspired tux and and top hat costume designed by Jaime Johnson.


“ He’s as if Cryptkeeper and Alice Cooper and Willy Wonka had a kid. There’s a lot of gore and blood. He’ll ask for audience responses like “eews” and “gross,” Larder described.


“ It’s just really weird,” he said.


Johnson took a lot of  inspiration form Alice Cooper’s stage show, which has always been very theatrical. 


Sansei: The Storyteller puts humourous twist on Second World Japanese Internement camps

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Sansei: The Storyteller adds an uplifting twist to one of Canada’s more disgraceful moments — the internment of Japanese-Canadians early in the Second World War.


Calgary performer Kunji Mark Ikeda finally brings his long standing one man show “ Sansei: The Storyteller” to the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, tonight, April 14 through Saturday, April 16.


“It really is an honour to be here in these shoes on this stage ,” Ikeda enthused, practically vibrating with excitement.


Kunji Ikeda brings Sansei: The Storyteller to The Sterndale Bennett Theatre this week. Photo by Richard Amery

 His grandparents were sent to an internment camp in the interior  of B.C. shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour on Dec. 7, 1941. Later on, his dad ended up moving to Picture Butte to work on a sugar beet farm.


“ I remember in  Grade 10 or 11  history there was a paragraph in the text book about the Japanese interment camps, and the other kids in my class said ‘you’re Japanese, you must know about this, ’but I didn’t. So I asked my dad. And he said if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be here and you wouldn’t be here,” he related, noting while his grandparents passed away before he could ask them about it, his aunt and uncle’s stories were invaluable.

His telephone conversations with them as well as original CBC reports on the camps are part of the show. 


“Japanese people weren’t allowed within 100 km of major cities because people were afraid they would be sending secret codes. Even in Lethbridge families like the Nakamotos needed special permission to live in the city. But my grandparents didn’t want to weigh us down with that,” he said.


“ My aunt and uncle were very open,” he said, adding they painted a vivid picture of the camps.


“Their stories explained a lot. Like about why they didn’t want to go camping. They’d tell stories of  the wind blowing through the walls of these tar paper shacks they were living in,” he continued.


Plays needed for One Act Play Festival

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After a two year  hiatus due to Covid, Playgoers of Lethbridge  is pleased to  bring back the Alberta Drama Festival Association (ADFA)  One Act Play Festival. But they need a few more  submissions  to do it. 

The annual  celebration of plays, is scheduled to happen at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Friday May 13 and Saturday, May 14.


“ We had to cancel the 2020 and 2019 festivals so we’ve lost a lot of momentum,” said Playgoers of Lethbridge artistic director Rita Peterson and Chinook Region ADFA representative, noting they only have one submission so far. Mary -Lynn Muhly is directing a Playgoers of Lethbridge favourite “ Priscilla Pringle’s Predicament,”  penned by Ed Bayly.


 “She has a really great cast, so I really want to see it,” Peterson said, adding they need  at least two plays to  hold the competition.


 The deadline is April 1, but it is flexible.


One Act plays from 10 to 60 minutes of all styles and genres are welcome including original scripts.


Peterson noted  the One Act Play Festival is an excellent  opportunity  for playwrights and actors to show their work and be adjudicated. They haven”t chosen an adjudicator yet.


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