If you love live theatre then you must attend the Alberta Drama Festival Association Adult One Act Festival, Monday, April 27, 7pm, at the Keyano Recital Theatre. This exciting event features some of the best talent in Wood Buffalo. Exceptional artists competing for five awards categories including: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Technical Achievement, and Best Overall Production. Winner of Best Overall Production goes on to compete at the Provincial Festival.
The Alberta Drama Festival Association (ADFA), a volunteer run, none for profit, was formed in 1969. With ten zones across the province the ADFA supports community theatre in every corner of Alberta. Wood Buffalo is a part of the North Region organized by local theatre artist Misty Oakes. Each of the ten regions hosts a festival and from these festivals one play is chosen by an adjudicator to represent each region at the Provincial One Act Festival. This year the provincial festival will be held in Red Deer, Alberta.
The Most Massive Woman Wins, written by Pulitzer Prize nominee Madeleine George, directed by Mitchell Thorne, designed by Danna Rae Evasiuk, staring Jillian MacDonald, Diana Moser, Jennifer Townsend, and Jillian Patton is one of the headlining shows in this years’ festival. The play features four women of various shapes and sizes sitting in the waiting room of a liposuction clinic. The women reveal their experiences dealing with their weight issues through monologues, short scenes, and even schoolyard rhymes. From painful childhood memories to frustrations with the opposite sex, these experiences both haunt and empower these women as they imagine their way to a new vision of themselves as beautiful and whole.
Culture Coordinator Michael Beamish interviewed Mitchell Thorne, Jillian MacDonald, Jennifer Townsend, and Diana Moser about the show and what the ADFA Festival meant to them.
Michael Beamish: Why should people come to the ADFA Festival?
Michelle Thorne: The ADFA festival is a special event where theatre goers can see some of their favorite local artists in a variety of roles, exploring a variety of themes and issues not always appropriate for more large-scale productions.
Jillian MacDonald: This is true community theatre. Our play has been a true labour of love. We are a group of women that came together to spread a message of love and respect. Love and respect each other and yourself. You’re worth it!
Jennifer Townsend: We can't drag you to the ADFA fest, but I will tell you that you won't regret it if you spend the measly $15 to show up. There is a lot of talent on that stage, and a lot of work has been done to give you not only a show worth watching, but an experience that will hopefully change a perspective or two.
Diana Moser: You will connect with the story, the actors, the performance, the audience, the creative expression. You'll have a memory of something unique in time - that's live theatre.
Michelle Thorne: The performances are always full of guts and heart where a few surprises are always in store. You get an opportunity to see two groundbreaking productions and get a chance to hear adjudication by some of Canada’s most prestigious theatre professionals.
Michael Beamish: What has the process been like so far?
Jennifer Townsend: It has been heart wrenching and eye opening and given me so much. Every day we aren't rehearsing I'm thinking about how badly I wish we were. During rehearsal I laugh, I get angry, I cry... And then I'm exhausted. Yet at the same time I am filled with this inexplicable energy. It really is an honour to be in one room with five incredible ladies sharing their heart and souls.
Diana Moser: I feel that the direction and vision has been clear and we all clicked quickly. We all connect with this show and our characters and that comes across as we work through it. There's been some emotional rehearsals but its’ all part of the process. We're in this together and we're there to support each other the whole way through.
Jillian MacDonald: I knew most of the ladies going in, but even the ones I just met made me feel comfortable immediately. What’s so beautiful about this cast is that we knew we’d have to be vulnerable throughout this process. We've been there for one another and in a very short period of time have solidified bonds that will last a lifetime.
Michelle Thorne: Everyone involved is so dedicated and committed and it has been so inspiring; watching the actresses bring it every run we do and the incredible work Danna Rae has put into the design and tech encourages me to make sure I am always on my game as to not let anyone else down. It has been a very amazing process where each person ups the stakes not by force, but by example. We have also had some incredible help from other members of the community such as the amazing Zenon Campbell who built our set for us, and ACWB who has very generously provided rehearsal space.
Jillian MacDonald: This is a true community theatre production. We've been rehearsing where ever we can find space. Between ACWB, people’s houses, Westwood High School… don’t be surprised if you find use going through a line run in the middle of a pub! There have been tons of ups and downs… and I've loved every second of it. You know when you’re a part of something special. I've felt that since day one.
Michelle Thorne: We are all volunteering our time so to have 6 women not only willing but excited to give up their precious free time to dedicate to this show is beyond amazing. This has been a phenomenal process. It is a true gift to have a relationship like Danna Rae and I have. She is the Paul Simon to my Art Garfunkle, and I don’t think I would be able to work without her. I have loved this script for years and when Danna Rae responded to it as positively as she did I knew we had to make it happen. We have been blessed with the most incredible cast any director could ask for. I did not hold auditions as I had pretty clear ideas in my mind which actresses I wanted to play each role. There are countless brilliant performers in our community and I am so lucky to have 4 of the best.
Michael Beamish: What has the show given you as artists?
Diana Moser: The chance to work with people I haven't yet before and to learn from them. The show is small and intimate, and even though it is short, there is so much emotion and depth in the characters. I've learned so much about myself as an actor and it is wonderful to get to know more creative and interesting people. It's another step on my journey.
Michelle Thorne: This show has given me an incredible opportunity to work with and bring together some insanely talented people. This show has also given me an opportunity to cast actors in some really great characters; characters with a lot of layers and depth which is always a treat for any performer. One of the best parts of directing is watching your actors plunge head first into their characters and create these really fascinating and genuine people who are so captivating.
Jillian MacDonald: I’m so grateful that Michelle saw something in me to play this character. Cel (my character) is the polar opposite to me in every way – but I can relate to her feelings of insecurity. I feel privileged to tell her story; no matter how different and misunderstood she is. That’s a huge responsibility and one I don’t take lightly. With any show, this has given me the opportunity to express my creativity and share a message.
Jennifer Townsend: It's funny how I have training as an actress, but am able to take so much away from this experience. Being vulnerable was always something I knew had to be done in Theatre, but never have I been able to share this much of myself in one show. It taught me to be brave, and to remember that your cast members are always there to lift you up.
Michael Beamish: What does this show mean to you as women?
Diana Moser: I think as women we want to be "strong", so we do what we think we have to in order to be whatever that is, but it's in acknowledging our fears, what we think make us weak, that gives us a better understanding of what strong is.
Michelle Thorne: I believe women today set an unrealistic standard of perfection for themselves, as well as a very boring, one-note definition of “beauty”. What we forget is that each of us is unique and it is within our uniqueness that true beauty lays.
Diana Moser: It's being aware of yourself and listening to yourself, as hard as that can be sometimes.
Jennifer Townsend: Whatever issues I had with my self-image, and not even just my BODY image, have subsided. I need to choose to see myself as beautiful in every way if I want the ladies all over the world to feel the same. And ladies, YOU ARE GORGEOUS.
Michelle Thorne: Being involved in this show has asked me to question the impossible standards I set for myself and where I need to break down my own walls and barriers that keep me from seeing my own beauty; why is it we always see beauty in others and never in ourselves? I believe the messages and themes in this show are important for women of all ages, shapes & sizes and also for men as well.
Jillian MacDonald: I think that every human can relate to this show on some level. We've all felt insecure and not good enough at some point in our lives. Society has become so judgmental. We are judged by the number of likes we get and we've forgotten that who we are on the inside is what really matters.
Michelle Thorne: We need to spend more time loving ourselves and less time criticizing.
Jennifer Townsend: This show has made me HAPPY. I am fulfilled from working with the incredible women I get to work with in rehearsals. I've realized that all of us ladies everywhere, fat, thin, young, old, we are ALL struggling with ourselves and we don't need to be.
Diana Moser: This show is about women starting on their own personal journeys of this discovery and that really speaks to me.
Jillian MacDonald: It's taught me to embrace our differences instead of alienating each other because of them. We all have a story.
Michael Beamish: What can the audience expect?
Michelle: A unique, fast paced blend of realism and surrealism, thought provoking themes and questions, and incredibly real and passionate performances by four very brave local actresses.
Jillian MacDonald: I think the audience can expect to laugh, cry, gasp, and celebrate. It’s raw. The stories of these women will cut you to the core. This show really covers a lot in a short amount of time. So jump into your seats and enjoy the ride!
Diana Moser: Stories that are familiar, in one way or another. I think each of us, whether man or woman, has gone through many of the emotions in this play sometime in our lives. Plus there's some really cool technical design and actors who are pouring their hearts out on stage.
Jennifer Townsend: THE AUDIENCE SHOULD EXPECT TO BE BLOWN AWAY. I hope they change their minds in regards to how they view themselves as well as how they view others. Judgments should be reserved for...no where. Shut up about your thighs touching. Stop looking at your so-called flabby arms, and start realizing how much you've accomplished, what you're capable of, and how EXTRAORDINARY you are.
The Most Massive Woman Win’s, playing as part of the ADFA, Adult One Act Festival, Monday, April 27th, 7pm, Keyano Recital Theatre. Tickets $15.00 available at the Keyano Box Office, 780-791-4990, or online, www.keyano.ca/theatre.