Drama students from two Moose Jaw schools will be taking part in the Saskatchewan Drama Association Provincial Festival taking place May 4-6 at the Riddell Centre Theatre at the University of Regina.
Vanier Collegiate and Cornerstone Christian School (CCS) have qualified for provincials after competing at the Region 2 One Act Festival held April 20 - 22 at A.E. Peacock Collegiate in Moose Jaw. The other schools competing were Peacock, Briercrest, Central Butte, and Riverview.
Vanier picked up awards for Best Overall Production and Best Visual Production for its rendition of Radium Girls. The production featured approximately 30 students that were involved in the cast and crew. Rehearsals started in late February.
Radium Girls is a drama based on the true story of female laborers who were poisoned by their factory’s radium-based paint. Many of the workers died.
Ben Sackville is the school's drama educator and was one of the directors of the show.
"This is actually a show that we had meant to put on back in 2020, which was then cancelled because of the pandemic," he commented. "Our students who are in Grade 12 this year, were in Grade 9 that year, so it was also a way to bring something back around that they were supposed to be a part of at one time and get some closure on that. Both for them and for myself as well."
Sackville says his group is expecting to have a lot of fun in Regina this weekend. Twelve high schools from 7 regions will be competing at the event, including groups from Moose Jaw, Regina, Esterhazy, Yorkton, Balgonie, Wolseley, Langham, Warman, Paradise Hill, and St. Walburg. Moose Jaw and Regina will be sending two high schools each.
"The Saskatchewan Drama Association runs such a great event and it's such a good experience for students," continued Sackville. "Getting to get up on stage and work on something together that they're only maybe going to execute one time. There's a lot of pressure in that, but it also allows students this motivation to rise to an occasion. The nice thing about a drama festival is it's all of you in it together. There's nothing working against you. The only thing that you can do is your best. It's a nice way to celebrate the hard work that everyone has put into something special like a theatre production."
Cornerstone Christian School will also be presenting its version of Radium Girls at the provincial festival after coming in second for Best Overall Production at the Region 2 One Act Festival. Even though Vanier and Cornerstone were presenting the same play, each school was allowed to take liberties with the script which resulted in vastly different productions.
CCS Vice-Principal Tanya Johnson, who was also a play director, said they had roughly 35 students from Grades 7 to 12 involved in their performance. She noted that Region 2 is always highly competitive.
Johnson expects provincials to be a "whole new ballgame".
"It's the best of the best from across the province. It will be exciting to see what those students are bringing to the stage in terms of their acting as well as their tech. We always go and we learn so much from watching other productions, from attending the workshops and learning from the adjudicators and the other theatre artists that come and present workshops to the students, as well as the teachers."
Individual awards will also be handed out at provincials in addition to the group awards.
Vanier Collegiate will compete on the evening of May 4, while the performance by Cornerstone Christian will take place during the evening of May 5. Admission is $15 per play session.
For those who want a sneak peek, Cornerstone Christian School will be performing Radium Girls at the CCS Chapel on Wednesday, May 3 starting at 7 pm. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to support the cost of travelling to Regina this weekend.