How 'bout those Westwood one acts?

We have been attending Westwood One Acts for the last number of years and I always seem to leave the theatre at the end of the night totally entertained and amazed.  That was the case on Thursday night when we watched five different shows.  I would have written about it on Friday morning, but I was pressed for time as I was heading down the highway to a gig in Innisfail.

First of all, I need to say that I think it is so admirable that drama teacher Terri Mort gives so much attention to the one act format.  Through this process of doing independent work, students get a sense of responsibility and pride in being the captains of their own ships.  This experience will be invaluable when they head out into the wide wide world of theatrical possibilities.

The shows we saw that night were All Cotton by Shel Silverstein, directed by Aparna Gupta; Photographs from S21 by Catherine Filloux, directed by Bailey Dumas; I Never Saw Another Butterfly by Celeste Raspanti, directed by Jacob Fulton; Some Strings Attached, written and directed by Megan Webber; and Sandy is an Eggplant, Shannon is a Pretty Girl by Lindsay Price, directed by Cally Miller. (Variations on the Death of Trotsky by David Ives, directed by Hayden Graves, was performed on the second night)

I was most looking forward to seeing the progression of I Never Saw Another Butterfly, particularly the work of Charlotte Hursey in the role of Raja. I had seen a rehearsal of the show about a week before. She sucked that character into her bones and delivered a stunning performance.  The variations in her voice, the way she brought Raja into her physical body, and the heart she put into the story resulted in a powerful experience.  The lady sitting in front of us was in tears at the end of the story about the ghetto called Terezin.

I thought Gracie Gidge was wonderful in the role of the teacher.  Dylan gave a passionate performance and was compelling to watch and listen to.  Borna has a wonderful presence on the stage and was a great choice for Raja's love interest.  And Delaney did a strong job rounding out the small ensemble.

Kudos to Jacob Fulton for directing this piece and injecting it with tenderness, sharp pivot points, and a sense of weight.  I think people were in tears by the end of it because they could feel the weight of loss and guilt hanging around Raja's neck, being the only survivor.

I don't know the young lady's name in All Cotton, but she owned her character and was a towering presence on the stage.

I liked some of the staging choices in Photographs from S21.  It was also an emotionally packed piece dredging up pain and suffering that happened during the time of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Will Fulton was incredible in Some Strings Attached.  Some brilliant costume and make-up choices made me completely believe he was a puppet.  But the!  Megan Webber knocked it out of the park with her crafting of the script and the show.

The Eggplant show was incredibly funny, and a great way to end the night.  Both actresses were brilliant and believable.

I can't stress enough the importance of this kind of work as part of their high school dramatic learning journey, and as great building blocks for a potential theatrical career.  In a recent interview, Michelle Thorne credited the work she did in one acts at Westwood as being the highlight of her high school years.

Congratulations to everyone and best of luck to all the shows heading down to Regionals in Athabasca.  I would hate to be the judge having to pick winners.  In my book, you're all winners!


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