The stage is stark with hay bales and pallets are scattered around, while the cast is garbed in uniforms reminiscent of Hitler Youth.
Set in a repressive society, Heritage, the inaugural theatrical offering from Flying Arrow Productions, is a black comedy exploring the down side of patriotism.
The play focuses on a group of misfit youth assembled in an empty cattle pen, waiting to close the annual May Day Celebrations with a performance of the nations anthem (a creepy, melancholy affair). As they wait, it becomes apparent they are gathered for a more sinister purpose. The play ends with a final scene both touching and unsettling.
This Canadian premiere of the award winning play by Dafydd James, Heritage boasts a compelling cast who all succeed in bringing their characters to life, supported by an organized, efficient technical crew.
Avery Matson is wonderful as rebellious Melony, with her tag along friend Jinx played by the expressive Dani Foisy. Grayson Norsworthy does justice to angry bad boy Jackson and Matt Kurtenback offers a strong performance as Dickhead Bradley. Julia Dorrius and Maya McDowell are delightful as snarky sisters Cari-Ann and Jamie. Hailey Christie-Hoyle is memorable as control freak perfectionist Lisa. Hannah Busch’s antisocial Tubbsy is spot on and Amelia Brown has her depressed Deirdre-May character down pat. Frankie Howe’s Douglas has lovely stage presence and Tristan Herle as Jurassic Mark is close to heart-breaking. Jessica McInosh and Alice Dunkerson fill their off-stage vocals with emotional depth. It’s not often every character in a large ensemble piece has crafted his or her character so believably.
Heritage is directed by Anita Hallewas, a member of the Revelstoke Theatre Company as well as an accredited drama teacher at Revelstoke Secondary School. Flying Arrow Productions was born last year when she received grant funding for a youth theatre mentoring project from the Columbia Basin Trust.
The youth came together in April of last year and spent the end of the school year, the summer and this past fall rehearsing.
The mentoring program means the theatre company is collaborative in many aspects. The cast of thirteen came to the table with many ideas and were involved in selecting the play. Several of them helped with directing. Described by McDowell as a “dark blistering comedy,” Dorrius explains, “we liked Heritage, it was dark and hardcore.”
Matson agrees, “it was fun to read.”
Stage manager, Brynn Hoshizaki, sound design and operator, Aleks Klassan, technical crew Riley Olson, and prompt and stage crew Josi Koerber are all students at RSS. Cast member Dunkerson designed the print media for the production. In the process, they’ve learned how to design sound and lights, run the lighting and sound board, manage the cues, cast and crew and accurately ensure actors and set are cued and ready to go.
Technical director Sarah Harper credited the students with “rising to the challenge of operating every aspect of the show to a professional standard.” Acting coach JP Lord agrees.
Halleways notes the point of the mentoring program was to enable the youth to run the entire show, without adult help, for opening night. “We succeeded,” Halleways laughs, “we’re superfluous now. In addition to the hard tech skills behind the scenes, everyone learnt team building, leadership and deadline skills.”
All the youth involved felt they learnt a lot and would happily do it again. “Next year maybe we can even do a musical,” Christie-Hoyle enthused.
Watch out for the next production this dynamic group puts on. It will be one you won’t want to miss.