For its 2019 production, the Westsyde secondary theatre program is taking things to a level students have never tried before.
Instead of putting just one show on stage, they will be performing two: Farce of Nature and Farce of Habit, two comedies from writers Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten.
“The first one was written back in 2014,” said Stephen Sawka, artistic director of Performing Arts Westsyde. “Then last year, they printed a sequel to it. So I thought, let’s give it a try.”
Sawka admits that putting on two shows concurrently is a challenge, but that is precisely what he wanted for his students.
“Since most of my senior actors have worked together since Grade 8, I thought, let’s give them the opportunity to work together on a nice comedy and challenge them to do not just one show, but two shows.”
And the students appear to be up for the challenge.
Caleb Castagna, who plays Carmine DeLuca in Farce of Nature, said the students have never done something so extreme and have so far had a great time staging the plays.
“I know it’s been stressful for some people when it comes to having to do two shows,” said Molly Egli, who plays Lola Barbosa in Farce of Nature, “but at the same time, it’s cool because we’ve never done anything like this before.”
For Mary Funk, who plays Maxie Wilburn Suggs in both shows, it’s about the unique opportunity.
“I also think we’re really grateful just to have the opportunity as high school students to do something like this,” she said, “to have the opportunity to do two shows and be so involved in drama, because we probably don’t really get an opportunity like this outside of high school. So I’m really grateful for that.”
All students will be working on both shows in some capacity — some will be on stage playing the same characters twice, others will play two different characters, and some will be on stage for one show and helping backstage on the other.
Audiences can expect to see a professional level production from these students.
“We actually run this place like a theatre company,” Sawka said. “We hire professional set designers, professional costume people to pick up the missing pieces, and all the kids work on it. So they’re responsible for coming in, we came in on Christmas break to put it all together. So the dedication’s there.”
Westsyde secondary’s two shows mark the start of the high school theatre season, as area schools coordinate with each other to ensure no performances overlap with others.
Farce of Nature runs on April 17, 19, 24 and 26 while Farce of Habit runs April 18, 20, 25 and 27. Both shows are at the Rachel Ball Theatre at Westsyde secondary and curtain time is 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for general admittance and $10 for students and seniors, while combo tickets for both shows are only $20. Tickets are available in the office or by phone at 250-579-9271.
Audiences are encouraged to come to both shows for the best experience.
“It’s farce, it’s comedy, it’s surreal situations in a fun, fun way,” Sawka said.
“I think it’s going to be an entertaining night or entertaining nights for them. Because you’ll see the first show and you just want to see what happens next with these characters.”