Madison Bennett (left) and Tatyanna Stoesz rehearse a scene together for the one act Cagebirds by David Campton. With roughly one month to the festival the students are mostly off book. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Sylvan Lake school preparing for regional One Act Festival

One Act Festival runs the last weekend of April at the high school

Ecole H.J. Cody School is preparing to host between 150-200 students for this year’s One Act Festival.

From April 26-28 students from schools in Red Deer, Sylvan Lake and Olds will perform upwards of 30 plays over the course of the weekend.

All of the plays, which run 60 minutes or less, are directed by students from the schools.

“It’s just become expected that the plays for the festival will be student-directed,” said Jacqui Renwick, the drama instructor at H.J. Cody.

It has been three years since H.J. Cody has hosted the festival, which switches between Lindsay Thurber, Hunting Hills and H.J. Cody.

The new environment is one of the aspects Rewick likes about the festival. She says it makes the students think critically about what they are doing and how it should be done.

“You never know what your space is going to be like. For instance, some spaces have curtains and others don’t,” said Renwick adding, “It helps get them out of their H.J. Cody comfort zone.”

Having the shows completely run by the students teaches the students a lot, all of which can be utilized in day-to-day life.

Renwick says the One Act Festival teaches students independence, confidence, relationship building, responsibility and problem solving.

Building relationships is a huge aspect of the one acts, specifically because each play is run by a peer, not by a teacher.

“It makes them think about how they are interacting with one another,” said Renwick. “As a director one has to think about how they are going to get their actor or tech to do what they want.”

The student directors learn how to be a person of authority, according to Renwick.

This also extends to other aspects of the show, such as scheduling rehearsal time.

Renwick says she has had very little input in the plays this year; the students have, for the most part, taken their show and ran with it.

“I make myself available to them to help as needed, but this year they haven’t really needed me.”

The festival itself will have multiple shows running on each day. After the school perform they will be adjudicated by Tanya Ryga, from the Red Deer College drama department.

Each play will be given a short tech rehearsal, an hour or two, at H.J. Cody to go over their show and get used to the facility before show time.

“It’s exciting to see the students come into a new facility and learn about it on the fly to be up and running that night,” Renwick said.

H.J. Cody will be presenting five plays over the course of the weekend: Cagebirds, Watermelon Boats, Chicken Salad, Armed Robbery for Dummies and 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse.

Along with plays from H.J. Cody students there will also be pieces from the students at Lindsey Thurber, Hunting Hills, St. Joes Notre Dame and Olds.

Community members are invited to watch over the weekend of April 26-28. Tickets will be $5 a session or $10 for the weekend, and will be available at the door.

The top two plays will perform the following week at the provincial festival on the main stage at Red Deer College.


Holden Rauch acts like a sad child becasue he can’t be a unicorn during a warm up session before rehearsals begin for one of the five one acts student at H.J. Cody are working on for the festival. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

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