Eight great days to — what?


“It’s going to be eight great days to ‘play’ in May,” raves Nathan Linders, SOAP president. Since last spring, the South Okanagan Amateur Players have been gearing up for the largest theatrical event Oliver has ever seen: the Okanagan Zone Drama Festival. The local troupe is eager to roll out the red carpet for visiting actors and audiences alike from May 21 to 28 at the Frank Venables Theatre.

Seven competing companies from across the Okanagan are excited to set foot on the Venables stage, mounting a fresh play every night at 7:30 p.m.  From rambunctious comedy to gripping mystery to angst-ridden drama, the week promises to be a thrilling emotional rollercoaster. “All the plays look so good,” says Linders, clearly impressed with the lineup. “I want to see them all.” The Shuswap region, Vernon, Kelowna, Princeton and South Okanagan will all be showing off their acting chops.  SOAP will enter the comedy-drama Sleeping Indoors by Jim Holt, directed by Jen Jensen.

Each play is adjudicated by professional TV actor and theatre director, Garry Davey, who has appeared in The X-Files and DaVinci’s Inquest. Audiences are included in the fun. Not only do they hear a brief review after each play, the public is welcome to attend an in-depth seminar each following morning to watch the adjudicator “workshop” key scenes with the cast. Glean insights into character, blocking, costuming, and technical design. These daily “Coffee Critiques” begin at 11 a.m. in the Venables’ lobby. A wine bar and appies accompany evening performances, while coffee and pastries are served at the morning workshops.

Tickets, discount packages, and awards banquet reservations are all available online at www.soplayers.ca/festival along with details about each play. Discounts on multi-show packages make the event very affordable, whether a trio of favourites or a full week’s indulgence. A single ticket at the door is $22.50. Students get in for $8 a show.

At the conclusion of the festival, the adjudicator will declare winners in more than a dozen categories, including the overall winning performance. That troupe wins a spot in the provincial Mainstage Festival in July with a chance to be named the top theatrical production in all BC.

It may not be the Oscars, but the O-Zone Awards Banquet on the final night will give the public a chance to rub elbows with the stars of the festival. The evening begins with a buffet dinner at 6 p.m., catered by Neon Wolfe Creations. After the awards ceremony, actors and audiences mingle on the dance floor, with rock band 13 Broken Bones pumping out the classic hits of the 70s and 80s. Tickets for the O-Zone Awards Banquet are online for $32.

Stars and stage lights will be shining brightly for “eight great days in May”. Don’t miss the drama – and the laughs.

Photo: SOAP members Bernice Myllyniemi, Aimee Grice, Diane Gludovatz and Nathan Linders accept the Okanagan Zone Drama Festival banner from O-Zone chair Adele Kuyek (centre)