Event coordinator and Seaton Secondary drama instructor Lana O’Brien (right) leads Grade 12 student Will Oxtoby of Kelowna’s Okanagan Mission Secondary and Grade 11 Vernon Secondary School product Aleena Isobe as they mourn the death of fellow Grade 11 VSS student Carmen Sampson in a quick skit of William Shakespeare’s Henry V as part of the 18th annual Goodwill Shakespeare Festival April 16. (Parker Crook/Morning Star)

Goodwill Shakespeare festival returns to Vernon

Okanagan schools descend upon Vernon for 18th annual Goodwill Shakespeare festival

Last year, the festival had its Vernon debut. This year, it’s bigger and better than ever.

The 18th annual Goodwill Shakespeare festival kicked off at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Monday, drawing in more than 360 students from 20 schools across the Interior for professional workshops centred around theatre, film and TV.

“I think the magic of this festival is some of the kids only see each other once every year and look forward to making new friends every year,” said festival coordinator and Seaton Secondary drama instructor Lana O’Brien.

Now in it’s second year in Vernon, O’Brien and fellow organizer and Summerland drama instructor Linda Beaven said Vernon is the perfect town for the festival to flourish.

Related: Students recreate Shakespearian legends

Beaven originally kickstarted the festival in 1999 in Summerland alongside fellow instructors Sandra Richardson and Mike Robinson to provide a hands-on program for Interior students interested in pursuing a career in the arts.

“I think in their own schools, art students tend to be outsiders,” Beaven said. “Here they think, ‘Other kids are just like me.’”

O’Brien agreed.

“There’s a fellowship. They kind of already all speak the same language,” O’Brien said. “There’s an understanding of how you work in a theatre.”

Unlike in the Lower Mainland, Beaven said, students in the Interior don’t have the same access to careers in the arts. To mitigate that shortfall, the Goodwill Shakespeare festival brings in industry professionals to teach the students the ropes. And, in that aspect, Beaven said the festival excels.

“It’s not just sitting at your desk. I think, at the end of it, they think, ‘I can do that,’” Beaven said.

“It kind of opens the world to them. That’s why this was started,” O’Brien added. “This is a way of bringing it to our rural kids. Any education in the arts is critical for the development of young humans.”

Students value the opportunity so much that they start banging on their doors as early as September, they said.

In addition to a growing crowd, this year’s festivities also offer two new intensives: photography and tech.

“We also put out opportunities for kids who don’t enjoy the performance aspect of theatre,” O’Brien said.

Separated into two groups – the drama groups and intensive groups — students in the drama strand rotate through a sampling of workshops in a variety of fields. Intensive students focus on workshops surrounding one specific sector and must have attended two previous festivals and/or have a strong interest in their chosen field.

“There’s just something magical about getting these art students together in one place,” O’Brien said.

After relocating from Summerland, the festival lost its primary sponsor and is searching for community support. O’Brien has started a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $10,000.

“It’s a very expensive endeavour,” O’Brien said. “We’d love to help keep the festival growing.”

Eight schools will showcase performances from their schools Monday and Tuesday evening from 5-7 p.m., and on Wednesday from 1-3:30 p.m., the acting, choral, writing and photography students will be showcasing the work they have done over the three days of the festival at the Gala.

All of these performances are open to the public by donation, at the Performing Arts Centre, with donations going toward future festivals.


Parker Crook | Reporter

Send Parker an email.
Like the The Morning Star on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna’s strategy to address homelessness making headway says city

More than $830,000 of the $2.7 million needed to get the strategy going has now been raised

Demolish it or we will, City of Kelowna staff tell owners of derelict former motel

Former Ponderosa Motel is unsafe and used by squatters, drug users and the homeless says city

Kelowna firm encourages annual medication reviews for seniors

Accessible way for families to advocate for their elderly parents

Opening a pot shop in Kelowna will be costly

City to charge a total of $10,500 just to apply and get rezoning for a store

Kelowna rapper, Mr. Wisdom addresses the opioid crisis with his music

The musician says he has lost at least 25 of his friends to date

Your morning news in 90: Sept. 25, 2018

Tune in for 90 seconds to get the top headlines for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

U.S. worker charged after video shows him spitting on cusomer’s pizza

Jaylon Kerley of Detroit is charged with a felony count of food law violations

Andrew Weaver congratulates New Brunswick on electing first Green caucus

Election win means there are now three provincial Green Party caucuses in Canada

Around the BCHL: Merritt’s Matthew Kopperud nets Sun Devil scholarship

Around the BCHL is a look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

Father, 9-year-old son killed in crash along B.C. highway

RCMP say family of five was hit head-on by a pickup truck north of Williams Lake

2 B.C. police departments won’t use new saliva test to detect high drivers

The Dräger DrugTest 5000 is designed to find THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Trudeau looks to restart Canada’s UN charm offensive in New York City

Freeland says the question of job retraining in the 21st century — and the uncertainty that surrounds it — is the federal government’s central preoccupation.

Most Read