Editor’s Note: This article originally ran on April 13, 2001.
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran on April 13, 2001. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are tapping into our archives more, particularly for arts and sports. This special section will return to its regular schedule when the crisis concludes.
By Rich Gossen
The local performing arts talent pool has hit a high watermark.
For only the second time in its history, the Horizon Players community theatre group has won the award for outstanding play at a provincial drama festival.
The first occurred seven or eight years ago when Barb Weaver directed Sorrows and Sons. The second was last weekend in Medicine Hat when Seeds, written by Calgary playwright Gordon Pengilly and directed by Horizon Players president Norm Usiskin, took the Alberta Drama Festival Association trophy for outstanding play and the Theatre Alberta 2001 Award of Excellence.
The win means the Players have assured a spot at this summer’s Fringe Theatre Festival in Edmonton, Usiskin said.
The opportunity for more performances is a welcome one, he said. The Players started working on Seeds in late January, performed it once during an evening of one-act plays at Horizon Stage in Spruce Grove, performed it again at the regional one-act play festival hosted by the Horizon Players and once again at the provincial competition. The play’s Fringe run, though not yet finalized, will more than double the chance for cast and crew to demonstrate their abilities.
Seeds is set in the 1950s and centres on a farm couple who have had an unhappy 20-year marriage, Usiskin explained. They have given up trying to communicate with one another.
During the play, the audience learns about an incident Isa, played by Averill Malysh, and Pat, played by Patrick Gilmore, have never resolved.
Pat hired a drifter during the Depression years who became the son he never had. The youth also became the lover Isa desired.
Pat saw the two together and never confronted them, but later killed the hired hand.
The couple has never talked about their loss, and the audience only finds out about their sadness and loneliness as they recall the past.
Seeds is a “fairly heavy play” without a lot of light moments, Usiskin acknowledged, but both characters gain the support of the audience.
Malysh won the award for best performance by an actress at the provincial competition.
Seven of the 12 zones were represented in Medicine Hat, Usiskin said.
He thought the Players had a shot at winning the trophy for outstanding play, but, after hearing the adjudicator’s remarks, began to have doubts.
Daniel Hall, a professor at the University of Calgary, prefaced his comments by saying memory plays are difficult for both the actors and the director to pull off. That led Usiskin to believe the Players hadn’t lived up to expectations.
When the troupe learned otherwise, of course, he, Malysh, Gilmore and stage manager Megan Lindmark were “thrilled” and “honoured”.
“Needless to say, we were very excited … overwhelmed.”
For the next little while, however, the Players will bask in the glow of achievement while shifting their attention elsewhere. Their production of Steven Sondheim’s Company opens April 20.
Tickets are available through the Horizon Stage box office in King Street Mall.
Usiskin hopes the Players’ win at provincials will convince a few more people that the talent being displayed locally is of high calibre and well worth seeing.
For more information, call 962-8995.
If you know of any arts that are still happening in the area, email email@example.com.