Local actor continues to shine
Drama: Dewdney Players return from festival with best acting award and several runners up
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 10:38 am
Emotions ran high as actors stepped on the stage to give their best performance in an annual drama competition in High River last weekend.
It was the survivor of the holocaust who garnered the most attention in the dark one-act play “Breakfast with Willy” where Okotoks Dewdney Players Group Theatres’ Stephen Buoninsegni was awarded Outstanding Male Actor for his role as Willy at the 2013 Foothills Region One Act Play Festival March 15 and 16.
The play, which was runner up for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Play, tells the story of an unlikely encounter between two people from opposite life experiences.
“It’s so emotional,” Buoninsegni said of the play. “Willy really takes you on a journey. There is a lot of anger, emotions, tears and touching moments where there is some humour.”
Willy is an older Polish gentleman who survived the holocaust, but lost his family and moved to America where he worked as a grocery stock boy.
Playing Willy was not an easy role for Buoninsegni, but he attributes his success to the support he received from director Florence Maione, fellow actress Denise Marchand and other members of the Dewdney Players. He said there was also a higher power involved.
“This was a spiritual journey for me in so many ways because there is a lot of dark moments when you feel like I’m never gonna get this,” he said.
Buoninsegni explained as the competition neared “Breakfast with Willy” faced a few hurdles when Maione became tied up and Marchand was temporarily ill and they weren’t able to rehearse. They then learned they were performing in the Saturday afternoon slot for the festival, often the least attended by the public.
In addition, Buoninsegni was exhausted from weeks of rehearsals on top of working as a full time drama teacher at Bishop O’Byrne High School in Calgary and he began questioning his ability as an actor. Somehow it all came together in the end.
Adjudicator Jen-Jeanine Roberts struggled between “Breakfast with Willy” and High River’s Windmill Theatre Players’ “The Way of All Fish” for the Outstanding Play title.
“It was so close to winning,” Buoninsegni said of his play. “It’s a great compliment because you work hard at something and to be that close you feel disappointed that you didn’t win but to know it was such a tough decision you feel like your efforts weren’t in vain.”
Dewdney Players presented three plays at the 2013 Foothills Regional One Act Play Festival, which included nine one-act plays presented by drama groups in Okotoks, High River, Airdrie, Cochrane and Canmore. The event was hosted by the Alberta Drama Festival Association and Windmill Theatre Players.
Okotokian Sue Gothard was awarded runner up for Outstanding Female Actor for her role of Julia in the play “Julia” written by husband Reg Gothard.
Gothard played a woman whose husband leaves her for another man and is confronted with her own homophobic tendencies.
“She has a bit of an edge to her,” said Gothard of Julia. “It was difficult to do. I’m nothing like that.”
Gothard, who won Outstanding Female Actor in the 2007 festival, felt ready to take on a monologue this year and asked her husband to write the play for her. She has been a part of the Dewdney Players for 19 years as both director and actress.
“It’s just something that was on my bucket list,” she said, adding being a math tutor doesn’t leave her much room to rehearse with other actors in the evening.
With the help of director Sandy Dickson and set designer Gayle Riddekopp, Gothard give her best performance.
“It was challenging and it was fun, especially when (Julia) trashes the hotel room at the end,” she said. “If your day hasn’t gone quite right after a rehearsal you feel relaxed (after that).”
Gothard said the competition was fierce and she couldn’t help but agree with Roberts’ decision to award Outstanding Female Actor to an actress from the Windmill Theatre’s production of “The Way of the Fish.”
“The actress I came second to was incredible,” she said. “I don’t feel at all ashamed.”
Dewdney Players president and former producer Ed Sands said he is proud of the work accomplished by those involved in the one-act plays “Breakfast With Willy,” “Julia” and “Traces of Memory.”
This year’s productions followed on the heels of tremendous success last year where the group theatre was awarded Outstanding Male Actor, Outstanding Female Actor and Outstanding Play in the foothills festival, bringing them to the provincial one act festival in Canmore where they were awarded Outstanding Play and Outstanding Director, said Sands.
To top it off, Buoninsegni has now won the title of outstanding actor three years in a row.
“He’s just so good,” said Sands. “He’s just so evocative it’s just amazing. This guy has got talent and we are so happy he does it under the Dewdney Players.”
Those not able to watch the Dewdney Players’ one-act plays in Okotoks earlier this month have the opportunity on March 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rotary Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are available at the door.
“These are a little different than our usual fare,” said Sands. “These are darker, a little gloomy.”