Okotoks actors shine at regional festival
Theatre: Dewdney Players’ piece earns invitation to provincials
By: John Barlow
| Posted: Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 09:43 am
It was one of the most emotionally intense plays ever taken on by the Dewdney Players Group Theatre, but they could not have been more excited about the results.
At the Regional One Act Play Festival held last month in Okotoks the Dewdney Players Group Theatre dominated the awards winning three major awards including Outstanding Production of a Play for their presentation of the painful play “Heart in the Ground”. Veteran actor Steve Buoninsegni was honoured with the Best Male Actor award for his role of “Lee” in “Heart in the Ground” and Florence Maione was runner-up in the Best Female Actor category.
As a result, Okotoks’ Dewdney Players Group Theatre production of “Heart in the Ground” was invited to compete at the provincial one act play festival to be held in Grande Prairie in May.
For Buoninsegni, being honoured at the regional festival has become old hat as he has won the Best Male Actor award an impressive four times.
Buoninsegni said he has to thank his family, his fellow cast and crew, directors and his faith for his success.
“I dedicate all of my acting success to God who has always given me inspiration, stamina and courage,” said Buoninsegni. “My family has been so patient, I have to thank them for their support.”
The Okotoks actor said all four of the acting awards are meaningful and one is not more important than the other.
“I am obviously honoured and extremely grateful,” he said. “It is always a relief when (the festival) is over because it is physically and mentally draining.”
Acting and the arts have been an integral part of Buoninsegni’s life. After high school he went to Vancouver to pursue acting before returning to school to earn an Education degree. He now teaches drama at Bishop O’Byrne School in Calgary.
“In junior high I caught the acting bug and it was something I really wanted to pursue,” he explained. “Throughout my life there have been a lot of disappointments, but a lot of affirmations as well. Acting has always been a part of my life.”
Although he gave up his pursuit of a professional acting career some time ago, being honoured for his exemplary work in community theatre keeps the acting embers burning for the Okotokian.
He said he understands the awards are not Oscars or a Tony, but he is still be adjudicated by professionals in the business and they are recognizing the work he is doing is of a high caliber.
“These awards give me a spark, a little confidence,” he said. “It is exhilarating. Unfortunately, we are always being graded in life, judged, and I hate that, but at the same time if some recognition comes my way I welcome it with open arms. When an opportunity comes along it might as well be celebrated.”
Once again Buoninsegni is celebrating with his co-star Florence Maione who played Karen in “Hearts in the Ground”.
The two have been regular winners at the regional festival with Maione winning the Best Female Actor award two years ago and has been named runner-up several times.
“I feel like Meryl Streep,” said Maione with a laugh referring to Streep’s many Oscar nominations. “If I am being compared to Meryl Streep I think I can live with that.”
Maione said it is simply an honour to be recognized at the one act play festivals as the caliber of work being done by community theatres is improving each year and the quality of talent is second to none.
“They are raising the bar, picking interesting pieces and bringing that to the festivals,” said Maione of the community theatre companies.
None more so than the Dewdney Players Group Theatre led by Maione and Buoninsegni who share a unique relationship Maione and Buoninsegni on stage. The talented duo is not afraid to take on difficult pieces and push each other to reach their potential.
“There are no egos involved when we work together,” said Maione. “Steve is the best, but he doesn’t know it and he doesn’t care about it. He wants the best for you and we challenge each other.”
Buoninsegni agreed with his partner’s assessment of why they are so successful together.
“We are comfortable together and we explore new angles and we trust the other person,” he explained. “Florence is an outstanding actress and director — I trust her.”
They both trusted each other to take on “Heart in the Ground”, which is a powerful play about a couple dealing with the death of their infant child. It tells the story of how the tragedy ripped them apart with grief and how they battled to rebuild their relationship.
Maione said they have a chance to win some hardware at the provincials with this play.
“It is a very intricate piece,” she said. “It is an intense rollercoaster ride, but not a happy one. It shows life is unfair and sad. It is definitely a story about the journey this couple goes through and how they gain strength together.”
Maione said she and Buoninsegni also take strength from their support group led by Dewdney Players president Ed Sands and stage manager Brandon Duarte.
She said they could not have produced such an intricate piece without their dedication and support.
“This is such a team effort, we could not have done it without them,” said Maione.
The Dewdney Players Group Theatre’s “Heart in the Ground” will be at the provincial festival in Grande Prairie May 2-3.