Actors a smash in winning awards

Performing Arts: Duo wins awards at provincial festival despite disqualification

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 08:03 am

Stephen Buoninsegni and Fiorentina (Florence) Maione perform an emotional scene in their one-act play Heart in the Ground at the provincial one act festival in Grand Prairie earlier this month.
Stephen Buoninsegni and Fiorentina (Florence) Maione perform an emotional scene in their one-act play Heart in the Ground at the provincial one act festival in Grand Prairie earlier this month.
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Two Okotokians known for their award-winning performances were hit with a spell of bad luck that only got worse during the one act provincial competition in Grand Prairie earlier this month - and still returned home with awards.

Dewdney Players Group Theatre’s dynamic acting duo Fiorentina (Florence) Maione and Stephen Buoninsegni struggled to find time to rehearse their highly-emotional 30-minute play Heart in the Ground and Buoninsegni suffered from a cold, putting them at a disadvantage in the Provincial One Act Play Festival on May 2 and 3.

Then, as Maione and Buoninsegni performed one of their emotionally-charged scenes in their heart-wrenching performance about a couple emotionally torn apart by the loss of their baby as they battle to rebuild their relationship, Maione bumped dishes of food on the table, causing a bowl to shatter and food to spill all over the floor.

“I had to keep going,” said Maione. “It’s live theatre. You can’t go, ‘Just a second. Pause it! Pause it!”

When it was time for the scene change, Maione, Buoninsegni and producer Ed Sands frantically rushed to move the props and clean the mess before the next scene.

“It was a huge mess to clean up,” Maione said. “Ed and Steve were very concerned about my feet and that took some time away.”

Sands said performers are allotted five minutes for scene changes, and with their stage manager Brandon Duarte unable to get time off work to join them at provincials the three were on their own to clean the mess.

“I’m running on the stage looking for the broom to sweep this stuff up and Florence has a mop and is mopping madly,” said Sands.

With the mess partially cleaned up, Maione and Buoninsegni continued their emotionally-charged story as if nothing had happened.

“It was difficult to not slip, the floor was all wet,” said Maione of the following scene. “I had to be careful not to fall. Corn and beans were everywhere. In my hair, all over my dress, all over Steve.”

Following their performance, the one act festival committee called the trio into a private meeting and informed them they were disqualified for best overall play for exceeding their time limit between scenes by six minutes, said Buoninsegni.

“We had gotten the conditions and the regulations, but you sometimes bypass all of that thinking it’s going to be okay,” he said. “It never really registered in my mind that we’re breaking a huge rule here. You don’t think of those things. You think more about the show you are doing.”

Despite the qualification, Maione nabbed best actress, her second with Dewdney Players, and Buoninsegni best actor, his fourth. At the regional festival in Okotoks in March, the duo was awarded outstanding production, best male actor and runner up for best female actor

“The awards were really icing on the cake,” said Buoninsegni. “We didn’t expect that to happen at all because of the whole kerfuffle with us taking too long to strike the set and being disqualified. It was close to an hour when we thought all was lost.”

Maione said she heard comments from the audience that the play was magical and amazing, and people thanked them for their performance.

“They felt our play was so powerful they felt they would make a concession and allow us to be eligible for all other awards besides best production,” she said. “I felt that was a fair compromise because our acting, directing, set or technical didn’t have anything to do with clean up.”

Buoninsegni said he is still shaking his head over the whole thing.

“It’s so surreal,” he said. “There were so many things going against us. Getting that acknowledgement means you are on the right track.”

Among the most impressed with the performance is Sands.

“They nailed it,” he said. “The emotion was intense. I just think they’re a pair of incredible actors. They are very talented.”

Sands said the duo performed in provincials in 2012 and won best production, best female actor and best male actor in the Dewdney Players Group Theatre’s first time at that level in the one act festival.

“I think this was a better play, even though we got disqualified, than the one two years ago,” he said. “It certainly raises the bar.”

Maione and Buoninsegni are already making plans to perform in the one act festival next spring in what they expect will continue to challenge themselves as actors.


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