Festival Dionysia – UBC Players Club

The Dionysia Festival, organized by the UBC Players Club, runs from 7pm February 26th to March 1st with a 2pm show on the 2nd, at the Dorothy Somerset Studio. You can buy your tickets online at http://ubcplayersclub.goodnights.me/ or cash-only at the door. Prices are $5 dollars for club members, and $10 for non-members.

Wednesday night was the premiere of the Players Club Festival Dionysia at the Dorothy Somerset Studio. The festival, in its third year, celebrates theatre and creativity by producing multiple one-act shows. This year there are 6 plays spanning a wide range of subjects and genres – all directed, acted and staged by UBC students, alumni, and other members of the Vancouver community. The festival is an excellent example of the power of theatre in creating community at UBC and in the greater Vancouver area. The Players Club (which happens to be UBC’s oldest club on campus) is an excellent place for students to get involved, regardless of background or theatre experience, in creative and theatrical work.

I visited the cast and crew on Tuesday, before their final dress rehearsal, to talk to some people about their experiences. What I found was a diverse group of people ranging from UBC alumni to professional TV actors, and theatre students to Business and PoliSci majors. For some of them this was their first experience working on a show. “I’m not in the theatre department so my only experience has been with the Players Club but I think this is a great way to get your foot in the door” Abigail, a Assistant Stage Manager told me backstage, “I haven’t acted or done anything related to the theatre before, but I was able to do this position and so now if I wanted to something more, like if I wanted to direct, this was a great way to start.”

“I came and saw a lot of plays here before, but didn’t know what was behind it. So it’s really cool to be behind the scenes and a great first step for anyone who wants to get experience and try something new” Cyrilla, another Assistant Stage Manager, added.

I also spoke to some of the directors about their thoughts on the whole experience. Joylyn, a second year student in the acting program, spoke about how much she learned in this her first directing role. “My acting experience has helped, but I definitely realized how hard directing can be.”

“Yeah as a director you need to learn how to be calm,” fifth-year theatre student John added, “you can’t let your nervousness become contagious.”

“I’ve learned that directors have feelings too!” Joylyn replied.

There were quite a few actors in the plays that were non-theatre students. Connor, a first year Arts student hoping to study International Relations, joined the Players Club after seeing their booth on Imagine Day. Since then he has already had a role in a production earlier this year called Never The Sinner. “As a first year, I was very surprised to get a role. I had a minor role but I was so thrilled because it was an eight-person performance. I plan on keeping my eyes open for more things upcoming with the club.”

In his fourth year studying Business, James had always enjoyed acting in high school. Wanting to keep that going through university he joined the Players Club.“Being in Sauder, there aren’t that many people that share this passion. So it’s been really cool to go to the Players Club and connect with other people that share those interests.”

“I’ve always just done theatre because I love it” Sarah, a UBC alumni, shared. “To me theatre was always a passion of mine and I never tried to do it as a job. As for joining the Players Club, it was a combination of the right place and the right time.” She saw a post about the festival at the Vancouver Public Library, which is how she connected with the club. “I’m sure they would find a lot of UBC alum that would love coming back and doing something like this. It’s a great way for alumni to stay connected with the UBC community.”

As club President Carolyn told me, the festival includes workshop sessions where the volunteers get to hone their skills. “It’s very much a learning and teaching process as well.” The club organizes many other events, such as play readings every other Friday, where students can come read plays out loud and meet new people. All in all it shows how inclusive and welcoming the club is. Walking backstage, it seems as though everyone is very friendly and close to each other, friendships have developed quickly as the preparation for the festival are only 5 weeks long. “It’s really great building community through theatre.” John said. He and Joylyn, who met through the club, are now working together on a production for this summer’s Fringe Festival.

“Seeing it all coming together so quickly has been the most amazing thing,” said James. “I haven’t acted in years which is why I am so excited. That moment, right before opening night, it’s just the best feeling.”

Photos Credits: Javier Sotres