Actor’s Workshop Theatre opens with Canadian play: Village of Idiots

Samantha Garvey, Roving Editor  Ω

TRU Actor’s Workshop Theatre kicks off this season with its first production, Village of Idiots, playing nightly from Oct. 11 to 13 and 18 to 20. Village of Idiots is about a Russian Army deserter who winds up in the village of Chelm in Poland where things don’t seem quite right to the outsider.

“It’s a farce comedy but there’s also a deeper story to it,” said Kelsey Gilker, a fourth-year theatre arts student who plays the part of Miriam in the production. She said the plot is usually secondary to the humour in most farce productions, but that isn’t the case with Village of Idiots. Audiences can still expect the high energy performance typical of farce comedy, according to Gilker.
As well as four classes, Gilker is participating in a work-study program as the publicity coordinator for the Actor’s Workshop Theatre, which has been a huge help to promote the productions and grow the program. Last year’s productions, A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream and Death of a Salesman, had an overwhelming reception in the community and many sold-out nights.

“All publicity [effort] was thrown on directors, [which was then] pushed to the back of their mind because they’re focused on the show,” Gilker said.

The lead character Yosef is played by Jared Rashke, who has been co-lead in past productions but this is his first time taking centre stage of a major production.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” he said.

In the theatre arts program, students take courses not just in acting but directing and technical production among other subjects. Raschke said he would like to one day work in technical production while Gilker would like to continue to work in promotion and publicity.

Students are responsible for all aspects of the production including lights, costume, hair and makeup, set and props. Rascke built several props himself.

Positions in the production are open to all students and a handful of the 17-member cast comes from other departments, such as business administration. The core is mostly made up of fourth-year theatre majors who have known each other and worked closely for three previous seasons.

Village of Idiots was written by John Lazarus, a prominent Canadian  playwright.

“I love that we’re doing a Canadian work,” Gilker said. “People don’t always recognize it… It’s important for us to be showing it off.”

The community of Kamloops has been a support to the group. Western Canada Theatre has lent equipment and set pieces to the TRU department. Occasionally, the company opens its auditions to students which gives them experience in the professional world.

“They’re a wonderful support to us,” Gilker said.

This year the theatre underwent a facelift, drawing attention to the entrance with a dramatic black finish. Raschke said it’s good to highlight the place as last year he met students who didn’t know TRU had a theatre major.

In addition to the new look, the schedule has also been altered to start several weeks earlier than last year, in order to avoid any productions that might interfere with exam schedules or students that have already returned home for the winter or summer breaks.

On the Oct. 13 showing, a dinner theatre experience will be offered, where patrons can enjoy a meal by the Culinary Arts department before seeing the show for a ticket price of $65.

Upcoming plays this season are The Good Soul of Szechuan at the end of November and Curse of the Starving Class in February and March 2013.

Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the box office in Old Main which is open weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or at Kamloops Live Box Office at kamloopslive.ca.