dramafest 2003
an adventure to remember

a story from one actress' point of view

It was a regular February the fifth. The bell signaling the end of classes and the school day chimed through the halls of JL Crowe Secondary School. Students filed through the halls, pushing past one another to reach the exits. All except a certain few Drama Students were in a rush to end the day. For them, an adventure was just beginning. This is the story of my personal experiences (and for the most part, those of the residents of room 129 at the Sandman Inn, Cranbrook) at the Kootenay Drama Festival 2003, otherwise known as Dramafest.
It was about 3:00. Well, truth be told, it was most likely a little later, seeing as we weren't exactly on schedule. We lugged baggage and props and costumes from the Drama Room to outside, across the quad, and to where the van was waiting. This was it. The Van to Cran. However, after opening the doors of our glorious and surely spacious method of transport, it seemed......well....not so glorious. Upon opening said doors, we received our first major shock. There was very little extra room, only small pieces of baggage could fit behind the seat, and the rest of people's belongings were shoved beneath seats and in our one extra seat. Mike was the one who co-ordinated all of this, and I was quite amazed he actually fit everything. So, regardless of the lack of storage space everything turned out fine. We all piled in and went on our merry way.
I was in the first row of seats with Alison, my decided 'buddy' for the weekend. Mrs. Micasso was on the other side of Alison. Behind us was Legs, Carolyn, and the ever-adorable Megan. The seat behind was Sarah, Jenna, and Mike, while the back row was Jessica, Jeff and a buncha bags. I can't quite remember what was talked about on that trip for certain, but that van was filled with an air of excitement. I don't think any of us had ever been so excited to go to Cranbrook. Indeed, I was even more excited than I was when I had gone to my first Dramafest two years ago. But as it always goes, 'it's all who you're with'. And when the energy is high like it was with this group of people from Crowe, you're bound to have a good time.
The trip in the van was slowly coming to an end as we saw the rows of lights indicating Cranbrook was ahead. We had lost an hour, so where it was 5:30 at home, it was 6:30 here. Or around there. I don't quite recall the time. As we came into the city, we found ourselves following the most demonic looking school bus we'd ever seen. We would later find out that this bus carried the students from LVR, which quite easily explained it's demonic-looking nature (kidding). The bus pulled in right in front of the hotel, forcing us to park at the side and lug all our baggage and such into the Lobby. While we were standing in the parking lot waiting for Miss Baloc's word that we could go inside to our rooms, the bus from LVR unloaded it's contents, people and bags alike, while another bus pulled in, though I can't recall which school that one was.
We were standing, huddled by our van and observing the scene as masses of people milled about the parking lot. Alison and I had run around a bit to stretch our legs, our feet glad to be in contact with the ground again. As we observed, one of the people we immediately noticed was a boy carrying a soccer ball. He started kicking it around and playing with it and such. We stood in a circle, chatting and trying to see if there were any good-looking guys from LVR, and suddenly, a soccer ball came flying toward dear Alison's head. We all looked down at the ball, then up at the guy jogging towards us.
"Um...can I have my ball back?" he said.
We gave it back to him, and after he left someone made the comment of "That was the worst pick-up line I've ever heard." We had a good laugh for a bit, and after a while, Miss Baloc said it was alright to go into the lobby. As we walked in there were all sorts of people, and it was really quite an amazing sight. We set our bags down at the back of the lobby, near the hallway towards the rooms. And then I spotted Yehudi, a former acquaintance from the Dramafest past. I yelled out his name and he turned, looking at me with confusion. I waved and chimed, "Hi, do you remember me?"
Suddenly his eyes lit up, and he smiled, running over he gave me a hug. "Britz!"
I was surprised he actually remembered my nickname. I introduced him to the group of JL Crowe students, but quickly had to leave, as Miss Baloc was about to issue room keys. As it turned out, I was to stay in a room with Carolyn Fererro, Jessica Micasso, and Megan Talarski. I was somewhat disappointed that my lovely buddy Alison would not be in the same room as me, but we agreed to be buddies for everything else. After we all went to our respective rooms, picked out beds and quickly made a change of clothes, we headed to Denny's for a quick bite to eat, and then it was back to the van and over to the Key City Theatre.
Considering the theatre and school are about two blocks from the hotel, it was sad how long it took us to get there. First of all we had about six different people shouting directions at our driver, Mr. Marindino, and we actually ended up making a rather large retarded circle before actually arriving at the theatre. Bursting with excitement, we rushed into the building. I smiled upon entering those familiar doors. There was a certain thing about this theatre I had always loved from the moment I first set foot in it two years ago. Perhaps it was that at Dramafest you can actually feel the positive energy emanating from the people within the building. Perhaps. I don't think I'll ever know. All I know is the comfort and contentment I feel in that theatre. And that's all I need.
Being the only Drama Festival Veteran, I marched over to the table where the sign-up sheets for workshops were, explaining to the best of my knowledge what and where some of the workshops were. I was about to start signing up when Miss Baloc informed us that the next play had already begun, and we were late. Dropping the pen, I hurried up the stairs and into the theatre, where I immediately recognized the play on stage as being by Parkland. We filed into a nice empty row of seats near the back left hand side of the house and sat down to watch Parkland's puppet rendition of The Pied Piper. I'd always been fascinated and impressed with the work done by this school. The amount of time and effort it must take to put together the puppets and the blocking being so well done.....it just blows me away.
We enjoyed our 10 min. intermission after the play by signing up for various workshops. Alison and I decided upon a dance workshop on Thursday morning, and Film Acting for the afternoon on Friday, as our schedules only allowed us to attend two workshops. There was also quite a few other people who took dance with us; Sydnie, Mike, Jenna and Carolyn. We headed back up the stairs for the next play, which was Mt. Baker's, though we didn't know it then. We'd come so late that the programs for the evening were no longer out.
The lights in the house went down as we stared at an empty stage, then realized that the action was across the house, over to the right. Two people were in the aisle leading down to the stage, and straining our ears, trying to understand what they were saying, we realized they were talking in an accent. The very same accent we were to use in our play. Megan was quite displeased that they actually used one of her sayings in the play, which was either 'oi gevalt' or 'povlie', I can't remember which.
But anyway, as I looked down upon this play, something about the Rabbi seemed strangely familiar. I squinted, trying to see better and cursing my horrible eyesight. Was that Rylan? At some moment I convinced myself it had to be, but then my vision blurred out again and I wasn't quite sure. Sighing in defeat, I sank into my seat and decided just to enjoy the play and worry about finding Rylan, my bud from the past dramafest, later. I must say though, the most impressive part of that play was the monologue by Shmendrick. It totally blew me away, as well as delighted me. Although I was somewhat confused with where it ended.......and I know I'm not alone there.
In what seemed like a blur, we were back down in the lobby of the theatre again and being rushed outside and back into the van. I found myself wishing I was walking to and from the hotel and school like we had to do two years ago. Much better exercise, and a lot less cramped. So anyway, we got back to the hotel, and once more masses of students were standing stupidly like a herd of deer in headlights in the lobby.
I think it was then (or it was at least sometime that night) that I decided to show everyone the art of meeting people. A simple concept and easy enough skill to master, though some people are just not capable of it. So, picking some random people I did not know, I went up and introduced myself. And from there on in it became this incredible, massive trend. It was so strange, but so....so....wonderful and amazing to see so many different people in ranging age, social, and school groups associating with each other. I know I can't take all the credit for this one, but I sorta feel I started it. Broke the ice. Paved the way for others. I don't really care if people recognize me for it or not. I was just happy that so many people were making new friends.
After a while, not wanting to stay still for too long, Jeff, Yehudi and I found ourselves wandering the hallways of the hotel. Chatting, catching up on old times, stuff such as that. Anyway, after about 15 minutes I found myself heading down the hall back towards our room by myself when Carolyn and Megan came rushing down the hall.
"We were looking for you! And then we remembered you were with that....that...Hoodie guy! We thought he raped you or something!"
All I could do was laugh an reply simply, "I was just going for a walk."
So heading back to our room, we made plans to settle in for the night quite soon. We all changed into our pajamas, and checked out our hotel room. Upon inspection, we discovered a switch that didn't turn any lights on or off. In fact, it didn't seem to do anything. Nothing at all. So, not knowing what else to call it, we dubbed the thing the 'Earthquake in China Switch', implying that, yes, it controlled earthquakes in China. As we were settling down for bed, we heard a commotion out in the hallway. All four of us creeped to our door and peeked out. What was going on? Well, thats just what we asked, to which we received the reply: "We're filling our bathtub with ice."
The ice machine, you see, was right across the hallway from us. And hoards of people from LVR were putting ice in anything they possibly could and running back to this one room. It started with, I believe, four girls, and just kept growing in number.
After about five minutes of stunned observation, we decided it was best to turn in for the night. Of course, the second we turned out the light Megan, who was hyper already, had to go to the bathroom. Not two seconds after she entered the bathroom, we hear, "OH MY GOD THE TOILET FLUSHED ITSELF!!!" And so we became aware of the fact that in room 129, the toilet was possessed. Yes, I kid you not. A possessed toilet that flushes by itself every minute and thirty seconds. We convinced her, at least, that the toilet would not hurt her, and settled down for sleep when Megan suddenly screeched; "There's a moose in our room you guys, I'm not even joking!!!" And with that she leapt from her bed and turned on the light to find -- the hanging lampshade. Oh, but there was a moose....you trust me....there was a moose.
Possessed toilets, mooses, filling bathtubs with ice, and switches that cause earthquakes in Asian countries aside, we all settled down for a nice evening of, you guessed it, sleep. I was just about there to, clutching my Cat in the Hat stuffie tightly against my body as I rolled over when Jessica said something. Half aware of what I was saying, I replied to her. And before we knew it, we were having a conversation. A conversation that lasted until twenty to three. Well. That's a healthy time to stay up until when you're getting up at six the next morning. But hey, what can ya do.
I also have something to say about the trains. They sound like UFOs. One went by at about 1:30 am, and Jessica and I were like "Ooooooookaaaaay, what the hell is that!?" The next day I talked to about six other people that agreed, yes, the trains sound like UFOs. Why the hell did someone build an inn near train tracks? C'mon people, use your head! Sleep and trains are not a good mix. Anyway, I'm off topic now.
My goodness, page 5 and I'm just starting the first full day of Dramafest. Well. The morning went something like this. The alarm had been set for, I believe, 6:30. Well. Someone's watch went off at like 6:00, so everyone woke up because of that. Carolyn had the first shower. I was curled up under the blankets, not saying anything, just trying to stay warm because the room was damn cold. I burrow under the blankets and sleep in the fetal position. Don't ask. Anyway, Carolyn got out of the shower and I got up for mine, surprising everyone with the fact that I had actually been awake. I can't even remember what we killed the time with that morning because we were up and ready so damn early. In fact we were all ready at twenty to eight or something like that.
Anyway, we all ate our respective breakfasts (mine being my damn awesome Quaker Oatmeal to Go bars everyone was jealous of due to the fact that they smelled like Apple Cinnamon tea) and met Miss Baloc in the Lobby. There was a chill in the air that morning like that Trail had not seen in years, so we were pretty unprepared for it. Cranbrook is damn cold. We were back at the school after a short trip in the van, and each of us headed for our respective workshops. Although....it really made no difference seeing as half of us were going to dance while the other half were going to relaxation.
Us dancers set off into the cold and the unknown. And in much less than five minutes Mike has already gotten us lost as he had us heading the wrong way down the street. Luckily, we asked a passing teacher with her class if she knew where our workshop was and she pointed in the other direction. So, now on the right course, we set off to the dance studio. Two blocks over, and down to the highway. How bad could it be? Mmmmm....apparently, pretty bad. Before we had gotten halfway there we were all freezing our asses off and I think most of us believed we wouldn't make it and that we'd die on the way there.
I was cold, but not too cold that I couldn't enjoy the sights of Cranbrook. Okay, so there wasn't really much to see. There was a dentist's office and banks and houses and such. But on one of the brick walls there was the word RAVE washed out on it. I don't think anyone else saw it, but I smiled. Being a big fan of raves and such, it made me feel good. But yes, there were thrift stores and stuff, which excited me greatly, and this one office building belonging to a man by the name of 'steele o'neil'. No capitals on the name. Quite the name if you ask me.
After what seemed like ages, we arrived at the dance studio. Breathing a collective sigh of relief, we marched up to the door and pulled - to find that it was locked. Oh how cruel could people be! Here we had just walked god knows how many blocks in the freezing Cranbrook cold to find that the place our workshop was being held was deserted! We huddled outside for about ten minutes, trying as best we could to stay warm, and just as we were about to give up and leave, the dance teacher pulled up in her truck. After a quick apology and telling us she had been told no one would be there until about quarter after, she opened the doors and let us in, where we were more than eger to warm up. Alison and I, as well as everyone else, goofed off a bit, taking pictures in the studio and having a little fun before the rest of the class arrived.
So anyway people began arriving in groups, and we introduced ourselves to most of them. It was quite strange how much more open Crowe was than the other groups of students though. But hey, it's all good, right? So before we began stretches, we all got into a little circle, went around and said something about ourselves. Well, that was certainly something. Our group commented on almost every single person, whether it was 'Wow, I like your name,' or something they said reminded us of a story and we told the whole damn class. As I forgot to mention, Mike was the only guy at this workshop. It was also where the whole 'SLAYER' (which I'm sure most of the people who went to dramafest are familiar with by now) originated. It all began with Mike and Sydnie doing it back and forth. It soon grew until our entire Crowe Crew was doing it, and later grew even more, but we haven't gotten there yet have we? As it also turns out, this dance teacher is the same one who teaches Carolyn and Alison's friend Jamie-Lee dance.
Dance class began with a series of stretches, and a few other exercises, then onto basic dance moves. It was really interesting, but truth be told, I completely sucked at it. We started stretches, from which my legs hurt for the next three or four days. Then we did a mirror exercise, which was actually pretty cool. My partner ended up being this girl, Julia, from Switzerland. But yeah, after that, she taught us basic dance moves, and we began choreographing the song from the end of Grease. What's it called now? I think it's 'We Go Together'. Anyway, despite the fact that I was nearly always a step or two behind, it was extremely fun, and I got a pretty damn good workout doing it.
So we left the studio, and the sun had finally risen above the mountains, warming the cold desolate Cranbrook landscape. I suggested to everyone we take an alternate route to the school. Two blocks over, and down the actual downtown street. Everyone agreed. On the way there we passed an antique store, and Alison and I, being the antique/thrift fanatics we are, decided that we were going in that store whether the rest of the group liked it or not. So everyone, of course, followed us in, not being able to stop us. It was Carolyn who was struck by the amazing idea to see if this store had a record player. Now I forgot to mention this before, but one of our props for our play, Chamber Music, was a record player, and us, being the exceptionally bright people we are, forgot our crucial prop in the drama room back at the school. This antique store was the perfect chance to find the thing we so needed.
As it turned out, they did have a record player, working and all, so Carolyn bought the thing for five dollars. It was perfect. Not quite the time frame we were going for, but it would just have to work. The lady even threw in some extra records for free. It was tanfastic (for those of you who don't know, that translates to fantastic). We meandered through downtown Cranbrook, taking in everything around us, one of my personal favorites being the giant, lonely looking clock tower all by itself in the middle of nowhere. How I wish I'd gotten a photo of it. But moving right along, we made it back to the school in what seemed half the time it had taken us to get to the dance studio. We met with the rest of our group and Miss Baloc who sent us off for lunch and told us to be back for a line run-through at 1, and reminded us that our tech was at 2:30. How could we forget? I couldn't anyway. I was really looking forward to the tech, in fact. I couldn't wait to preform that night. I was looking forward to anything that would get me even a second closer to that.
Indecisive as to where we should eat, we wandered around as a group in downtown Cranbrook, occasionally yelling "Skipping school is fun! It's the best thing I ever did!" while passing older folks. We were going to eat at.......well, I don't really know what it was. I think I'll call it a schnitzil house, because that's the impression it gave me. But yes, we spent five minutes in the doorway looking at the menu, walked in for about ten seconds, decided it was too fancy, turned around and walked right back out. So we ended up eating at this really...well, not to great Chinese place. Then again, I'm biast about that because of working at an Asian restaurant and also having a best friend who owns a Chinese place. I'll probably always see them as having the best Chinese food. Except for that place in Calgary I went to once. That was fuckin' awesome. But anyway, moving on.
After lunch in the Chinese restuarant with the mysteriously carpeted walls, Sarah Barr, a few other people and myself made our trip to the thrift store. Oh my goodness, we got there, and I was in heaven. Sarah and Alison were certainly enjoying themselves as well. Jeff made his way over to the records, while I explored my favorite part of an outfit - acessories. I found the cutest pair of fuzzy pink earmuffs, which rarely left my head after that point. Sarah found her own treasures, a particular pair of brown pants comes to mind, and Alison got the most adorable hat. Also, much to my delight, I aquired a Rainbow Brite doll and a....oh god, I can't even remember what they're called anymore, but I think they're Rainbow Sprites or something along those lines. In any case, we all walked away quite pleased.
And then before we knew it, it was on us. It was one o'clock. We were back at the theatre, sitting on the steps up to the house, doing the line run-through. The only thing was, we could not, for any reason break character. So, Steve (who we hadn't met yet at this point) comes by, and he's like, "So what play are you guys doing?" And so, I blurted out, "Chamber Music, but you're interupting our run-through, questions LATER!" And after I felt bad cause it sounded kind of mean. But yes, we continued on with our run through. And then, much to my frustration, who should walk by us but Rylan. And I couldn't break character. I simply waved, and, getting no reaction from him, assumed that he either didnt remember me, or didnt see me.
And then, finally, it was our tech time. We quickly ran backstage and grabbed our props and costumes from the room behind the stage. There happened to be a puppet-making workshop going on at the time so we had to weave our way through many people. We headed to the washrooms around the corner and down the hallway, somewhat amazed at how nice the theatres facilities were. For god's sake, the first part was carpeted and had a big mirror! So we all changed there, me being the farthest to the right when something in the mirror caught my eye. It was behind me, and it was moving, but it wasnt inside the washroom. I turned and looked behind me to find that I was changing right in front of a window! After my moment of embareassment, I shuffled over towards the left and continued changing. And before we knew it, we were all ready. We marched back out in our 'welfare' costumes, as we had dubbed them, and filed onto the stage.
Everyone looked amazing. As 'welfare as our costumes were, they actually looked good, considering we were supposed to be in an asylum. As we stood there, the lights going up and down as 'they' (the tech folks in the booth at the top of the house) fiddled with them, I realized that a certain curly-haired person I knew was standing to the right of one of the middle rows of seats. So, setting down a couple props I had in hand, I called his name. He waved to me from where he was and said, "Hey Brittany." (or something to that effect). Anyway, I ran to the edge of the stage, jumped off, ran up the steps and gave him a hug. I don't think I've been so happy in a while. Of all the Dramafest people I'd met two years ago, Rylan was the one I think I missed the most. Or maybe I just missed his hair. Either way, I love 'im. He quickly introduced me to his friend Kevin, and then I rushed back on stage as the lights went down and we began our technical run-through. Jeff was to signal my going on stage, as I had the first line's of the play.
I stomped onstage in my lovely black army/hooker boots, blue hospital pants, torn 'army' green shirt, and beige vest, along with the safari hat and mosquito netting on my head, and put all my heart into my character. I was Osa Johnson. Or at least a crazy lady who thought she was Osa. Megan and I did our opening interaction. It was so good. I think, anyway. And the thrill of being on stage, even with only a few people in the audience, was tremendous. I hadn't been on a stage since the previous November, and it felt amazing. I felt like I'd been woken up after a long sleep. I opened my eyes and realized just how much I do love acting. And how much I love the people involved with the whole 'theatre scene'. I don't think I'd like television or movie acting much, but theatre acting.....It's definitely something I enjoy.
Our tech, over all, went well. Except for this one part where I accidentally switched two of my lines, but I didn't let it show that I screwed myself up, so it turned out just fine. After the tech, we were free to do whatever for the rest of the afternoon, but we had to be back in the Lobby for five o'clock. The Room 129 Crew headed back to our room and chilled. After a while we decided we should head out and get some dinner, seeing as the time was flying right by and it would be five quite soon. Carolyn and I decided that Denny's would take to long, so, going against every instinct we had, trekked over to Burger King. Not ten seconds of being in that restaurant and we were sickened by the smell. We had to get out. So, having no other options, we went to good ol' Seven Eleven. We wanted something light and healthy that wouldnt make us feel sick on stage, so we grabbed a couple fruit cups and packaged Seven Eleven Fruit.
Back in our hotel room, we began eating our food to discover that something about this fruit was....a little off. Perhaps it was the fact that it tasted like it was hickory smoked. Thats right folks, hickory smoked fruit. It was the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted. About the only thing that tasted good was the grapes, and of course, the sealed fruit cups. That's the last time I buy fruit from Seven Eleven. EVER.