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Marching drills, a sandbag drag and carrying at least 60 pounds of gear are part of basic military training.
But, for a performer?
It’s fair to say generally, no, unless it’s a performer in the Feast Dinner Theatre, where cast members were put through their paces at the Queen Charlotte Armoury recently.
“For me to go into the same place as someone I am portraying is incredibly helpful. You get to see the way they stand, hold their heads, it’s so specific and important to be in this environment,” said Sherri-Lee Pike, playwright of the latest feast musical comedy called “ ‘Twas the Night: Christmas in Kandahar”.
Most civilians would never notice these subtle signs of a military service member, but the feast is known for its meticulous attention to detail and impeccable research that goes into every production, all of which has led 40 successful seasons.
“Through this training the actors can understand how precise they have to be for their characters because you can often pick out an officer in the crowd just by the way they interact and hold themselves. It’s a different world, but I have so much respect and admiration for the military,” said Pike.
The cast from Charlottetown and Summerside stepped into their character’s shoes and chanted in cohesion, “Left, right, left,” while following the sharp orders of the drill sergeant.
“When you’re walking in the same step, moving at the same pace and almost breathing the same breath, you bond in a special way,” said Pike. “Everyone in the cast has shown tremendous teamwork, as well as physical and mental tenacity, and I believe this is how it would be like in a military camp.”
Sergeant Justin Vincent said the cast was taught the core army values such as teamwork, respect, loyalty, duty and honour.
“Mentally (the drill sergeants) put you under stress to push yourself better, and physically, you can see the demands just in the force test,” he said as the exhausted cast completed pulling more than 260 pounds over 20 metres, without stopping.
“Some of these tasks are easy on their own, but when you put them together it becomes an actual challenge. However, (the cast) pushed themselves and showed camaraderie.”
If you go
What: “ ‘Twas the Night: Christmas in Kandahar” is, in part, a tribute to the military and entwines the 100th anniversary of the First Word War.
Assistance: The production will support Summerside’s Brave and Broken initiative, with all revenue from tickets going to the non-profit organization on Wednesday, Nov. 21. The Rodd Charlottetown will join forces, with all their proceeds going to support the P.E.I. Military Family Resource Centre on Tuesday, Dec.11.
Where: Summerside’s Brother’s Two Restaurant, 618 Water St., kicks off the show this evening. The Rodd Charlottetown Hotel, on 75 Kent St., starts on Nov. 23, with a preview on Nov. 22. The Rodd Miramichi River, N.B., begins on Dec. 4. See www.feastdinnertheatres.com for more details on dates.
Tickets: To book tickets at Brother’s Two Restaurant call 902-436-7674. For the Rodd Charlottetown call 902-629-2321.