February is usually a quiet time of the year for actors.
Many people are between contracts with plenty of time on their hands.
But it’s not like that in Charlottetown this month.
The mid-winter lull has created a performance opportunity for actors at The Guild where rehearsals for the P.E.I. Pay-What-You-Can Theatre Festival are now underway.
“We’re excited to be teaming up with an incredible group of artists, both established and emerging. It’s going to be so much fun,” says executive director Alanna Jankov.
The festival, which runs from Feb. 23 to March 3, includes “Time Flies” an evening of five one-act comedies by David Ives, a family-friendly improv lunch show and a duo of interactive play readings.
Already it’s receiving positive reviews from the participants.
“It’s amazing to have a (winter) project to work on, something that challenges you in a short period of time,” says actress Katie Kerr who, after playing lead roles in “Anne of Green Gables – The Musical” and “Mamma Mia!”, is thrilled to be back in Charlottetown performing in “Time Flies”.
Also, because several plays are being presented, there’s the opportunity to be in more than one production.
“So, it’s a really nice way to reconnect with people you sometimes lose connection with when you are storm-stayed in your house,” says Kerr, one of the actors in the festival that also includes Adam Brazier, Samantha Bruce, Nathan Carragher, Dian Miguel, Mark Fraser, Becca Griffin, Ainsley Kendrick, Katie Kerr, Melissa Kramer, Jeana MacIsaac, Donnie Macphee, Catherine O’Brien, Marlane O’Brien, Graham Putnam, Brandon Howard Roy, Rosie Shaw and Suzanne Wilkie.
For Griffin, the festival is an opportunity to stretch her acting muscles. She’s part of “Lunchtime Leftovers”, a family friendly improv show, as well as playing one of the leads in “Bolero”.
In this one-act play by Ives, Griffin plays a character whose world threatens to come apart in the middle of the night when she hears strange sounds and voices coming through the bedroom wall.
To prepare for the role, she’s spending “a lot of time stewing in emotions” that she doesn’t often experience.
“With anxiety, I do have a little bit. But, with this play, I have to have a lot to get to the point that I have to reach,” says Griffin, best known for her work in “Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun” and “The Princess and the Pea”.
“But I find it really cool to be in a completely different body experiencing this. It’s really fun.”
While the festival benefits the actors, it’s also a win-win situation for theatregoers, says actor Graham Putnam.
“In mid-February, it’s great for the audience to have something to go to. And, because it’s pay what you can, it opens the doors for people who are having a tight winter,” says Putnam, who is appearing in “Time Flies”.
Knowing that both groups will benefit from the festival pleases Jankov.
“I’m feeling proud that The Guild can continue to fulfil the mandate that’s so important that is to support Island artists with subsidized rental gallery, theatre space but also the community because, to me, that’s where community happens.”