A group of eight dedicated young women from Ladysmith Secondary School will be hitting the Theatre BC Mainstage Festival June 29 to July 4 with their one-act production, Cagebirds.
The student-led production is a fabulous demonstration of girl power. Because of teacher job action, the cast operates as its own entity and is supervised by a volunteer parent. The girls have also been under the wing of Ladysmith’s Wendy Wearne, who is the chair of the South Island Zone for Theatre BC.
Cagebirds was written by David Camptown and is an allegorical play centering around women’s repression set in the 1950s.
Six birds live in a cage, each absorbed in her own characteristic, until their mistress introduces a “wild one” into the cage. The wild one attempts to persuade the others that they should break free from their self-imposed dependence and imprisonment into the world outside.
“It’s about how society has certain expectations of women that restrict them, and each character portrays a behavioural expectation,” Wearne said. “Although it was written over 50 years ago, many of its messages are applicable today.”
Some of the birds’ characteristics include a gossip, an overeater, a hypochondriac and a mirror gazer.
The cast of Cagebirds came together in November, determined to submit an act for the North Island Regional Drama Festival in February.
After coming back home with a few tech awards, the girls set their sights on the Theatre BC South Island Zone Festival. After some very helpful advice from adjudicator Michael Armstrong, the cast was awarded runner-up with another one-act production out of Victoria.
But because the South Island Zone Festival-winning production A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum by Ladysmith Players had to forfeit their advancement to Mainstage for casting reasons, Cagebirds Productions was selected to perform in their place.
“It’s really exciting; I didn’t think we were going to even place,” said cast member Keauna Miller. “We all really cared about it and we were really excited to try out new ideas for another festival; we just think we weren’t ready to give up on it yet.”
“Every adjudicator raised new questions and different alleys we could go down,” added cast member Kristy DeClark. “There’s always so much more you can do with a play like this.”
Joining the cast on tech and sound is Cheyenne Sykes, a LSS graduate on a break from Theatre Design at the University of Alberta.
“The challenge for me is making sure everyone is lit and visible,” she said. “They’re literally and metaphorically placed in a cage, and the audience is acting as spectators to the experiment that’s going on.”
The group will be receiving a small bursary from Theatre BC to help with the costs associated with the five-day trip; however, they will need to fundraise the rest themselves and are looking to the community for support.
An account has been set up at the Ladysmith and District Credit Union under the name Cagebirds Productions for anyone wanting to help out with a monetary donation for travel and accommodation purposes. In-kind donations such as non-perishable food items for the girls will be gratefully accepted as well. Contact Wendy Wearne at 250-245-3262 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further details on how to help.