At 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 23 there was barely even standing room available in the gymnasium of Ponoka Elementary School as parents, relatives and friends of students gathered to watch the works of Canadian authors Robert Munsch and Dennis Lee come to life on stage.
From Jan. 19 to 23, a group of six professional actors from the Calgary based Quest Theatre were at PES working with Kindergarten to Grade 5 classes. Quest helped classes choose a work written by the two popular children’s authors to perform at the end of the week in the show titled, “A Bunch of Munsch and a Little Lee”. During these lengthy workshops, children were encouraged to tap into their creative abilities while being taught drama techniques, public speaking skills, self-confidence and classic literature in the process and all of their hard work and fun paid off.
It was evident on the charmingly enthusiastic faces of everyone who participated that they truly enjoyed the chance to put their newly acquired skills to the test in front of an audience who thoroughly enjoyed what they saw. The performances were original, hilarious and very entertaining. The Quest actors impacted the lives of the children they taught and were proud of their accomplishments as well.
“Acting is all I ever wanted to do and now I have a great opportunity to share what I love with the future. They’ve come so far in just one week. Drama is a great alternative way for kids to learn. It is so educational and just so much fun,” said Quest team leader, Marcy.
The six actors were able to visit PES for the entire week as part of a program known as the Artist in Residency Program which Quest became involved with in 1992. Since then, Quest has conducted over 252 residencies, in which 72,362 young people have actively participated. PES applied for and received a grant funded by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts covering 75 per cent of the total cost to make this week possible. The additional 25 per came from the Ponoka School Council. A special thanks goes out to both organizations, all the parents for supporting their children and all who attended and donated to the Ponoka Food Bank at the door.
Quest Theatre began as a partnership between Duval Lang and Rick McNair in the summer of 1984. Since 1984 the company has produced 86 touring productions and performed to over 1,111,687 young people. In addition, Quest Theatre operates a Theatre School, Summer Drama Camps and an Annual Youth Art Show. The company supports emerging artists and playwrights and regularly commissions and develops new plays. They have been recognized by their national peers as one of the most dynamic theatre for young audience companies in Canada, for both artistic and administrative endeavors. They have been nominated for and have received several Betty Mitchell Awards since 2000.
For more information visit www.questtheatre.org.