This year, the Riverside drama department is hosting an artist from the Artists in Residence program. Artists in Residence is a program from Arts Starts, a non-profitable provincial organization that supplements Arts funding to specific schools.
Arts Starts has an Artists in Residence program as well as a touring artist’s program where shows come to schools. Ms. Nicole Roberge, Riverside’s drama teacher, applied for a grant in May and received it in July for an Artist in Residence, Susan Bertoia.
Bertoia is a theatre artist, and a Speech Arts adjudicator who participates in the Artist in Residence program at many schools in B.C. She will be at Riverside twice a week teaching the Acting 11 and 12 until the upcoming show of “Short Shorts” in November.
The grant for the Artists in Residence is worth several thousand dollars and pays for Bertoia’s time and as well as supplies for the show.
The pieces the classes are preparing will be an original collaboration of Ms. Roberge, Bertoia and the students. “It is exciting to have a new and different voice and to collaborate is always better than a solo creation,” said Roberge.
The students will also be writing questions in their journals that are inspired by the work. Instead of using text based or script based theatre, Roberge decided that she wanted students to experiment and explore without a script or text to fall back on.
The classes are improvisational based and the hope is that students will create a show that will be repeatable and rehearsable out of this improvisation. Both of the organizers wanted to make theatre that is thought provoking for the actor and audience, and that will illicit as much censorial or emotional reactions from the kids onstage, as well as offstage.
“I would definitely recommend the experience to anyone who wants to get up there [on stage] but is shy; it is a great way to challenge yourself and take risks,” said Natalia Anagnostopoulou, a student in Acting 12.
This year will be the fifth annual performance of the “Short Shorts” at the Rivers Edge’s theatre One Act Play Festival, and the class that is working with Susan will be presenting their work at the festival. Shows open November 25, and lasts until the 27. There will be several other performances from different schools in the festival as well.