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On with the show! Curtains open on 19th annual Directors’ Festival at UFV

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By Jess Wind (The Cascade)

“Sixty seconds of butts!” screamed one theatre student.

The Director’s Festival opening ceremonies mark the official opening of the festival as well as allow all the players no more than 60 seconds to promote their shows. Year after year, the shenanigans pile on to the point where it has come down to a competition: 60 seconds of fame.

Theatre department head Bruce Kirkley took the mic first to uproarious applause, followed closely by a standing ovation for DFest organizer Ian Fenwick. Words of welcome were offered by UFV president Mark Evered, who discussed the origin of the word “play,” and SUS president Ryan Petersen offered his welcome while juggling. Many thanks were also given to the various sponsors and volunteers of the festival and a heartfelt standing ovation was offered for retiring department employees Sandy Tait (production manager) and Astrid Beugeling (technical manager), both beloved instructors in the theatre department.

The Theatre Students Association then proceeded to literally grovel at Fenwick’s feet before getting the audience to recite the Director’s Festival Constitution. This featured commandments including, “I will tell my friends and family the name of the show I am involved in,” and “I will buy my tickets at least 10 minutes before the show.”

All this still in the welcoming speeches.

While the idea is to promote your particular show to the nearly full theatre audience, 60 seconds of fame is primarily driven by the question “how can we best last year?” In case anyone thought they were in a remotely normal competition, the judge explained that he takes bribes, recalling being knighted the previous year.

Within the first five minutes, one Thompson Rivers student was bare-assed, having torn away his clothing in one pull. Does it have anything to do with their show? That’s for you to decide.

Bribes offered included chocolates, strawberries, a scantily clad 18-year old, a purple bra, and finally the object that won the coveted 60 seconds of fame trophy for In a New York Minute: keys to theatre student Thomas Smith’s car.

Pants were shed and applause was given — it’s clear the opening ceremonies to the 19th annual Director’s Festival succeeded in gathering attention for the 43 plays in this year’s showcase. But it wouldn’t be the theatre department without a few surprises.

Bruce Kirkley took the mic just before the end of the ceremonies and over the excited hum of the audience announced the 2014/15 season of UFV theatre. The plays include: Birdsong, A Christmas Carol to be staged in December, and a contemporary take on Julius Caesar.

But first things first: the audience staggered out of the theatre holding their sides, clutching colourful tickets, and ready to dive into this year’s 19th annual Directors’ Festival.

DFest runs until Sunday and tickets are available at the box office for $5 / show, four shows for $15, or a festival pass for all 21 timeslots is $40.

Stay tuned for reviews and coverage at ufvcascade.ca.

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