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A week of drama in Gander

Scene from the final dress rehearsal for the Avion Players.
Scene from the final dress rehearsal for the Avion Players.

Theatre lovers are in for a treat this week as the Avion Players hosts the 68th Provincial Drama Festival.

Festival goers will enjoy seven different performances, one each night of the week, presented by theatre groups from across the province.
Nick Mercer of Avion Players directs this year’s performance of Moon Over Buffalo by Ken Ludwig.
These performances were once called amateur theatre, now known as community theatre.
Mercer says that there is nothing amateur about these shows.
“It is community people putting on professional shows," he said.
This is the third festival in a row Mercer is on the hot seat as director.
He says it can be daunting to direct cast members such as Percy Farewell, and Michele Dove, who each have 30 years of experience with Avion, twice as much as he has with the group.
Farewell speaks highly of Mercer’s skills and leadership as director.
“Nick certainly knows what he wants, what he wants it to look like, and he is on hand with all the details.”
Mercer confesses his attention to detail in all areas of the production.
He says his role is all encompassing — he decides on the fabrics, costume, the paint colour on the set, lights and sound queuing, in addition to directing the casts, and crew.
“It is like a jigsaw puzzle,” Farewell said. “There are different elements in the play — the costumes, the sound, lighting, and the building of the set. Each one is equally important.”
The chemistry at Avion is unique and this gives it a certain advantage for running things smoothly.
“Outside of Avion, we are still friends and our lives outside of theatre are intertwined,” said Mercer.
He points out that in larger centres, actors meet at rehearsals to practice their lines, and not interact until the next time.
Farewell adds that “because of the long interaction time with your peers at rehearsals, they become your extended family, and you go through bad times with them as well.”
Putting on a theatre production does not come cheap.
Mercer estimates “the set is at least $4,500, and over $1,000 for the costumes.”
The production is “fully funded through community support,” he says.
The festival began April 16 and runs until April 22.
For and more information, and tickets, visit


By Clarence Ngoh, special to the Beacon

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