Several actors in costume on stage
Community Teaching & Learning

Family, Fairies, Wishes, and War: A Student Showcase of Short Plays

14 March 2024
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In a situation mirroring the plight of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the 1939 film, Babes in Arms, U of R theatre students – itching to get their own plays in front of keen audiences – looked at one another and cried, “Hey, let’s put on a show!”

And so was born, Family, Fairies, Wishes, and War: A Student Showcase of Short Plays – on now until March 16 at the U of R’s Shumiatcher (Shu-Box) Theatre.

When the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Devised Performance and Theatre Creation program was added to U of R theatre offerings in the fall of 2022, the goal was to provide students with immersive training in all aspects of theatre.

This group of students already takes a lot of initiative. Last summer they did a Fringe show. They found a script, rehearsed it, produced it, and put it up at the Fringe Festival themselves — Jonathan Seinen, Assistant Professor in the U of R Theatre Department.  

Assistant Professor Jonathan Seinen explains that through the Devised Performance and Theatre Creation program, students are inspired and encouraged to develop into holistic theatre artists who are prepared to take on any role in a theatre project.

“Every element of theatre is covered in this program,” says Seinen.

Seinen is a versatile artist, having worked as an actor, director, and creator in both Canada and the United States. His ability to produce his own work has been invaluable to his career.

"I wasn't good at waiting for other people to tell me if I had a job or not,” Seinen admits.  “I was just too impatient for that."

Emerging U of R theatre students echo that sentiment and appreciate that the holistic ethos of their theatre program will ensure that they graduate equipped with the necessary skills to create their own productions and take the reins early in their theatrical careers.

Two actors on stage in a play.
It's not just original plays the students created, they’ve done everything from costumes and set to lighting and sound. Talk about talent! Photo Credit: U of R Photography.

Learning to write and stage their own productions, second-year students like Emily Sorensen and Sophia Williams say this experience has pushed them to try new things and wear many different hats. 

“I feel like the showcase has forced me to try new roles that I might not have considered otherwise and that's been really beneficial to me. I’m more well-rounded,” says Sorensen whose play What the Well, debuts at the showcase. "My ultimate goal was to do film acting, but this program has opened doors for me to pursue more writing in the future," she says. 

From costume design to set design and from lighting and sound design to choreography, with stage-managing added for good measure, the U of R program offers a unique depth of training in theatre arts.

“It's very collaborative. With playwriting, there's so much more that goes into it, and I wasn't expecting that as a first-timer,” says Sophia Williams, who wrote Realizations, for the showcase.

Inside the plays    

To find the best version of her play, Williams took Realizations through many iterations. Tackling complex themes of regret, trauma, and adulthood, Williams was patient and gave herself room to fully explore her story.

“Working with Jonathan has been a privilege,” says Williams. “His feedback and his support throughout the process made me feel like, even though I'm just starting, there is a place that I can reach where I can successfully be a playwright and continue to learn and grow.” The process of developing her play gave Williams confidence in her writing.

Two actors on stage in a play.
From fantasy to reality, these U of R theatre students can act across a wide array of genres. Photo Credit: U of R Photography.

Sorensen never imagined she would enjoy playwriting so much. Initially enrolled in the traditional Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Drama Studies program, Sorensen switched to Devised Performance and Theatre Creation, which allowed her to explore aspects of theatre that she wouldn't have otherwise.

With a cast of six actors Sorensen’s, What the Well, is a comedic play about the relationship between a young boy looking for his lost mother and a personified wishing well. 

When considering what inspires her writing, Sorensen cannot stop thinking about a presentation she did on playwright Mieko Ouchi. Ouchi creates roles for herself and other women that Ouchi doesn’t often see, like roles that involve fight choreography, which are more commonly written for male characters. Adopting this method, Sorensen created roles that she would want to act in. 

Lucas Babcock, the writer of The Puppet Strings, took this opportunity to step out of his comfort zone. Considering himself primarily a comedic actor, he chose to write a dramatic play drawing inspiration from the world-building he does in Dungeons and Dragons.  With elements of fantasy and themes of war, Babcock explores the intricacies of humanity in his play.

Writing a drama presented Babcock with new challenges. In a comedy, Babcock can rely on audience laughter to gauge their enjoyment. However, in a drama, the audience is often silent, making it challenging to determine what they are thinking. "I have to learn how to deal with that," says Babcock.

However, these challenges did not deter Babcock. He says, “It's difficult, but I feel like this is a super fulfilling experience and going forward we're going to learn a lot and we're going to improve a lot.”

Actors on a stage in a play.
Tension like this needs no words! Check out the show and find out what this drama is about. Photo Credit: U of R Photography.

UR invited!

The reviews are in – this is a must-see show! Family, Fairies, Wishes, and War: A Student Showcase of Short Plays is an opportunity to see the exciting new theatre talents coming forward in Saskatchewan. Only two years into their training, the students are ready to make their mark. 

“This group of students already takes a lot of initiative. Last summer they did a Fringe show. They found a script, rehearsed it, produced it, and put it up at the Fringe Festival themselves,” says Seinen.

According to Seinen, it is an exciting time for performing arts in the city right now, especially with events to look forward to like the much-anticipated re-opening of the Globe Theatre happening later this year.

“There are spaces to be found to create, develop, devise, and produce your own work in Regina and that makes us very special,” says Seinen.

Learn more about the process of creating your own work with the Devised Performance and Theatre Creation program!

Don’t miss this opportunity to witness the emerging talent coming from this U of R second-year theatre cohort. Catch their original plays running until March 16.

About the University of Regina

2024 marks our 50th anniversary as an independent University (although our roots as Regina College date back more than a century!). As we celebrate our past, we work towards a future that is as limitless as the prairie horizon. We support the health and well-being of our 16,700 students and provide them with hands-on learning opportunities to develop career-ready graduates. Our research enterprise has grown to include 21 research centres and 12 Canada Research Chairs and brings in more than $51.2 million in funding annually. Our campuses are on Treaties 4 and 6 - the territories of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda peoples, and the homeland of the Michif/Métis nation. We seek to grow our relationships with Indigenous communities to build a more inclusive future.

Let’s go far, together.

Get Your Tickets Now!

Did you know U of R students with a valid student ID get into performances for free? 

Reserve your ticket and learn more about performance dates and times here.