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North Shore Zone Festival to return after three year hiatus

The four day festival will be hosted at the Presentation House Theatre in May
Presentation House Theatre
The Presentation House Theatre will host the North Shore Zone Festival for the first time in three years this May.

After three years of delay due to COVID-19, Theatre BC is preparing to host the theatre-focused North Shore Zone Festival once more.

The four day event will feature different performing arts groups from around the North Shore each night.

According to Anne Marsh, former president and club rep of the North Vancouver Community Players, the festival is a chance for acts to meet fellow performers and learn more about theatre.

“After the performance each night, the adjudicator will get up onto the stage and give a few words of wisdom or comments, or explain the background of the play and who’s written it,” she said.

The event is entirely volunteer run, except the professional adjudicator that decides the awards. This year, the adjudicator will be actor Dean Paul Gibson.

The groups performing this year include North Vancouver Community Players, Shidokan Productions and Between Shifts Theatre who operate out of Squamish.

Awards based on all aspects of the performance are given, ranging from best lighting and sound to the Florence Goodwin award, which is given to a younger, up-and-coming actor pursuing education in theatre.

The highest achievement for the weekend is best overall production, the winner of which will advance to the provincial finals at the Surrey Art Center in July.

For many performers, such as Peter Zednik of the North Vancouver Community Players, the festival is more about comradery than competition.

“What I enjoy is that it feels collegial. You get to see each other’s work. You get to appreciate what they are doing,” he said.

“Many of the people in the other shows I know and are friends with, so it’s not a big enmity thing. It’s more of a celebration of all the great things that are being done in our districts.”

Plays are not the only performing art appearing at the festival. Before the awards are given on the final night, entertainment will also be provided by The Chair Series.

John McGie, founder of The Chair Series, describes their craft as a series of monologues that he writes for actors, based on one word that the actor puts forward.

“I direct and write it all and everybody comes and plays, and we just find a chair and off we go,” McGie said.

According to Marsh, the performing arts community on the North Shore has a deeply rooted history, extending over 44 years. The return of the Zone Festival is an opportunity to reconnect and celebrate that culture.

“Historically, I did compete in the Zone Festival and won quite a few times. I learned a lot of my theatre stuff through this exact festival,” said McGie.

The festival is being held at the Presentation House Theatre, at 333 Chesterfield Ave, North Vancouver, and will run from May 9 - 13.

Jordan Copp is an intern reporter with the North Shore News. He can be contacted at [email protected].