Sue Hanlon of Artbeat Activities (right) presenting a $1000 cheque to Noel Bullock to help support Sparwood Secondary School’s upcoming theatre performance. Submitted photo

Arts in Sparwood on the rise

Jeff Olynek to teach stage combat at Sparwood Secondary

In March and April of next year, the Sparwood Secondary School drama class will be presenting The Princess Bride, a story of adventure, romance and drama, set in medieval times.

As some may know, this film contains many sword fights. To teach the stage combat, drama class teacher Noel Bullock is bringing in Jeff Olynek, an instructor from the Fight Directors of Canada to work with the cast. Also working with the cast is Fernie-based director and choreographer, Alana Minifie-Rybar.

“He was excited about what we were doing,” said Bullock, stressing how grateful he was to the fight director, who agreed to come from the mainland to teach for a modest wage.

Olynek, who has appeared as an actor in The Revenant (2015), will be training the students in fencing and unarmed combat.

Sue Hanlon of Artbeat Activities helped make this happen, raising $1000 through a paint-date fundraiser.

“I thought we had this incredible opportunity, someone with huge good will, and she basically flipped the bill,” said Bullock. “She caught a thousand bucks, and did that for us.”

The drama class is also being supported by a local seamstress, Melanie Walker, who donated two handmade dresses for the female leads. Bullock would best describe these creations as works of art.

There are a total of 25 people involved in this project.

Last year, the drama class performed a version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and this was a massive success.

This year, the students have written an adaptation of The Princess Bride in English class. Auditions were held last May, and students have been working on lines ever since.

Westley will be played by Kelton Kinch, Buttercup will be played by Sydney Nelson and Jasaed Ward, and Inigo Montoya will be played by Isabel Beaune. Vizzini will be played by Sage Charest, Kessik will be played by Aaron Ely, Prince Humperdinck will be played by Dane Campbell, and Count Rugen will be played by William Doratty.

In preparation for The Princess Bride, students work at lunch, they work after school and on weekends.

“They’re committed, it’s not just something they have to do,” said Bullock.

“We’re trying to establish a tradition of theatrical excellence in Sparwood,” he said.

This show will not only be performed at the secondary school March 13-14, but also Thursday, April 19 on a stage in the Sparwood mall. Bullock is excited to bring arts right into the community.

“I think that the arts generally speak to the big questions of life that we all wrestle with – what does it mean to be human?” said Bullock.

The drama teacher believes society can address this from a serious point of view, and sometimes from a humorous perspective like in The Princess Bride with love, satire, adventure and revenge. He believes that every member of society asks these questions.

“People may think that kids in an industrial town aren’t interested in arts, well they are!” Bullock exclaimed. “We’ve got some very talented people.”

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