Community Director: Ashley Freimark

Ashley Freimark, Community Director

Ashley Freimark, Community Director

Community Director Ashley Freimark might be new to Theatre; Just Because, but she’s definitely not new to either theatre or Fort McMurray! With over ten years of theatre experience, Ashley caught the bug after taking vocal lessons leading to musical theatre classes at Keyano Theatre. “I had to be a part of theatre everywhere I could! All my options courses in school were theatre and performance based; this included extracurriculars as part of my high-school's Theatre Appreciation Group, where we would go to workshops at the Citadel theatre in Edmonton and then follow up with one of their season's performances (first of every Tuesday this happened). All the way through college as I took Drama and English focus studies in Red Deer College before taking a different direction with Professional Communications at Grant MacEwan University. After I moved away from Fort McMurray with my family in 2008, I had gotten involved in community theatre where I had decided to expand my horizons further with not only acting in various performances and talent shows, but also give producing, stage managing and directing a shot. For 9 years I volunteered on the Sheeptown Players Drama Society board of executives, starting as Membership Director and working my way through Communications, Secretary and finally President of the board in my last year.”

Having returned to Fort McMurray in 2018, Ashley is back in the swing of the theatre things! She’s one of the Community Director’s for the Theatre; Just Because productions entered into the ADFA Acting Out! One Act Theatre Festival, celebrating our fifth anniversary. She chose to take on the classic David Ives piece Mere Mortals.

Mere Mortals

“Mere Mortals by David Ives is a 20 - 30 minute one act that listens in on a lunch time conversation of three construction workers. As the play progresses, the stories of each worker become more incredible. To me, this play somewhat covers the idea that even though we are seemingly ordinary people on the outside, it's what we think of ourselves and the ideas that we impose on ourselves that make us grander in our own eyes.

I decided to apply to the Community Directors programming after having been away from the Fort McMurray community for 10 years before I moved back, I found that it was hard to get myself out there on my own to meet new people. If it weren't for work, school or volunteer opportunities I would have a very hard time meeting new people on my own.

When this opportunity arose, it couldn't have come at a more perfect time! I had been back living in town for about 4 months by that point, and had been looking everywhere for opportunities to get back into theatre, my first love. By that point I was getting a bit stir crazy just having the routine of going to work, coming home, cleaning or reading a book and then sleep. I needed friends! And the friends that have stuck around with me the longest I met because of our shared passion of theatre (or karaoke!). So this was the perfect opportunity to meet new people with similar interests as well as get my fill of theatre and get out of the house!

So far, this process has been incredible! A very fun experience! Finding solutions to problems like sound and set design, to just working with the cast and figuring out what works best both for them and the play itself has been very rewarding. This experience has brought me more out of my... well... somewhat of my "newcomer" shell in the community (as new as I can be, having grown up here and then being away for so long before coming back). It's opened up new doors, new connections and, most importantly, new friends. I'm finally getting the social life that I'm used to again.”

Experience Mere Mortals directed by Ashley Freimark at the Acting Out! One Act Theatre Festival on April 13 at the Keyano Recital Theatre.

Mere Mortals David Ives poster

Community Director: Mike Jones

Mike Jones, Community Director (Headshot by Life & Portraits)

Mike Jones, Community Director (Headshot by Life & Portraits)

Radio personality and community supporter Mike Jones is a well-known face around Fort McMurray; he’s been is several Theatre; Just Because dinner theatre productions and Keyano Theatre plays, he’s emceed and organized events all across the region, and is a champion of the local music scene. This year, he’s taking on a new role, as one of the Community Directors for Theatre; Just Because’s productions in the Acting Out! ADFA One Act Theatre Festival in celebration of our 5th anniversary!

This is Mike’s first time directing, and he’s tackling a play he wrote himself: What Time Does the 3 O’Clock Parade Start? - an hilariously fast-paced farce set in the colorful office at the amusement park Happyland.

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“This farce was born a few years ago at a script-writing workshop. I had stumbled across the title while reading a blog about Disneyland and instantly thought it was a great title of something I wanted to see. Some of my favorite farces are the kind where you’re just overwhelmed (and a little confused) by the whole process so I started by writing a synopsis and I threw everything but the kitchen sink at the main character. Then, I started writing.

Initially I decided to apply to the Community Directors program because I wanted to see this script come to life, but I didn’t think I had the chops to pull it off. It took a lot of convincing and persuasion from some close friends of mine to just go for it.

The process has been amazing. There were some tough moments early on where I felt really stressed out with the planning/paperwork side of things. But once we get in the rehearsal space and I can get ten people in a room together - I can’t describe it any other way than ‘magic happens’!”

Experience Mike’s directorial debut on April 13, 2019 at the Acting Out! One Act Theatre Festival, held at the Keyano Recital Theatre in Fort McMurray.

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How to Audition - Helpful Tips and Tricks

By Hanna Fridhed for Theatre; Just Because

Whether you have done it a thousand times before, or if this is your very first time, auditioning can be a nerve-wrecking experience. We get a lot of questions about how to nail your theatre audition, so we put together a handy list of things to remember!

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COME PREPARED!
You might be asked to perform a monologue, or a piece they’ve asked you to prepare in advance, or do a cold-read (reading parts of the script with it in hand). Whatever it is, practice and come prepared. Learn your piece, read it to friends and family, get feedback, then practice some more!

Make sure you know as much as possible about the show you’re auditioning for, and the part you want (if you have a specific character in mind). Read the script if it’s available, or the character list and synopsis. Do your homework!

Do a vocal and physical warm-up before your audition. Not sure how to warm-up? Check out these helpful videos: vocal warm-up & physical warm-up.

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BE YOURSELF!
The director is there to meet and get to know YOU! We know it’s easier said than done, but walk into that audition room as yourself - not who you think they want you to be. Knowing the character that you are audition with or for is important, but make sure that it’s authentic.

BE POLITE AND FRIENDLY!

Being professional and nice to the other actors waiting to audition, the volunteers helping to sign you in and the artistic team that you’re auditioning for is extremely important. Bringing a bad attitude, even if it’s outside the audition room, will get you noticed - but not in the way you would like.

DON’T RUSH!

When you’re in the audition room in front of the director, your nerves might get the best of you, and you feel the urgent need to get it over with and rush through your audition. Don’t! Before you begin, take a second and breathe, make sure your feet are grounded and that you’re ready. Get comfortable! We can’t stress it enough: remember to breathe!

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If you make a mistake, it’s likely that you are the only person who noticed it. Don’t stop and apologize! Just stay in the moment, stay focused, and keep going!

MAKE CHOICES!

When you’re delivering your monologue, song or reading - who are you talking to? A friend? The mirror? An audience? Your boss? Your delivery will be different depending on who you’re speaking to. How old is your character? Do they have injuries? What did they have for breakfast? Why are they saying what they are saying? These are only examples of questions, but the more you know and understand about your character, the easier it will be to be truthful to who they are.

When auditioning, don’t deliver your lines to the director or other people at the table. Find a spot slightly above and behind them instead (plant “the person” you’re talking to there, and speak to them).

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PLANT YOURSELF!

When you’re performing your piece, it’s easy to let your energy out by pacing and fidgeting. Plant your feet! Every movement on stage has a reason, and it’s the same in auditions. Delivering your piece with your feet grounded and a choice behind your movement makes for a much more powerful audition.

TAKE DIRECTION!

After you complete your audition, the director may give you some direction and ask you to do it again. It might be weird, or difficult, but go with it! Do your best to incorporate the direction into your second performance. Don’t take it as a critique of your first performance, or think that they didn’t like it: the director wants to know if you can take direction! They might also be trying to picture you in different parts. Make a choice, and go for it!

When it’s done, you may be thanked and welcomed to leave. If so, great! That means that they have seen everything they need. Thank the artistic team, and leave remembering that the director WANTS you to succeed! Even the most experienced and talented actors don’t get cast in every play, there are many factors that play into a casting choice. Just relax and enjoy performing!

If you have a question, ask! An audition isn’t a test, this a chance for people to get to know each other. Above all, HAVE FUN!

BREAK A LEG!

audition for AHOY! A Pirate’s Life For Me!

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Empowered Voices: The Life and Times of Theatre Kids

By Justin Shaw
Originally submitted for YMM Parent Magazine

In February 2018, Emma Gonzalez captured the world’s attention when she spoke out about a recent mass-shooting at a school in Florida. Her words were spoke with clarity, passion, and conviction as a crowd of people stood behind her and supported her every word. Her words reached a global audience, going viral overnight. The world was listening.

Who is Emma Gonzalez?

She is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And she’s a theatre kid.

Being comfortable being seen by millions of people and being outspoken has nothing to do with being “dramatic.” Well, perhaps a little – but the two virtues are not mutually exclusive.

“A theatre class is more than an artistic distraction for students,” writes Stephen Sachs, of American Theatre. “It can serve as a lightning rod of empowerment for young people. For many teens, the experience of standing in a spotlight on a stage in a play or musical, galvanizing the attention of adults in the audience, is the first time a young person discovers that what they say matters. They learn that words have power, that their voice can move and inspire others.”

Youth Production “A Kidsummer Night’s Dream” directed by Justin Shaw, Fort McMurray 2018.

Youth Production “A Kidsummer Night’s Dream” directed by Justin Shaw, Fort McMurray 2018.

What does that mean for the rest of the world? Will all drama students find themselves in front of a camera campaigning to save Western civilization? Or headlining Broadway shows next in line for a Tony award? Realistically – probably not.

What a drama student will discover is that, with practice of their skills, they will have acquired a sense of empowerment that you may not be found in any other extracurriculars.

In a traditional theatre production, rehearsal takes place in the interest of refining a piece of theatre until it satisfies authenticity. In a theatre-based program for youth however – education is at stake. Basic theatre values are instilled in these programs that transcend the medium entirely. Virtues such as valuing your peers’ time by not being late for rehearsal, respecting stage managers and technicians with words like ‘thank you’ and ‘please’, being accountable to complete your work, and, perhaps most importantly, sharing your ideas, thoughts and creativity in the interest of working as a company.

Youth Production “Fantastic Mr Fox” directed by Michelle Thorne, 2017.

Youth Production “Fantastic Mr Fox” directed by Michelle Thorne, 2017.

While some programs are focused at creating a full-length production complete with costumes, props, and (hopefully) an audience, the heart of an educational theatre program for youth is to instill a sense of empowerment, and ownership of their craft. Whether that empowerment takes them to Broadway centre stage, in front of a camera before an audience of millions, or to, what is considered by many students to be the most painful form of punishment, giving a presentation in front of your class about something you wrote yourself – the growth is unmistakable.

Empowerment conquers fear.

A work of art may not change the world, but an artist might.

Theatre Just Because Fantastic Mr Fox

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