Students of École H. J. Cody High School along with a few of their parents and teachers were working hard on the drama production of Village of Idiots on the weekend.
The group spent time on the technical elements of set painting, costuming, and props on Saturday. Then Sunday, students spent the day rehearsing and polishing the first act of the two act comedy that they will present Dec. 3rd-7th at the school’s Stevenson Performing Arts Centre.
Sylvan Lake may remember hearing the title once before associated with the school. The Drama department presented Village of Idiots ten years ago in 2003.
“I had such a great time on that first production and it was such a success that I really wanted to revisit this script sometime,” said Jacqui Renwick, drama teacher and show director. “I think it has been just long enough since the last production that people who saw it the first time would hopefully remember it fondly and want to come back and those who don’t know the show can come and enjoy the play. I had also been waiting for just the right students for this production — students with a combination of humour, heart and dedication.”
This year’s production features actors from Grades 9-12 and, although it is not a musical production, the music department is once again offering musical support.
Especially exciting is that some of this year’s music will be original compositions by Grade 12 student Alex Palm who plays the Rabbi. Musical direction is once again by Kerry Heisler.
Village of Idiots was written by Canadian playwright John Lazarus, it was mined from a book called The Wise Men of Chelm by Solomon Simon. A collection of authentic Jewish folk tales, it was used to teach much in the same vein as Aesop’s Fables and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Retold with an offbeat, cryptic humour, the folksy stories are interlaced with Lazarus’ original material.
The play is based in Chelm, a real city in Western Poland. Lazarus’ comedy begins in Chelm just before the Second World War. Yosef, a Russian army deserter, finds his way to the village and is welcomed, for the most part, by the villagers. Along the way, he meets young Miriam and falls in love. However, his happy visit is short-lived knowing the Russian army is advancing on its path to Chelm. But the Chelmniks, employing the wisdom of its “foolish” sages, see the world in a very unique way and have a few surprises in store for the Cossack soldiers.
The play echoes the human spirit. The answer to our problems may, in fact, be right in front of us. The play combines a sense of heart, a sense of human resilience and of course, a sense of humour.
“We hope you will join us once again this holiday season for a great night of entertainment that the students and staff have been working so hard to bring you,” said Renwick.
Tickets are on sale at H. J. Cody’s main office for $10. Shows are Dec. 3-7 at 7:00 p.m. and a matinee on Saturday Dec. 7th at 1 p.m. For more information call the school at 403-887-2412.