Spotlight on ... Yvonne Van Blarcom!

Welcome to our newly revived written “Spotlight on …” segment! The work done at Quick As A Wink would not be possible without the time, energy, talent, and help of numerous QAAW community members. It’s time to celebrate some of the valued members of our team who are essential to our success!

Today’s “Spotlight” is on the wonderful and welcoming Yvonne Van Blarcom!

If you have attended a Quick As A Wink performance in recent years, you have likely met the lovely Yvonne; she has been an essential part of our Front of House team for some time now and currently serves as one of our Front of House co-managers!

Prior to becoming involved with QAAW herself, however, Yvonne was a fan of Quick As A Wink’s work and was a frequent audience member. “I first became involved [with Quick As A Wink] as a spectator [during] Glory Days in 2004,” Yvonne says. “I found out about the play though my children's music connections.  I was super impressed with the story and the music, all written and composed by local talent, [which] was very inspiring.  I then tried to catch all of the shows after that.”

It didn’t take long for Yvonne to become involved with Quick As A Wink herself. “Around 2010, I started playing a musical instrument myself,” she says. “I ended up joining a community concert band and sat next to Jan Gnemmi [QAAW’s other FOH co-manager]. She asked if I'd like to help out with working the table at Front of House at the Quick As A Wink shows. Jan is so sweet; you can't say no! In 2015, Jan was looking to move away from the position and asked if I would like to take it over. With my work commitments, I didn't want to commit to this totally, but I offered to co-manage with her. We're a good team!”

Front of House has proven to be a rewarding experience for Yvonne over the years. “I have a few favourite memories from Front of House,” Yvonne says. “[These include] the smile from a special guest after helping them to their seat, hugs and friendly greetings from folks that I see four times a year at the shows, and sharing a joke with others.”

Yvonne has been a long-time fan of theatre and enjoys all the different aspects that bring a show together. “I have always loved live performances,” she says. “I love watching the pit band as much as I enjoy what is happening on the stage. My daughter would say, 'Mum, you are supposed to be watching the play, not me!' It's [also] fun watching the actors recover from a faux pas; [it] makes it so much more entertaining to me!”

Could QAAW fans ever expect to see Yvonne take the stage herself if the right role arose? “Dream role?” says Yvonne. “No, my skills are best put to use out front!”

So what does Yvonne enjoy doing when she isn’t volunteering her time with QAAW? “Definitely following everything that my two girls do!” she says. This includes Kelsey Van Blarcom, another QAAW community member!

Yvonne is also a passionate musician and enjoys spending her time playing. “I learned to play the clarinet at 46," she says. "See, you are never too old! I took private lessons for two years, playing the recitals alongside my daughters! I now play in two concert bands for fun, one with my husband who plays bass."

Looking to hear Yvonne play for yourself? You may be in luck! “New Horizons band will be playing the music festival at Acadia on April 30th,” Yvonne says, “and the Valley Community Concert band are in the middle of their Senior Homes spring tours.”

Thank you so much for all the wonderful work you do, Yvonne! It is always a pleasure to work with you, and we are so happy to have you are part of our team!

Do you have someone you think deserves to be highlighted in our “Spotlight on …” feature? We are always looking for suggestions on who to feature! Send us an email or Facebook message with the name of your suggestion.

New “Spotlight on …” segments are posted every weekend. We hope you join us next week to celebrate another valued QAAW community member!

Summer Student Blog Post: Drama Camp Continues ...

 Peek-a-boo! Having fun at the Blockhouse. Photo credit: Ally Loiselle

Peek-a-boo! Having fun at the Blockhouse.
Photo credit: Ally Loiselle

Hello again, everyone! It’s time for another Drama Camp update! Thank you to everyone who commented on my previous blog post and shared such kind words; it made me so happy to hear that your children are enjoying camp as much as we are!

Camp continues to be very busy, but also very fun. The last couple days have been spent hard at work rehearsing scenes from the show, making props, and singing our hearts out as we learn the camp song. Camp leader Olivia also taught our campers their choreography to the final song yesterday afternoon, so we can now add dancing to the list of activities as well!

The jokes and funny stories continue to pile up, as well. From ad-libbed lines to silly poses in drama games, there is rarely a moment where at least one of us isn’t laughing. Some notable funny instances from today included all our campers loudly clapping chanting “MANGO MANGO MANGO!” while circling the room during a game, the actors playing our gnome characters trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to to run and sing their gnome song at high speed, and a series of exaggerated and hilarious faces during a game of “Graveyard.” There is never a dull moment here at camp!

 Our full cast of campers at the end of our trip! Photo credit: Ally Loiselle

Our full cast of campers at the end of our trip!
Photo credit: Ally Loiselle

In addition to having fun, though, our campers have also been taking their roles very seriously and learning a lot about their characters. Yesterday involved a series of activities that encouraged our actors to think about, explore, and create their characters’ personalities and histories. A lot of wonderful and creative material came out of it; for example, two actresses determined that their characters must be estranged sisters, another girl learned how deeply her character valued magic, and another camper determined the reason her character eventually became evil. It’s been so rewarding to watch the campers learn, grow, and become excited about their roles; it’s just one of the many things I love about this job!

Everyone has been working very hard this week, so today we also travelled up to the Fort Edward Blockhouse to take a well-deserved break from rehearsing, spend some time outside, and learn about some local history! It was very warm outside, so we didn’t stay for too long, but it was nice to get out of the church for a little while and enjoy the sunshine! The trip was made even better when we returned and had some lovely frozen Freezies waiting for us. What a productive day!

Camp is truly picking up speed, now; with only two days of camp left already (where has the time gone??), tomorrow we will be doing two full run-throughs of the show and having our campers rehearse without the use of their scripts. It’s so exciting that the final performance is so close!

I likely won’t be able to post again until following the final performance – there is still a lot to prepare! – but you can expect an update from me sometime next week regarding show night. However, why wait for my blog post on the subject when you can some see the show for yourself? Our Drama Camp performance of Holka Polka is open to the public by free will donation and happens this Friday at 7:30pm at KES. These kids have been working hard and deserve a huge audience to see all they have accomplished!

In non-camp related news, last night was also the Pub Trivia Season Finale! Congratulations to the Meeples on their well-deserved win; what an amazing season you played! A huge thank you to all our regular teams who repeatedly come out to play and support us; we hope to see you all for the next Trivia season, which starts THIS TUESDAY (August 1st)!

I’m off for now; lots to do before Friday!

Cheers until next time!

Ally

Drama Camp Spotlight (3/3): Meet Joni!

 Photo credit: Keshia Laffin

Photo credit: Keshia Laffin

It’s time to meet one last member of the cast of this summer’s QAAW Drama Camp production! Meet Joni, the sweet young actress who will be playing the role of Brenda in this Friday’s performance of Holka Polka!

Joni has taken the Quick As A Wink stage many times over the past few years. “I’ve performed in three other of these Quick As A Wink camps [2014’s Captains and Crews, 2015’s Charlotte’s Web, and 2016’s Beauty is Beast], and I’ve performed in Quick As A Wink’s Annie [2016] and The Music Man [2017, as Amaryllis],” she says. “I’ve also done a bunch of other summer camps. At another church in Windsor, I played the role of Rachel Awesome, which is pretty much a girl character of Richard Dawson.”

Joni’s character, Brenda, is a young and kind witch who sets out to wake the prince from a sleeping spell and save the reputation of all the witches in Fairytale Land. “I play Brenda, and one of my favorite things about her is that she is really kind and nice and quirky sometimes,” Joni says.

When it comes to acting, there is very little Joni doesn’t enjoy. “[I like] pretty much everything about acting,” she says. “I like singing and dancing, and I just like performing for everyone else!”

When not onstage, Joni pursues a series of diverse interests. “I go to Avon Dance Academy, so one of my hobbies is dancing,” she says. “I’m in 4H, and also I take swimming lessons.”

Joni has been enjoying her role as Brenda so far. "A big thank you to Quick As A Wink for giving me this opportunity!" she says. Joni looks forward to performing for an audience this Friday and hopes to see you there!

Don’t miss your chance to see Joni and her fellow campers perform! Holka Polka opens Friday, July 28th at 7:30pm at the KES Fountain Theatre. Admission is by free will donation. Come out and see all the hard work our campers have put in over the past week!

Drama Camp Spotlight (2/3): Meet Kevin!

 Photo credit: Keshia Laffin

Photo credit: Keshia Laffin

It’s time to meet another one of our great Drama Camp performers! Meet Kevin, the charming young actor who will be playing the role of the Wolf in this Friday’s production of Holka Polka!

Kevin is no stranger to the stage; you may remember him from his role as Nick in QAAW’s 2016 Drama Camp performance of Beauty is a Beast! He also appeared in productions of Hansel and Gretl and The Three Musketeers.

Kevin’s character, the Wolf, is a misunderstood creature who joins his new friends Brenda and Cindy on a quest to wake the prince from a sleeping spell. Kevin has been having a lot of fun with this character. “I play the Wolf, and I like it because they’re actually telling a real thing,” he says. “Like, wolves aren’t really that bad; they just do what humans do, basically! They hunt, and they do what they need to do to survive!”

Kevin says his favorite thing about theatre is the way it is able to bring words to life. “It’s just really cool to act out a story!” he says. “I just really like it.”

When he isn’t onstage, Kevin has a number of different ways he likes to spend his time. “I play video games!” he says. “And I like when my cousins come over; that’s really nice. And I like my pets!”

Kevin is looking forward to the final performance this Friday and would like to encourage you to come see the show!

Don’t miss your chance to see Kevin and his fellow campers perform! Holka Polka opens this Friday at 7:30pm at the KES Fountain Theatre. Admission is by free will donation. Come out and see all the hard work our campers have put in over the past week!

Drama Camp Spotlight (1/3): Meet Mariasha!

 Photo credit: Keshia Laffin

Photo credit: Keshia Laffin

Looking to learn more about the cast of our upcoming Drama Camp performance of Holka Polka? Meet Mariasha! Mariasha is a talented young actress who will be playing the role of Cindy, a princess who joins her new friends Brenda and the Wolf on a quest to wake the prince from a sinister sleeping spell.

Despite being so young, Mariasha already has an impressive acting resume. “[I’ve performed in] the last three [Quick As A Wink Drama Camp] plays, which were Beauty is a Beast, Charlotte’s Web, and Captains and Crews,” she says. “I’ve also done a ton of school plays, and I did a Quick As A Wink play that wasn’t a camp, which was Glory Days!”

Mariasha is an active fan of the arts. “I like acting because it is a way to express myself,” she says. “I [also] play piano, I draw, and I like to read a lot.”

Mariasha is excited for this Friday’s performance and hopes to see you in the audience. “Come see the show!” she says.

Don’t miss your chance to see Mariasha and her fellow campers perform! Holka Polka opens this Friday at 7:30pm at the KES Fountain Theatre. Admission is by free will donation. Come out and see all the hard work our campers have put in over the past week!

Summer Student Blog Post: The Down-low on Day One!

 Some of our campers hard at work completing their magic wan crafts!  PHOTO CREDIT: Ally Loiselle

Some of our campers hard at work completing their magic wan crafts!

PHOTO CREDIT: Ally Loiselle

Hello, everyone!

Today was our first day of Drama Camp, and it was so much fun! I’m pretty tired after such a busy day, but I had a specific request from a camper that I post a blog update (Hi, Gretchen!) so I couldn’t stay away! We had a pretty packed day, so I’ll do my best to fill you in on as much as I can. (Apologies in advance for any typos!)

 Wand making is serious business.  PHOTO CREDIT: Ally Loiselle

Wand making is serious business.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ally Loiselle

This morning, the campers, my fellow leaders, and I all played a series of games to get to know one another. After this, we had our first read-through of the script. Even with a lot of these campers only seeing their parts for the first time today, it went surprisingly smoothly. Characters were coming to life before we had even added any blocking or done any character work! The natural talent in this group is truly remarkable.

We then played some games (including, yes, the already frequently requested Whoosh!), and had a lesson on how to use gesture, posture, face, and body positioning to best convey a character. This was followed by a fun craft: magic wands! You can see some photos in this post of campers hard at work on their creations. These wands will be used as props in the show, so be sure to keep an eye open for them when you attend our final production on Friday at 7:30pm!

This afternoon, we got down to work learning our camp song and blocking our first few scenes. I have to say, I have never encountered a group that enjoys blocking so much! My groups repeatedly asked me, “Can we run the scene again? Can we start at the beginning?” each time we concluded, eager to continue rehearsing and to perfect their performances. Additionally, at the end of the day when I asked our campers what their favorite activity from the day had been, the majority actually expressed learning their blocking! In previous years, the response has overwhelmingly been “playing games,” so this was a surprise; this group is so dedicated to their craft!

Of course, despite it being only day one, we have already been blessed with a series of hilarious comments and one liners. For example, during one game wherein the campers had to guess who was dictating a series of movements, the camper is question told the camper guessing, “It’s actually me,” and when all rest of the campers exclaimed, “Why did you tell her?? You spoiled it!!”, he responded, “IT WAS REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. YOU SPOILED IT.” I was in stitches.

Overall, a very productive and busy first day! Tomorrow, we will continue rehearsing, make more crafts, learn the choreography to our camp song, and work on exploring and developing our characters. It’s sure to be fun!

Outside of camp, I am also very excited that the QAAW Pub Trivia finale is tomorrow night at 7pm at The Spitfire Arms! My team has no chance of winning this year (last year we managed to snag second overall!), but you can be sure that I will be in attendance! I always have so much fun playing, and finale night is always full of twists and turns. Even if you are not a regular player, you should certainly come out tomorrow night! It’s guaranteed to be a fun time, and new players/teams are always welcome.

I have a bit more last-minute camp prep to complete tonight, so now I must be going. Check in to our social media accounts throughout the week for more updates on summer camp and the goings-on here at QAAW!

Cheers, and talk to you next time!

Ally

Summer Student Blog Post: One more week until camp!!

Hello everyone!

After a bit of a break last week (I went camping at Kejimkujik, explored Annapolis Royal, and went to Fort Anne and Port Royal!), I’m back with a lot to do before the first of two camps starts next Monday. Last week the casting list was sent out, which was a tough job but also exciting- it means camp is so close! We have some fun crafts planned, and I can’t wait to see what all the campers bring to their roles! 

Last week (while short) was interesting, because I got to host Pub Trivia at The Spitfire for the first time! The theme was Strawberries, and while the questions were a bit tricky, everyone did really well! It was tough for me to get up there and be bold because that isn’t my personality, but I ended up enjoying myself quite a lot! Before that, we also presented at a West Hants Recreation arts camp, which got me to learn some new drama games and have an idea of what our own camp is going to be like! (A lot of fun!)

This week is pretty full-I will be writing a camp song accompaniment that Ally wrote the lyrics for, getting a copy of the scripts for each camper, practicing some piano pieces for the musical theatre camp, finding craft supplies, burning a sound effects CD, digging for costumes in the storage building, and attending a Board meeting! 

Well, I better get back to it!

Until next time,

Miriam

Summer Student Blog Post: Planning, Presenting, and Pub Trivia!

Hi everyone!

 Some of the supplies we used in our presentation for West Hants Recreation's arts day camp. Thanks for having us, everyone!

Some of the supplies we used in our presentation for West Hants Recreation's arts day camp. Thanks for having us, everyone!

As always, it has a been a fun and busy week! I feel as though I am getting back into the swing of things, and just in time; we are about to become very busy with summer camp just around the corner!

Over the past few days, Miriam and I finalized the final cast list for Drama Camp and sent out that information (so be sure to check your emails, parents and guardians!) This camp production is going to be awesome; we have so many talented performers cast in this show, and I cannot wait to work with everyone to help them learn, grow, and develop confidence in their talents. Our camp performance will be open to the public by free will donation, so stay tuned for news and updates on that in the coming weeks!

 My new arch nemesis after Trivia this week? .... Nah. Too tasty.  Did you know the average strawberry has about 200 seeds? Neither did I until last Tuesday!

My new arch nemesis after Trivia this week? .... Nah. Too tasty.

Did you know the average strawberry has about 200 seeds? Neither did I until last Tuesday!

In addition to casting, I’ve been spending time researching crafts, creating a rehearsal schedule, and refreshing myself on the rules of some of my favorite camp games so I will be ready to share these with the campers very soon. We are also currently knee-deep in Musical Camp casting; finding and choosing the perfect piece for everyone is very time consuming as we have been taking it very seriously. But fret not, parents and guardians of musical campers, as this information will be coming your way very soon! We are very nearly done, so keep an eye on your email later this week!

Last week, Miriam and I also had the opportunity to warm up for camp by visiting the kids over at West Hants Recreation’s summer arts camp! While there, we played a lot of drama games (including my all time favorite, Whoosh) and taught the campers about stage directions, how to incorporate body language into performance, and how to flesh out a scene that offers very little context or direction. The campers were all excellent; they brought such creativity to their scenes and were so expressive in their performances for the group. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to West Hants Rec for inviting us, as well as the campers for being so lovely to work with and the camp counselors to being so friendly and accommodating. We had a lovely time!

Camp has been my main focus so far this week, and really my only one as I took a little break from hosting Pub Trivia on Tuesday. I had the opportunity to come and play myself with a few friends from out of town and got to experience Miriam’s first time hosting first hand! She did a great job; it’s not easy to stand and speak in front of a room full of people, nor is it easy to come up with 45 different trivia questions! Her strawberry theme had me and my team pretty stumped; we apparently do not know a lot about strawberries, but we had a fun time anyway! Next week, though, I’ll be back to hosting, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for next week’s trivia hint!

Speaking of Pub Trivia, the season is very nearly over! We will soon be gearing up for our Pub Trivia finale, so keep an eye on our Facebook page in the coming weeks for news on that. And be sure to check out our Pub Trivia leaderboard, also on our Facebook page, to see where your team currently stands!

Finally, I couldn’t end this post without mentioned that auditions for both A Christmas Carol and The Drowsy Chaperone are this week! Click here to register for your audition; these are both great shows that you will definitely want to be a part of!

Alright, back to work I go. It’s been nice talking to you all. I’ll write again soon!

Cheers,

Ally