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Cochrane perfoming arts students take play to provincials, prepare for SOAP festival

Cochrane High students Fran Punch and Savannah Hope-Taylor received outstanding achievement awards for their performances as Sophie and Caroline in The Unknown Part of the Ocean at the Provincial Showcase in Red Deer

Two performing arts students from Cochrane High School received recognition for outstanding achievements in their performance under the bright lights at the Provincial Showcase in Red Deer May 12 to 14.

Fran Punch and Savannah Hope-Taylor, both in Grade 10, portrayed the roles of Sophie and Caroline in Sheri Wilner’s The Unknown Part of the Ocean.

Punch and Hope-Taylor’s act was selected to compete in the show for their performance at the One Act Zones Festival at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School in Okotoks at the end of April.

“I’m really proud of us,” said Punch of the accomplishment, prior to the pair’s trip to Central Alberta. “We’re both beginners to this program and we were picked out of 18 shows.”

The play follows the story of Sophie and her mother, Caroline, who is battling cancer.

“Sophie, played by me, narrates to her mother,” said Punch. “The audience sees the story through her lens using her stuffed animals and her compelling imagination.”

Hope-Taylor said she and her classmate were paired together to work on the script by their Advanced Performing Arts teacher at Cochrane High, Dustin Whetton.

“He said that Fran and I were put together because he thought that we could create something beautiful,” she said. “Even when we first started talking about the play, he said he expected us to go to Zones.”

The duo has performed the show around a dozen times, according to Hope-Taylor. The nerves still take hold sometimes, she said, but the experience to grow and learn as a performer from the opportunities they get far outweighs any form of stage fright. 

Also awarded outstanding achievements at the Provincial Showcase for their parts in the play were Isabel Pedersen, for lighting design and Jasper Sutton, for sound design.

Honourable mentions for production design were given to Hope-Taylor, Punch, Pedersen, Sutton, Trin Peters, Connor Kuzyk, Addie Wennekamp, Quinn Mason and Aspen Godard. 

Bow Valley High School (BVHS) students also had a great showing at the earlier Zones festival, which featured their performance of Legwork by Dean O’Donnell. Grade 12 student Arden Lowe won outstanding achievement in performance for his portrayal of Walter Macmillan, and classmate Adrianna Rosso won outstanding achievement in directing.

The production was put on in partnership with Cochrane High and will also appear at the school’s Student One Act Play festival happening May 16 to 17, along with The Unknown Part of the Ocean and several others.

Organizing the festival are Cochrane High Grade 12 students Beck Phillips and Callum Houston, who will also be performing together.

“It’s a combination of comedy, songs, skits, dramas, and more,” said Phillips. “If you have any appreciation for anything that has to do with live theatre or the arts, you will find that these two days are definitely worth sitting through.”

Houston and Phillips’ play is a satirical comedy that turns dark as it develops, called Never Swim Alone by Daniel MacGyver.

“It’s sort of like a competition between two guys going ‘Oh, I’m taller,’” explained Houston. “Then as it progresses it gets darker and darker, and you realize it’s actually not about [that].”

The festival is free to attend and will take place at Cochrane High from 6 to 9:30 p.m. both days.

In between acts, students will also be taking to the stage to showcase various talents.