Okanagan Zone Theatre Festival puts local theatre companies to the test

Click to play video: 'Okanagan Ozone Theatre Festival begins'
Okanagan Ozone Theatre Festival begins
WATCH: Celebrate local talent this week with the Okanagan Zone Theatre Festival at the Mary Irwin Theatre - Sydney Morton gives us a look behind the scenes as members of Shuswap Theatre prepare to kick off the festival – May 24, 2023

The stage of the Rotary Centre of the Arts’ Mary Irwin Theatre is being set for the where you can see three plays in three days.

The Okanagan Zone Theatre Festival, also known as the Ozone Theatre Festival, is part of Theatre BC that “serves as a parent association for community theatre in the province,” states the association’s website.

Members of the association have divided the province into 10 different zones, and members of the zones compete against each other every May.

Co-chair of the Ozone Theatre Festival, Debby Helf says that the festival helps promote community theatre and foster connections between different theatre groups across the province. First, competitors must compete against members of their own zone.

“The festival consists of three plays that are competing Wednesday, Thursday, Friday night and being judged,” said Helf.

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“Then we will have an awards ceremony and the winner will gets to go to a main stage that’s happening in Surrey [B.C.] this year.”

This year the Okanagan zone competitors are from Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre, the South Okanagan Amateur Players Society (S.O.A.P) from Oliver and the Shuswap Theatre from Salmon Arm.

To qualify for the Theatre BC Mainstage Festival in the lower mainland members of The Shuswap Theatre Society hope to stand out with a ‘suburban gothic thriller’ by Jordan Tannahil called Concord Floral. 

“It’s about a group of teenagers and two of the teenagers make a really grisly discovery at the beginning of the play and the plot unfolds from there,” said producer Jaci Metivier.

“They are having to deal with the repercussions of something that happened in the past that is sort of coming back to haunt them.”

The play features 10 teenagers who hang out in an old abandoned greenhouse with the same name as the play. The cast and crew are given only five hours to rehearse and prepare ahead of curtain each night, meaning the festival not only celebrates local community theatre but also gives actors a chance to go out of their comfort zone.

“I am so excited. It’s such a fun show to be in, it’s more substantial than any show I have done before which have been kind of happy and fluffy, but this has a moral and has a point,” said Natalie Kearl who plays Rosa Mundi.

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The Shuswap Theatre Society is up first with its performance of Concord Floral May 24, followed by S.O.A.P. Theatre May 25 with 7 Stories by Morris Panych and closed out by the Powerhouse Theatre’s performance of Butterflies Are Free Leonard Gershe on May 26.

Tickets are still available online at


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