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Kelowna to host Okanagan theatre festival next week

The Okanagan Zone Theatre Festival will be taking the stage in Kelowna this month for the first time since 2012.

Presented by Theatre BC and the Kelowna Kinsmen, the OZone event will be held at the Rotary Centre for the Arts from May 24 to 26.

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This year’s festival features plays from the Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon, SOAP Theatre in Oliver and Shuswap Theatre in Salmon Arm.

On May 24, Jordan Tannahill’s ‘Concord Floral’ will take the stage.

The hulk of Concord Floral, an enormous abandoned greenhouse, dominates the wild space as well as the imagination of the teens who live nearby.

It’s a place of refuge, transformation and of freedom, and it’s a dangerous place that remembers their past deeds.

When one of their buried secrets comes back to haunt them, 10 teenagers must make a choice in order to save themselves.

Morris Panych’s ‘7 Stories’ will be presented on May 25.

This play is a Canadian dark comedy that features a character generically named Man, who stands on the seventh story ledge of an apartment building, contemplating suicide.

While attempting to muster the courage to jump, Man suffers constant interruption by residents of the apartment building, each of whom have a story to tell.

Can Man find anything in their seven stories to convince him to get off the ledge, or is the human race too far gone?

This timely play recognizes that mental health plays a role in everyone’s life, and can impact people in different ways.

‘Butterflies Are Free’ by Leonard Gershe will be performed on May 26.

The full-length comedy is about a young man leaving his overprotective mother to live in Greenwich Village.

When he starts to fall for his off-the-wall neighbour, his mother’s controlling instincts go into overdrive with hilariously touching results.

It’s a funny and thought-provoking play that takes the audience on an emotional ride while confronting fears of self confidence, personal responsibility and the risks that go along with loving someone.

All three shows start at 7:30 pm, and doors open at 7 pm.

Theatre BC is divided into 10 different regions that each hold a festival every May, and the festivals are held in a different town in their respective zone every year.

The winning plays of these disparate festivals go on to compete at Mainstage, which is a provincial festival held every July in a chosen host city.

Both the Zone festivals and Mainstage are adjudicated by professionals in the performing arts who critique the plays and select winners of various awards, including best production, best director and best set.

This year’s adjudicator is Don Keith, who has developed a reputation for producing challenging plays.

As a theatre teacher since 1971, he was the recipient of a National Award for Leadership in Education.

In addition, he won the Drama Teacher of the Year award in 1999 and is a life member of Theatre Kelowna Society.

Tickets are $25 for each Kelowna play and they can be purchased here.

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