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Speech arts students take to the stage

This Saturday, 12 talented speech arts students from Val Macdonald’s studio, aged six to 15, will take to the stage to present 46 pieces of poetry, prose and monologue.

The concert, open to the public, is a dress rehearsal for these youngsters’ later performances in the Speech Arts division of the North Island Festival of Performing Arts (NIFPA), which be featured during adjudicated sessions Feb. 23 to 25 at the same venue.

“The question I am asked most is, ‘What is Speech Arts?' ” comments Macdonald, an actor and teacher who holds degrees in theatre and applied linguistics. “Most people think it is old-fashioned elocution or recitation but modern speech arts combines performance art with foundational life skills.

"These students learn the fundamentals of performing while also developing an appreciation for language and literature which come from 'doing' rather than just listening.

"I absolutely love seeing the imagination and creativity each of these young people bring to their pieces. They learn how to present themselves in a confident, natural and clear manner, skills which they use in so many ways, every day of their lives.”

The concert on Saturday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Old Church Theatre in Courtenay will give the young performers a chance to hone their skills in front of a supportive audience.

“The step from private weekly lessons in a home setting to being on an actual stage is a huge one,” Macdonald acknowledges. “I’m always a bit nervous on their behalf but these youngsters show amazing focus and commitment. I learn so much from them and am constantly surprised at their abilities.”

Admission for the two-hour concert is by donation at the door, with proceeds going to the speech arts division of NIFPA. The concert is recommended for ages five and up, with doors open at 6:10 p.m. for festival seating.

For more information, contact Val Macdonald at evmacdonald@shaw.ca or 250-339-0280. NIFPA details are online at www.nifpa.org.

— Val Macdonald

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