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Lack of funding is a challenge for Mokami Players

Members of the Mokami Players rehearsing ‘Circle Mirror Transformation.’
Members of the Mokami Players rehearsing ‘Circle Mirror Transformation.’ - Contributed

Happy Valley-Goose Bay group hopes to make it to Provincial Drama Festival

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. —

The Mokami Players are preparing for the 70th annual Provincial Drama Festival later this month - if they can make the trip.

Scott Simms, who is directing the latest offering from the players, ‘Circle Mirror Transformation’ by Annie Baker, said the group didn’t make it to the festival last year due to lack of a director. This year will be challenging as well.

“We came in with no real budget to speak of and we’re doing a couple of fundraisers to cover it as best we can,” Simms, who recently moved to Labrador, said.

He said there is some provincial funding that’s available to theatre groups to travel but no one applied for it because they didn’t know at the time whether they would be attending.

Fundraising is the only revenue option they have right now, he said, and encourages any fan of the arts in the area to contact them if they want to assist. He said they’re doing what they can and it’s even more difficult because most of them aren’t from the area and don’t have the local connections.

Provincial Airlines has given them a discount on flights, he said, which is greatly appreciated but there are still a lot of costs to cover to get six people to St. John’s for a festival.

Simms is new to Mokami but no stranger to the theatre scene. At last years Provincial Drama Festival he was the winner of the Chairman’s Award for Best Actor and he has been involved in the festival for many years. He noticed the absence of the Mokami Players at last year’s festival.

“They couldn’t get down last year because they didn’t have a director so I stepped in and took over,” he said. “Mokami has such a vast history. To see them not make it was disappointing so I’m glad I was able to do it this year.”

He met some of the members of the group who attended the festival last year as spectators and they made him aware of the situation. He got in contact with Mokami when he discovered he was moving to Labrador to work as a teacher and it went from there.

Most of the players are relatively new as well, Simms said, although many have been involved in Mokami or other theatre groups in the past.

The play they are presenting at this year’s festival is about five actors who come together during a six-week period. They reflect on their lives as they are, Simms said, and find the fulfillment they haven’t necessarily had leading into the class. Since most of the actors are new to each other, he’s impressed it’s going so well.

“For this group to be able to come together and mesh well and pull off such a tight show is great,” he said. “They’re doing a great job.”

The Provincial Drama Festival runs from April 21 to 27 in St. John’s. Anyone interested in supporting the Mokami Players can contact Simms at scottsimms@nlesd.ca.

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