"My wife Joanne and I were nothing but impressed with the production of, "The Insanity of Mary Girard", which we had the privilege to view last Friday evening. I expressed this to your principal, Mr. Kinnell, following the performance. To now learn the play did exceptionally well at the One Act Regional Drama tournament and will head to Provincial One Acts on May 13-15th is again incredible and, in my opinion, much deserved. I want to commend and congratulate the Director, Luay Eljamal, Best Actress, Maurie Pitura, the technical team and everyone involved in achieving the "Best Play" distinction. I know you will all do well in the Provincial One Act Play competition. However, win or lose you are all winners for your accomplishments to date." - Dennis Parsons (Superintendent of Schools, Fort McMurray Public Schools)”
Superintendent of Schools, Fort McMurray Public Schools
Mary Girard's Insanity Wins Awards for Westwood
"This Maurie Pitura, a Grade 11 student attending Westwood was cast to play the lead role of Mary Girard, and she said she was surprised and excited when she heard she was cast for the role. "I remember the day he put the cast list up, "I went around the school screaming," recalls Pitura. Aside from Pitura, a total of seven students were cast to play stage roles, while several other students assisted behind the scenes as the stage crew.
The play was performed at Westwood High School on April 23, and a mere two days later, the cast decided to combine their money for the purposes of renting a Diversified bus to head down to regional competitions being held in Edmonton. The cast won a total of four awards at regionals for their outstanding performance including best actress, best play of 2010 and best student directed play, which ultimately won the cast their spot to perform at Provincials. "Regionals is something that we decided to do ourselves," explained Eljamal, who mentioned that there is no
competition before regionals. "It was really awesome getting to see all the other plays that came as far as we did and it was just really a good experience," said Pitura, who also mentioned that partaking in this experience was "the best feeling in the world"
Provincials were held in Red Deer on Saturday May 14, where the cast once again performed their well practiced play for an audience of judges, who ultimately awarded them with an amazing five out of ten awards.
"It feels really fantastic, we were extremely proud. I don't think it's hit a lot of us yet," said Eljamal, with a sense of accomplishment in his voice.
"It feels amazing just to get recognized anywhere really," said Pitura. "Everyone els eis so supportive everywhere you go, they'll start clapping for you, it's such a good environment for everyone. It feels really awesome, we've met so many great people in the process. I've made a lot of new friends, [and] the experience itself is an accomplishment; I guess our hard work paid off.
Westwood High School students recently showcased their talent with the school's latest student directed play, "The Insanity of Mary Girard". The play has brought out the talents of a select group of students who proved that their performance is from a group of accomplished young adults who have come together to make their school and Fort McMurray proud. Students from Grade 10 through 12 participated in this year's production and have practiced steadily over the past several months to perfect their performance not only for school entertainment, but also regional competitions as well.
Grade 12 student Luay Eljamal directed this year's production and said that he chose "The Insanity of Mary Girard" because of the strong moral to the story. "I felt that it's something that everyone can relate to easily; the idea of finding something to live for," said Eljamal.
Written by Lanie Robertson, the story takes place in the 1970s and is about a woman sent to the madhouse by her husband who declares her to be insane after becoming pregnant with another man's child. Since in that era, men had all the power, Girard is practically defenceless against the accusations and is sent to an asylum where she faces a difficult life. The play is centered around the perspective of Mary Girard, who is actually sane, and the aspects of life she had to face due to her husband's spitefulness. Girard's character portrays a strong and proud woman who is forced to succomb to the cruelness perpetuated through society at the time.
"We had auditions at the beginning of March, and then we had I'd say about a total of 20 rehearsals," said Eljamal. Each member of the cast has spent a lot of time and effort ensuring that they put forth their best performance, which resulted in more than they could have every hoped for when starting to practice in March.
Westwood Struts Stuff with Mary
"It's hard to be insane," according to Maurie Pitura, who plays the title role in Westwood High School's latest production, The Insanity of Mary Girard.
The show is about a woman who is thrown into an insane asylum and how she, through the aid of a few creepy, faceless entities, attempts to prove herself sane. It's easy to imagine that playing a character experiencing a psychotic breakdown while talking to things that are probably in her head posed a few challenges for the young actress.
"It's a lot of fun playing with the character," Pitura said. "We got to do a lot of cool things and playing around seeing what I could do like jumping on the chair, roll around on the floor - stuff like that. So that was definitely a challenge, but it was fun."
There's a lot of pressure on the seven students who make up the cast, as The Insanity of Mary Girard is Westwood's entry in a one-act theatre competition being held this weekend in Edmonton. The production will be going up against 15 other high schools, with the top two moving on to provincials. Westwood has a long history of strong showings at the competition.
The cast of seven, supported by a crew of about 10, feels they have a good show on their hands with a solid shot at heading to provincials.
"It's interesting, it's a cool storyline and I think a lot of people will like it," Pitura said. "I don't think little kids will like it because it's kind of messed up, but I think it's quite interesting. It has a good story and there's a lot of cool effects that happen."
The costume work and eerie acting of the supporting cast is definitely something that will stand out to anyone who sees the show. The furies, who help Mary in their own creepy way, wear masks that make them look like faceless spirits. The actors also do an excellent job of stalking around the stage like one might think a menacing hallucination might.
Westwood student Luay Eljamal directs the show. People may remember Eljamal from his performance in the schools December production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
"It's really good entertainment and will make you think for sure," Eljamal said about the show. "It's got a lot of different levels of moral understanding that they can pick up on, but it is mature. I wouldn't recommend children come see it, but adults would for sure enjoy it."
This will be Eljamal's first shot at directing and he said the experience has been very positive.
"It's been really, really exciting. I've learned a lot of life lessons from it because you learn patience, endurance, and confidence because you have to pretend nothing is wrong when everything in the world is wrong," Eljamal said. "I would do it again for sure. It creates a family away from home type of thing you really get attached to it."
On Saturday the students will be heading south to Edmonton for their shot at provincials. McMurrayites will get their chance to see The Insanity of Mary Girard tonight at 7 p.m. at the Westwood Theatre. Tickets are free, but donations are accepted."
Westwood Struts Stuff with Mary, Fort McMurray Today
April 23, 2010, written by ROLAND CILLIERS