Now the two-longtime members of Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s youth program are about to do something they have never done before.
Not only have neither one of the boys ever been involved with The March Hare, but their debut will also mark the first time they will be involved in a production from behind the scenes.
Matthews will be stage manager and Pender will be the assistant stage manager when the TNL youth troupe performs “Stars in the Sky Morning” as part of the Corner Brook-based annual celebration of words and music this coming weekend. The boys have been learning the ropes in terms of how to go about figuring out sound, music and lighting cues, not to mention going over the lines of all the actors who are on stage and making sure they are all in the right position.
“It’s really different, but it’s good to see all the parts of the production because it makes you better as an actor,” Matthews said of the challenge he has taken on.
They have gotten some advice from their theatrical mentor Sarah McDonald Anderson, TNL’s artistic associate, but are more or less throwing themselves into the driver’s seat for this production.
“Sarah gave me a couple of pointers and then I started doing some of my own things,” said Matthews, who has been in the youth theatre program for four years. “It has just kind of come easily to me and I figured out how to do things.”
Pender has been in the program for eight years and has enjoyed tackling the technical side of production.
“I have been in this program for a very long time, but its always been acting, so it’s nice to see things from a stage managing point of view,” he said.
The play will be performed just once at The March Hare, at the Royal Canadian Legion at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. There are no fades to black or curtain falls between scenes, so Matthews and Pender will have to create the different atmospheres needed from one scene to the next with their approach to lighting.
“The Legion will be difficult to work with because there is not a lot of backstage area either,” added Pender.
“Stars in the Sky Morning” is a play written by Rhonda Payne, based on stories she collected from Newfoundland and Labrador women. The humorous and touching production will star seven youth actors under the direction of McDonald Anderson.
This will be the third year in a row the youth theatre group has done a production for The March Hare as a fundraiser for the youth program. In 2011, it debuted with “With Cruel Times in Between,” a compilation piece of Al Pittman works, and last year did “Times,” a collection of Newfoundland monologues.
“We try to keep to a traditional style of play which we think is more reflective of the festival,” said McDonald Anderson.