| May 22, 2008

Feature Article - May 22, 2008

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Feature Article - May 22, 2008 Sydenham student stars in Shakespeare on Kingston stageBy Julie Druker

Ana Mattisse Donefer-Hickie sparkled as Viola in Shakespeare’s well-known comedy Twelfth Night this past Saturday night at the Wellington Street Theatre. The “Bottle Tree Production” was polished, professional, very funny and played to a nearly sold out crowd.

Ana plays the main character Viola, a demanding role that requires not only the memorization of a huge number of lines, but also extreme versatility. You see, Viola is forced to disguise herself as a man, Cesario, who must shun the lovely Olivia, while she (Viola) falls in love with Orsino who is himself in love with the Olivia.

Sound complicated. It is. A typical Shakespeare comedy of errors, the play includes some very funny drunk fellows, a foolish wise guy who likes to sing, a grinning madmen who fancies yellow leotards, some extremely meddling and love-struck women, eunuchs, a fabulous violin player, a silly sword fighting knight and a few fiendish rogues.

Ana's role is a meaty, complex one and requires her to display not only a huge range of emotions, but physical flexibility and agility, intellectual acuteness and pure stamina. She manages to achieve all of it. We believe Viola's frustration, anxiety, discomfort, love, awkwardness, innocence, ferocity and anger. Her spectrum of emotions is acted with conviction. Ana's face is incredibly expressive and she uses her body to great comic effect in many scenes. She exudes confidence in the role and speaks her lines with an assuredness and naturalness that greatly belies her age. But this is no wonder.

Ana is no stranger to the stage. She has been acting for over 10 years and has some major roles under her belt, including Elinor in "Sense and Sensibility" and Maria in Sydenham High School's recent production of "Lend me a Tenor". She has even played Lady MacBeth.

Her training is as varied as her roles have been. This summer will be her fifth studying at "Artstrek", an acting program at Theatre Alberta in Red Deer. She has taken master acting classes in Sheldrake, New York and has studied in Stratford as well. For many years she has worked with Charles Robertson in Kingston with Theatre Five. At Sydenham High School she participates in the drama program with teacher Daniel Raponi, who she says "has managed to make the theatre program blossom there this year."

Rehearsals for Twelfth Night began mid-March, took place three or four evenings a week, and coincided with the rehearsals for "Tenor" at Sydenham High School. Ana admits, "It did get confusing at times with the two shows in rehearsals at the same time...I had to work very hard." No doubt. She pauses and adds, "But when I'm not doing a show I feel somehow deprived."

Ana's passion for acting is obvious. She has "always connected acting with having fun." She recalls her first foray into acting at six years old. "It got in me and I didn't want to stop." She has no plans of stopping now. After high school she may consider auditioning for the National Theatre School in Montreal whose program "is amazing and turns out high quality actors." Or she may apply to the University of Alberta's Acting Program which has "a great campus" and where some of her friends are currently enrolled. With another year of school ahead she admits that she intends to leave her options open.

Ana says that her family has been a great support to her throughout the year. Her mom helped her with her lines and drove her back and forth to Kingston to rehearsals. Mom, dad, one aunt and three cousins were all in attendance on Saturday night cheering her on.

Ana's advice to other young budding actors and actresses out there is: "Do as much as you can...do everything you can get your hands on...and never think that you can stop learning more." Great advice from a young actress who has already accomplished so much.

Ana will play Viola from May 20 to May 24 at the Wellington Street Theatre in Kingston at 126 Wellington Street. Show time is 8:00 pm with an additional Saturday matinee at 2:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door at 7:30 p.m. the night of the show. It's a great chance to support our own local talent and to experience Shakespeare as it was meant to be - live, on the stage.

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