Shane Tollefson chuckles as he performs his opening monologue as Danny Dunkleman in Cherry Docs. Patrick Davies photo.

Cherry Docs holding encore performances prior to Mainstage

The Williams Lake Studio Theatre’s 2019 festival play Cherry Docs returns for encore shows July 2-3

The Williams Lake Studio Theatre’s 2019 festival play Cherry Docs returns to the stage for two encore performances July 2-3.

This production has received widespread praise and acclaim from audiences in both Williams Lake and at the regional zone festival, where it was chosen to go on to the Mainstage provincial competition in Port Alberni in July. To get back into the swing of the play and give lakecity audiences one last chance to see the production, the cast and crew are putting on two last encore performances next week.

The doors open at 7 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. shows, with entry both nights by donation at the Williams Lake Studio Theatre.

Cherry Docs is an intense adult political courtroom drama written by David Gow that focuses on the interactions between defendant Mike Downey, a neo-nazi skinhead on trial for the drunken slaying of a South Asian man, and his Jewish lawyer Danny Dunkleman, a man coming to terms with his own darkness. Themes of racism, bigotry and the paths that lead people to these places are explored, alongside themes of forgiveness and redemption.

Read More: Cherry Docs provides a stark look at bigotry and forgiveness

It’s a meaty production, which Shane Tollefson as Danny and Gabriel Zamorano as Mike have been more than keen to tackle. Both men have been working on the production since the beginning of the year and have built intense onstage chemistry that does the source material justice.

In Zamorano’s case, he’s been involved in Studio Theatre productions for over 10 months come July, having made his lakecity debut in Table Manners earlier this year. It’s been an intense ride and not exactly what he planned for, but an awesome journey he’s greatly enjoyed embarking on.

“The script is amazing, I think we’ve all found that it’s really gripping, meaningful and powerful,” Zamorano said.

At Festival this year, Zamorano won an award for best actor which he said was a great part of the experience. Overall, he felt the show has garnered a ton of positive response and feedback, including from the adjudicator at the event. Zamorano said the show has helped promote conversation about issues that have been around for thousands of years and still persist to this day.

Zamorano is looking forward to Mainstage this year and said their performance in Port Alberni will be the “pinnacle” of the show, as he feels all of their previous performances have been building towards this moment.

“We’re going to go out with a bang, I think, so it’s going to be pretty fun to do that as well,” Zamorano said. “It’s just a thrilling experience.”

Tollefson, meanwhile, has enjoyed working with Zamorano the most on this production and especially likes how they continue to find new things to tweak and add to each night’s production in preparation for Mainstage. He enjoys going to Festival for the adjudication part of the performance and the chance to make connections with theatre communities across B.C.

He encourages the whole community to come out and see the encore performances for a “hell of a show” while supporting local theatre. As for Mainstage in Port Alberni, Tollefson feels confident and is ready and raring to go.

Read More: Cherry Docs takes home five awards at Zone Festival

Cherry Doc’s stage manager Stacey Poirier said she’s been incredibly lucky to take part in this production and help bring it to Mainstage, a task she thinks of as an honour. Poirier is a lifelong member of the Williams Lake Studio Theatre who has been involved in the community for the last 17 years.

As the stage manager, Poirier provides the backbone of the play by organizing actors, props and making sure everything goes smoothly on and off stage. The biggest challenge with Cherry Docs is making sure the stage is clean clear of sharp objects, as Zamorano spends much of it barefoot.

“You’re kind of the girl or guy Friday of the play,” Poirier remarked.

Moving a set to a new location, Poirier said, is always a challenge on every level from reworking the actors’ projection, disassembling and reassembling the entire set and reworking the lighting to name but a few. That being said, she said they’re incredibly lucky to have a supportive theatre community who steps up to help mitigate these concerns. Donations from the broader community especially have been a big part of their efforts to bring this to Mainstage by helping to pay for the truck, trailer and fuel required to move the set.

Fifteen Studio Theatre people will be heading to Port Alberni to support and help the production, Poirier said.

Those in Williams Lake haven’t seen the production yet should take the opportunity the encore performances provide, in Poirier’s opinion, and those who have should watch it again to look for the changes.

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Shane Tollefson gestures to emphasize his point during a dress rehearsal for Cherry Docs.

Gabriel Zamorano’s Mike Downey describes his favourite type of footwear, cherry docs steel toed workers boots, during his opening monologue at the start of Cherry Docs. Patrick Davies photo.

Gabriel Zamorano stares off into the crowd during a dress rehearsal of Cherry Docs. Patrick Davies photo.

Shane Tollefson’s Danny Dunkleman frowns as Gabriel Zamorano’s Mike Downey as he admits to committing the crime he is accused of. Patrick Davies photo.

Patrick Davies photos Danny Dunkleman, as played by Shane Tollefson, describes the worst outcome for his client Mike Downey, as played by Gabriel Zamorano.

Shane Tollefson laughs at a comment made by his character Danny Dunkleman’s client Mike Downey. Patrick Davies photo.

Shane Tollefson, as Danny Dunkleman, describes his time on the swim team during a dress rehearsal of Cherry Docs. Patrick Davies photo. Shane Tollefson, as Danny Dunkleman, describes his time on the swim team during a dress rehearsal of Cherry Docs. Patrick Davies photo.

Shane Tollefson rubs his face during a dress rehearsal of Cherry Docs. Patrick Davies photo.

Shane Tollefson as Danny Dunkleman monologues on the set of Cherry Docs during a dress rehearsal. Patrick Davies photo.

Gabriel Zamorano’s Mike Downey declares his love of white pride while describing his tattoos. Patrick Davies photo.

Gabriel Zamorano describes the process of making a new tattoo for the audience during a dress reherseal of Cherry Docs. Patrick Davies photo.

Shane Tollefson screams at Gabriel Zamorano during a rehearsal of Cherry Docs in character as Danny Dunkleman and Mike Downey respectively. Patrick Davies photo.

Gabriel Zamorano’s Mike Downey stalks around his lawyer Danny Dunkleman as played by Shane Tollefson. Patrick Davies photo.

Gabriel Zamorano’s Mike Downey confront his lawyer Danny Dunkleman as played by Shane Tollefson. Patrick Davies photo.

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