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Theatre Sarnia stars at drama fest with Girls Like That

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Cathy Dobson

Theatre Sarnia returned triumphant from the Western Ontario Drama League festival competition with a stunning nine awards for this year’s entry, Girls Like That.

It’s believed to be the most awards any Theatre Sarnia production has earned at WODL, and includes best production, outstanding ensemble work, and outstanding technical achievement.

Girls Like That also placed first for co-ordinated production, visual production, choreography and projection design.

Winning at the WODLs in Guelph was very satisfying but the real reward is getting a wider audience for the thought-provoking play with an important message, said Henri Canino, who was honoured as outstanding director and for most creative sound design.

“It’s nice to earn the recognition. I’m very proud of the work,” said Canino. “But you can’t take awards too seriously because there could have been other adjudicators who may not have felt the same way.

“What’s more important is to have this play seen.”

Canino has lost count of the number of shows she has directed for Theatre Sarnia, but estimates it’s more than 25.

She chose to bring Girls Like That by Canadian-British playwright Evan Placey to the Imperial Theatre stage because it deals with a real and very contemporary issue. It’s loosely based on the story of Amanda Todd, the Canadian teen who took her own life after being lured into exposing her breasts online.

Girls Like That is about seven teenagers at a private school and how they react when a nude photo of one of them is posted on social media.

It examines how girls team up on one another rather than rally with support. It also presents a similar scenario with boys and their very different reactions.

“I was bullied a lot as a kid,” said Canino. “I cried when I read the script for the first time.”

She tends to be drawn to plays that say something about what it means to be human and spark discussion and thought, as well as entertain.

“This is a drama with moments of laughter,” she said. “But the jokes are juxtaposed with something hauntingly serious, that make you uncomfortable.

“It asks us to think about why women still body-shame other women.”

Theatre Sarnia’s Girls Like That was credited as a high-energy production with a powerful message and an ensemble with a strong sense of teamwork.

As best at the WODL Festival, it goes on to compete at the Theatre Ontario Festival in Richmond Hill on May 18.

Meanwhile, Theatre Sarnia is presenting another show at the Imperial Theatre this week called Looking.

Looking is a Norm Foster comedy about middle-aged dating and is directed by Anthony Fracalanza. It runs March 27, 28, 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m. with a March 31 matinee at 2 p.m.

For details, contact the theatre at 168 Christina St. North by calling 519-344-SHOW (7469) or visit

The Arts Journal is about Sarnia’s cultural life and welcomes all suggestions.  Contact [email protected].

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