A group from the Carolina Forest High School Drama Department never could have rehearsed their thrill from a trip to Scotland that began Tuesday.
The department, led by G. Wayne Canady, department director, will perform “Always ... Patsy Cline” four times this week as part of the American High School Theatre Festival during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest fine arts festival in the world, which began Friday and goes through Aug. 25.
The tribute to the colossal country songstress, who perished at age 30 in a plane crash in 1963, will take place Tuesday through Wednesday and Friday through Saturday at a theater in a historic church building.
Students performed “Ragtime” and reprised a fall show, “Always ... Patsy Cline,” this past spring in Carolina Forest to raise funds to offset the cost of the excursion to the Scottish capital, on the northern third of the main British island, a culture that gave the world the game of golf and Sean Connery, the first actor to play James Bond.
Canady, a Tabor City, N.C., native who has performed in eight countries, is into his fourth decade as a schoolteacher and 16th year at Carolina Forest. He again will direct the Cline play. He spoke at the end of June, a week before the group flew overseas.
Question | How was this dream and pursuit to travel and perform overseas made?
Answer | Through an award. I was nominated by one of my teaching peers in Horry County, from the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology, Lou Layton. ... He nominated me, and I won the American High School Theatre Festival award for 2014 Director of the Year. With that award, you’re awarded the opportunity to go to Scotland and direct a show at the Fringe festival, which has people participating from 62 countries, and I am the only director from South Carolina going.
Q. | How many students and chaperones are lined up to go?
A. | We have 17 going — half of the group are students, and half are chaperones.
Q. | How has the troupe rehearsed for this, since a few months have passed since “Always ... Patsy Cline” was performed at school, March 26-30?
A. | We actually did two performance runs. We have the students who put the show together at school in the fall and did another in the spring. That was part of the way of our raising money for the trip. That was our way of getting prepared for the event; without that, we would not nearly be as prepared as we are now. ...
Once we get there, we’ll perform at the the Church Hill Theatre, which was built in the late 1800s. Then, in later years, ... it became a city-owned theater for Edinburgh. Now it is one of the top 10 venues for theater in Edinburgh. ...
We’re very excited. You put in bids for the theater you would like to perform at.
I went there last summer to see what show process are like, what would be expected of us and what is involved in doing the entire process. ...
Last year, 273 venues were set up across the city. It’s a three-week festival. ... Last year, there were 2,871 shows that were featured out of those ... and 45,464 performances. The ticket sales were 1,943,493 for all of those 273 venues.
Q. | What is this street performance planned for “The Royal Mile” during the festival?
A. | One of the opportunities that came from this is performing outside for people who are meandering through the street on “The Royal Mile,” on High Street. This is outside Edinburgh Castle. ... It’s an opportunity for us to promote our show. This a promotional type of event, so we definitely have to make tweaks for this part.
When we’re outside, there are lots of people doing the same for their own shows, and while this is going on, the chaperones are talking with guests to get them interested to “come and see our show” — it’s called busking, an old English saying. There’s a sign on one of the trees in “Mary Poppins” that says “No busking.” ... Basically, we’re handing out cards and information about our show. So, we’ll be doing busking, then we’ll do a rehearsal in the Church Hill Theatre. ...
People start buying their tickets for Fringe shows months in advance. I already have been told about our ticket sales. I had this little feeling in my gut, “Oh, my goodness. What would happen if we get there and no one shows up?” So I checked in advance ... and the festival representative said, “Wayne, you have people lined up for all of your shows.”
Q. | How special is this excursion for you, something different to do during summer break?
A. | This has been a redefining moment in my life. ... Once you’re nominated for this, you have to submit a great deal about the shows you’ve done over a 5- to 10-year period. They want to know the growth process in your work. They want you to track the success of your students and where your students have gone after school ... and how many of your students have made a career in the theater world. ...
One of the schools that’s going to the Fringe is the Interlochen Arts Academy from Michigan. Interlochen is considered to be the No. 1 performing arts boarding school in the nation. For us to be chosen in the same ranks as Interlochen is very exciting.
Also, ... I have a former student, Jasmine Johnson, who attends The Juilliard School; she was with us when we did “Cats” in spring 2009. She continued her studies in theater. ... She is one of the students who is doing a joint performance with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
Q. | With who else does credit get shared with the active theater program at Carolina Forest High School?
A. | A staff that includes Becky Bannon: She started the middle school and high school programs originally. This will be my 16th year there in the 18 years of the school’s existence, and Becky continues to help with all the main stage productions we do. Together, I think we have done some amazing projects. ... We have some involved parents who continue to support the programs who are just wonderful; without them, it wouldn’t be possible. ... and the Moose Club of Myrtle Beach did a big lunch fundraiser for us on July 11. ... It’s these types of events and the belief that people have in young people that really lift your spirits and keep you focused on their dreams.
Q. | What might fill your days during any free time in Scotland?
A. | All of the shows. We will actually be doing a little bit of touring. It’s an educating trip for the children as well. You want them to be able to see the cultural experiences of another country, for them to see the history of the land. They will be visiting several different castles. ... And they will see other shows. ... They also will be doing a cultural Scottish dance that has been arranged for them. They also are staying on the campus of Edinburgh University; that in itself is pretty amazing, because it’s regarded as one of the top 20 English-speaking universities in the entire world and one of the top 20 universities for the humanities.
Q. | Is this whole tour a bigger feat for you or the youth entourage?
A. | It certainly will be more memorable for them. For all of them, it’s their first trip to a foreign country. ... Whenever you can add being in a building, or a taste or smell, to the learning process, you’re going to remember that a whole lot more 20 years down the road.