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Local actresses study with high-profile theatre company


Summer memories don’t usually include masks and Shakespeare but that’s what two Fort High students will be sharing now that they’re back in school.

Heather Algie, 15, and Lindsay Hamilton, 17, took part in a unique summer camp this year--the Stratford Shakespearean School.

“It was an amazing group of people, we all got along,” said Algie. “Though we were such different people, we had the common thread of the love of acting.”

Between Canada and the U.S., more than 120 applications were submitted to attend the camp but only 24 were admitted--two of them friends from Fort Frances.

The two students went to the Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute in Stratford over the week of July 16-23, where they learned about different acting techniques, like ways to improve voice projection, breathing, and posture.

Hamilton was impressed with the level of teaching at the camp.

“The instructor and coaches were awesome,” she stressed. “They obviously knew what they were talking about.”

Willa Kunkel, a drama teacher at Fort Frances High School, said it was an excellent experience for her two students.

“The two have been exposed to a global aspect of talent and potential,” she remarked. “You can’t get any better than Stratford.”

Algie hopes to take some of those techniques and show them to her fellow students in drama class this semester.

“It helped me bring new ideas that haven’t been tried in this town,” she said. “I’m going to try my best to bring them back.”

While there, the students also watched performances put on by the Stratford company, which stages the Stratford Festival each year.

The camp was advertised in February, when both girls applied. Besides the application form, which asked for their stage and work experience, they also had to submit a recommendation letter and a letter written by themselves stating why they wanted to attend.

Acceptance hinged on those two letters.

For Hamilton, the experience helped strengthen her determination to pursue a career in acting. “It definitely got me hooked,” she said. “Now I know what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

She’s tentatively thinking of attending the National Theatre School in Montreal after graduating from high school.

Algie, though less certain that she wants to act for the rest of her life, certainly enjoyed what the camp showed her about drama.

“Acting makes me feel whole. I love it when I’m acting. I love the atmosphere, the people,” she enthused. “I found it a positive experience.”

Both girls are considering acting in both the school play and musical this year. Besides that, both will audition for Fort Frances Little Theatre’s upcoming production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

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