Shane Rochon is vice-president of the Langley Players Drama Club and spearheading efforts to bring a theatre festival to Langley starting this summer. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

Langley hosts its own theatre festival this summer

A new festival aims at providing platform for local emerging talent to showcase their work.

A mini-Fringe fest is coming to Langley this summer, if a local actor and playwright has his way.

Shane Rochon, a 37-year-old thespian originally from Langley (via Montreal) who now living in Cloverdale, is heading up efforts by the Langley Players to produce the Siloam Theatre Festival at the Langley Playhouse at the end of July.

“The idea came to mind back in 2011 when I had one of my plays at the Vancouver Fringe and I thought to myself ‘why on earth do we have to go all the way downtown to do this? Why can’t I find a suitable venue locally?’,” he recounted.

Last year, he proposed the idea of doing a festival showcasing local and emerging talent from Langley and Surrey and doing it during the summer months – when the theatre was not being utilized for productions.

It couldn’t conflict with the Bard in the Valley, or any other local theatre productions, either, he noted.

The decision was made to run it from July 30 to Aug. 4.

To kick off the festival, he’s hoping for at least three or four submissions this year, clinging to the hope that it can expand each year following.

The first big task, Rochon said, is calling for submissions of original content involving at least two or three actors.

Having already extended an invite to local high school and Trinity Western University students, Rochon is now expanding the invitation to the community.

“There is an abundance of talent here, locally. The comment I hear repeatedly is that they wish they had known that there was quality theatre to be seen here – but you have to consistently keep your eyes open for what is happening. Langley Players, Surrey Little Theatre, Bard in the Valley and now Theatre in the Country: there is a lot to see and enjoy without having to drive downtown every time,” Rochon said, anxious to add Siloam Theatre Festival to that list.

“If we have four groups who are willing to enroll, we will have a great starting point,” he said.

Down the road, he hopes to expand beyond the initial run dates.

“My hope is… that other venues will want to participate in the future and generously offer their space to local theatre groups that want to showcase their original works. The sky is the limit,” Rochon shared.

While he and his wife, Pam, are the ones steering this ship at present – with support from the Langley Players – he expects this will ultimately be organized by a committee of like-minded thespians excited to bring more community theatre opportunities to Langley.

Asked if he’d personally have a play showing in the event, Rochon said “no.”

“My role is to introduce young artists who have an original play they wish to submit to the culture of local community theatre. There is a wealth of talent out there so we just want to extend an invitation by being a host venue.”

Deadline for submissions is June 1, but Rochon said they will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Artists or groups will have the opportunity to mount their plays for three performance dates/times.

“We believe that local artists and playwrights have a voice that warrants to be heard. And staged,” Rochon concluded. “…we’re hoping that this festival opens the door for the next generation to get involved.”

Info and applications available by emailing Rochon at vice-president@langleyplayers.com.

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