Swift Cur­rent teacher re­ceives pro­vin­cial drama award

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - News - By Matthew Lieben­berg mlieben­[email protected]­t.com

A Swift Cur­rent teacher has been rec­og­nized for his con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of child and youth drama in the province.

Ste­fan Rumpel, the dra­matic arts teacher at Swift Cur­rent Com­pre­hen­sive High School since 2010, is the re­cip­i­ent of the Saskatchew­an Drama As­so­ci­a­tion (SDA) Out­stand­ing Achievemen­t Award.

The award pre­sen­ta­tion took place in Regina on May 11 dur­ing the SDA pro­vin­cial fes­ti­val. This award for out­stand­ing achievemen­t is presented an­nu­ally to an in­di­vid­ual for ac­cu­mu­lated ded­i­ca­tion or achievemen­t as an adult mem­ber of the SDA.

The award rec­og­nizes a per­son’s sus­tained and sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the pro­mo­tion of the growth and de­vel­op­ment of child and youth drama in Saskatchew­an. It also gives recog­ni­tion to this per­son’s pro­mo­tion of drama through com­mu­ni­ca­tion and drama de­vel­op­ment pro­grams.

The award came as a big and pleasant sur­prise for Rumpel, who ap­pre­ci­ates the award as a recog­ni­tion of his pas­sion for the­atre and his de­sire to share it with others.

“It just reaf­firms the good things that I knew I was do­ing with the team of peo­ple that I worked with over the last few years to re­ally pro­mote the­atre as an out­let for kids to ex­plore their creativ­ity and grow and gain the skills that can help them later in life,” he said.

He en­joyed sto­ry­telling from a young age, and he views the­atre as one of the most in­ter­est­ing and dy­namic ways to tell sto­ries.

“It al­lows kids to ex­plore dif­fer­ent ideas out­side them­selves, and prob­a­bly the big­gest, most pow­er­ful rea­son that I love the the­atre is just be­cause it promotes em­pa­thy and the abil­ity to put your­self in some­body else’s shoes and feel what they’re feel­ing and think what they’re feel­ing,” he said. “I think the­atre is a great way to break down barriers and move for­ward as peo­ple so that we can grow and be­come bet­ter.”

The the­atre world pro­vides par­tic­i­pants with the opportunit­y to be­come part of a sup­port­ive group of in­di­vid­u­als.

“Time and time again stu­dents come to me and they say that drama was one of the first places where they re­ally felt like they fit and peo­ple ac­cepted them for who they were,” he said. “It’s an opportunit­y for them to use that safe space to grow in their con­fi­dence and then they can take that growth and they can ap­ply it to other ar­eas of their life.”

Stu­dents can de­velop a va­ri­ety of skills through their in­volve­ment with the­atre pro­duc­tions. It can help them to be­come more con­fi­dent, to im­prove their speak­ing skills, to work as a team and at the same time it is an out­let for their creativ­ity.

“I think there is a re­ally di­verse skill set that the­atre of­fers and it hits a lot of dif­fer­ent ar­eas,” he said. “I always joke that in the the­atre class I can re­ally be teach­ing some English con­tent, some so­cial stud­ies con­tent, and some con­struc­tion, be­cause all of those el­e­ments fil­ter in.”

The drama pro­gram at Swift Cur­rent Com­pre­hen­sive High School has grown sig­nif­i­cantly un­der his guid­ance. Last fall’s production of The Sound of Mu­sic in­volved over 130 stu­dents, staff and com­mu­nity mem­bers, which was a record. The school’s spring pro­duc­tions have achieved suc­cess at SDA re­gional and pro­vin­cial fes­ti­vals, and these plays have won awards in dif­fer­ent fes­ti­val cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing best over­all production.

“For the past nine years we’ve been tak­ing the largest group in the province to these fes­ti­vals,” he said. “Usu­ally some­where around 70-76 stu­dents have been trav­el­ling with us to com­pete in fes­ti­vals, and some­times moved on to provin­cials, and even go on to win provin­cials. … So it’s re­ally grown and it hasn’t just been my ef­forts. I have been re­ally lucky to have an amaz­ing team. Shaun Spence, Scott Derk­sen, Riley Sharp, Jessie Hanna, Stacey Kohlman and many other peo­ple over the years in the ad­min­is­tra­tion have been so sup­port­ive.”

He felt more stu­dents are at­tracted to the pro­gram be­cause it has a good rep­u­ta­tion and they are try­ing to do some­thing dif­fer­ent and in­ter­est­ing each year.

“In my nine years we’ve done mu­si­cals, we’ve done Shake­speare, we’ve done chil­dren’s the­atre,” he said. “We try to mix it up and keep it in­ter­est­ing for kids and challenge them in dif­fer­ent ways.”

Rumpel’s in­volve­ment with the­atre ex­tends to be­yond his ac­tiv­i­ties at school. He was a found­ing mem­ber of Swift Cur­rent Im­pro­vi­sa­tional The­atre.

“I love it be­cause it’s off-the-cuff hu­mour,” he said. “There’s no wrong an­swer in im­provs, be­cause it’s just made up on the spot and there’s a free­dom in that. You don’t have the worry the au­di­ence is go­ing to know you’ve made a mis­take, be­cause they know you’re mak­ing it up on the spot. So when you do make a mis­take, they laugh with you about it and it’s just a very fun and open au­di­ence-per­former re­la­tion­ship.”

He has been in­volved as an ac­tor and direc­tor in var­i­ous other pro­duc­tions in the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing with Swift Cur­rent Lit­tle The­atre and with the Swift Cur­rent centennial cel­e­bra­tions. He con­sid­ers his in­volve­ment as ac­tor and co-direc­tor of the suc­cess­ful mu­si­cal drama The Cy­press Hills would Never be the Same to be a real high­light.

“It was just great to work with that team and to do a his­tor­i­cal mu­si­cal that is writ­ten in the area by Stew Tasche with such a great knowl­edge of the sur­round­ing area,” Rumpel said. “That was a ton of fun to be a part of it. It was so well-sup­ported by the com­mu­nity and it re­ally was just a great bunch of peo­ple to be around. It never felt difficult. Some­times when you get into tech re­hearsal or show run there’s high ten­sion or stress lev­els, but that group was just so well-co­or­di­nated and so kind. I was ex­cited to do it ev­ery time we got to redo the show.”

He is ex­cited to be part of the cur­rent prepa­ra­tions for the West­ern Canada Summer Games, which will take place in Swift Cur­rent and area in Au­gust. He has vol­un­teered to be the as­so­ciate pro­ducer for the open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies, and he enjoys the opportunit­y to work with Gor­don McCall, who is the Lyric The­atre’s artis­tic direc­tor.

“We want to show that Swift Cur­rent re­ally has this amaz­ing artis­tic legacy,” Rumpel said. “We have such a great his­tory of amaz­ing tal­ented mu­si­cal artists, and the the­atre pro­grams are grow­ing strong. So we’re try­ing to pull from ev­ery­where we can in Swift Cur­rent and in the sur­round­ing south­west Saskatchew­an so that we can re­ally put on a show that peo­ple will be proud of and will feel rep­re­sented Swift Cur­rent re­ally well.”

File photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

Ste­fan Rumpel in the role of a North-West Mounted Po­lice of­fi­cer in a scene from the his­tor­i­cal mu­si­cal drama The Cy­press Hills would Never be the Same at the Lyric The­atre in April 2015.

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