Jun 22 2012 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday
A GROUP of youngsters from Fintry Amateur Dramatic Society has scooped top prize at the annual Scottish Community Drama Association youth competition.
The cast, all pupils at Balfron High and Balfron Primary School, took the honours in the Scottish Finals at the Ryan Centre Theatre in Stranraer last weekend, seeing off stiff competition from rival groups from Greenock, Stonehaven and Portree.
It is a first national award for FADS whose members travelled south in large numbers to support the team.
The youngsters had already won through local and regional competitions with their production of “Beware The Jabberwock”, a fantasy inspired by the poem “Jabberwocky” from Lewis Carroll's “Through The Looking Glass”. The author, Ron Nicol, was in attendance to share in the success.
But the group faced a few hurdles before getting the show to Stranraer at all.
Firstly, the youngsters had to get involved in a fund-raising drive to cover the costs of a coach and the onward transportation of three members who would otherwise have missed the big night. Rebecca MacKenzie, Nick North and Jessica Carey should already have left on a school water-sports trip to France; the money raised allowed them to be flown out later from Gatwick.
Rebecca's parents drove them from Stranraer down to London immediately after the curtain fell on their award-winning performance.
Those plans had just been finalised when FADS was presented with potentially an even bigger challenge to overcome.
Just a few weeks before the event Dawn Kelso, who played the title role of The Jabberwock, was seriously injured in an accident, breaking two ribs and suffering a collapsed lung in a twenty-foot fall from a rope swing. But in true “the show must go on” fashion the fifteen year old was determined to perform, took to the stage, and more than played her part in the success.
Director Sheila Fraser, who had postponed a family holiday to be there, paid tribute to her cast, saying: “This was an extremely difficult production, technically very demanding, and I cannot praise highly enough the efforts of our talented youngsters.
“We began rehearsing Jabberwock just after the New Year and it has been tough for them to maintain focus, but each time we've staged it the kids have risen to the challenge, culminating in what was a top class all-round performance in the final.
“When the result was announced most of them were in tears ... and I have to admit, so was I.”
Adjudicator Alasdair Hawthorn praised the overall quality on show during the night, indicating that it had been a difficult call for him to make, but said that Fintry had come out on top as a result of the excellence of the overall production, offering particular praise to set and costume designer Lorna Flisch.
A number of the cast are already looking forward to their next on-stage appearances in Balfron High School's production of “Hairspray” and FADS's “A Christmas Carol”, both of which will be performed later in the year.