The BV Community Arts Council (BVCAC) presented Smithers Secondary School drama teacher Heather Lytle with a SMART award on Saturday at the conclusion of Smithers Secondary School’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.
The SMART Award is the BVCAC’s most prestigious award. It recognizes a person who in the eyes of the BVCAC directors has shown long-term commitment to their art and to the Bulkley Valley.
“We recognize and celebrate the many ways Heather’s work has impacted a wide range of community members, from her students at SSS to the broader community of Smithers, her audience,” says Miriam Colvin, president of BVCAC.
Heather has been teaching in the district for more than 20 years — the last 12 in drama. Heather has paved the way for students to perform in an annual production, alternating between Shakespeare and musical productions. This year’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost exemplifies her innovation; the students performed the classic Shakespeare play set in the 1960s to the music of the Beatles.
Heather has gone to great lengths to give a deep theater experience to her students. She goes out of her way to be inclusive. Everyone has a place if they want it in the theatre. Further, she teaches in such a way that makes difficult material such as Shakespeare accessible; bringing the text alive as living works of art.
Heather reaches beyond the stage, giving her students a chance to work with professional writers, musicians and dancers. SSS drama student Nathan Taylor says, “Ms. Lytle exposes us as much as she possibly can. She gives us so much to round out our theater experience.”
For example, she has created travel opportunities for students to experience Shakespeare at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver. When student groups travel to see Prince George productions, Heather arranges ‘talk-backs’ to meet with the cast after every show so students hear details of the journey to get the play up and running. She encourages students to have hands-on experience of all the different sides of multi-media productions.
Part of Heather’s gift is that she actively collaborates with students, tech director Hans Saefkow, local community such as CICK Community Radio and guest artists. However, with the SMART award we celebrate Heather’s personal vision, drive and countless hours that makes amazing arts happen in out community.
The BVCAC commissioned another artist in the Bulkley Valley to create the award given. In this case, Mark Tworow has painted a landscape of the sun setting over Hudson Bay Mountain.
— Submitted by the Bulkley Valley Community Arts Council