UBC medical students cue the lights for charity

UBC medical students are set to take to the stage for this year’s production of MedPlay, running February 2-4 and 9-11.

When the lights are dimmed, the theatre curtains are drawn, and a hush falls over the crowd, Shandel Riedlinger feels right at home.

“I fell in love with theatre at a young age. From the long dress rehearsals and multiple costume changes to the adrenaline rush just before the curtains are raised, I loved every minute,” says Riedlinger, who began performing with a local theatre company in her hometown back in 2001.

Riedlinger’s love of the theatre has followed her well into her university career, and now, as a UBC medical student, she’s putting her theatrical talents to use as one of the producers of this year’s MedPlay — an annual theatre production that has become a tradition among medical students at UBC.

“What I love about MedPlay is that we get students joining with a huge range of experience — from those who have never been on stage before to those with university-level training. Everyone has the opportunity to grow as a performer and learn new skills, regardless of their previous experience,” says Riedlinger, who decided to return as a producer after having such a positive experience performing in last year’s play.

UBC medical student Shandel Riedlinger

But growing as a performer is just a small part of why students, like Riedlinger, get involved.

With 100 percent of the proceeds from MedPlay going to charity, the annual production has become a way for UBC medical students to make an indirect, but early difference in the lives of patients across B.C. This year, the production is supporting Hope Air, a national charity that arranges free flights to those who need specialized medical care not available in their home community.

“We’re hoping to raise several thousand dollars through ticket sales,” says Riedlinger.

Now in its 16th year of production, MedPlay has continued to be a popular avenue for medical students looking to explore their creative side and build friendships with their fellow colleagues.

“MedPlay has enhanced my experience at medical school in so many ways,” says Riedlinger. “I’ve created lifelong friends and found a community I connect with. MedPlay provided balance in my life as I navigated my first year of medical school by providing a safe space to explore my creativity.”

Over the past several months, Riedlinger has teamed up with fellow producers and UBC medical students — Katie Zhu, Collin Pryma, and Naoya Shatani — to coordinate various aspects of this year’s show, including costume and set design through to sponsorship, promotion and ticket sales. They also recruited a professional director from the community, Jake Foy, to direct the show.

“With the amount of time we spend together, it’s easy to see how we call each other our MedPlay family,” says Riedlinger.

In addition to giving medical students the opportunity to build friendships, explore their creative side, and recharge from their studies, MedPlay also provides participants the chance to develop skills that they may look to use in the operating theatre one day.

“Theatre teaches you how to think on your feet and problem solve. It also helps you develop strong teamwork and leadership skills, and, as future doctors, these are skills we will need to continue strengthening over the course of our career,” says Riedlinger.

Performance Dates: February 2, 3, and 4 and February 9, 10, and 11
Performance Time: 8pm, doors at 7pm
Venue: Medical Student & Alumni Centre (MSAC), 2750 Heather Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $15 Email medplayatubc@gmail.com for your ticket today.

Play Synopsis
Boeing-BOEING! centres around a bachelor, Bernard, living in Paris in the 1960s. He claims to have the good life figured out: three different airline hostesses he calls fiancés, each unknowing of the others; what could go wrong? With the arrival of an old friend from Wisconsin and the invention of the new Boeing aircraft, hilarity and chaos ensues as the women’s schedules overlap and the men struggle to keep a consistent story.