Over the past three years, the COMMOTION partnership between six Niagara Region high schools, Carousel Players, the Department of Dramatic Arts of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University, and TALK Niagara (Teams of Adults Listening to Kids) has given 80 students an opportunity to create and perform six new plays.
Each group of high school students creates a play at their school through a 12-week drama program and presents it at the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre. Brock University Professor Gyllian Raby and Carousel’s Artistic Director Pablo Felices Luna lead the project with the support of Bonnie Prentice from TALK Niagara, an umbrella group of 15 community organizations dedicated to youth concerns.
This month, 22 students from Governor Simcoe Secondary School and Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School are playing with different modes of creativity known as RSVP to build their characters, scenes and stories into two new plays. Blythe Barker, Jacqueline Costa, Caitlin English and Trevor Rotenberg, facilitators trained through Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts, have been working with students an estimated 240 hours at their schools since September 2011.
Free performances of the plays written and performed by these students will be held at the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre in St. Catharines on Thursday, December 8, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; Friday, December 9, at 9:30 a.m.; and Saturday, December 10, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Reservations are required. For the free tickets, call Carousel Players at 905.682.8326 x 26.
“Now in the third year of COMMOTION, Pablo and I find it more invigorating than ever,” states Gyllian Raby. “Creating a show for this semi-professional production places enormous demands on these high school seniors, yet time after time they show themselves not only equal to the task but able to surprise everyone with their insights about, for example, the social pressures of the internet, abuses of authority, and balancing individual identity with relationships.”
Co-leader Felices Luna adds, “COMMOTION takes the excellent work done by Niagara’s drama teachers to a new level outside the classroom. We’ve worked with 58 students from E.L.Crossley Secondary School, Eastdale Secondary School, Laura Secord Secondary School and St. Catharines Collegiate. We thank drama teachers Jennifer Benson, Tracy Garratt, Karen Hancock, Rassika Malhotra, Brenna McAllister and Tracy Thorpe for welcoming us into their schools, for actively fostering creativity in their students and for their passionate commitment to drama at their school. There are many other schools and teachers we hope to work with in the future.”
The COMMOTION project is made possible by SSHRC: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Department of Dramatic Arts of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University, Carousel Players, TALK Niagara and approval from the District School Board of Niagara.