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Drama returns with one-act-play

Brent Gosnell is among the student cast members as Harry Collinge presents ‘How To Succeed In High School Without Really Trying’
Masha Scheele photo

Masha Scheele

Drama teacher Chandra Moir and her students are working this semester on a one-act play called ‘How to Succeed in High School Without Really Trying’ by Jonathan Rand.

Moir moved to Hinton to become the new drama and english teacher at Harry Collinge High School in 2018 and her passion for theatre inspired her to start building the drama program and find students with the same passion.

The storyline of the play follows a group of student agents who infiltrate an assembly to demonstrate their secret tips and tricks to a Grade 8 audience to help make high school easier.

“They have homeroom [tips], you should change your name to ‘what’ or to ‘say what you said a second ago,’ so legally change your name. They have tips on how to get through english class, how to use ‘juxtapose’ and ‘albatross’ and ‘darkness’. I am an english teacher, they are very accurate. They have a protest against P.E. class, because nobody wants to get sweaty. How to memorize dates easier for history classes. So they have agents speaking to them and then we have little scenes to demonstrate each little tip as well,” explained Moir.

The play is around 30 minutes long, but Moir hopes to stretch it to about 45 minutes.

“We haven’t had an after-school production for some time with the drama program. So I wanted to start small and see what the interest was based on that, instead of doing a full length hour, hour and a half production where I have no kids, and nobody comes. I’d rather start with something smaller,” said Moir.

As Moir works to build up the drama program she hopes down the line they will be able to do full-length productions and do musicals in collaboration with the music program like they’ve done in the past.

Currently, around 14 to 17 students are part of the after-school program said Moir and she hopes they return for more next semester.

“I have 10 cast members in the show, but I have backstage help and some kids just drop in and help and some are very consistent,” she said.

Grade 8 students, Haley LaBoucane and Mason Cardiff, are part of the backstage crew learning how to manage the lighting and sound. LaBoucane said she also helps with stage directing and set construction.

“Seeing how it all comes together in the end, and being able to direct if they need help” is what’s exciting about being part of the backstage crew said LaBoucane.

Auditions for the one-act play were open to all high school students in January and Moir said anybody with an interest would be given a role or task.

“My purpose of auditions was more so to match them to where I want them to be versus ‘yea, you’re good, you’re in.’ If they want to do something they should be able to, as long as I have the capability of doing so, which the show provides,” Moir said.

Rehearsals started in February and will continue until their performances at the end of May. One of the main roles is played by

Brent Gosnell, a Grade 11 student who plans to get his Bachelor of Arts after high school and take advanced drama classes in post-secondary.

“Since I was a child I always wanted to be an actor or a stand-up comedian or someone that just does stuff in front of crowds. That’s been a dream of mine since I was a child, so that’s what made me want to [audition],” said Gosnell.

Currently, Moir has students from grades eight to 11 participating in the play.

“They’re doing really good, they’re having a lot of fun with it. Some are more memorized than others. I don’t see the kids all the time, they come when they can. So I haven’t had a full cast rehearsal in quite some time, but we just keep moving, the kids learn as we go along,” said Moir. “They’re enjoying themselves. They get to act, they get to set construct, they get to costume construct, they get to do pretty much everything.”

Last semester, Moir focused mainly on classes, organizing, and preparing an interactive halloween maze escape room.

“We had them dress up and there were rooms with puzzles and locks and I’m hoping we can keep going next year as like a Halloween haunted escape room experience,” she said.

The play will be performed at 7 pm on May 21 to May 22 at HCHS. Tickets are available at the school on lunch breaks or at the door before the performance. Tickets are sold by donation and all proceeds go towards the drama department.