Growing up, I desired nothing more than to turn eighteen, move to New York, act on Broadway and see my name in lights. That is what theatre represented to me: fame and a chance to build myself up as one of the “big guys”. I begged my parents to enroll me in all of the classes I could get my hands on and I strove for years to receive – what I thought were – the most important roles possible that would lead me to my New York dream. Looking back on my life now, as an adult, I realize that it wasn’t until much later on in my life that I truly realized the importance of Canadian theatre and the intricate nature of the theatrical world, in general.
With their annual Student Creation Week, Theatre Passe Muraille does something refreshing and absolutely necessary. It steps away from the typical here’s-a-script-go-practice-your-lines version of high school theatre and teaches students the most integral lesson in regards to the theatrical world: theatre isn’t about landing the lead role or having a huge audience applauding your performance at the end of the night. It isn’t about you at all. Rather, it is a reflection of the dedication and contributions you make to your team. And how well you can come together to make magic.
Student Creation Week presents four high schools with the opportunity to create and perform their own collective creations, each with the help of an artistic mentor from Toronto’s theatre scene. In addition, one of the four schools was granted the opportunity to meet and work alongside members of Theatre Passe Muraille’s team, dealing with business and administrative tasks. They were given the opportunity to work as house managers, ushers and floaters as well as the responsibility of dealing with press matters and logistics. Theatre is comprised of a conglomeration of different areas of talent, and for students to become familiar with these different areas at a young age is truly priceless knowledge.
With only four days to get their shows up and running, the pressure was on, but the hard work paid off as the students put on four back-to-back stunning performances, which together, presented the audience with a melange of acting, singing, writing, art, music, spoken word and poetry, while tackling contemporary and relevant issues in Toronto. The students touched upon issues of preventable violence, vices and virtues, mental health, image and self-esteem, with each school delivering a powerful and insightful devised theatre piece.
These pieces involved research, exploration of different mediums, and a chance for students to delve into unfamiliar aspects of the theatre world. There is nothing more powerful in this industry than a well-versed artist with appreciation for the various divisions that merge to create a successful piece of theatre. With the Student Creation Week, Theatre Passe Muraille is helping young artists take an integral step in that direction.
Theatre Passe Muraille’s Student Creation Week ran from September 16-20, 2013 and hosted students from Maple High School, Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School, York Memorial Collegiate and Earl Haig Secondary School.