Drama students at Revelstoke Secondary School (RSS) have spent the last two and a half months preparing for yesterday’s opening night.
Trap, by Stephen Gregg, is an edgy play. It is a high stakes thriller whose timeline jumps back and forth and requires the viewer to pay attention. It was this reason the play as selected.
“This play is quite the departure from anything we have ever done before,” says RSS drama teacher Theresa Browning “It has a very surprise ending.”
When it comes to selecting the plays her class will perform, Browning reads various scripts at the beginning of the semester. She selects a few to bring to class, where the students read them through and decide on one. “I brought three, and the class wasn’t very keen on any of them. They told me ‘we want to do something that is different, something more thriller like and not so high school drama.'”
Browning spent two weeks hunting down the perfect script. When the class read through Trap, they agreed with her. The play, she notes, deals with the kind of darkness everyone worries about.
“It is also one of the most technically diverse plays we have ever done,” she says.
Julia Dorrius, a grade 12 student Browning affectionately calls her ‘tech goddess’ has been involved in theatre lighting and tech work since she was in grade 9. “There are 78 lighting cues,” she says. “Not including pre show lighting, intermission lighting and aftershow lighting.”
Dorrius, who plans to go study as a lighting tech in post secondary, is up the task.
Twenty nine students make up the cast and crew; 25 of them are on stage. The set is simple, keeping the focus very much of the actors and story. Both Ms. Browning and the school’s principal, Greg Kenyon, appear on stage.
The drama class is unique at RSS, composed of students from grade 9 through 12. Browning enjoys it, noting it creates an atmosphere of mentorship. “Our older students help our younger students rise up. It’s a nice connection that way,” she says.
For Makenzie Carroll, a grade 12 student, it was about trying her hand at something new. She is the play’s stage manager, and it is her first time as a crew member. “I joined because of Ms. Browning,” she says with a laugh. “I love her, she’s a great teacher.” Carroll has enjoyed the experience. “It was really fun,” she says with a laugh. “It’s different than I expected. I thought it would be mellow but it’s not.”
While the play does have a large cast, there are a four main leads. Sarah Carey, Hallah Donovan-Johnson, Megan Hills, Courtney Atkinson, are all grade 12 leads.
“It’s been a really awesome experience,” says Donovan-Johnson. “We’ve never done a play like this before, so it is kind of cool to be creepy and scary.”
In Trap, Hills, who plays a detective and plans to study theatre in post secondary school, has had the chance to challenge herself. “I’ve never played a character like her before,” Hills says. “It’s very different for me.”
Playing a character unlike any she had played before also appealed to Carey. “I play a very timid and scared young woman. It’s been a really fun part to play,” she says. “It’s out of my comfort zone. I’m used to playing comedic characters. It’s cool to take a totally different side to that.”
Atkinson agrees with her peers, noting she has enjoyed the process and the character she plays. “My character has been fun,” she says with a laugh. “I get to yell.”
They all hope the audience comes to the performance and goes home realizing that high school students have the ability and depth of range to surprise them. “We can put on a serious play, and they can believe it,” says Donovan-Johnson.
“I’m so immensely proud of them and I’m going to miss the grade 12’s when they graduate,” she says.
The last two shows are January 17th and 18th at 7:00 pm at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are available at the door.