On 1 and 2 March 2018, two teams from Marc Garneau CI participated in the 72nd National Theatre School Drama Festival. The two teams performed their own take on the plays Layla’s Room and We Sell Right at the theatres in Loretto College School and Lawrence Park CI respectively.
The National Theatre School Drama Festival, previously known as the Sears Drama Festival, is the oldest student drama festival in Canada, and one of the largest in North America. The festival is divided into about twenty-five districts. Marc Garneau CI was placed alongside nine other schools in District 2 of the Toronto Region. On 26 and 27 February, and 1 and 2 March, these nine schools performed twelve shows at four different locations. Each day saw three performances in theatres of different schools.
The first performance, Layla’s Room, is a play about bullying and sexual harassment. Written by British writer Sabrina Mahfouz, the play was first performed in September 2016 in England, as part of a national tour. Although fictional, the playwrights interviewed over a thousand girls in the UK about their personal experiences with regards to abuse before writing the script.
At just under fifty minutes, the play is the longest production the MGCI students have done thus far. The script itself was thirty-six pages, and Layla’s lines alone contained over 12,000 words. Casting and preparation for the play began at the start of the school year. From October until December 2017, members of the cast practiced their lines individually with Mr. Teres, a drama teacher at MGCI and the director for the play. After returning from the winter break in January, students rehearsed every day at lunch in the Drama Room as an ensemble. In addition, numerous rehearsals were held after school.
On 26 February 2018, the Monday before the competition, the cast performed the play for Grade 8 students from Valley Park MS. The actual competition took place at 7 pm at Loretto College School, although members of the cast arrived as early as 1 pm to rehearse. Marc Garneau CI was the second school to perform that night, and the performance was well-received by the audience and adjudicator. After the performance, the adjudicator noted he especially enjoyed the family dynamic and the unique staging decision for the actors to never leave the stage.
When asked about why the team decided to perform this play, Mr. Teres said, “The subject matter was so germane to what was happening, not only in society but in schools. [The play] was so powerful it needed to be seen so people know that when they are confronted by situations like this they can stand up and say no.”
The second performance, We Sell Right, is a play written by Timberlake Wertenbaker. It takes place in a future dystopian refugee camp, where freedoms and rights are only given to those who can afford it. A character referred simply as “girl” is a member of society who grew up with the selfish ideals forced upon her. One day she meets a “couple” who were friends with her mother before they were all silenced for rising against the government. Throughout their discussion, the couple tries to convince her to abandon the twisted ideals she grew up with and enjoy life for what it really has to offer.
Rehearsals for this play began in early February. In contrast to Layla’s Room, this play was directed by Kayne Alleyne-Adams, a Grade 12 student at MGCI. This twenty-five-minute production was performed at Lawrence Park CI at 6:30 pm. This play was praised for the emotions, visuals, set, costume design, and self-composed music.
When reflecting on the experience, Muqdas Sharif, the student playing Layla said, “I was able to work with such amazing friends, who were also amazing actors and if I [were] given the chance to do it all over again, I would. I’m extremely proud of not only myself, but what we have all accomplished as a group; [we] created and put out a story worthy to be told.”
The Reckoner commends the following students and teachers for their work and dedication in producing Layla’s Room and We Sell Right:
Layla’s Room Cast and Production
Director – Mr. Walter Teres
Layla – Maqdas Sharif
Monica – Damisha Siddiqui
Joe – Taha Lodhi
Ryan – Sahil Kabir
Reece – Yousif Ghulam
Mom – Jannat Islam
Dad – Henry Tang
Sound Operator – Duaa Siddiqui
Lighting Operator – Abdul (Mehadi) Chowdhury
Set Construction – Members of the Drama Council
We Sell Right Cast and Production
Director and Lighting Operator – Kayne Alleyne-Adams
Sound Director – Ethan Hu
PowerPoint Creative – Claire Loong
Girl- Farzana Aishwarja
Couple – Maria Ehsan & Max Bellville
Refugees – Kayne Alleyne-Adams, Ethan Hu & Claire Loong
The Reckoner would also like to congratulate the following students for their outstanding achievements:
Muqdas Sharif – Award of Merit for Acting
Henry Tang – Award of Merit for Acting
Kayne Alleyne-Adams – Award of Merit for Directing