Tag Archives: theatre

A New Twist on The Tempest

It starts with a storm, but this wasn’t a regular tempest, as Ridley Theatre presented their own twist on Shakespeare’s final play The Tempest, with three performances held in the Mandeville Theatre.

This version of the play takes place far away from the setting of the original, an unnamed island in the Mediterranean, Ridley’s Tempest takes place in turn-of-the-century Nova Scotia. Enhancing this setting is the use of traditional maritime music and sea shanties. The play opens with a stirring rendition “Barrett’s Privateers” by Stan Rogers.

“It’s been fantastic, the kids are amazing, we’re so fortunate at Ridley to have such talent,” says Mrs. Gillian Fournier, who is volunteering her time as a director, while on maternity leave.

This Canadian connection to the show and Shakespeare, makes it more relative to our history, and the audience, according to Mr. Andrew Hitchcox, one of the shows three directors. Especially relevant are the aspects of the play tackling colonization, the arrival of the shipwrecked survivors to the island, and Prospero’s subjugation of Caliban, the island’s original inhabitant.

This production held no auditions, everyone who wanted to be involved in the play got to be a part of it. For many students it was their first experience in theatre. Only nine  of the 19 cast members speak English as their first language. Cast members come from 10 different countries.

“I would never have imagined myself learning Shakespeare let alone performing it and not being terrible. I learned that even though things are new to me, I should always be open and confident in seeing myself succeed in every new challenge I face,” says Obianuju Nwadike ‘17, who plays Prospero, the play’s main antagonist.

The students took a leadership role in the production, including music, lighting. “We give them the skills to be able to do the show,” says Mrs. Anna Blagona, director and Head of English & Drama.

All of the choices and depictions of the characters were up to the student actors. This resulted in some roles being gender-swapped, including the main character of Prospero, played by Obianuju. “I enjoy my character a lot. She switches moods/feelings when conversing with other characters and It’s really exciting to explore multiple dimensions of my character,” says Obianuju.

Ridley’s Troupe 7774 is part of the International Thespian Society (ITS), which was founded in 1929. It is an honorary organization for high school and middle school theatre students located at more than 4,200 affiliated secondary schools across Canada, the United States, and abroad. The mission of ITS is to honour student achievement in the theatre arts.

Missed the performance? Login to TigerNet Live to watch it on demand.

View photos.

Ridley Theatre presents ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’

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This past weekend, Ridley Theatre presented The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht. The show included a diverse ensemble of 31 students from nine different countries, who showcased their talents as they acted, sang, and danced to re-tell the ancient Chinese parable of the chalk circle.

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Writing in the 1930s and 1940s, Brecht developed Epic Theatre, which aimed to illuminate social disease and critique sources of global conflict. Brecht believed that, “art is not a mirror with which to reflect reality but a hammer with which to shape it.” This production adopted Brechtian techniques of staging; for example, song was used to propel the narrative forward, characters were played by multiple actors, and stock gestures, known as gestus, were used to clarify character. Moments of suspense and tension were broken by comedy or das spass. In Brecht’s true form, these techniques allowed the actors to become story-tellers instead of re-livers of the character’s experiences, alienating audiences, and allowing them to think critically about the play’s big questions, while being entertained.

Over the past four months, our student actors trained tirelessly to develop proficiency in Brecht’s techniques. They also worked extensively with Kaeja d’Dance to use movement to illustrate moments within the chalk circle story. The students’ focus and dedication resulted in a performance that was captivating, yet thought-provoking.

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Although the curtain has closed, the skills fortified from day one of rehearsals will remain with the students as they go on to explore the world of theatre and beyond.

Ridley Theatre would like to thank the members of the Ridley community who came out to see the show! It is with great pleasure that we announce that a total of $733.00 was donated by our theatre patrons, all of which will be put toward the Ridley College Team Syria fund: a resource that will be used to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to live in Niagara. We would also like to thank our patrons for their non-perishable food donations for Community Care.

– Ms. Gillian Fournier, Department of English and Dramatic Arts

For a limited time, you can watch the recorded performance on TigerNet Live!

Students elevate to new heights in preparation of winter production

Ridley has always been dedicated to opening as many doors for the students as possible. Faculty members design their courses to offer students the chance to experience in practical ways. Whether it be trips to an art museum, cultural experiences or workshops, our students grow both inside the classroom and out. The Drama Department is no exception.

In preparation for their upcoming winter production, drama teachers and directors of the winter production, Ms. Gillian Fournier and Ms. Anna Blagona, reached out to one of Toronto’s best dance companies, Kaeja d’Dance – a company known for its dance education programs. Kaeja d’Dance was brought in to train the cast, teach them improvisational and movement techniques and to choreograph particular scenes of the play. Mere moments into their introduction to Kaeja, the students were captivated by the technique and style of dance.

During their first workshop students began with an exercise in dance expression. They were asked to remain in constant motion as they travelled around the space, pausing only briefly as they connected with another dancer in the room. Allen Kaeja, co-founder of Kaeja d’Dance, then introduced the students to “elevations”, a movement technique that was developed by him and his wife. Students began to learn and practice anchor positions, which allow them to safely lift their partners into the air, regardless of height, weight or strength. Students ended their first workshop, feeling confident with the basics and excited to learn more.

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The cast met in the Mandeville Theatre for the second afternoon workshop. After their warm-up, Allen and one of the Kaeja dancers, Meredith, demonstrated one of the lifts that the students will be utilizing in their performance. It didn’t take long for the students to anchor and lift their partners into the air. Allen enthusiastically moved from partner to partner, ensuring that they were supporting one another properly, and receiving the praise and motivation that would instill confidence in their every move.

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The cast is looking forward to pushing their boundaries as performers and taking risks to fully commit to Brechtian techniques.. To see the cast of The Caucasian Chalk Circle demonstrate their newly acquired elevation skills and shine on stage, be sure to come to one of their performances. The dramatic production is running March 3rd – 5th in the Mandeville Theatre.

 

Ridley’s thespians shine bright at Michigan’s largest theatre festival

During the first weekend of December, Ridley’s theatre troupe travelled to Saginaw Valley University to compete in the Michigan Thespians Festival. As Michigan’s largest theatre event, students had the opportunity to attend workshops, compete in individual events, attend shows and socialize with other students, who share a passion for the dramatic arts.

As honorary state members, Ridleians joined students from all over Michigan in the qualifying round, which would earn them a ticket to the National Thespians Festival in the spring of 2016. All of our students who performed in individual events received excellent standing or higher. This is impressive, as they were adjudicated alongside students from art schools and students who have professional theatre experience.

A major highlight of the festival was the awards ceremony in Saginaw’s Temple Theatre, wherein Cassandra Mitchell and Monica Morcous performed their scene from the opening act of Ridley’s fall play, The Burial at Thebes, for an audience of 1,900 people.

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Our troupe members were also awarded the following standings at the awards ceremony:

Padraic Odesse – Excellent (monologues from The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Burial at Thebes)

Irys-Amelie Nadeau – Superior (monologues from Henry VIII and The Burial at Thebes)

Cassandra Mitchell and Monica Morcous – Superior (scene from The Burial at Thebes)

Cameron Reeves and Jesse Wydman – Superior (scene from The Burial at Thebes)

Each student with a superior standing has qualified to compete at the National Thespians Festival at the University of Nebraska in the spring.

Congratulations to all the Ridleians who represented our school with pride and passion this weekend.

– Ms. Gillian Fournier, Department of English and Dramatic Arts