By Kyra Wex –
The Sears Drama Festival is an Ontario-wide festival that started in 1946 in which schools from different districts across the province have the opportunity to showcase their own unique one-act plays. This year, Nepean High School is hosting the Ottawa-Carleton district from April 3 to the 7.
The student plays can range from fifteen to fifty minutes. Students have the potential of advancing to regional and final Ontario showcases depending on how their production places.
Jeff Kantor and Caroline Coltman are the two Nepean High School drama teachers who are supporting all of the work. Production students pitch them ideas for plays, and they have the final word on which two will be entered in the festival.
Melinda Cass, a grade twelve student at Nepean High School, is producing one of Nepean’s two submissions to the Sears Drama Festival.
“The aspect that draws people to the Sears Festival is that it is theatre, and people truly admire and enjoy watching these productions. One key pull factor about Sears is that there is such variety, meaning so many different types of productions from different schools,” says Melinda. “I’ve never actually seen a Sears Festival, but I have heard plenty about it and Nepean hasn’t been in one in many years. I am very excited for us to host this year.”
Melinda explains her experience within Nepean High School’s production class and how thankful she is to be involved. Her foray into drama was actually an accident. She had never considered taking drama and performing in front of others was an unbearable thought, but it was the only option available for her last period slot in grade ten. She credits the drama program for helping her become a more confident, expressive and outgoing individual. “I am thankful for the mistake in my schedule; it enabled me to grow because of my experiences throughout the years of production class.”
“There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into hosting an event like this while producing two shows,” says Melinda. “There are certain things that really distinguish a quality play, and the biggest pressure of the festival is to live up to those standards.”
With the excitement of hosting the festival come some pressures. This includes hospitality packets, passes for everyone involved in the performance, concessions, and more. “Further, there is the pressure of putting on a memorable show, because it is a competition, and only two out of the thirteen productions will advance to the regional festival,” explains Melinda.
The best part, for her, is seeing her show perform on stage. “It is so rewarding. Seeing how much all these people have come together to make such a wonderful play come to life… an incredible feeling to say the least,” says Melinda. “Our goal is to draw in a crowd and add this new light to the Ottawa-Carleton district of Sears. We want to show people how great it is. We want to spread the word, and share our excitement and passion for production.”
Tickets are five dollars each night and are sold at the door. The other option is to buy a festival pass for ten dollars, which allows access all five nights between April 3 and 7. Each evening’s show begins at 6 p.m.
Kyra Wex is a grade 12 student at Nepean High School.