High School Students Lead Virtual Drama Production “Unwritten”

Posted by Admin on May 11, 2021 at 1:11 PM

With the support of French teacher Coco Lee and Guidance Counsellor Sam Layton, the Senior Drama Club is thrilled to share this year’s production of “Unwritten,” a multi-disciplinary play written by Grade 10 student Nina Nyakio, in collaboration with Julia Smeaton and the cast of high school and Grade 8 students.

Student written, student-directed, Unwritten tackles timely and ambitious themes

Under Julia’s direction, our Drama Club is embarking on no easy feat: “Unwritten” is set to be a cross-media production, with a mix of live acting and pre-recorded scenes. “I’m really thrilled to be seeing the students rise to the dual challenges of bringing live theatre to a digital stream from a technological standpoint as well as from a dramaturgical standpoint,” Coco explains. The play will weave dialogue with Nina’s poetry to tell the stories of younger generations. The show will touch on identity, racism, and the challenges of coming of age during a global pandemic.

While drama club is a demanding extra-curricular activity at the best of times, Coco is especially impressed with how this year's students rose to the challenge of theatre-making during COVID-19. "Julia and Nina approached me in the fall with a powerful and ambitious idea, and they — alongside the entire creative team of students in Grades 8 as well as high school students — have shown incredible patience, resilience, and tenacious creativity. I was unsure if pushing forward with the Senior Drama Club was the right choice, given the challenges presented this year, but I wanted to ensure that the opportunity was there if the students wanted it. Despite lock-downs, shifting capacity and availability, and the weight of connecting with one's emotions during an emotionally challenging time, this year's Senior Drama Club made a commitment and are following through with it. I can't stress enough how proud I am of them all," Coco asserts.

Linden donors enable mentoring by guest artists

Thanks to your generous support for Linden’s annual fund, Coco was able to connect our “Unwritten” collaborators with a pair of theatre professionals. Sadie Epstein-Fine and Christol Bryan (ERASER: a new normal, a mandatory viewing in the drama program curriculum) have dedicated time to mentor Nina and Julia as they embark on their writing journey.

“In one of our sessions, we talked about fears that can arise when performing that I hadn’t thought about before,” says writer and lead actor Nina. “Having that conversation opened my eyes to some of the things I need to work on.”

As the world turned upside down, Sadie and Christol used their years of entertainment experience to pivot performances to an online platform. Nina and Julia collected as much knowledge as they could during their sessions with the professionals, focusing on specific writing processes and various tips for performing live on the virtual stage. Coco hopes that professional mentorship will continue to be a part of the Senior Drama Club experience.

Technical producer Jazz adapts to virtual theatre landscape alongside industry professionals

Behind the scenes, Grade 10 student Jazz is taking on the technical production alongside Coco. In a full-scale professional production, the technical crew could have up to fifteen different positions that oversee very specific aspects of the performance. With all the tribulations of live theatre mixed with the ever-known joy of working with technology, Jazz has taken on an enormous amount of responsibility that has been essential in bringing “Unwritten” to life.

“Jazz is tackling challenges that professionals on the cutting edge of live theatre performance are themselves facing in these times,” says Coco. To help Jazz feel prepared for her extensive behind-the-scenes role, Coco has been consulting with a few industry technicians who have been working to adjust the live theatre experience to the virtual world of today. Through her own diligence and experimentation with open-source production software, Jazz is set to bring “Unwritten” to life on the virtual stage.

More than one way to hear their voice

For the first time ever in a virtual space, this year's production will feature a live talk-back after the show. After the performance is done, members of the team will be streaming live from their homes, answering questions posed by the audience in the chat.

This year, Drama Night performances will take place online over a series of evenings at the end of May. A link will be shared before each scheduled performance. We hope to see everyone online to enjoy the hard work that all of our students have put into their virtual drama productions. Please refer to the schedule below, or visit our website calendar to learn more about Linden’s drama performances.

  • Junior Drama, Early Learners–Grade 6: Wednesday, May 19 at 5:00pm
  • Junior Drama, Grades 7 and 8: Thursday, May 20 at 5:00pm
  • Senior Drama Club: Wednesday, May 26 at 5:00pm
  • Senior Drama Club:  Thursday, May 27 at 5:00pm