Students at Yellowknife’s École Allain St-Cyr wrote a play together and then performed their finished work for an audience of around 100 people on Friday.
Le Gang de 6 et la Forêt des Histoires, performed by students in grades six to eight and directed by English and art teacher Gwenan Guillas-Letain, follows a class camping trip at Prelude Lake.
The campers’ night quickly changes when their teacher is kidnapped by a monster, forcing the students out on an adventure searching for magical objects that could help to resolve the situation.
For most of the students, this was their first time writing a play – and certainly writing one as a group exercise.
Léa Marcoux – a seventh-grader playing a stereotypical sassy teenager who doesn’t want to be camping – said figuring out how to work creatively in a group was her biggest learning experience.
“It was really fun but at the same time stressful, because I was always thinking about what the others would think of the scene I wrote,” Marcoux told Cabin Radio.
“But we do work better as a group. When we first started the play, there were some people I knew but wasn’t really friends with. Now we have more of a connection, we walk past each other and say hi, we make jokes, and it was just so fun working with each other and making new friends.”
Being part of a small school, Marcoux says she has noticed her classmates become less shy over time, something she hasn’t struggled with herself as an aspiring actor.
“Whenever I get the chance, I act. When I’m older, I want to be an actress,” she said.
“It might not work out, but it’s not going to stop me from acting now. Sometimes I even act in class, I act around my parents, I do improv in the library – so it’s nice now that I’m friends with more people who like acting and we can do it together.”
For others, participating in the play was a big step out of their comfort zone.
Momy Bouss, in Grade 6, was one of the youngest members of the play. Though she didn’t appear on stage during the play, she provided the voice of the monster, which at one point includes a roaring laugh into a microphone.
At first, Bouss said she was nervous to do the laugh, especially in front of students who were older than her. Over time, she became more confident through the support of her fellow actors.
“It was scary,” she said, explaining that at first, her laugh sounded small and giddy.
“All the others started giving me pointers, saying, ‘Oh, you missed this,’ and ‘Maybe you wish to change this,’ and they cheered me on as I got better.”
Grade 7 student Kassidy Corley has been writing stories and plays for a few years, describing creative writing as her passion. This was her first time writing a play with other students, something she enjoyed a lot more than she expected.
“When I’m at school, I’m the person that likes to do their own thing. I’ll sit by myself, I’m not really that into group projects,” said Corley, who played the on-stage monster.
“For me, it was amazing when we were in practices and people would fail – and we’d all laugh about it – and they’d just get back up on their feet and say their lines again. It’s like we’re a big family now, we can point out what went wrong and we learn from each other.”
Though they all had different experiences, Corley says she is beginning to view group work differently.
“Sometimes it could be frustrating, it could be fun, it could be scary, but it was cool to share ideas and hear other people’s,” she said.
“I was scared to share the scenes we wrote because I didn’t want people to change mine, but when they suggested edits here and there I realized they were good ideas that did make it better.
“I guess now it’s like, is working in a group really that bad?”