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Gananoque Intermediate & Secondary School Brings Theatrical Production to New Heights with Thousand Islands Playhouse Partnership
Gananoque Intermediate & Secondary School Brings Theatrical Production to New Heights with Thousand Islands Playhouse Partnership
Posted on 05/02/2023

May 2, 2023 (Gananoque, ON) – Lights, camera, action! Students at Gananoque Intermediate and Secondary School (GISS) are taking part in a unique real-world learning opportunity with the Thousand Islands Playhouse (TIP) that will result in students producing a theatrical production from the ground up.

Working with industry professionals from TIP, 24 students in the Exploring the Arts course at the school have been learning about all the components that go into a productionfront-of-house and hosting elements, to backstage features such as sound, light, costume, set design, set building, props, stage management, and directing, as well as acting techniques.

Mentoring a new generation of theatre artists through professional development and training is part of what TIP already does. Students were able to take part in week-long workshops, trying out the various production company roles, which were also tied to Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) pathways that lead to college, university, apprenticeship, and workplace possibilities.

The play that students are working on is called Miss Electricity and is about a 10-year-old Violet, who is determined to show the world, not to mention the cool kids at school, just how special she is. With the help of her assistant Freddy, she sets out to break a world record, but becomes accidentally extraordinary when she’s struck by lightning — twice — and gains control over all things electric. Under the name Miss Electricity, Violet zaps her way through circuits, bullies, and tests, but could lose everything when the power goes to her head.

Every part of the set is being constructed by the students. In the props department, Grade 9 student Lillian Deubner is making the items for the set and the props that the actors will use in the play. “The first thing we did was read the entire script and envisioned all the props that would be needed or mentioned in the script. We are making bedrooms for Violet and Freddy, so thinking of what kind of people they are and what they would have around the room.

Sommar Roberts, Grade 10, is one of the students bringing the set of the student production to life. Using diagrams and mathematics, she is creating the inside of the set and scene painting the set dimensions to scale. We're measuring the kitchen, which must be a certain number of inches. It's really cool to see what you've learned in school become a real-world example. 

Roberts adds that once they’ve marked the proper measurements, the painting of the bricks, kitchen appliances and others begins. It’s been a great experience. I've learned a lot from being here, stuff that I've never done before and skills that I will have for the future. It’s also given me a greater appreciation for what happens behind a show. 

“Students are gaining a greater appreciation for theatrical performances and understanding that drama isn't just acting, it's everything from building props, sets and painting and stitching a costume,” says GISS drama teacher Robyn Ableson. “The students have been working alongside people who are experts in their field of acting, production, and all the various jobs that go into a production. Throughout this partnership, students have gained Specialist High Skilled Major certifications across the three current SHSMs at GISS, which include advanced training in a technique, advanced training in a technology, event coordination, working at heights, basic electrical safety, project management, leadership skills, wrapping and taping for performance and injury, and customer service.  

The two main characters are portrayed by Grade 10 students Krys Sullivan as Violet and Cameron Connelly as Freddy.

I've learned so much about actingstaging and dancing. It’s been so much fun and this is my favourite class by far,” says Connelly.

Sullivan adds that the entire experience has been incredible and is helping her pursue a career in acting.

I've always wanted to get involved with theatres, specifically at the Thousand Islands Playhouse, because becoming an actor is my dream job. I've learned so much from the professionals on how to put emotion through my voice in the right way and in the right situations and project the tone of your voice. Reacting and acting both at the same time, how to maneuver my body and how to connect as characters rather than actors.”  

"Through our community partnership with the Thousand Islands Playhouse, our students have been given a unique opportunity to explore the world of theatre from every angle. They've learned that there's more to a production than just acting and have gained valuable skills and certifications across a range of SHSM pathways. The experience has been incredibly rewarding and I'm proud of everything our students have accomplished. I look forward to seeing their hard work and dedication come to life on stage in the upcoming production of Miss Electricity,” says GISS Principal Dave Pier.

The main production of Miss Electricity will take place at the Thousand Islands Playhouse’s Firehall Theatre on May 6 and 13. To purchase tickets, visit Thousand Islands Playhouse. Students will also be holding performances for area elementary school students.

Based on this partnership, some of the students involved in the production will be completing summer employment and volunteer opportunities with TIP and others will pursue dual credit opportunities in acting next school year in a partnership with St. Lawrence College. GISS will also be adding a new SHSM in Arts and Culture come September, which has gained significant interest from students.  

For media inquiries, please contact:   

Dave Pier   Principal  Gananoque Intermediate and Secondary School  [email protected] 

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