General Amherst drama students compete at Sears Festival

 

By Danica Skakavac

Throughout the months of March and April, the General Amherst drama club, Doghouse Drama, was bustling with busy students, running in and out of the drama room every lunch period all in preparation for the Sears Festival.

The Sears Ontario Drama Festival is an annual event held across the province by dedicated teachers and professionals who host the festival in each of their respective local communities, with three levels that over 350 plays enter in and compete throughout. This year, the first entry level, Districts, was held at E.J. Lajeunesse High School and three plays of many entries were chosen to advance to Regionals, held at Westdale Secondary School out in Hamilton.

Doghouse Drama, the drama club at General Amherst High School, won Awards of Excellence for Musical Performance, Acting and Set Design at Sears Drama Fest. (Photo from General Amherst High School Twitter)

Doghouse Drama, the drama club at General Amherst High School, won Awards of Excellence for Musical Performance, Acting and Set Design at Sears Drama Fest. (Photo from General Amherst High School Twitter)

General Amherst’s Doghouse Drama was one of these three plays that had the opportunity to perform in both levels. The play was called “49 Times” and it was focused on the Orlando shooting that occurred this year. The main goal of the play was to send the message that these were not just ‘gay people killed in a nightclub’; they were mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. The aim of the play was to fight against labels and to open the eyes of the viewers. It told the story of the shooting from several different points of view, with storylines that all ended back at the nightclub where the shooting took place. It was a moving, emotional play that brought tears to viewer’s eyes.

“My initial reaction to 49 Times moving on to Regionals was relief, proudness, and ecstatically grateful. We put so much hard work and effort to bring this to light,” said Jake Simone, this year’s student director and play writer. Doghouse Drama entered the Districts with a student-written play this year, written and created by Jake Simone who has been competing in Doghouse Drama for four years. This was the first year Doghouse Drama entered a student-written play.

“I was excited to have a student written piece; to have a fresh voice,” said Drama and English teacher, Stephen Scott, who is in charge of Doghouse Drama. “This show embodies what the festival was founded on. Youth presenting works that gave a forum to express themselves… This show was purely student driven.”

 

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