Awakening, the Drama Studio Series

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Principal Woolf’s emails, it’s that student involvement is synonymous with a successful student experience at Queen’s University. AMS services and clubs, faculty societies, conferences, and events provide countless opportunities for students to get into the tricolour spirit, feel the cha gheill, etc.

One example of this is the vibrant theatre scene on campus, which offers opportunities for students with all levels of experience. Much of this is owed to the Queen’s Drama Studio Series, which is supported directly by the Drama Department. Previously named the Vogt Studio Series, the DSS has revamped the name and image of the company, and continues to provide a safe environment for students with any (or no) experience to gain knowledge in the areas of theatre production, design, direction, and/or performance.

The Queen’s Drama Studio Series presented their premiere production as a company, Awakening, from November 6th to November 8th. The first of three instalments from the DSS, Awakening featured three student-written, student-directed plays in the Rotunda black-box theatre. Meat, written by Jesse Gazic, started the night off with a bang, telling the story of a mother who would stop at nothing to protect her children and conserve their innocence. The standout performance in this piece was Kelsey Houston, who carried the story through a number of monologues that aimed to validate her deadly actions. Houston had an incredible grasp of her character, Caroline, showing maturity, composure, and a subtle psychosis that kept the audience on the edge of their seats for the entire show. I’m hoping to see this third year life science student back on the stage in upcoming productions.

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Before I continue, I would like to apologize to the audience of the November 8th matinee of Rebbeca Isaak’s So Go for causing a conspicuous disturbance. I imagine my audible sobs and blubbering was not conductive to a… comfortable theatre-watching environment, but I couldn’t keep it together. So Go reminded me that all of us are on our own path in life, and that the people we love cannot be held back because of our own ambitions. Shelby Camman’s portrayal of the three separate female characters was performed with grace and a genuine beauty that was both heartwarming and haunting. I was so moved by the whimsical pattern of each son’s heartbreak, narrated beautifully by Kevin Laporte. It stuck a chord that will be ringing in my ears for a long time. So Go is a truly beautiful and cathartic piece written by a talented young playwright.

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Thank goodness, then, that The Snapping Backups came along to turn my tears into uncontrollable laughter. This mockumentary style piece, written by Queen’s University drama icon Devon Jackson, was directed by third-year visionary Braydon Keilty and showcased a cast of four standout actors. Portraying a group of back-up snappers, rather than singers, the actors maintained an ironic tone that mimicked that of Summer Heights High, while developing some genuinely hilarious relationships between the members of the group. Complete with Aussie accents, pelvic thrusts, chair throwing, and sassy dance numbers, this one-act masterpiece caused a buzz that will be heard of in the halls of Theo for months.

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The Drama Studio Series producers deserve recognition for starting off the 2014-2015 DSS season with a wonderful first instalment. Awakening was a provocative, personal, and stimulating collection of three fantastic plays that provided audiences with a complete theatre experience.

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Student-run theatre at Queen’s is alive and well. Don’t miss Drama Studio Series B, running from January 29 to January 31st. Catch a glimpse of the talent that you have yet to see, the emotions that you have yet to feel, and the infectious enthusiasm of the Queen’s University drama community. You won’t be disappointed.

Yours Creatively,

Hannah Komlodi, Online Contributor

Photography: Sophie Barkham