Lake City Secondary School’s drama program capped off its year with a humorous and energetic rendition of The History of Dating.
Involving 20 students from Grades 7 to 12, the play’s run marked the return of the annual high school production that has been absent from LCSS in recent year. For one of the play’s final shows on May 24, the cast was delighted to perform for a sold-out house. A big thank you goes out to all the businesses that donated to the production and helped them turn a profit on the show.
All of this is greatly encouraging for drama teacher Marilee Andres, who has been spearheading a revival of the high school drama program at LCSS this year. Andres was born and raised in Williams Lake and developed a deep love for drama at a young age, taking part in several local productions. It was one of her own high school teacher’s Loyd Csizmadia, in fact, who encouraged her to pursue not only teaching but also drama.
Andres returned to the lakecity three years ago after spending 11 years teaching full time in China and Quebec. At first, Andres worked as a teacher on call for SD27 but after a year stepped up to helm a new drama program for both the Columneetza and Williams Lake campuses.
“I’m really happy to be back and to be helping drama and youth theatre come back. I think it’s really important, there are so many students that need that avenue of creativity and just a safe place to be,” Andres said.
For the last few years prior to her arrival, there has not been a consistent drama teacher at the school for reasons unknown to her. While there were people who came in and did good things, Andres said without a consistent driving force behind them none really went anywhere. LCSS Lake City Campus has Williams Lake best stage, but without someone to steward it, Andres said it can quickly deteroate to “shambles”. She ruefully recalled students not even being aware the drama room had mirrors before she cleared the makeup counter off.
Being able to do consistent drama classes and host an afterschool drama club, however, has been really rewarding for both Andres and her students and helped them prepare for her true goal this year, which was giving them the opportunity to perform for live audiences on stage. For younger grades, Andres said its all about building skills and a community but for her older students giving them that chance to put these skills to the test was really important to her.
“I know from personal experience, performance is the thing that is addictive, it’s the thing that makes a program grow,” Andres said.
This year she introduced her classes to improv, musical theatre and acting and would often host private shows for students to give them a taste for performing, prior to The History of Dating. The drama club, meanwhile, was also an important part of this process giving seniors a chance to enhance their skills and grow together.
Looking to the future, Andres plans to continue to build the program up, both literally and figuratively. Next year she hopes to get more students involved in the technical side of theatre working with costumes, light, sound, stage management and set construction.
“I think that is something that will just organically grow as we go along, having an actual tech class like theatre productions would be really useful because we could do some dedicated training,” Andres said.
Read More: LCSS presents The History of Dating
At the end of this year Andres received the lumber and materials required to build stage risers which will allow feature productions to have actual sets and scenery for the students to act in. This will change the faces of future shows and is something Andres is quite excited for.
On the costume front, Andres hopes to start to rebuild the school’s props and costumes collection. A few years back LCSS sold off many of the old costumes and props leading to a limited selection for today’s students. Andres hopes that the community will be able to donate old or unneeded clothes to the program along with any interesting props or knickknacks to help refurbish their collection. Donations can be dropped off at the WL Campus school office in a bag or box with Andres’ name on it.
In general next year, Andres hopes to continue to provide opportunities for both her students and the community to experience the wide range of the fun and rewarding moments that comes from a high school drama program.