The Auntie Mame Chronicles

A student’s perspective on the WPGA school production: “Auntie Mame”

By: Evie Tomita (grade 11)

Photo by: Ben Nakhuda (grade 11)

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, students, teachers and all. I have one question, and one question only. What can the West Point Grey Drama Department do that no singular group has ever achieved?

The answer? Simple.

Time Travel.

Well, not really, of course. But, I had you there, didn’t I?

You see, it only seemed as if the students involved in this year’s production of Auntie Mame were from the past. However, we are very much alive and well in the present. In fact, we have so much free time on our hands now that the Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday rehearsals are over, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. I suppose we could start catching up on that week of school we missed….

But before we begin making up our missed Biology labs and English quizzes, let us ask you a question. Are you thinking of joining the WPGA production company? To see if you have what it takes, let me take you on the magical, fantastical (somewhat exhausting) journey of Auntie Mame.

The smell of summer is in the air: that warm, dry smell that makes anyone want to lie down in the middle of a field and watch bumblebees float around in the soft breeze. But not the theatre kids of West Point Grey: they’re lining up for auditions for Auntie Mame. The shy grade eight – nervous for his first audition with the intimidating Senior School kids. The confident grade nine – eager for a larger role. The carefree grade eleven – reading over her script and laughing with her friends.

Summer goes by and we’re back at school; and what might be a relaxing week for some, is already chock full for cast members. First read throughs, the beginning of blocking, threats to ‘continue this on Sunday’ if we kept goofing off. Then it’s October, and you never realized how much you could get done in two months. Suddenly it’s November, and our lines are due: students are scrambling, trying to prepare for midterms and getting their friends, parents, siblings, anyone to run lines with them before rehearsal. Then it’s December, and with the holidays in the air, there’s a feeling of hope,  resilience, and of course students thinking: Holy cow, we might have a show here. Your friends are making their weekend shopping plans, while you pass, choosing to spend your Sunday with the cast and crew in the Drama room. It’s worth it though, because some students bring snacks to share.

The Holidays? Now they’re done, a memory, a wisp, a wish. January’s here, and now it’s go time: Sundays are getting longer, your memory’s getting cloudier, and school is definitely getting harder. How on earth is the show at the end of this month? Before you know it, tech week rolls along. You finally understand why students willingly miss an entire week of school: because you’ve never been closer with your friends, you’ve never laughed, cried, or worked as hard as you have in these precious six days. You’ll never forget those walks to Oakridge, dressing room dance parties, and the sign language you miraculously learned in order to communicate with your friends backstage.

Opening night comes around, and you’re holding your breath. Has it really come to this? Are we really putting on a show for all of our friends and family? Not to mention the students at our school? Will they like it? Will they laugh? I hope I don’t forget my lines… What if I fall? Why am I shaking? My heart’s beating so fast… What if, what if, what i-

And then you’re onstage. And you remember the countless hours, the tears, the laughs, the support these past few months, and your lines come out seamlessly. The audience bursts into laughter, and you’ve never felt more alive than you do on the stage. For the first time in all those months, you feel something new blossoming in your chest: pride.

Pride for Mrs. McAllister, and her fabulous, glorious directing skills. Pride for Mrs. Calvert, who always seems to be wherever anyone needs her to be. Pride for stage managers, stage crew, hair, makeup, costumes, lighting and of course your other cast members. No matter how large or small the role, you are grateful for anyone and everyone who made this show a possibility. Most importantly, you’re proud of yourself. As you should be.

As you take your final bow, you grin from ear to ear at the standing ovation, and you think:

God, I can’t wait for next year.

2019 01 31 Auntie Mame-web (765 of 837)So, you still want to join WPGA’s production company? We’d love to have you.

Until next year, little loves.

 

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