Carlton drama students celebrate success at provincials

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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First they cleaned up at regionals and now the Mad Hatter Theatre Company (MHTC) continued their winning streak at provincials for their play Glamorgan.

Although they didn’t win best play overall, there were many personal awards and two overall awards presented to the Carlton High School students -- best technical production and best technical crew.

“The Best Technical Production award is the only festival award that is given by both the front of house and the backstage technical adjudicator,” drama teacher David Zulkoskey said. “What they are doing, a lot of the criteria sounds like best play, but the focus is more on the technical aspects.

“That being said, they are looking for quality of acting, quality of set, costumes, sound, lighting, makeup and how those technical elements support the work of the actor,” he added. “Acting is involved, but it is more the technical background that fleshes out the production to make it more of a cohesive whole technically.”

The award was a “very strong comment” about the technical work quality in the production, Zulkoskey said.

The other award, best technical crew, was awarded to all the students running the production behind the scenes.

“All those students are involved in their individual capacity but working together as a cohesive whole -- so the idea of the ensemble,” Zulkoskey said. “The students really did exemplify really professional behaviour.”

They learned to manage their time effectively and discussed what they should do in a meeting before their technical rehearsal.

“We are going well beyond what the province expects kids to learn in drama in high school and students like Cole (Rudniski), Fiona (Loseth), Colton (James) and Malissa (Paul) demonstrate that amazing ability,” Zulkoskey said.

James was the sound designer and sound technician.

“I played in a band and ended up buying a bunch of sound equipment and then I just got into playing around with it and seeing what I can do with it,” he said. “I got a certificate of merit for sound design. It felt good to win something for what I’ve been doing.”

Rudniski main job was figuring out the lights and lighting system for the production.

“My role was to design how we use the light fixtures and how it looks on stage, how the light enhances the play, as well as operation,” Rudniski said. “I find the atmosphere of it, set up and operation of it a lot of fun.”

In addition to being part of the technical crew awards, Rudniski also received an individual award for his lighting design.

Zulkoskey said the backstage adjudicator sang Rudniski’s praises during the production.

“Cole had the forethought to think how we could integrate our lighting system, rather than using our own board, which we took with us, we could integrate it into the U of R lighting board system,” Zulkoskey said. “He was programming faster than the backstage adjudicator could give directions. He was light years ahead of it.”

The adjudicator told Zulkoskey he would hire Rudniski on the spot if he could.

“As a teacher I am very proud because Cole is a very shy individual and this boosted Cole’s confidence,” he said. “He literally took command of the lighting situation because we had to integrate it. He took it to a totally new level.”

Loseth was the makeup artist/designer and had a complicated job to do since some had to be applied during scenes.

“I think that makeup as a collective, with both did really well,” Loseth said. “It was organized and efficient and we got everybody out on time and there were no mixups. From what we heard of the audience reactions, it looked all right.

“I was happy with what happened and very proud of us,” she added. “I got a technical excellence award for the makeup design. That was just a certificate that was awarded to 10 people selected from the plays for whatever technical aspect they were involved in.”

She is really proud of all the awards and accomplishments the play received.

“I’ve always been very happy with how the crew works together and our setup and strike had always been good and efficient,” Loseth said. “Watching some of the other plays, we seemed more professional and I feel like we only really realized that when we got there and when we saw some of the other productions.”

One of the most important jobs, stage manager, was taken on by Paul.

“It was wonderful as a teacher to step back and watch my stage manager Malissa Paul literally take command and take this play to a new level,” Zulkoskey said. “The backstage adjudicator made the comment to Malissa that in a professional theatre she would be in charge and he said to her, ‘You have exemplified that type of behaviour.’”

Paul received the runner-up to best stage manager and the Debbie Baker Cheer award.

“Looking back, I think that personally even though I received the same award at regionals as well as provincials … I think I performed better and a lot more confidently at provincials,” Paul said. “It makes sense that I would feel that way because of course it was a lot harder to get that same award -- it took a lot more because I am against the best of the best.”

She said the experience at regionals prepared her for the role at provincials.

“I had a lot more experience backing me up because this is my first time ever doing anything like stage managing,” Paul said. “I still feel like I’m getting used to the program, I still feel like I am learning every single day.”

Since it was her second time competing at a high level competition, Paul said she felt very calm and was able to respond to hiccups better.

She was also proud to see the crew win awards “because they deserved it.”

“Having everyone behind me and having those mentors with me, even our student director and knowing they were backing me up and believing in me to do well, that push helped me to do well, knowing there were so many people rooting for me and cheering me on.”

Paul was also proud to have Zulkoskey as a teacher and credits him with having a big hand in their awards.

“I was very surprised with the backstage adjudicator and how impressed he was with me because I was just doing what I was taught to do, I was doing what Mr. Zulkoskey teaches us to do,’ Paul said. “He was impressed with the quality of work that students like Cole and I were doing because we were going up and above and beyond, but that is how he teaches us, it is what Mr. Zulkoskey expects of us, because if we don’t have the opportunity to excel, then how are we going to?

“He gives us an opportunity to learn and to grow and to really excel in our biggest interests of theatre.”

Zulkoskey is also proud of the accomplishments of his students.

“As a teacher, I am incredibly proud of them -- I’m incredibly proud of how they have been able to take a very complex play,” he said. “They demonstrated all their individual abilities but how those individual abilities came together to build the community of the play.

“As a teacher, our goal in education is to build a better future in our province and our city to build a sense of community,” he added. “To see that within your students in the context of the play made me so proud because I can see how they will do in the real world to be fully functioning members of our community.

“I am humbled as a teacher because a teacher learns from his or her students -- I am learning from these kids as well. It is very much a mutual learning experience.”

Organizations: Carlton High School

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