In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • The Edge Project:Good to Go
  • Monica Prendergast (bio)
  • 80 students

  • 4 months

  • 3 high schools

  • 3 drama teachers

  • 1 professional actor/playwright/director

  • 1 professional Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) company

  • 1 international performing arts festival

  • 1 hero's journey

Add all these ingredients together, and it makes up one of the most innovative and exciting educational partnership projects I have ever seen. I have a strong interest in outreach and audience education, so when I read through the program of Vancouver's 2013 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, The Edge Project caught my eye and held it. What I learned, or more accurately relearned, along with Green Thumb Theatre's artistic associate Shawn Macdonald who directed this project, is "that teenagers can do pretty much anything. They don't necessarily believe that, but I'm quite sure of it at this point" (The Edge Project). What these three classes of drama students from three Greater Vancouver high schools accomplished—with the support of their respective drama teachers and Macdonald—was no less than writing, rehearsing, and presenting a ninety-five-minute play inspired by Joseph Campbell's hero journey structure and performed by all eighty students.

Green Thumb Theatre is one of Canada's longest-lived and foremost TYA companies. The company's long history stretches back to its founding in 1975 by playwright Dennis Foon and Jane Howard Barker. Over nearly forty years, Green Thumb has premiered many of Canada's best TYA plays, including many by Foon (New Canadian Kid, Bedtimes and Bullies, Skin), along with other well-known writers such as Joan MacLeod (Little Sister, Shape of a Girl), Morris Panych (Co$t of Living, Life Science), and George F. Walker (Problem Child, Tough!). More recent Green Thumb productions have tackled timely topics such as drug addiction (Cranked), bullying and cyberbullying (Night Light, tagged), school violence (Rage), and homophobia (Out in the Open), under the continuing long-term artistic directorship of Patrick McDonald (1988 to present). Green Thumb's The Edge Project began three years ago as a way to bring together drama students from various high schools, working collaboratively with theatre professionals who specialize in theatre for children and youth.

Previous Edge Project shows were themed anthologies consisting of "a series of scenes, created in various disciplines (dance, monologue, poetry, movement), and created separately by four different schools" (The Edge Project). This year, playwright, actor, and director Shawn Macdonald felt that he'd like to see the students take on the challenge of writing a single narrative and turned to literary scholar Joseph Campbell's theory of the hero's journey, or monomyth, found in many narrative structures across cultures and time. The hero's journey typically includes three stages: the call and departure; the journey and its tests and trials; and the homecoming.1 Stories from The Odyssey to Star Wars fit the myth-making bill, and Macdonald sensed the hero's journey was an open story structure that the students in this year's Edge Project could employ to create their own narrative.

Once Macdonald had determined which schools (Cariboo, Lord Byng, and North Delta) and drama teachers (Trevor Found, Stacy Inglis, and Carol Mann) were onboard for this year's project, he introduced the three drama classes to Campbell's model and asked three or four students from each class to take on the task of being writing captains. The [End Page 101] writing captains were responsible for capturing key moments in the devising process and for meeting both in person and via Google Docs (where they could add and edit in real or asynchronous time) with other writing captains to piece together the overarching narrative. The story they co-created is about a teenager named Sam, his gang leader brother, Chris, and their single mother, and it traces Sam's journey from near death to redemption and the chance of a new life. Over the four-month rehearsal period, the classes improvised and rehearsed an average of six hours per week in class and met occasionally with the other two classes for full ensemble rehearsals. In what Macdonald describes as a "unique 'tag-team' performance, three casts from three high...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1920-941X
Print ISSN
0315-0836
Pages
pp. 101-103
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-31
Open Access
No
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