The Ottawa School of Theatre celebrates theatre all year, but in the magical month of May, the world gets to see what our students are capable of. In 2023, we put on 31 plays in 8 days, showcasing what students have been working on. It is the highlight of our year to have our students perform on stage at the Richcraft Theatre, housed at Shenkman Arts Centre.
“The May Showcase is the focus point for our students and teachers,” says OST’s Artistic Director, Megan Piercey Monafu. “The skills they learn in class — speech, movement, character development, storytelling, music, co-creation — are valuable in and of themselves, but the May Showcase gives everyone a chance to put those skills to the test, and to celebrate their growth.”
From dramatic performances of classic works to the bubbly optimism of a musical, it is inspiring to see the skill sets each student learns and the chutzpah they put into their performances.
But how do students get performance ready? As Piercey Monafu explained, “We aim to teach theatre by creating theatre.” Throughout the year, students learn new skills, which are then honed for their final performance in May Showcase. “Not only do students get to show off their skills, they get to experience the creation of a play from basic performance skills, to team building, to creation and memorization, all the way to performance.”
Every element of the production, from sets and costuming to lighting and the mood projected from stage before the performance starts are all considered by the teachers and students. No detail is too small.
“[Students] get to experience a professional theatre space, with costumes, lighting, props and set. And finally, they get the most important final ingredient for a successful play: an audience!”
Historically, OST applies annually to the Ottawa Fringe Festival in the Youth Category. This year, OST won the lottery for their Teen Acting Company, Five Point Productions.
“I spoke with the Teen Acting Class about their interest,” says teacher Kate Smith, “and the student actors were thrilled to have the opportunity to have multiple performances and be part of the festival environment…[The cast of Trifles] treated the May Showcase like a “preview” in a sense, to give them the chance to perform for an audience in a black box theatre…with all of the tech and design elements.”
When asked, performer Michael A. Coghlan said, “Bringing Trifles from script to stage would not be possible without the wonderful Kate Smith and the rest of Five Point Productions.”
We’d like to congratulate the cast of Trifles on their successful Fringe run.
OST’s leadership team is already busy at work preparing for next year’s May Showcase. “Next year is on track to be even better,” says Piercey Monafu, “as we provide more space for teen and adult classes to shine in evening performances.”
It takes a village, composed of staff, parents, and volunteers to help make the shows run smoothly. Ottawa School of Theatre is all about community, and that shines through with the love and dedication of all who make the May Showcase possible.