Written By: Katerina Hatzinakos
It seems like this year Bill 115 is the annoying rain cloud that’s hanging over all of our heads. A lot of us don’t fully understand the politics of it, myself included. But what we do understand is that as a result, we’ve lost our extracurricular activities. As a drama student at Harbord, that didn’t completely hit home until I found out that there wouldn’t be any plays this year.
I originally interviewed Mrs. Martin and Mr. Probst to discuss what would be done this year in place of a large-scale production and a contribution to the Sears drama festival. The conversation started off with a pretty detailed explanation on the politics happening in their union. With the passing of Bill 115, the teachers’ right to strike is gone, and their only option left is to take back their volunteer contributions. So, as a result, the plan was to launch two significantly smaller projects, both were structured more as workshops rather than formal productions. “Kids are getting the chance to learn more about acting. In some ways it’s actually better, it creates a place that allows people to make more mistakes,“ said Mr. Probst. When asked to elaborate, he continued with a chuckle, “There are experiments and risks that I probably wouldn’t allow to happen in a formal production. There’s more creativity, more freedom.”
Mrs. Martin was planning to put on three scenes from three different plays by Neil Simon, as a representation of his comedic work, called the Neil Simon project. As for Mr. Probst, he was staging a play called Playing Second Fiddle written by grade twelve student Julian Lee. My main question was, “ what went into your decision to downsize the productions this year?” Mrs. Martin answered, “If we went ahead and registered in Sears, and bought rights and royalties to a play and then we started our rehearsal process, we’ve got kids with lines half learned, sets half built, and then we have to stop doing extracurricular activities as one of our tactics against Bill 115– that’s a problem.” I then asked if the decision to downsize was a difficult one, “One door closed, we had to find another one that was open, go through it and do something differently from what we were used to” Mrs. Martin said with a shrug.
Unfortunately as of Monday, December 10th, all extracurricular activities at Harbord were cancelled. Which means that neither project will be performed. When asked how it felt hearing that his play wouldn’t be staged, writer and director Julian Lee answered solemnly, “ I’m extremely frustrated and disappointed. I feel sorry for the actors because their work has now gone to pot.”
If all goes well and the issues with the Bill are resolved, both productions may be revisited in the spring. However, until then, Harbord’s drama community will have to sit back, hope for the best and get used to a lot more free time after school.