The word “remix” is defined as follows: “a variant of an original recording (as of a song) made by rearranging or adding to the original.” So, you may be wondering, why are we using this word to describe our 6th season of StageCats?

After 5 seasons of gradually building our skills, expanding our repertoire and taking on new challenges, we felt it was finally time to change our structure. Our seasoned StageCats who have been with the program since grades 6 and 7 are now in grades 11 and 12. They’ve had so many opportunities to expand their skills and, to be honest, we see them as young professionals – they work through difficult material very quickly, have developed instincts far beyond their years and have a shorthand with the directors and crew. They grew up playing lead role after lead role – and we felt it we needed to give that chance to our younger StageCats.

Enter StageCats Junior. A musical for students in grades 6-8 only. An opportunity for younger students to play starring roles and be pushed beyond their limits. It is so exciting to see grade 6, 7 and 8 students’ names at the top of the cast list! This is something that would not have happened if we’d maintained the same structure as last year. For our first junior show, StageCats Junior will be performing Elf Jr. the Musical, based on the popular 2003 film.

At the same time, we are trying to challenge our seasoned StageCats by providing an enrichment opportunity – StageCats Ensemble. This branch of the program began in 2016 when we produced our first small-cast show Selfie by Bradley Hayward. These shows are cast based on the directors’ prior experiences with the students, and are invite-only. This year, students will tackle the new topic of love and relationships in John Cariani’s Almost, Maine. 

What is particularly exciting about the two above shows is that they will be running in rep from November 19th – 23rd – something we have also never done before! Elf opens on November 19th and will also run on the 21st and 23rd. Almost, Maine opens on the 20th and will run on the 22nd and 23rd. We are excited to have two very different shows play at the same time, as it allows us to cater to a variety of audience members and tastes.

Also new this year is the senior musical set for April 2020. This show will include any student in grade 9-12 who would like to be onstage. Grade 6-8 students are permitted to audition, but are not guaranteed a role. In the past, this musical was fully open to grade 6-12 students. Splitting the age groups was a choice that took a lot of thought (and many discussions amongst the directors) but in the end, we felt it was the best way to tailor our program to both groups of students and allow all skills levels have a chance in the spotlight.

It can be a bit scary to keep things fresh and keep the program evolving, but we feel this is a natural progression that must occur for any program that has grown over a number of years. If you try to hold on to the same exact structure, the program will stagnate. If you try to change too much, you may lose sight of your original vision and purpose, not to mention the support of key people.

Hence the term remix. A change in structure, yes, but still with the core elements of the “original” in place. It’s a difficult balance, and we have yet to see if it will work out the way we envisioned, but we are hopeful that StageCats Remix will be a hit.

UPDATE! – Grade 8 & 9

Both of our units are in full swing in the drama classroom! Grade 8 students have spent the past 2 weeks answering our factual question “what is improv?” in theory, but also in practice. They have learned how to accept the ideas of scene partners (or say “yes”), how to advance scenes through detailed statements and questions, and how to make offers to their fellow actors through strong vocal and physical choices. Next week, we will focus on how to create  improv scenes using the 5-step scene structure and continue our work on generating creative and innovative ideas.

In grade 9, students have been learning traditional melodrama gestures, as well as creating their own new gestures. We have also begun work on portraying stock characters such as the hero and villain through voice, body language and facial expression. Students have begun using their transfer skills to create short skits using melodrama stock characters and gestures. We will continue this work next week, while also discussing the components of the melodrama plot structure.

Overall, it has been a successful first few weeks in the theatre classroom. Stay tuned for the next update! 🙂