Thursday, 31 January 2019

Stories from Next Generation Showcase: A Weekend to Remember

by Andrew Pritchard (Canadore College)

Though we had been preparing our monologues well in advance with constant advice and coaching from our teachers, I sat in the car—in our convoy of 12 students all travelling from North Bay to Toronto for a weekend of monologues and high expectations—wondering just exactly what would happen. Though I myself and each individual student had their own image of what their performance in front of Toronto’s talent agents would look and feel like, the many weeks leading up to Theatre Ontario were finally over and the unexpected was upon us.

We finally arrived in Toronto after a little over four hours and were finally able to stretch out and get settled in. Our class had gotten to know a lot about each other in the year and a half we had spent honing our skills and learning new techniques in the great field of acting together, and Theatre Ontario Next Generation Showcase in Toronto was something that our teachers had been telling us about since day one. Each teacher would often regale us with a few tales from previous years and often say that it’s a fabulous time for a young actor to get out and show the wide world of talent just what we are capable of. Though we had practised our monologues and had everything (including the slightest gestures) down to a fine art, everything came down to two minutes of “us.”

We began our trip by loosening up and going out to dinner with our teachers, trying our best to cram in more practice for our big day. We awoke early in the morning in order to do our vocal warmups and our stretches—anything we could do to squeeze out every bit of potential we had within us in order to feel like champions. We studied the performance space, taking in the room of professionals who gazed back behind blinding lights, feeling like the studied life under a microscope. Though the experience of just feeling the performance space was stressful at first, all of the agents in the audience exuded a certain air of casual friendliness.

Finally, it was our turn. First up. All of our preparation had led to this moment. A fond memorization of the lines gave everyone in the class the ability to play with their characters and allowed us to unlock a certain finesse that lie previously unseen, a new talent untapped. It was a performance that was done individually, yet was a group success that allowed us all to get a taste of the real world through acting. And just like that, weeks of preparation and hard work was over in a little over a half of an hour.

The meet and greet was also a great time to meet industry professionals and get to know some new people from different acting schools across the country. Being complimented by professionals, who no doubt went through the same thing we had just experienced, was the real fruit of the labour. Knowing that someone with years of experience in the industry thought that our work was something special made all of the preparation worth it, and really ignited a growing passion for acting in all of us. Their insight into the professional world gave us all a great picture of what to expect and was a great learning experience.

Though all of us returned to our reality the very next morning, I believe we all, as a class, took a little piece of Toronto back home with us. It was a great look into the wild and wacky world that we all desire to be a part of. The experience left everyone with a fire in their belly that they will no doubt carry with them for a long time. It makes me excited to see where the future will take us in our potential careers. Whether it’s to make an audience laugh, cry, talk, or think, I believe we are all rest assured that everyone made a lasting impression and that everyone was able to bring a tiny two minute piece of “us” into the spotlight.

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