Bring on The Drama! DramaFest 2024

On Thursday, May 23 a team of 14 students, along with two KES teachers and one volunteer, travelled to Dalhousie University for the Nova Scotia High School Drama Festival (DramaFest). DramaFest is a three-day festival where students from across the province come together for drama workshops, masterclasses, and performances. With the cooperation of Theatre Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University, the Educational Drama Association of Nova Scotia, and an incredible team of theatre professionals and volunteers, students discover their voice, make new friends, develop new skills, and push their social skills to the limit with this non-stop festival.

In the morning, we arrived at the Joseph Strug Concert Hall, where we were greeted by KES alumnus Sean Hurley '23, who volunteered this year at DramaFest. Our students were separated into their pre-registered workshops, including voice and singing, monologues, acting, improv, makeup, and sound. While the students were at their workshops, KES teachers Ms. Hannah Maguire and Ms. Karlee Sinclair, along with volunteer Jessie Sinclair, even flexed their own improv skills with other drama teachers during the teacher workshop put on by the Educational Drama Association of Nova Scotia (EDANS).

After lunch, we went to the Studley Gym for our masterclass, which was organized by a local improv group called “Hello City”. They engaged students by using improv games to get them out of their comfort zones, encouraging all 300+ participants to use the entire gym to express themselves.

After supper, students prepared for our adapted one-hour presentation of A Simpler Time, the Senior School musical that was performed in April. The students did tremendously well, with an outstanding showing by Jessica Etou '24. Jessica stepped in and learned two new parts all in time for the performance, completely embodying the roles, and bringing the characters to life. Each character was unique, and she was able to captivate audiences with her facial expressions and body language. With no time to rehearse, her commitment and passion for the performing arts were evident as she put her improv skills to the test. She jumped into the flow of each scene with her partners and quickly picked up her locking with ease with the help of her castmates. A Simpler Time was adjudicated by a theatre professional, who spoke to us after the show. Her top comments were that the students were visibly having fun, had trust in each other, and paced the play very well. After our production, we watched The Battle for Unity, a student-written play performed by another local high school at the Sir James Dunn Theatre.

To end the night, there was a talent show, and our very own Bryan Ma '24 participated! We waited in anticipation for the talent show, which was performed in front of a packed Dunn Theatre. None of us had seen Bryan's performance before, and as the show went on, we realized that Bryan was the final act of the night. He came out on stage with his tablet and addressed the audience, "I'm actually very nervous right now, I've never performed in front of such a large audience before." The theatre erupted with positivity, shouts of "you got this!" and "way to go!" along with cheers and applause. Bryan started by banging on the desk, creating multiple percussion sounds, and using his tablet to loop this music. Throughout the five-minute performance, he added piano, vocals, and more percussion. The audience loved it! When he ended his song the audience was on their feet cheering and clapping. It takes a lot of courage to perform in front of a huge audience, and even more courage to completely improvise it on the spot.  

On Friday, after spending the night in one of the Dalhousie residences, students were organized into their second-day workshop. After lunch, we all went to the Dunn Theatre to watch a professional theatre performance, the one-person show Prude by Lou Campbell. “PRUDE is a hilarious and high-energy blend of stand-up and drag. The piece begins as a motivational talk, given to the audience by the King of the Party, there to show everyone HOW TO HAVE A GOOD TIME. Slowly, through lip-syncs and mortifying personal tales, we watch them unravel onstage, digging into the complex experience of being an asexual in an (allo)sexual world.”
After supper, we attended a showing of The Laramie Project from a school based in Antigonish. We were all in tears by the end of their spectacular performance. What is even more incredible is that they condensed it into one hour!

To end the festival, there was a dance at the Studley Gym, and despite being exhausted after the packed two days, the students did not hold back! Seeing the students dance with those from other high schools was truly a heartwarming experience.

Students had an amazing time despite being completely exhausted after two full days of DramaFest and the Annual Cadet Review before the festival, but the bonding and friendships that were made will last a lifetime. We would like to commend the Grade 12 students on their performance and enthusiasm, and we hope to see them return as volunteers in the future! We encourage any student interested in DramaFest to speak with Ms. Maguire or Ms. Sinclair.

Hannah Maguire
Senior School Faculty

Arts CTA
King’s-Edgehill School is located in Mi'kma'ki, the unceded ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq People.