A troupe of eight French Immersion drama students at Fort Frances High School will debut their play tomorrow (June 8) at the Townshend Theatre, with free performances set for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“La bataille qui est l'école secondaire," or "The struggle that is high school,” outlines a typical day for a student at Fort High.
“We talk about break-ups, school pressure, and sports,” said Grade 12 student Emma Noga.
“Yeah, there's like university pressure, smoking pressure, there's prom,” echoed grade 11 student Siobhan Mackintosh.
“You know, just a lot of things that a student goes through.”
Each member of the class plays a student on stage, with Mackintosh acting as the narrator and 12th-grader Abby Sanders as a teacher.
In addition to the eight students in the drama class, 15 Grade 7 and 8 students will join them as extras and stage hands.
The students co-wrote the play with their teacher, Dany Michaud, at the start of the semester.
“It's all of our ideas but he edited it to make it longer,” Grade 12 student Jordan Bruyere noted.
Mackintosh said how they perform in the play will count towards their overall evaluation and grade for the class.
“It's what we've been working towards all year long,” Noga noted.
This is the first year the drama class has been offered to students in the French Immersion program.
“The benefits of offering a drama French Immersion class is to, first and foremost, promote the French language and its use within our community,” explained Michaud.
“Offering the drama class provides students with alternative French Immersion classes instead of being offered the same classes year after year,” he added.
“It also provides those who are strong in the arts to excel into something they like and appreciate all while doing so in a second language.”
The students said as much as they may like acting, many of them don't have experience on stage.
Bruyere noted he has worked backstage for the musical, but has never been front and centre during a production.
Still, they are excited and noted they work well together on stage.
“It's pretty fun, actually,” Noga said of her experience on stage so far.
“I'm nervous because it will be a lot of people,” she admitted.
“But we work well together.”
“We're comfortable with each other,” agreed Soccoro Galusha.
“We're all pretty good friends,” Macintosh said of the troupe of eight.
Since the students realize many people can't speak French, English subtitles will be projected to the left of the stage.
That way, audience members can understand what is going on.
“[The play] is for everyone," Mackintosh stressed. "It's not just for French-speaking people.”
Still, they hope to attract a large French-speaking audience, including any parents who are thinking about enrolling their child in the French Immersion program.
The want to emphasize the fun they have had being in the program and how beneficial it can be to be bilingual.
“The French Immersion program is dying,” noted Mackintosh.
“So part of the reason we are doing this is so parents who are thinking about putting their kids in [the program] can see how important it actually is.”
“Providing students to learn and speak fluently in a second language such as French is a great opportunity for them to increase their chances of joining the workforce, as well as providing them with opportunities to widen their world,” said Michaud.
“What I mean is that there are over 60 countries worldwide who recognize French has one of their language,” he noted.
“Being able to communicate in French gives those students the opportunity to travel the world and meet a greater number of people, as well as experience a wider range of cultures,” he reasoned.