Lessons learned from The Tutor
Alyssa Day twirls a strand of hair around her finger, tilts her head and delivers a heart-melting pout.
She’s mastering her role as a vixen, much to the delight of student director Rachel Renaud, who is standing off stage in the drama room at Maple Ridge secondary.
I’m trying to bring out her deviousness and sassiness, Renaud says as she instructs Day, who plays a complex high-school hottie named Kristina in The Tutor, an original play written by Renaud’s older brother Nic.
“She dominates the whole play and dominates him.”
The play follows Andy, a Grade 12 student who has everything going his way in terms of school and friends.
He’s even registered as a biology tutor to avoid working at a deep-fryer and the best part – Kristina, the hottest girl in school, is his first student.
Unfortunately, Andy’s first tutoring experience ends up spiralling out of control.
Nic Renaud had no misgivings about writing the drama, which ventures into serious territory by exploring themes such as suicide, high school rumours and sex.
The Tutor is the second play he’s written for Youthwrite, a competition organized by the Association of British Columbia Drama Educators.
Last year’s submission was a comedy titled Second Chances, which failed to snag one of the top four winning spots.
“The winning plays last year all dealt with death and angst and all these awful themes and I had never written that before,” he says.
Renaud figured he’d have to emulate those serious themes to craft a winner.
“And it worked,” he says, with a laugh.
As a winning submission for Youthwrite, Maple Ridge secondary gets the opportunity to perform The Tutor at the Sears B.C. Drama Festival, which pits young thespians from across the province against each other.
Renaud drew from the world around him to write the play and sees The Tutor as a cautionary tale for high school students.
“Last year, we learned about Amanda Todd and we hear what happens when rumours run wild,” Renaud says.
“Theatre and literature is a reflection of society, so I wanted to write something that brings that to light and shows people why spreading rumours and lies is not OK.”
Renaud tried to put himself in the shoes of a manipulated high school tutor to deliver an authentic tale.
“I really had to think about how I would feel if I was in the situation,” he says.
Initially, Renaud wasn’t going to act in the play, but is glad he took the role of Andy as it has allowed himself to view the script from a different angle.
“Acting in the play was really a blessing in disguise,” says Renaud.
He believes most students see real life parallels in The Tutor.
Every high school students has experienced the vicious rumour mill, even though they may have not been at its centre.
“That’s why this play will strike a chord with people,” he says.
Maple Ridge secondary needs to fundraise to send a team of eight to the Sears B.C. Drama Festival. See a performance of The Tutor on Tuesday, April 29 in the drama room. Tickets are available at the door for a minimum donation of $5. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. To donate email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cast & Crew
• Alyssa Day (Gr. 10)- Lead Actress, Kristina
• Nic Renaud (Gr. 12) - Lead Actor, Andy
• Director: Rachel Renaud (Gr. 10)
• Producer: Nic Renaud (Gr. 12)
• Stage Manager: Breanna Bokstrom (Gr 12)
• Lighting Director: Samantha Walters (Gr 12)
• Sound Engineer: Jacob Priyanthan (Gr 11)
• Stage Crew: Lea Jensen-Desjardins (Gr 12) and Bryanne Lane (Gr 9)
• Teacher Sponsor: Ms. Paula Zentner