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Twenty-four cast members from Grade 7 and 8 and several crew members from Grades 9-12 participated in the play.
April 3, 2018
Everyone’s Talking About the Secret Garden
With trellises, foliage and flowers, our Performing Arts Centre (PAC) was transformed into a picturesque English country garden, when talented Middle School students performed Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

The play, based on the classic children’s novel published in 1911, included 24 cast members from Grade 7 and 8 and several crew members from Grades 9-12. Students contributed in all aspects of the production, from behind-the-scenes technology support to inspiring stage performances. While some students had taken part in last year’s production You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, for others, this was their first time in front of an audience.

“Everyone involved did an incredible job,” said Director and Middle School Dramatic Arts teacher Amy Helsby. “The students worked extremely hard both on and offstage, allowing all the elements of this production to come together quite seamlessly. They should be very proud of what they were able to accomplish.”

Rehearsals, which began in October, allowed Ms Helsby to help the cast understand a script filled with layered meaning. “We would spend time discussing what each scene was about,” said Ms Helsby. “It’s important for the actors to know their character’s objectives and tactics, and to be able to answer questions like, ‘What is the subtext?’ or ‘What drives the characters to act in the ways that they do?’”

“I love the Middle School Dramatic Arts program,” said Brooke, a Grade 9 student who was asked to work as The Secret Garden Stage Manager. “This play was amazing and the cast was so talented.”

The Secret Garden follows 10-year-old Mary Lennox who, after finding a key to a secret garden, unearths healing powers. This new discovery allows her to help others as well as herself, to gain a true sense of renewal and hope.

“Everyone has been talking about how innovative the Middle School productions have recently become,” said a staff member. “This play didn’t disappoint.”

Along with two evening performance for parents, friends and faculty on February 27 and 28 in the PAC, the cast also performed a special matinee show for a group of Junior School students on March 1.

“Ms Helsby made the process fun but professional and, on opening night, everyone had such a good time,” commented Brooke. “It was so rewarding to see the audience enjoying the show.”

“I would personally like to thank everyone who participated in bringing this play to life,” said Ms Helsby. “The level of cooperation and collaboration has been outstanding and I am grateful for the hard work, dedication, commitment and insight that have gone into this production.”

Thank you, too, to the Branksome Hall Parents’ Association for providing a beautiful cake for the opening night reception.

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