For their year-end production, the drama department at Princess Margaret Secondary is offering up a double treat.
On June 15 and 16, the students will be performing the John Steinbeck classic, Of Mice and Men, along with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Drama instructor Lori Grant said there is no hidden message involved in producing the very different plays.
Grant said it was mostly because the cast for Of Mice and Men, which they had prepared earlier in the year, is mainly male.
“It is not meant to be a pairing as such,” said Grant. “When I took all the boys off to do Of Mice and Men, that left all my girls needing something to do.”
Grant pitched a few ideas to her student actors, but said they all jumped on board with the idea of doing Alice.
“Alice can be done a hundred different ways. Every time you do it, it is different,” said Grant. “I have a great girl who is playing Alice. All the characters, they all fell into place. I slide the boys in there as flowers and cards.”
Both Alice in Wonderland and Of Mice and Men are presented as reader’s theatre, meaning the students will be carrying a script. That’s not a reflection on the actors’ ability to learn lines, Grant said, but time constraints and the complexity of the material, especially in Of Mice and Men.
“They know their scripts well, but because of the amount of the length of the play that we were trying to cut down made it necessary for us to do reader’s theatre. They are acting, they are in costume, they are mostly off the book,” said Grant.
The novel Of Mice and Men was published in 1937, and produced as a Broadway play that same year. It tells the story of George and Lennie, a pair of migrant workers, travelling through California during the Great Depression in search of work.
“I’ve got a great group of guys who are very dynamic in their speech, so I thought it was a perfect year to do this,” said Grant, adding that the students related well to the material, even though it depicts an era 80 years in the past.
“I don’t know if any of us can really think about what it meant to go through the depression. My parents are of that era. They lived it and it carried through in everything in their lives,” said Grant. “For us, it is just history and a memory. What we have today is over abundance, too much of everything and the depression is such a stark contrast.”
Grant also notes that that they chose to stick to Steinbeck’s earthy dialogue, so there is a mature content warning for Of Mice and Men.
“Both the English lit teacher and I discussed it. It is part of the vernacular of that time, that era, that situation they were in. These are hard, desperate men, everyone is trying to find some way to make a dime,” said Grant. “There are some hard, hard life lessons learned. We are probably not going to have that kind of thing again, hopefully.”
The Maggie Theatre Showcase presents Of Mice and Men on June 15 at noon and June 16 at 8 p.m. along with Alice in Wonderland on June 16 at 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 or a donation at the door at Princess Margaret Secondary.