- Professional Learning
It is an understatement to say that “returning to normal” in the realities of 2023 is a statement that is heavy with the optimism and short-sightedness of a time when schools just wanted to feel the pulse of having their doors open again. Now, a few years into this return, the questions, the realities, the injustices and the challenges are daily realities for educators no matter what subject.
Nowhere is gathering more central than in the world of Drama and Theatre. This is why it was such an exciting time to restart our Drama Educators' Network Professional Learning Day hosted at the Stratford Festival, with educators from across the province coming together to learn, laugh, explore, and ponder, but what was most important was that we were coming together.
The elation of being with one's drama-folk was quickly felt as we reconnected with old colleagues and friends, met new connections, and generally shared about what can be an isolating role at a school. The Studio Theatre in Stratford was infused with as much energy as a theatrical production as we reconnected and talked about how exciting it is to see our schools take over this incredible space with performances and how exciting the CIS Ontario Drama Festival 2024 prospects are.
Drama instructors often discuss “raising the stakes” as we look at creating scenes and staging plays, and my quick way to explain it is: we gather an audience to watch this; it better say something important and be worth their attention.
This day of community and sharing raised the stakes through many avenues. The first was the timely discussion run by Lois Adamson with a panel of Stratford artists to discuss Gender in performance and the rehearsal hall. This down-to-earth discussion invited educators and artists to supportively learn from the collective experience of looking to Gender as a place of care and consideration. This open discussion explored Gender as a theme in plays and an aspect that requires intentionality in the rehearsal process.
The afternoon consisted of a planning meeting for this year’s CIS Ontario Drama Festival while we enjoyed a brilliant lunch provided by the Stratford Festival. The discussion was chaired by Gisa Bevacqua and David Newman, who will run the senior festival this year.
Our afternoon workshop was an active session focused on directing, run by Jonathan Goad. This movement-focused workshop took laser focus on bringing new life to script work.
The end of the day was marked by an amazing meal together hosted by CIS Ontario at a local restaurant, and each teacher went to see a show of their choosing at the festival.
It was a powerful day of deep and joyous learning by all.