Due to extensive construction at Maples Collegiate, the school is only presenting one drama production this year. Or nine, depending on how you think about it.
Maples (1330 Jefferson Ave.) will stage Almost, Maine at the school’s theatre on Thurs., May 29 and Fri., May 30 at 7 p.m. The play, written by John Cariani, contains nine short plays, each exploring love and loss during one night in the fictional town of Almost, Maine.
"It’s situated under a starry night sky and everything happens at the same time, but we see lots of different stories," said Maples drama teacher Jenny Gillespie.
"A lot of the stories have really nice metaphorical themes in them that click with you as you’re watching the show, like it’ll hit a spot and everyone goes ‘Oh, that makes sense now.’
"They’re real too. It’s not always happy endings. They depict real emotions that people feel during love and loss."
Gillespie said the play, which premiered at Portland Stage Company in Portland, Maine in 2004, was brought to her attention by Grade 11 student, Paulina Groele, who is performing in the play.
"We took a look at it, and due to the situation with the school and all the construction, we thought a nice simple play that really focuses on their acting skills more than elaborate set designs best suits the environment right now," Gillespie said.
Almost, Maine co-director Aaron Millar Usiskin said that focus on realism over song and dance is challenging for the actors.
"The script has taken awhile for them to learn," Millar Usiskin said. "It’s (the script) kind of naturalism where people are talking over each other and cutting each other off, so that makes it a bit tricky. They’re having some trouble with it, but we’ll get there."
However, it’s not the dialogue that cast member Arabella Robles considers the most challenging aspect of Almost, Maine.
"I think the most challenging part is the fact they are all romantic scenes and that can get really awkward most of the time," said Robles, 17, a Grade 11 student.
"I just have to kiss someone on the cheek so it’s not a big deal," said Groele, 16.
"I have to kiss my best friend of 10 years that I see as a brother, so yes, we’re going to try and make that look believable," Robles said.
Portraying a relationship onstage might be difficult, but Robles and Groele, who have each been acting in Maples drama productions since Grade 9, said it’s well worth it for the relationships made offstage.
"There’s the camaraderie that happens behind the scenes with all the cast members," Robles said. "Even though we don’t necessarily see everyone because the scenes aren’t in a linear order, there is a camaraderie that happens."
"At the end of these shows we’re always so close. It’s great," said Groele.
Admission to Maples’ production of Almost, Maine is $5 at the door.