As the lights dim and the stage curtains close, signalling the end of the theatrical production, the actors exit stage right. For many, it will be their last performance at Fulton.
Fulton Secondary School’s drama department presents The Matchmaker, June 8-10 and June 15-17.
“I know that the last night of this production is going to be a really emotional place, because basically our whole class is Grade 12s, which means they’re all going to be leaving,” says Fulton student Karissa Goodrum. “There are only a select few of us who are in this class next year.”
And it’s because of this that the students are proud to have put in the work.
“For a lot of us it’s our last year, so we’re kind of wanting to go big with it,” says Fulton senior Brianne Buksa.
The Matchmaker, written by Thornton Wilder, is a farce following the love life of Horace Vandergelder and is full of deep, thoughtful, and simultaneously humorous monologues.
“It’s really funny,” says Fulton drama instructor Sean Levi. “It’s poignant. It’ll get you in your heart for sure.”
However, The Matchmaker is more than just a comedy.
“There are a lot of life lessons to take away from it,” Goodrum says. “In a couple of the monologues, they talk about how money is really important in the world and how it changes how people think. Each monologue is supposed to be like a comedy, (but) if you actually pay attention to what words are being said, you can actually take away a lot. There are a lot of really deep topics if you really think about it.”
The Matchmaker blends together comedy and drama, making it accessible to everyone.
“I love this play — it’s so funny,” says Levi. “The message in it about digging in to life and having adventures and taking risks and putting yourself out there, for me — as well as with this crew of actors where we have a lot of graduating students — there are some lines in the play where I know some actors will be holding in tears because of the connection to their real lives.”
Due to its relatability to the drama students, Levi feels it is an important production for them.
“That was one of the reasons I chose this play was that I knew they were being sent out soon and there’s some trepidation with that, but let’s look towards the future with a sense of adventure.”
The primary theme in The Matchmaker is pushing personal boundaries, and for the students performing in the play, it’s a message that has impacted them personally.
“It’s a huge distraction,” says Fulton student Caydon Cantafio of drama class. “This class has gotten me out of my box since Grade 8. I used to live in this little shell, and now I don’t.”
“I think it helps a lot of people who struggle (with) a mental illness or something — it’s different when you’re on stage because you get to play a character and you’re kind of someone else,” Goodrum says. “I think it’s given us a lot of confidence and a lot of release, because we can all be someone else and there’s no judgment. It’s always a safe environment for all of us.”
The Matchmaker has been in the works since the spring semester began in February.
“We are kind of separated into actors and crew,” says Fulton student Amanda Aeichele. “So the crew built the set, and we kind of just work off who’s not on stage to help with set changes.”
And since February, there has been no shortage of work to be done.
“It’s a lot of work, and it’s a lot of hours,” Levi says. “It’s going as far as Oliver to find weird, antique birdcages, and up to Kamloops just trying to find some of these props was pretty crazy. So it feels good to be close.”
And the drama students, regardless of what year they are in, agree.
“I’m excited but I’m also really afraid just because I’ve grown such a strong bond with these people,” Aichele says. “They’ve helped me through a lot. They’re like my second family, and I’m going to be leaving that, so that part’s pretty sad. But I’m excited to see what we’ve been able to do. I think a big part of it isn’t just the class, it’s Levi. He’s such a great man. He talks to me as a person and not just a student and I really appreciate it. He gave me a safe place to go when I had no where else to go. He’s like our dad.”
Cantafio, Buksa, and Goodrum all laugh and glance at Levi. And Cantafio feels with Levi’s help, they have created a performance to be proud of, and one to remember for the graduating students.
“There’s going to be a weeping group hug, I feel.”
The Fulton Secondary School drama department presents The Matchmaker June 8-10 and June 15-17. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the door for $10 for adults, and $5 for students and seniors.