At the end of a semester disrupted by Covid, the King’s Theatrical Society returned the spirit of theatre to campus with the annual Infringement Festival. On March 26, theatre-loving members of the community gathered in the KTS Lecture Hall to watch a showcase of three works created and performed by King’s students. The festival brought together voices from multiple years to express the questions and ideas on the minds of theatre-makers at King’s.
The festival opened with I, a one-act play written by Dalhousie University student Derek Birkbeck and directed by third-year King’s student Gaby Milner. Through its minimal dialogue and ominous tone, the piece presented a surreal but familiar scene where work pressure consumes us. The play revolved around a central character named Jean, played by Ronan Giguère, at a desk lit by a table lamp, continually trying to write something to place in a box labelled “Out.” Birkbeck and Milner kept the content of the writing unknown to the audience, so we focused on the writing itself and the pressure surrounding Jean’s task.
Birkbeck and Milner’s piece sparked important questions about how we relate to productivity pressure. The restrained tension of the play arose from visitations by The Messenger, played by Zia Shirtliffe, who repeatedly broke Jean’s focus with news of the outside. The most poignant remark in the play was the final question she posed to Jean: How do you feel? Jean’s dismissal of the world outside showed how work can isolate us from others and even ourselves.
Second-year student Sadie Quinn followed this work with her energized one-act, A Ghost Called Winter. The play centered on a unique friendship between Avery, a student played by James Herron and Winter—a self-proclaimed “immortal space being that represents the unpredictability of everything.” Though a figment of the imagination, Winter, played by August Van Meekeren, is a witty best friend and a seasoned philosopher of life’s unknowns.
Through a conversation that spanned changes in Avery’s life and relationships, the play tackled big questions about growing into adulthood and figuring out how one fits into the world. Throughout, Quinn raises questions like, “How do I know what I want?” and “How do I tell people how I feel?” and settles them with Winter’s immortal wisdom: the only truth you can rely on is that life is uncertain.
The festival closed out with a short film entitled Another Day, written and directed by first-year student Ella Frank. Set to an original song by Frank, the film followed the day of a student, played by Zoe Beiles, as she navigates the ordinary demands of life and the special moments in between. The film contrasted the mundane routine of her dorm room with her wandering adventures around Halifax with two friends, played by Em Arruda and Herschell-James Breggren.
Frank chose to fade the song at points throughout the film so we could hear snippets of the conversation threading through their adventure. Filled with questions about school and the future, the trio’s conversation felt familiar—like one I’d had a thousand times before or overheard while passing groups of FYP (Foundation Year Program) students in the Quad. Huge questions like “What is good?” were paired with personal ones like, “What should I study?” The film captured an experience that many students share—all in just a few minutes.
Infringement is all about trying things out and claiming space on the stage. It is a precious opportunity for students to perform their work and share it in a supportive space. Although the Infringement Festival had no assigned theme, all three pieces connected naturally to one another. Each work explored urgent questions about work, relationships and the future. Each work also seemed to find its answer in the truth that there is no one answer and that all we can do is continue to ask questions.