King’s Theatrical Society (KTS) is partnering with an alumna to bring a critically acclaimed play to Nova Scotia for the first time. Pamela Halstead, BA’88, is returning to her old campus with DMV Theatre to direct the provincial premiere of Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill, Jan. 9-13 at King’s.
The thought-provoking story was created by high school students from the Toronto area and has been performed on stages across the country. Along the way, it received the 2015 Dora Award for Outstanding New Play, and was named a finalist for the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. The play is named Concord Floral for the imagined setting: a one-million-square-foot abandoned greenhouse that acts as a refuge for neighbourhood kids. As in the original, the KTS production will include high school students alongside King’s students.
“It’s not like your usual after-school special on TV,” Halstead says. The young characters swear while regularly while talking about love, sexuality and drugs. There are humiliating encounters with parents and siblings, and homosexual adventures orchestrated through online classifieds. Halstead says the teenagers don’t pull any punches and the play does not sugarcoat the adolescent experience. Concord Floral doesn’t talk down to youth. It talks to them. That’s what drew the director to the story. “It’s really real.”
“It’s not like your usual after-school special on TV. It’s really real.”
Halstead was previously set to stage the production with a local theatre school, but after preparation was underway and people had been cast, it was decided the story’s content was too edgy and the play was cancelled. At the same time, KTS was unsuccessfully trying to obtain the rights for Concord Floral. Halstead learned of her former school’s interest and led her back where it all began. For the students, it turned into much more than they asked for.
“It’s an opportunity we wouldn’t typically have,” says KTS president Keely Olstad. “Not only do we get to work with her, but we get to work with her crew, and everyone is really learning a lot.”
Olstad, a fourth-year Theatre Arts and Contemporary Studies student, admits they have gone down a different road to put this production together, and working with high school students adds another element, however, she believes all of this is what makes this production so special.
“So much hard work went into this,” Olstad says. “Everyone worked so hard and enjoyed doing it, so it’s going to be great.”
Concord Floral will be performed at the University of King’s College Theatre (The Pit) January 9-13. Tickets and times can be found on TheatreNS.