Miss Katelyn’s Grade Threes Prepare for the Inevitable
La Cite Francophone (8627 91 street) August 14 – 16, 18 – 22
An interview with Elena Belyea.
Describe your show in five words.
Unsettling, funny, love, spontaneous, connection.
Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?
Miss Katelyn loves every student that walks into her classroom. She also knows the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place. A well-intentioned school drill is about to go wrong. Join class 3B in this comedic drama about one woman’s desperate attempt to keep her students out of harm’s way.
The show involves audience participation – can you give audiences a hint about the role they play in Miss Katelyn’s Grade Threes Prepare for the Inevitable?
The audience plays Miss Katelyn’s class (3B), so she spends the entire show speaking to them directly, asking questions, giving assignments, and doing her best to get through her thrown-together lesson plan before time runs out.
The show revolves around preparing for a school shooting and is a ‘black comedy’ – what considerations did you have in approaching such a dark topic with some levity?
We did say that, didn’t we? After doing a run of the show in Montreal, I’d like to amend that by saying genre-wise, don’t think it’s a black comedy anymore. I think it’s a comedic drama. (Is there a difference? I think there is.) Stakes are high. Real things with real implications are happening. A woman’s life does– kind of– hang in the balance. But it’s constructed in such a way that audiences are (hopefully) laughing throughout.
Doing the show in Montreal first meant that we had to be mindful of the fact that many people in the audience could (and did) have close connections to past school shootings (Dawson College, Ecole Polytechnique). During an interview, one woman asked me, “I was a student at Dawson when the shooting happened. How can I come and see this show and not cry?” I told her, “I cry all the time when I’m doing research for this show.” Which is true. It is fucking upsetting stuff. In the moments where we do use comedy, our goal is never to make fun of the subject matter. Instead, our hope is that it helps make the material more accessible, so audiences feel more comfortable & able to engage with this complicated issue.
Where else has the show been performed and what have audience reactions been?
As I just mentioned– our only other show so far has been at the Montreal Fringe. Audience reactions were mixed, though largely positive. I know people who were so offended by the premise, they refused to come see it. Which I think is valid. If someone is worried they’re going to be upset or triggered by the show, they should not come and see the show. With that said– lots of people came and talked to me afterwards, saying it made them think, and feel things, and that they had fun. We were nominated for 5 awards, and won 2 of them– Best New English Text and Best Production, meaning the show will be returning to Montreal in January, as part of the Centaur Theatre’s Wildside Festival.
Performing this play is a terrifying, unpredictable roller-coaster. Each new audience means a completely different show– which, I know, I know, it’s theatre, that’s always the case– but I think given the structure, it’s extra true for this piece. We also have a different guest performer who joins us every night (I can’t tell you in what capacity though– that’s a surprise!) who serves as another element to keep things fresh.
Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?
If you’re one of the first 20 people at the show, your experience will be slightly… How to put it? More real? Intimate? (What does THAT mean?) You’ll have to come see it to find out!
Bonus question: Any names you want to drop who have been involved in your show (Edmonton arts people or otherwise)?
DIRECTOR: Jon “Then Lick Up the Milk” Lachlan Stewart
DESIGN: Brad “Baby Angel” Murphy
STAGE-HAND / CHEERLEADER / CHERUB / RESIDENT FUCKING ASSHOLE: Thomas “Kewtie” Barnet
FEATURING GUEST APPEARANCES BY: David Barnet, Travis Bernhardt, Martin Dockery, James MacDonald, Andrew Ritchie, Geoffrey Simon Brown, Noel Taylor and Joe Vanderhelm
The 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 13 – 23. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca starting August 4.