My family and I headed out to watch the Thespian Troupe’s rendition of The Breakfast Club on an otherwise mundane Thursday. The best, as they say, was saved for last. The evening was thoroughly enjoyable and I left Salle Jacques-Maurice as though floating on a cloud.
Tackling a cult classic like TBC is daring. Presenting it to a predominantly francophone audience is doubly so. The teen’s language, laced with a healthy dose of slang and F-bombs and cultural tropes accustomed to the set of teens sitting out a Saturday detention. The linguistic divide was obviously breached given the audience’s reactions. Another challenge was to set the stage for what, in John Hughes’ film version, is a rambling story that has characters travelling throughout the school and even, at one point, falling through the ductwork in the ceiling. The minimalist setting – 4 foot cubes of wood and some guardrails – were more than enough and with the lighting tricks at the very end, a surprising presentation of the five colors identifying each character. The audience had to pay attention though as characters ran through the aisles and around various seats to mimic the chase that takes place after the lunch break. Shout out to the use of Pink Floyd as background music and to the clin d’oeil to Brébeuf life which were very much appreciated by the students in the crowd. About 150 people attended the show; that number was tripled the next night, I was told.
The sparse cast was strong and their performance was tight. It is tricky to enact 5 typical students in all of their respective quirkiness. The vice-principal and janitor (a modern-day Fool), were on point and sometimes served as foils to the others while maintaining their own personas. What stood out for me was that these actors were on stage for one another. Each of them convincingly ran through his/her lines and, this is the key, reacted seamlessly with one another. No one character stood out because every character stood out!
There are literally dozens of extra-curricular activities going on at school. I am convinced that the hours, apparently 75-100 hours of preparation goes into each hour of performance, spent on this play were arduous at times. And the people involved volunteer their time. That is the foundation of extra-curricular activities; there’s no grade associated to this, it does squat for your R-Score and, at best, it is a line item in your C.V. Why then do you all keep coming back to plays and contests and basketball teams? Well, the answer to that is found in what you’ve heard your parents and their parents tell you, ‘You get out of life what you put into it.’
For the cast and crew of TBC, you exemplify what is best about being a well-rounded student. Your effort beyond the classroom gets you that extra; others just get the curricular.