Photos by Shannon Roy
Nelson Mandela High School’s drama students embarked on a challenging and memorable journey to tell the Life of Pi story on their stage. The award-winning novel, Life of Pi, written by Yann Martel and subsequently made into a major motion picture, tells the story of Pi who is lost at sea for 227 days with a selection of large animals including a tiger. The story explores life, relationships, our human existence and spiritual understanding.
The school’s drama director, Laurel Lepine, took the idea of transforming this story into a play to students almost a year ago.
“I threw out the idea of adapting and performing the Life of Pi novel and the students eagerly took to the idea,” says Lepine.
Lepine knew the challenge would be telling such a deep and experiential story on a small stage, but that anything was possible once the first hurdle, getting the author’s permission, had been overcome. Lepine adapted the novel to a script in the summer. Following casting, the students offered their input on refining the script to reflect the nuances and customs of an Indian home.
The play takes place in a lifeboat that was designed by retired Set Designer Brad Leavitt and Grade 12 student director and actor Omer Badri.
“The first day the boat arrived, the actors giddy with happiness, kept jumping in and out of the boat like it was a present,” says Lepine.
Sixteen cast members and 20 production team members have worked tirelessly over the last four months on this artistic project. Nelson Mandela High School can be very proud of their Life of Pi original drama production that took the incredible efforts of students, teachers and partnerships with professional artists.
“When I witness the commitment and love of theatre by these students, I feel inspired that future stories told on Canadian stages will be more diverse and more complex,” says Lepine.
The show runs nightly at 7 pm on March 12 – 16, 2019. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Nelson Mandela High School main office.