For the past twelve years, the residents of Martensville and area have been fortunate enough to take part in an incredible annual event. The event I’m referring to is the showcase of local students at Martensville High School that takes place each February. MHS teacher Micah Robinson, who has been teaching at the school for the past fourteen years, pours his heart and soul into each performance. Between Robinson, the cast and the crew, and all involved in the production of the play each year, a spectacular, gripping story unfolds before the eyes of each audience member.
This year, the play will be ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, a classic story about Frank and her family during World War II. The story features the family, their friends and the emotional journey they faced as they were hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam between 1942 and 1944. Although the premise leads one to imagine a heart wrenching tale that may not be suitable for all to take part in, Robinson states that this is a show for all ages. “I don’t think there is a person who wouldn’t get something from this show. I know it is about people hiding from Nazis but it is not dark. It’s warm and filled with love, laughter and community. Although it’s a tragic story, I think everyone can enjoy sitting here and looking at the warmth amongst these people. It is something that is going to touch everyone that comes,” Robinson explained.
With the performances slated for February, the cast is already well on their way to perfecting each individual role and the incredible set takes those around it straight into 1940’s Amsterdam. Planning for the set began in early September with design work and budgeting, and construction began approximately one month ago. Within that month, the students of the Theatre Arts Class took an empty canvas of a stage and transformed it into a masterpiece, showcasing brickwork and exposed beams. The set was built from scratch by Robinson and the talented group of students, who throughout the year thus far have not only proved they are talented actors, but masters of many arts.
The cast, which consists of ten MHS students ranging from grade 10 to 12, have been practicing their parts since June. Auditions took place before the end of the previous school year and scripts were sent home for cast members to study throughout the summer months. Upon returning to school, practice began immediately, with cast and crew putting in countless hours ensuring the performance will be of epic proportions come opening night.
This particular piece was chosen by Robinson, who begins his process of choosing the next year’s production in May. “Anne Frank is always one that I have wanted to do. I like classic stories that people have heard about, but may not know the specific details behind. I know that I am going to be spending 6 to 8 months thinking about it, so I have to really love it or I just won’t have the passion for it,” said Robinson. The passion emanating from Robinson reflects onto the cast, with each of them pouring their heart and soul into this historic story. “I think that it’s a story that should be told right now. We currently have an interesting global social climate and I think this story is a good one to hear at all times, but especially now. It might be one that people look at and listen to, and start thinking and feeling about how different groups of people are mistreated all over the world by other groups of people. Tthere are always redeeming characters that stick up for those people, and some that perpetuate the violence and the ill treatment, so I think that a story like this will ring true at all times,” Robinson stated.
Although Robinson and the cast were familiar with the story of Anne Frank throughout the process and amongst all of the research they have done, it has been a period of discovery for each of them. Robinson noted that although some of the research may not be noticeable within the lines, items included on the stage directly reflect items of importance to Anne Frank and her family.
The growth amongst the cast is something that Robinson himself has been impressed with each and every day they meet for practice. “The cast is made up of just the hardest working individuals that you will ever see and they have each other’s backs up there. Many of these kids are involved in sports and activities outside of school but yet they are still committing so many hours to this. You can tell that they are passionate about their craft because they come here significantly better than the day before and it’s from the work they do at home. When they get here all I have to do is help tighten the screws on things, but they do a tremendous amount of work on their own,” said Robinson.
An example of how prepared these students are is the fact that they have been “off-script” since the end of October, and with opening night not taking place until February, that goes to show how dedicated these actors are.
The $15 tickets will be available for purchase next week and each ticket includes the incredible performance made possible by the cast and crew as well as a delicious dessert buffet created by Della Muench’s Commercial Cooking class at MHS. “All I can say is to be prepared for a night of great entertainment,” Robinson added.