‘This is a Test’ takes you inside the brain of a student on test day

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The cast and crew of 'This is a Test' during their tech rehearsal on Thursday afternoon in the Cafetorium at Carlton Comprehensive High School.

The Carlton drama department looks to take audiences inside the brain of a test taker in their one act production for this season.

‘This is a Test’ by Stephen Gregg takes you inside the mind of Ally Lefenfeld, played by Grade 10 student Rachel Gibson, through the voices the Chorus, a Greek Chorus that includes Grade 12 student Marie Bear, who plays Chorus 1.

“Along with two of my other cast members, we are the inner dialogue for Ally Lefenfeld (and) of what’s racing through her mind,” Bear explained. “She’s got a lot of repetition going on in her head and just a lot of distractions for a test.”

“It seems like everything is against her, either the teacher or the test or classmates and her inner voice and things are just going wrong for her,” Gibson said.

“She thought that she could prepare by having a study night the night before but she stayed up pretty much all night,” Bear added.

Gibson said one act is a good length for a play and the production has been running smoothly ahead of opening night on March 21.

“It has been going pretty well,” Gibson said. “We have been practising since early January so we have been going pretty quick. We have been doing pretty good with the time that we have had.”

Bear said the production’s preparation and practice sessions provided a lot of opportunities for growth.

“We have had a lot of time to get to know each other as a cast and get to see where we want to take out individual characters so that we could make this story more coherent or more funny because it is a comedy,” she said. “(It’s) just having fun interacting with each other, trying new stuff out and if something doesn’t work we will let each other know. It is a very open space for growth.”

Bear has been involved in the drama department since Grade 9 when she was on tech for the Mad Hatter Theatre Company. Both Bear and Gibson were involved in the 2022 production of ‘Paper or Plastic.

Gibson said that being part of the drama department taught her patience.

“Just being determined you have to take a lot of your own time to work on it, patience and determination for sure,” she said.

“I think confidence as well,” Bear added. “I have seen a lot of people really grow with their role.”

Bear said that she saw her own personal growth in transforming from tech crew to actor.

Both Gibson and Bear are not necessarily nervous ahead of the production.

“I feel like even if we run it a million times there is always that anxiety that comes with performing but that’s a normal, natural thing,” Gibson said.

“It is a reminder that you care about the play,” Bear added. “It is almost like a good giddy feeling, like getting hyped for that performance night and getting to see all of the faces in the crowd and it’s very exciting.”

Director Mike Dormuth received accolades from both Gibson and Bear for his work.

“He has been doing this for a long time, so he knows how to do it, he knows how to get everyone involved and do their best,” Gibson said.

“Especially for the time that we have had. Usually, we would run it from about November or October to maybe April, but considering the time crunch that we had, just with things aligning in the school, nights working, nights not working, I feel like he did a very good job bringing everyone together and making sure that a lot of people stay committed,” Bear said.

“He makes relationships with everyone,” Gibson added.

Bear is embracing the fact that this is her last production before graduation. She said it was fun getting to know everyone involved in the drama program. As a soon-to-be graduate, she looks back and sees many different ways the program helped her and her classmates grow.

“All of the people from the beginning of the year that were newer have grown,” she said. “It’s just nice to see everyone be able to take a break from the studious lifestyle and work to just hang out with friends and goof around a bit but keep it serious.”

Gibson, for only being in her second production, is proud that Dormuth saw something in her.

“I’m really thankful that for me being so young that I got one of the main leads,” she said. “He saw something in me and he brought it out. Last year I wasn’t even going to be in the play because I thought I wasn’t talented enough, so me being a lead the next year was really good for me.”

‘This is a Test’ begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21 at the Cafetorium in Carlton Comprehensive High School. Tickets are available at the door.

“This is a Test’ is produced by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois.